The CIA has begun a probe of whether members of the agency secretly monitored a Senate Intelligence Committee investigation of Bush-era detention and interrogation policies, according to media reports on Wednesday.
The New York Times, quoting officials with knowledge of the investigation, said the CIA’s inspector general launched the probe after members of Congress complained that agency officers had improperly accessed the work of Intelligence Committee staff.
According to one official cited by the newspaper, CIA employees went so far as to gain access to computer networks the committee was using in its work for a report on the detention programme conducted during President George W Bush’s administration.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin said in a statement that “if, as alleged in the media, CIA accessed without permission or authority a computer network dedicated for use by a Senate committee, it would be an extremely serious matter.”
The Michigan Democrat said such activity, if true, “would impede Congress’ ability to carry out its constitutional oversight responsibilities and could violate federal law.”
CIA Director John Brennan said he was “deeply dismayed that some members of the Senate have decided to make spurious allegations about CIA actions that are wholly unsupported by the facts.
“I am very confident that the appropriate authorities reviewing this matter will determine where wrongdoing, if any, occurred in either the Executive Branch or Legislative Branch,” Brennan said in a statement.
“Until then, I would encourage others to refrain from outbursts that do a disservice to the important relationship that needs to be maintained between intelligence officials and Congressional overseers.”
A CIA spokesman declined to elaborate beyond Brennan’s statement.