By Greg Miller and Adam Goldman
A behind-the-scenes battle between the CIA and Congress erupted in public Tuesday as the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee accused the agency of breaking laws and breaching constitutional principles in an alleged effort to undermine the panel’s multi-year investigation of a controversial interrogation program.
Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) accused the CIA of secretly removing documents, searching committee-used computers and attempting to intimidate congressional investigators by requesting an FBI inquiry of their conduct — charges that CIA Director John Brennan disputed within hours of her appearance on the Senate floor.
Feinstein described the escalating conflict as a “defining moment” for Congress’s role in overseeing the nation’s intelligence agencies and cited “grave concerns” that the CIA had “violated the separation-of-powers principles embodied in the United States Constitution.”
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The dueling claims exposed bitterness and distrust that have soared to new levels as the committee nears completion of a 6,000-page report that is expected to serve as a scathing historical record of the agency’s use of waterboarding and other brutal interrogation methods on terrorism suspects held at secret CIA prisons overseas after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Brennan said he had ordered the CIA’s inspector general to review the agency’s conduct. The inspector general, in turn, has issued a separate referral seeking a Justice Department review.
Asked whether he would resign if the CIA was found to be in the wrong, Brennan said he would let the president decide his fate. “If I did something wrong, I will go to the president,” the director said. “He is the one who can ask me to stay or to go.”
Read more: WashingtonPost.com
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