WASHINGTON (CNN) — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid upped the ante in a simmering dispute between the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Central Intelligence Agency by ordering an investigation into their competing charges of wrongdoing.
In a pair of letters made public Thursday to CIA Director John Brennan and Attorney General Eric Holder, Reid contends “the CIA has produced no evidence to support its claims” that committee investigators “hacked into the CIA’s highly secure classified networks” and improperly obtained a controversial document related to the committee’s investigation of torture by the agency in the wake of 9-11.
According to Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D- California, the document in question, known as the Panetta Review, shows that an internal CIA review of its so-called enhanced interrogations agreed with some of the committee’s own findings about the torture of terror subjects.
In turn, Reid called the CIA’s acting general counsel’s referral of the hacking allegations to the Department of Justice for possible prosecution “a transparent attempt to intimidate the Committee and undermine its oversight of the Agency.”
Reid said he had instructed the Senate Sergeant at Arms Terry Gainer to conduct a “forensic examination” of the computers the intelligence committee staff used to during its lengthy investigation at an off-site CIA facility in Virginia. Feinstein alleged in a recent speech that the CIA had given her investigators the Panetta Review and later improperly removed it and other documents from the investigator’s computers.
“The CIA’s decision to access the resources and work product of the legislative branch without permission is absolutely indefensible,” Reid said in his letter to Holder.
“This action has serious separation of powers implications. It is immaterial whether this action was taken in response to concerns about the Committee’s possession of a disputed document; this stands as a categorically different and more serious breach.”
Brennan has denied his agency did anything wrong.
As Sergeant at Arms, Gainer is the top law enforcement official in the Senate. He is a former police chief of the U.S. Capitol Police as well as the DC Metropolitan Police.