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CIA admits to hacking Senate computers

The Central Intelligence Agency improperly and covertly hacked into computers used by Senate staffers to investigate the spy agency's Bush-era interrogation practices, according to an internal investigation.
CIA Director John Brennan has determined that employees "acted in a manner inconsistent with the common understanding" brokered between the CIA and its Senate overseers, according to agency spokesman Dean Boyd.


Next story: "US Senate admits it is a powerless debating society for millionaires."

Is CIA's Admission of Spying an Effort to Undercut Whistleblowers?

Published August 1, 2014 | By emptywheel
The CIA spied on Congress! The headlines yesterday read.
By the end of the day, the CIA shared the unclassified summary of Inspector General David Buckley's conclusions.
But the conclusions are a muddle:
Agency Access to Files on the SSCI RDINet:
Five Agency employees, two attorneys and three information technology (IT) staff members, improperly accessed or caused access to the SSCI Majority staff shared drives on the RDINet.
Agency Crimes Report on Alleged Misconduct by SSCI Staff:
The Agency filed a crimes report with the DOJ, as required by Executive Order 12333 and the 1995 Crimes Reporting Memorandum between the DOJ and the Intelligence Community, reporting that SSCI staff members may have improperly accessed Agency information on the RDINet. However, the factual basis for the referral was not supported, as the author of the referral had been provided inaccurate information on which the letter was based. After review, the DOJ declined to open a criminal investigation of the matter alleged in the crimes report.
Office of Security Review of SSCI Staff Activity:
Subsequent to directive by the D/CIA to halt the Agency review of SSCI staff access to the RDINet, and unaware of the D/CIA's direction, the Office of Security conducted a limited investigation of SSCI activities on the RDINet. That effort included a keyword search of all and a review of some of the emails of SSCI Majority staff members on the RDINet system.
Lack of Candor:
The three IT staff members demonstrated a lack of candor about their activities during interviews by the OIG.
Compare the suggested chronology of these bullets with some of the details Dianne Feinstein provided in March.
[O]n January 15, 2014, CIA Director Brennan requested an emergency meeting to inform me and Vice Chairman Chambliss that without prior notification or approval, CIA personnel had conducted a "search"that was John Brennan's wordof the committee computers at the offsite facility. This search involved not only a search of documents provided to the committee by the CIA, but also a search of the "stand alone" and "walled-off" committee network drive containing the committee's own internal work product and communications.
According to Brennan, the computer search was conducted in response to indications that some members of the committee staff might already have had access to the Internal Panetta Review. The CIA did not ask the committee or its staff if the committee had access to the Internal Review, or how we obtained it.
Instead, the CIA just went and searched the committee's computers.
Days after the meeting with Director Brennan, the CIA inspector general, David Buckley, learned of the CIA search and began an investigation into CIA's activities. I have been informed that Mr. Buckley has referred the matter to the Department of Justice given the possibility of a criminal violation by CIA personnel.
Weeks later, I was also told that after the inspector general referred the CIA's activities to the Department of Justice, the acting general counsel of the CIA filed a crimes report with the Department of Justice concerning the committee staff's actions.
According to DiFi, CIA had already accessed the servers by January 15. Buckley says that at least some of the searches the ones by the Office of Security happened after that point, after Brennan ordered them to stop.
This limited hangout is not just an admission that CIA spied on SSCI, but that they spied and continued spying.
Buckley also appears to be saying that what DiFi described as his own referral (though he doesn't refer to it as such) made sometime before March was based off erroneous information. The implication is DOJ didn't pursue charges because they were told the original allegations which Buckley passed on, according to DiFi were incorrect.
That's all very fishy, particularly when you recall this story, about the CIA spying on its own whistleblower in the matter.
The CIA obtained a confidential email to Congress about alleged whistleblower retaliation related to the Senate's classified report on the agency's harsh interrogation program, triggering fears that the CIA has been intercepting the communications of officials who handle whistleblower cases.
Buckley obtained the email, which was written by Daniel Meyer, the intelligence community's top official for whistleblower cases, to the office of Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, a leading whistleblower-protection advocate. The Senate Intelligence Committee also learned of the matter, said the knowledgeable people.
After obtaining the email, Buckley approached Meyer's boss, I. Charles McCullough III, the inspector general for the 17-agency U.S. intelligence community, in what may have constituted a violation of the confidentiality of the whistleblowing process, they said.
Meyer's email concerned allegations that Buckley failed to thoroughly investigate a whistleblower retaliation claim, McClatchy has learned. The retaliation allegedly involved delays by the CIA in paying the legal fees of CIA officials who cooperated with the Senate committee. An indemnification agreement required the agency to cover those costs which it eventually did as long as the officers weren't found to have committed any wrongdoing.
We know David Buckley has been treating whistleblowers inappropriately. Yet he's the guy who apparently reneged on his claims that CIA illegally spied. Even though they spied after the time John Brennan told them (heh) to stop.
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
Actually it is about the spying but still should be called out on the lying as well.

