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CIA Report: No 'Bad Faith' In Accessing Senate Computers

An "accountability board" assembled by the CIA has cleared five of the agency's employees of any wrongdoing related to improperly accessing the Senate Intelligence Committee emails and computer network. Sen. Dianne Feinstein says the breach violated the Constitution.

NPR's David Welna reports:

"The five-member Agency Accountability board, which included three veteran CIA officers, told the top members of the Senate Intelligence Committee that the CIA officials who broke into the panel's computer system had acted 'reasonably.'

"That contradicted CIA inspector general David Buckley, who concluded the five officials had acted improperly. Buckley is quitting as the CIA's internal watchdog at the end of the month."

The board said personnel from the CIA general consul's office and IT department had not tampered with any of the panel's "work product" and were instead "investigating a potential security breach in the highly classified shared computer network," said former Sen. Evan Bayh, who led the review.

The report stems from a very public disagreement between the CIA and members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that was sparked by the panel's exhaustive review of the CIA's interrogation techniques, renditions, and other activities (the panel's report was finally released last month).

Both the IG report and the accountability board's findings were released Wednesday, after being redacted (we've posted them below).

Of the computer intrusion, the CIA review board wrote that "while this was clearly inappropriate, it was a mistake that did not reflect malfeasance, bad faith, or the intention to gain improper access to SSCI confidential, deliberative material."

The board also noted that "no written agreement governed CIA access to the SSCI side" of the computer network the panel was using to review agency documents. And

"I'm disappointed that no one at the CIA will be held accountable," Feinstein said today. "The decision was made to search committee computers, and someone should be found responsible for those actions."

Last March, Feinstein accused the agency of snooping into the committee's computers to try to learn how it had acquired a sensitive internal agency review that was among records it was reviewing. She also said the CIA had spread allegations that committee staffers had somehow obtained classified materials without authorization.

CIA Director John Brennan apologized to the Senate panel over the improper access last summer.

While Feinstein noted that apology today, she added, "I continue to believe CIA's actions constituted a violation of the constitutional separation of powers and unfortunately led to the CIA's referral of unsubstantiated criminal charges to the Justice Department against committee staff."

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