Brennan wrote an apology to Feinstein and Chambliss for spying on Senate panel. But he never sent it

CIA Director John Brennan exposed again. Rank-and-file Americans are unlikely to see most of the 6,700 classified pages of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s torture report. Maybe in 20 or 50 years, they will be released. Or maybe not. All that we’ve seen so far is the 525-page executive summary. That document is plenty devastating. So much so that the Central Intelligence Agency plans to publish a rebuttal to the report’s key claims that the brutal techniques the agency used did not produce much actionable information. Of course, it won’t be bringing to light any of those still-classified pages to bolster its case. While most of the documentation of the SSCI’s report remains hidden, investigative reporter Jason Leopold has added new light to the behind-the-scenes activity underlying the public clash between the Senate panel and the CIA leadership with a lengthy, detailed new piece at Vice based on documents obtained via the Freedom of Information Act. One key finding: CIA chief John Brennan—who originally claimed that the SSCI’s then chairwoman Dianne Feinstein was wrong to publicly and angrily conclude that the agency had spied on the work of the panel’s staff—wrote a letter of apology to Feinstein and ranking member Saxby Chambless. But he never sent it: In it, he admitted that the CIA’s penetration of the computer network used by committee staffers reviewing the agency’s torture program—a breach for which Feinstein and Chambliss had long demanded accountability—was improper and violated agreements the Intelligence Committee had made with the CIA. […] “I recently received a briefing on the [OIG’s] findings, and want to inform you that the investigation found support for your concern that CIA staff had improperly accessed the [Intelligence Committee] shared drive on the RDINet [an acronym for rendition, detention, and interrogation] when conducting a limited search for CIA privileged documents,” Brennan wrote. “In particular, the [OIG] judged that Agency officers’ access to the… shared drive was inconsistent with the common understanding reached in 2009 between the Committee and the Agency regarding access to RDINet. Consequently, I apologize for the actions of CIA officers…. I am committed to correcting the shortcomings that this report has revealed.” But Brennan didn’t sign or send the apology letter. Instead, four days later, he sent Feinstein and Chambliss a different letter — one without an apology or admission that the search of their computer network was improper. He did say, however, that he was going to “stand up” an “independent” accountability review board, whose members would be appointed by Brennan, to look into the OIG findings and determine whether the CIA employees who conducted the search should be punished. There’s more about this below the tangled orange web we weave.


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