Reading the Techdirt headline, I had to laugh: “CIA: We Only Spied On Senate Intelligence Committee Because They Took Classified Documents That Prove We’re Liars.”
For those of you who didn’t see Bob’s earlier post, the CIA was caught monitoring the computers of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Now the committee members want the CIA investigated and have appealed to the Constitution, saying that the spying is inconsistent with our founding document. This is the same committee whose members defend the NSA spying on all of us and who attack Edward Snowden.
According to Techdirt,
In response to all of this, it appears that the CIA is attempting, weakly, to spin this as being the Senate staffers’ fault, arguing that the real breach was the fact that the Senate staffers somehow broke the rules in obtaining that internal review. CIA boss John Brennan’s statement hints at the fact that he thinks the real problem was with the way the staffers acted, suggesting that an investigation would fault “the legislative” branch (the Senate) rather than the executive (the CIA).
Reporters at McClatchy have revealed that the Senate staffers working on this came across the document, printed it out, and simply walked out of the CIA and over to the Senate with it, and the CIA is furious about that. Then, in a moment of pure stupidity, the CIA appears to have confronted the Senate Intelligence Committee about all of this… directly revealing that they were spying on the Committee staffers.
Nice to know that our clandestine agents can be trusted to keep secrets since they do such a good job of keeping their own!
There are many more details in the McClatchy report, which I highly recommend reading. And, yes, perhaps there’s an argument that Senate staffers weren’t supposed to take such documents, but the CIA trying to spin this by saying it was those staffers who were engaged in “wrongdoing” is almost certainly going to fall flat with Congress. After all, the intelligence committee is charged with oversight of the CIA, not the other way around. “You stole the documents we were hiding from you which proved we were lying, so we spied on you to find out how you did that” is not, exactly, the kind of argument that too many people are going to find compelling.
That is what so bizarre about this whole episode. The CIA’s people are treating the Congressional committee as if they had no more standing than Edward Snowden to learn their secrets.
Is this how the CIA always treats oversight?