What is Reid protecting?
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has instructed the Senate’s chief law enforcement officer to examine the Intelligence Committee’s computers amid an escalating fight between the CIA and lawmakers over access to secret documents about the agency’s interrogation tactics during the Bush administration.
In a letter dated Wednesday to CIA Director John Brennan, Reid challenged the spy agency head’s complaints that committee staff improperly accessed the agency’s computers to obtain the documents, calling the allegation “patently absurd.”
Last week, the head of the committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, questioned whether the agency broke the law and violated the Constitution in searching a computer network exclusively established for the committee.
Brennan has dismissed Feinstein’s complaints.
Determined to resolve the fight, Reid said he had “instructed the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms (Terrance W. Gainer) to initiate a forensic examination of the computers and computer network assigned for exclusive (committee) use, in order to determine how the ‘Panetta review’ entered into the (committee) network.”
The committee is close to completing a 6,000-page report on the CIA’s brutal interrogation tactics, including waterboarding, at secret sites after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The CIA had established an exclusive computer network for committee staff in northern Virginia. In the course of the panel’s investigation, the committee staff obtained documents from a review ordered by former CIA Director Leon Panetta and apparently took those documents to the Capitol.