WASHINGTON — The CIA's insistence that it did not spy on its Senate overseers collapsed Thursday with the release of a stark report by the agency's internal watchdog documenting improper computer surveillance and obstructionist behavior by CIA officers.
Five agency employees — two lawyers and three computer specialists— improperly accessed Senate intelligence committee computers earlier this year in a dispute over interrogation documents, according to a summary of a CIA inspector general report describing the results of an internal investigation. Then, despite CIA director John Brennan ordering a halt to that operation, the CIA's office of security began an unauthorized investigation that led it to review the emails of Senate staffers.
After Senate leaders learned about the intrusion in January and protested, the CIA made a criminal referral to the Justice Department, alleging improper behavior by Senate staffers. That referral, CIA watchdog David Buckley found, was based on inaccurate information and was not justified.
Those internal conclusions prompted Brennan to abandon months of defiance and defense of the agency and apologize to Senate intelligence committee leaders.