In a stunning public eruption of bad blood, Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein blasted the CIA Tuesday for clandestinely removing incriminating documents about the agency's activities from her committee's computers.
The documents were among 6.2 million pages the CIA had provided to the committee for its investigation of the agency's detention program in which terrorism suspects were subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques later discredited as torture.
CIA officials said they searched the computers to uncover how the committee gained access to the agency's internal review of the detention program. But snooping on Congress is outrageous.
There is no acceptable reason for the CIA to surreptitiously interfere with a congressional investigation of its operations. Such oversight is an important congressional responsiblity. It's absolutely essential when the agency in question operates in secrecy.
When the committee launched its probe in 2009, the CIA provided the documents via computers in Virginia. In December 2012, the committee completed a 6,300-page report that, while not public, is reportedly scathingly critical of the CIA. The agency disputed many of the committee's assertions in a written response. But that response was at odds with the findings of the CIA's own internal investigation of the program that had been summarized for then-Director Leon Panetta.
Feinstein (D-Calif.) said the "Panetta review," which agreed with the Senate committee's findings, was among the documents the CIA removed from the panel's computers. She accused the CIA of breaking federal laws that bar it from conducting domestic searches, undermining the separation of powers and attempting to intimidate her committee.
If crimes were committed, perpetrators should be prosecuted. And if Feinstein's account is verified, heads should roll at the CIA.