In extraordinary backtracking today, Central Intelligence Agency chief John Brennan apologized to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) because some CIA officers improperly accessed computers used by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

A declassified CIA inspector general’s report released to the Senators on Thursday revealed that agency officers improperly accessed Senate computers, read emails of Senate committee staff, and tried to hide their actions from agency investigators.

From the Los Angeles Times:

In a statement issued by the agency, a CIA spokesman said Director John Brennan had apologized to Senate Intelligence Committee chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and other committee leaders for the computer search.

The spokesman said the agency’s inspector general had found evidence that CIA officers’ actions were “inconsistent with the common understanding” between the agency and committee.

“The director is committed to correcting any shortcomings related to this matter,” CIA spokesman Dean Boyd said Thursday.

The CIA has set up an accountability board, led by former Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh, to review the inspector general’s findings and recommend disciplinary actions, if necessary, Boyd said.

Feinstein raised eyebrows in March when she made the original snooping allegations against the CIA during a speech on the Senate floor.

It turns out she was right and Brennan had to eat crow today. The big question now is will Brennan remain as the head of the CIA. He has always been a controversial player in Washington, DC, and today’s revelations may be the beginning of his end.

The admission brings Brennan’s already rocky tenure at the head of the CIA under renewed question. One senator on the panel said he had lost confidence in the director, although the White House indicated its support for a man who has been one of Barack Obama’s most trusted security aides.

CIA spokesman Dean Boyd acknowledged that agency staff had improperly monitored the computers of committee staff members, who were using a network the agency had set up, called RDINet. “Some CIA employees acted in a manner inconsistent with the common understanding reached between [the committee] and the CIA in 2009 regarding access to the RDINet,” he said.

Asked if Brennan had or would offer his resignation, a different CIA spokesman, Ryan Trapani, replied: “No.”

Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) who is in a tough re-election campaign this year wasted no time in calling on Brennan to step aside.

“From the unprecedented hacking of congressional staff computers and continued leaks undermining the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program to his abject failure to acknowledge any wrongdoing by the agency, I have lost confidence in John Brennan,” Udall said in a statement.

One need only look to this piece at Salon to wonder if Brennan’s days are numbered. Brennan is deeply mistrusted by Obama’s progressive base and snooping on Senate staffers could be the last straw.


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