The CIA's inspector general asked the Justice Department to become
involved after the agency and members of the Senate Intelligence
Committee got into a dispute over whether Senate investigators
looked at documents they were not supposed to see, and whether
agency operatives inappropriately monitored Senate investigators.
The sources, who asked for anonymity because they were not
authorized to speak publicly, said the review did not yet amount to
an investigation and could be terminated without any official
The review began after members of Congress complained that CIA
officers had improperly accessed the work of intelligence committee
staffers. It will also look at allegations Senate investigators
inappropriately got access to what the agency considered to be
ultra-sensitive, and privileged documents related to the rendition
program the CIA used to grab, hold and question militants after the
September 11, 2001 attacks.
After examining an estimated 6 million pages of CIA documents
relating to the program, the Democratic majority on the Senate
committee drafted a 6,000 page report that is still highly
But sources familiar with its content said the report was highly
critical of some CIA activities, notably the use of "enhanced
interrogation techniques" such as simulated drowning which human
rights advocates and numerous U.S. politicians denounced as torture.
The dispute between the agency and Senate investigators arose after
committee officials began asking the CIA questions about what the
agency considered to have been confidential, internal and privileged
documents to which Senate officials should not have had access, the
sources familiar with the inquiry said.
After receiving Senate inquiries, the CIA looked at access logs for
the database to which the Senate investigators had access and
discovered that they indeed had accessed what the agency to be
considered material covered by legal or other official privileges,
and apparently made copies for themselves.
The agency's inspector general was then asked to look into the
matter, the sources said.
[to top of second column]
After taking office in 2009, President Barack Obama eliminated much
of the CIA program he inherited from his predecessor, George W.
Bush. But he retained a standby authority to conduct renditions,
which is a bureaucratic word for extrajudicial international
transfers of imprisoned or captured militant suspects.
News reports have suggested that as part of its effort to find out
what the Senate investigators were up to, the CIA may have spied on
Congressional computers. The sources familiar with the inquiry said
such claims were false.
In a statement issued late on Wednesday, John Brennan, the CIA's
director, accused some senators of making rash statements about the
dispute between the agency and the committee.
"I am deeply dismayed that some members of the Senate have decided
to make spurious allegations about CIA actions that are wholly
unsupported by the facts," Brennan said.
(Reporting by Mark Hosenball; editing by Tom Brown)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.