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White House aware of CIA report on Senate staff

March 13, 2014 at 12:52 PM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, March 13 (UPI) -- The White House acknowledged it knew of a Central Intelligence Agency report saying Senate staffers committed a crime by taking documents from a CIA computer.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday the CIA gave the White House a "heads up" that it would file the report to the Justice Department, which Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said was an attempt to intimidate investigators of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

He added President Barack Obama did not offer comment on the matter.

In his first public comment on the issue, Obama said Wednesday, "That's not something that is an appropriate role for me and the White House to wade into, at this point."

Feinstein, in a speech Tuesday on the Senate floor, charged the CIA had spied on Congress and removed documents from congressional computers which investigators were using to examine the CIA's enhanced interrogation practices.

The CIA claimed Senate staffers improperly accessed an internal document which reviewed the controversial interrogation practices, and denied hacking into Senate computers, the Washington newspaper The Hill said Thursday.

The public battle between the CIA and the Senate is expanding, CBS News said Thursday, noting Senate Republicans, who previously had no interest in investigating the CIA, feel Senate Democrats may be bringing too many details to the public.

CIA director John Brennan denied Feinstein's claim that, earlier this year, agents searched her committee's computer system while the committee investigated CIA interrogation programs during the George W. Bush administration.

In her speech, Feinstein said the search "may well have violated the separation of powers principles embodied in the United States Constitution."

Outrage spread in Congress Wednesday, CBS News said, with Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight Committee referring to the CIA's actions "effectively treason" if true.

The facts remain unclear, though, Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., a member of the Intelligence Committee, admitted in warning his colleagues not to rush to judgment.

"Both parties have made allegations against one another and even speculated as to each other's actions, but there are still a lot of unanswered questions that must be addressed," he said.

Chambliss declined to endorse Feinstein's allegations Wednesday, The Hill said.

The committee investigation of the CIA was a four-year project costing $40 million. It yielded a 6,300-page report which remains secret, although President Obama has said he favors declassifying it.

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