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CIA Reportedly Spied on Senate Intelligence Committee Which May be a Federal Crime

McClatchy News is reporting that the CIA may have monitored computers that the agency provided to the Senate Intelligence Committee. The computers were used by Senate aides to prepare the Committee’s (still unreleased) report on the CIA’s secret detention and interrogation programs. The McClatchy story, written by Jonathan Landay, Ali Watkins and Marisa Taylor, explains:

The committee determined earlier this year that the CIA monitored computers – in possible violation of an agreement against doing so – that the agency had provided to intelligence committee staff in a secure room at CIA headquarters that the agency insisted they use to review millions of pages of top-secret reports, cables and other documents, according to people with knowledge.

The CIA Inspector General has reportedly requested the Justice Department to investigate the case as a criminal matter. Notably, McClatchy suggests that Senator Wyden was “apparently” referring to these monitoring practices when he asked CIA Director John Brennan earlier this year, “Does the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act apply to the CIA?” Wyden did not get an answer, at least not at the hearings (full transcript). Close observers of those hearings had speculated that Wyden’s questions suggested that the CIA was accessing the American public’s computers (here and here). The McClatchy report provides a new and different explanation.

[Update: The New York Times is reporting that the CIA’s actions occurred “after CIA officials came to suspect that congressional staff members had gained unauthorized access to agency documents during the course of the Intelligence Committee’s years-long investigation into the detention and interrogation program.”]

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About the Author

is co-editor-in-chief of Just Security. Ryan is the Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Professor of Law at New York University School of Law. Follow him on Twitter (@rgoodlaw).