It's About the Lying

By Dan Froomkin 31 Jul 2014, 9:24 PM EDT 288
John Brennan at the Council on Foreign Relations on March 11, 2014. Photo credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

I don't want to understate how seriously wrong it is that the CIA searched Senate computers. Our constitutional order is seriously out of whack when the executive branch acts with that kind of impunity to its overseers, no less.
But given everything else that's been going on lately, the single biggest and arguably most constructive thing to focus on is how outrageously CIA Director John Brennan lied to everyone about it.
"As far as the allegations of the CIA hacking into Senate computers, nothing could be further from the truth," Brennan told NBC's Andrea Mitchell in March. "We wouldn't do that. I mean, that's just beyond the, you know, the scope of reason in terms of what we do."
Earlier, he had castigated "some members of the Senate" for making "spurious allegations about CIA actions that are wholly unsupported by the facts." He called for an end to "outbursts that do a disservice to the important relationship that needs to be maintained between intelligence officials and Congressional overseers."
And what compelled Senate intelligence committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein to make a dramatic floor speech in the first place, bringing everything out in the open, was that Brennan had responded to her initial concerns not by acknowledging the CIA's misconduct but by firing back with an allegation of criminal activity by her own staff.
Not coincidentally, the document the CIA was hunting for, that Senate staffers were accused of purloining, and that Brennan was now lying about, was a big deal precisely because it exposed more lies.
Known as the Panetta Review (evidently prepared for Leon Panetta, who served as CIA director from 2009 to 2011), it became relevant last year, when the CIA started pushing back against many of the scathing conclusions in the several-thousand page "Torture Report" the Senate staffers had finished up in December 2012.
Even as the CIA was officially rebutting key parts of the committee's report, the staffers realized they had an internal CIA review that corroborated them. In other words, it was proof that the CIA was now lying.

So what's in the Torture Report? Well, I can't quote from it, because the intelligence community and the White House have done such a good job of delaying its public release (although a redacted version is widely rumored to be coming soon).
But by all accounts, the report not only discloses abuse that was more brutal, systematic and widespread than generally recognized, but also chronicles how the people most intimately involved in the torture regime lied to others inside the CIA, lied to Justice Department lawyers, and lied to the public; how they lied about what they were doing, they lied to make it sound like it accomplished something, and afterwards, they lied some more.
Brennan reportedly told Feinstein and intelligence committee vice chairman Saxby Chambliss on Tuesday that he was sorry. But it's hardly the first time he's been caught in the act. There was, for instance, that time in June 2011, when he was President Obama's counter-terrorism advisor, that he asserted that over the previous year there had not been a single collateral death from drone strikes. (He later amended that to say there was no "credible evidence" of such deaths.)
But there was indeed ample and credible evidence. (Just as one example, a March 2011 CIA drone attack in Pakistan killed some 50 people, including tribal elders who were gathered for a tribal conclave.)
Brennan's erstwhile boss, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, famously lied when he assured the Senate intelligence committee that the government wasn't collecting data on Americans in bulk when, as it turns out, it was.
Lying, of course, has always been a problem in Washington. But especially after the 9/11 terror attacks, the Bush-Cheney regime took lying to new post-Nixon heights. Maybe even pre-Nixon.
When I sat down to write my last "White House Watch" column for the Washington Post, what struck me most about the Bush years were the lies. The most consequential, of course, were the lies about the war. The most telling were the lies to cover up the lies about the war. And the most grotesque were the lies about torture.
The other thing is that there were no consequences. No one got in trouble for lying. The only semi-casualty was Scooter Libby, briefly convicted of lying while obstructing the investigation into vice president Cheney's lies.
Figuring out how to right the constitutional imbalance between the branches of government, as exposed by this CIA assault on Congress, is very complicated.
But doing something about lying isn't. You need to hold people accountable for it.
History will assuredly record that President Obama lied about a number of things, particularly as he carried water for the intelligence community and the military. But he's no Cheney.
So if you're the president, you fire everyone who lies. Starting with John Brennan.
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.

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