CIA Hack Scandal Turns Senate’s Defender of Spying Into a Critic
It’s quite a change to hear Dianne Feinstein, the powerful chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, express outrage over warrantless and potentially illegal government spying.
In an impassioned Senate floor speech yesterday, the California Democrat accused the CIA of criminal activity for allegedly searching computers used by Senate staffers. The CIA set up the computers at a secure location in northern Virginia so Senate Intelligence Committee staff could access classified documents pertaining to the CIA’s detainee program. When some of them found an incriminating document the CIA hadn’t intended to release, the CIA started poking around.
“The CIA’s search may also have violated the Fourth Amendment, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, as well as Executive Order 12333, which prohibits the CIA from conducting domestic searches or surveillance,” Feinstein said during her speech. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), head of the Judiciary Committee, immediately followed up with, “I cannot think of any speech by any member by either party as important as the one the senator from California just gave.”
He called it “likely criminal conduct” on the intelligence agency’s part. And, like Feinstein, he suggested it was a breach of the separation of powers doctrine.