The former chair of the Senate Intelligence committee excoriated a report on the CIA’s searches of computers used by her staff as riddled with “mistakes and omissions.”
“The bottom line is that the CIA accessed a Senate Intelligence Committee computer network without authorization, in clear violation of a signed agreement…,” said Feinstein, reiterating an assertion that the searches violated “the constitutional separation of powers between Congress and the executive branch.”
The California Democrat added: “Someone should be held accountable.”
The Dec. 14 findings by the accountability board appeared to draw to a close without a final resolution the most damaging battle ever fought between the CIA and the Senate Intelligence Committee over the powers of the spy agency’s congressional overseers.
Feinstein, however, outlined 15 flaws in the accountability board’s report, including a finding that no formal agreement existed between the committee and the CIA that would have banned such breaches.
“This is false,” Feinstein’s statement said. “The CIA and the Committee exchanged formal, signed letters in 2009 establishing limits on the CIA’s access.”
Feinstein pointed out that the panel’s findings contradicted an earlier report by the CIA’s inspector general that the spy agency improperly intruded into the database used by the Senate staff and searched committee emails.
“The IG concluded, and the CIA Accountability Board does not dispute, that the CIA conducted a keyword search of all (committee) staff emails, which is not a limited review of emails,” the senator’s statement said.
The board concluded the CIA personnel had been obligated by law to conduct searches to ensure that the computer system was secure and not compromised.
The board didn’t investigate breaches of the staff computers in May 2010 in which the agency removed 926 documents because of concerns they were covered by executive privilege.
The CIA defended the board’s work, describing it as an “extensive review… that spanned many months.”
“The Board examined the full documentary record, interviewed officials at all levels of CIA, and adopted unanimously the findings and conclusions that are set out in detail in its report,” the agency said in a statement. “The Board’s report stands on its merits and its recommendations have been accepted by CIA.”