The five officers involved in the CIA monitoring of computers Senate staffers used while probing the intelligence agency's torture program acted in good faith and committed no wrongdoing. That's according to a Wednesday report from an "accountability board" in which three of its five members are CIA officials. The review board concluded there was simply a misunderstanding, that the CIA believed it could search the computers being used by staffers of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. National security was at stake, too. "The Board determined that while an informal understanding existed that SSCI work product should be protected, no common understanding existed about the roles and responsibilities in the case of a suspected security incident," according to its highly redacted report
released Wednesday. The review said that the CIA's position was that it had "obligations under the National Security Act" and a legal duty to scour the computers "for the presence of Agency documents to which SSCI staff should not have access."
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) chaired the intelligence committee last year when the breaches occurred, and the politician said she was "disappointed that no one at the CIA will be held accountable."
Feinstein said the decision "was made to search committee computers, and someone should be found responsible for those actions.”
During an impassioned March speech on the Senate floor, she said: “The CIA’s search may also have violated the Fourth Amendment, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, as well as Executive Order 12333, which prohibits the CIA from conducting domestic searches or surveillance." At the time, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) called the snooping "likely criminal conduct."
The intelligence committee was investigating the CIA's torture program and needed access to CIA documents. The agency supplied staffers access to millions of sensitive documents via its RDINet system, which could only be used at a secure location in northern Virginia. The CIA created what the report called "electronic partitions" or firewalls "to offer some protection of the staffers' work product."
But the CIA got wind that perhaps staffers had seen the CIA's own internal review of its interrogation and detention practices. That review was off limits to the intelligence committee staffers. The CIA searched the staffers' computers, even reading e-mail, looking to see if they had accessed the internal review and whether they did so via a security breach.
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