Report: CIA improperly accessed Senate computers

The agency apologizes for spying on computers used in a Senate investigation

An internal CIA investigation has determined its employees improperly accessed computers used by the Senate Intelligence Committee while it was working on a report about the agency's post-9/11 detention and interrogation program, according to a report by McClatchy.

Earlier this year, Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, accused the intelligence agency of spying on computers that had been set up in a CIA facility near Washington, D.C., in 2010 to allow committee staffers to examine millions of classified documents, memos and other information that related to the program, implemented when George W. Bush was president.

The unusual system apparently allowed committee staffers access to classified material while keeping that material within the CIA, and the only CIA staff with access were supposed to be IT workers. That would, in theory, allow the Senate to conduct an independent investigation while keeping the documents secure.

But Feinstein alleged that after receiving a dump of more than 6 million documents, its staff members noticed key reports disappearing from the networked hard drives used to receive data from the CIA.

The CIA Inspector General conducted an investigation into Feinstein's claims and the findings "include a judgment that some CIA employees acted in a manner inconsistent with the common understanding reached between SSCI (Senate Select Committee on Intelligence) and the CIA in 2009," McClatchy reported, quoting a statement from CIA spokesman Dean Boyd.

Feinstein and senior members of her committee were briefed on the CIA inspector general's findings Tuesday and, "The director . . . apologized to them for such actions by CIA officers as described in the OIG (Office of Inspector General Report)," the CIA spokesman told McClatchy.

Feinstein's anger at the CIA's spying on her committee was viewed as ironic by some. She was a staunch defender of U.S. government spying and surveillance operations unveiled by Edward Snowden and called the former NSA contractor a "traitor" for revealing them.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

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