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Feinstein alleges CIA hacked intel panel computers; Brennan denies it

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) speaks to the media after a caucus meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington on November 14, 2012. UPI/Kevin Dietsch
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) speaks to the media after a caucus meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington on November 14, 2012. UPI/Kevin Dietsch | License Photo

WASHINGTON, March 11 (UPI) -- CIA Director John Brennan Tuesday denied accusations by the chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee that the CIA hacked the panel's computers.

"Nothing could be further from the truth," Brennan said. "We wouldn't do that. That's just beyond the scope of reason in terms of what we'd do."

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Brennan's denial followed Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein's statement in which the California Democrat accused the CIA of illegally searching the panel's computers, the Hill reported.

"I have grave concerns that the CIA's search may well have violated the separation of powers principles embodied in the United States Constitution," Feinstein said. "I have asked for an apology and a recognition that this CIA search of computers used by its oversight committee was inappropriate. I have received neither."

RELATED CIA inspector general seeks probe of agency conduct over Senate report

Feinstein, speaking on the Senate floor Tuesday, said she was speaking out to answer "inaccurate information" spread about actions by the committee's staff with CIA documents, Politico reported.

The Justice Department and CIA inspector general have reviewed the allegations that the spy agency was monitoring Senate Intelligence Committee computers and allegations that Senate staffers improperly removed classified documents from CIA facilities.

Concerning reports that Senate staffers should not have had access to the documents, Feinstein said, "I reject that claim completely," and criticized the CIA's apparent accessing of the congressional network and attempts to "intimidate" Congress.

RELATED Senate panel wants internal CIA report on interrogation program

"The CIA's unauthorized search of the committee computers was followed by an allegation which we now have seen repeated anonymously in the press, that the committee staff had somehow obtained the document through unauthorized or criminal means, perhaps to include hacking into the CIA's computer network," Feinstein said. "As I have described, this is not true. The document was made available to the staff at the off-site facility and it was located using a CIA-provided search tool, running a query of the information provided to the committee pursuant to its investigation."

The allegations of misconduct involve the Senate panel's still-unpublished report on enhanced interrogation techniques used during George W. Bush's administration. Senators have accused the CIA of stonewalling the public release of the report, which Brennan denied Tuesday.

"We are not in any way shape or form trying to thwart this report's progression or release," Brennan said. "We know that the committee has invested a lot of time, money and effort into this report, and I know they're determined to put it forward."

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