Justice declines to pursue allegations that CIA monitored Senate Intel staff

McClatchy Washington BureauJuly 10, 2014 

Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., heads to closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 3, 2014.

AP — J. Scott Applewhite

— The Justice Department has decided not to pursue accusations that the CIA spied on the Senate Intelligence Committee and allegations that committee staff slipped classified documents from a secure agency facility, McClatchy has confirmed.

"The department carefully reviewed the matters referred to us and did not find sufficient evidence to warrant a criminal investigation," said Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr.

The news marks an apparent end to an extraordinary feud that spilled into the public forum in early March over the committee’s report on the agency’s post-9/11 enhanced interrogation program. The dispute included competing Justice Department referrals, with both the CIA and the Senate Intelligence Committee accusing the other side of criminal conduct throughout the course of the interrogation study.

Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., took to the Senate floor in early March and accused the CIA of spying on the computers her committee staff used to create the study. The CIA accused Feinstein’s staff of slipping classified documents from secure agency facilities and transporting them back to Capitol Hill.

The CIA Inspector General’s office referred the agency’s alleged computer monitoring to the Justice Department. The CIA filed a crimes report against several committee staffers, accusing them of removing classified information from a secure facility. And, in addition, Senate majority leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., ordered the senate’s Sergeant-at-Arms to conduct an independent investigation in to the alleged computer hacking. The fate of the congressional investigation is unknown.

But, it seems that the details of both sides’ accusations will never be publicly aired, leaving simmering tensions and a battered relationship.

Although fury flooded Capitol Hill in the immediate aftermath of the dispute, the incident seemed to have largely faded from memory, despite its enormous potential implications on the constitutional balance of powers.

The nearly 500-page executive summary of the committee’s still-classified 6,600-page report is expected to be released in the coming months.

A CIA spokesman declined to comment.

Jonathan Landay contributed to this report.

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