Iyengar: Why doesn't the CIA tweet an apology?

A file photo of a man crossing the A file photo of a man crossing the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) logo in the lobby of CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, on Aug. 14, 2008. Photo Credit: Getty Images

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The CIA is under fire after an internal investigation found that some of its officers infiltrated the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee that was preparing a report on its detention and interrogation program.

John Brennan, the agency's director, has done a quick about-face and apologized to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the committee chairwoman, after hotly denying the allegations of tampering she raised back in March. According to a CIA statement on Thursday, Brennan also apologized to the committee's ranking Republican, Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, and outlined plans to set up an internal accountability review board to look into the issue. A number of Democratic senators have expressed outrage at the CIA's behavior, with Ron Wyden, a senator from Oregon, demanding a wider public apology.

If the intelligence agency does intend to honor Wyden's request, it might want to consider Twitter as a starting point. During the week's events, the CIA's Twitter account was conspicuously silent. On Thursday, when the controversy first broke, it tweeted a picture of memorabilia from "The Man from U.N.C.L.E," a 1960s TV show, as the "CIA #Museum Artifact of the Week."

The intelligence agency joined the popular social network on June 6 with the words, "We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet," and its 97 tweets since have been riddled with #TBT (Throwback Thursdays), Tupac jokes and random factual tidbits.

If the CIA joined Twitter, as many other organizations do, to engage with the general public and reach a wider audience, then doesn't it owe that audience an explanation about the Senate scandal as well? Amid the fun facts about where the world's highest active volcano is located and archival photos of cameras strapped to pigeons, an apology for spying on our country's lawmakers wouldn't be out of place at all.

Several established and respected individuals and organizations -- from the White House to the pope -- have used Twitter for serious purposes. But so far, the CIA still treats Twitter as a frivolous social network rather than a legitimate public forum.

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In fact, the CIA's 740,000 Twitter followers present it with an opportunity to regain some of the public's trust. Assuming it cares, that is. And the fact that the agency joined Twitter in the first place seems to indicate that it does.

Rishi Iyengar is a summer intern at Newsday Opinion.

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