CIA Admits to Hacking Senate Computers

CIA Director John Brennan arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 12, 2013, to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on worldwide threats.

Susan Walsh/AP

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CIA Director John Brennan arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 12, 2013, to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on worldwide threats.

In a sharp and sudden reversal, the CIA acknowledged it improperly tapped into the computers of Senate staffers reviewing Bush-era torture practices. By Dustin Volz

The Central Intelligence Agency improperly and covertly hacked into computers used by Senate staffers to investigate the spy agency’s Bush-era interrogation practices, according to an internal investigation.

CIA Director John Brennan said that employees “acted in a manner inconsistent with the common understanding” brokered between the CIA and its Senate overseers, according to CIA spokesman Dean Boyd.

The stunning admission follows a scathing, 40-minute speech Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein gave from the Senate floor back in March, in which she accused the CIA of covertly removing key documents from her panel’s computers during its review of the government’s torture, detention and rendition policies during the Bush presidency. Feinstein lacerated the CIA and charged them with possibly violating the Constitution.

At the time, Brennan denied Feinstein’s accusations, telling NBC News reporter Andrea Mitchell that “the allegations of the CIA hacking into Senate computers … [are] beyond the scope of reason.”

But after being briefed on the inspector general’s findings, Brennan “apologized” to both Feinstein and the panel’s top Republican, Sen. Saxby Chambliss, for the actions of his officers.

Brennan has submitted the inspector general’s findings to an accountability board led by retired Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh, according to Boyd. Bayh, an Indiana Republican, once served on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

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