Feinstein Goes Public With CIA's Dirty Practices, Snowden Rolls Eyes

By Michelle Maisto  |  Posted 2014-03-12 Print this article Print

The CIA has accused the committee of hacking into its system to obtain the Panetta documents, but Feinstein said no such thing happened, and it's unclear whether the report had always been among the 6 million-plus pages, whether intentionally or not, or was added by a whistleblower.

Sometime after the committee identified and began reviewing the Panetta documents, said Feinstein, "access to the vast majority of them was removed by the CIA. We believe this happened in 2010 but we have no way of knowing the specifics. Nor do we know why the documents were removed. The staff was focused on reviewing the tens of thousands of new documents that continued to arrive on a regular basis."

Feinstein requested a full copy of the "Internal Panetta Review," to no avail. In January, she wrote to CIA Director John Brennan asking for an emergency meeting—after she learned that CIA personnel had conducted a "search" of the committee's offsite computers and network drive—and wrote another letter asking 12 specific questions about the CIA's actions, both of which have gone unanswered.

Weeks later, Feinstein continued, she was told that the acting general counsel of the CIA had filed a crimes report with the Department of Justice concerning the committee staff's work.

"The staff members who have been working on this study and this report have devoted years of their lives to it—wading through the horrible details of a CIA program that never, never should have existed. They have worked long hours and produced a report … unprecedented in the history of the Senate. They are now being threatened with legal jeopardy, just as the final revisions to the report are being made so that parts of it can be declassified and released to the American people," said Feinstein. 

She concluded, "How Congress responds and how this is resolved will show whether the Intelligence Committee can be effective in monitoring and investigating our nation's intelligence activities, or whether our work can be thwarted by those we oversee."

Snowden sent NBC News a statement on the matter, saying it is clear the CIA was playing "keep away" with the documents, but also saying some hypocrisy was at play.

"It's equally if not more concerning that we're seeing another 'Merkel Effect,' where an elected official does not care at all that the rights of millions of ordinary citizens are violated by our spies, but suddenly it's a scandal when a politician finds out the same thing happens to them," Snowden said.

The U.S. government's spying practices, revealed by Snowden, have encouraged a market of security- and privacy-intense mobile phones, including the Blackphone, from Silent Circle and Geeksphone, the Black phone, from Boeing, and a Privacy Phone from FreedomPop, which has nicknamed the device the "Snowden Phone."  


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