I can't blame him:Following a classified briefing on an inspector general report detailing the CIA's unauthorized intrusion into U.S. Senate staffers' computers, Mark Udall, who serves on the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued the following statement calling for CIA Director John Brennan's resignation:
"After being briefed on the CIA Inspector General report today, I have no choice but to call for the resignation of CIA Director John Brennan. The CIA unconstitutionally spied on Congress by hacking into Senate Intelligence Committee computers. This grave misconduct not only is illegal, but it violates the U.S. Constitution’s requirement of separation of powers. These offenses, along with other errors in judgment by some at the CIA, demonstrate a tremendous failure of leadership, and there must be consequences.
"The CIA needs to acknowledge its wrongdoing and correct the public record in a timely, forthright manner — and that simply hasn't occurred under John Brennan's leadership. Such an acknowledgment is necessary, whether we're talking about spying on Senate computers or about correcting misleading and inaccurate information about the CIA's detention and interrogation program. An internal CIA accountability board review isn't enough."
Here's some more info:Following reports that Central Intelligence Agency employees improperly accessed computers used by U.S. Senate staff to investigate the agency, Sen. Mark Udall (D-Co.) said Thursday he no longer had confidence in John Brennan as CIA director.
"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.
According to a CIA Inspector General’s Office report first obtained by McClatchy, agency employees in 2009 hacked Senate computers being used to compile a report on the agency’s infamous detention and interrogation program -- a move that some critics have characterized as a significant breach of the separation of powers. Brennan has apologized to Senate intelligence committee leaders, including Chairwoman Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who took the floor earlier this year to excoriate the agency for skirting the law and attempting to intimidate Congress.
Brennan later adamantly denied that his agency had broken the law. "As far as allegations about CIA hacking into Senate computers, nothing could be further from the truth," he said. "We wouldn't do that. That's just beyond the scope of reason." - Huffington Post, 7/31/14
Here's some more background info:In January, Brennan informed committee chairman Sen. Dianne Feinstein and vice-chairman Sen. Saxby Chambliss that the CIA had recently performed a “search” of that network and determined that committee staffers had been given access to files that should not have been on the network. In turn, Feinstein said she believed that the CIA could only have determined that by violating the agreement that the CIA would not have access to the committee’s computer network.
At the time Brennan referred the dispute to the CIA’s Inspector General.
In a statement released today CIA spokesman Dean Boyd said the Inspector General’s investigation had judged “that some CIA employees acted in a manner inconsistent with the common understanding reached between SSCI and the CIA in 2009 regarding access to the RDINet.”
“The Director subsequently informed the SSCI Chairman and Vice Chairman of the findings and apologized to them for such actions by CIA officers as described in the OIG report,” said Boyd.
The statement added that Brennan has ordered the establishment of an Accountability Board to be chaired by former senator Evan Bayh who served on the Senate Intelligence Committee. ”This Board will review the OIG report, conduct interviews as needed, and provide the Director with recommendations that, depending on its findings, could include potential disciplinary measures and/or steps to address systemic issues,” said Boyd.
The dispute became public in March when Feinstein delivered a lengthy and blistering speech on the Senate floor where she expressed “grave concerns” that the CIA had conducted an unauthorized search of the network that violated the 2009 agreement. She also asked the CIA to apologize and recognize that the computer search was inappropriate.
Appearing at a Washington think tank the same day as Feinstein’s speech, Brennan denied her accusations labeling them “beyond the scope of reason” and that “nothing could be further from the truth.” ”I mean we wouldn’t do that,” Brennan told the Council on Foreign Relations. “I mean that’s just beyond the scope of reason in terms of what we would do.” - ABC News, 7/31/14
Udall and his colleagues are calling for action:Committee Democrats have spent more than five years working on a report about the C.I.A.'s detention and interrogation program during the George W. Bush administration, which employed brutal interrogation methods like waterboarding. Parts of that report, expected to conclude that the techniques yielded little valuable information and that C.I.A. officials consistently misled the White House and Congress about the efficacy of the techniques, are expected to be released in August.
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The current crisis erupted late last year, when C.I.A. officials came to suspect that the committee’s staff — sifting through millions of documents at an agency facility in Northern Virginia — improperly obtained an internal review of the program that the C.I.A. never intended to give to Congress. In response, C.I.A. security officials penetrated a secure computer server that had been set up to allow the Senate investigators to work on their report without being monitored by the spy agency.
The C.I.A. and lawmakers spent months trading accusations in private, until the fight became public in March and Ms. Feinstein took to the Senate floor to deliver a blistering speech accusing the agency of infringing on the committee’s role as overseer.
Calling it a “defining moment” in the committee’s history, Senator Feinstein said that how the matter 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.”
The White House publicly defended Mr. Brennan on Thursday, saying he had taken “responsible steps” to address the situation, including suggesting an investigation, accepting its results and appointing an accountability board. Asked whether the results of the investigation present a credibility issue for Mr. Brennan, Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, said, “Not at all.”
Crediting Mr. Brennan with playing an “instrumental role” in helping the United States government destroy Al Qaeda’s leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Mr. Earnest said, “He is somebody who has a very difficult job, who does that job extraordinarily well.” - New York Times, 7/31/14
We'll see what happens next. Let me digress onto the campaign side of this race. Tea Party Rep. Cory Gardner (R. CO) keeps trying to confuse people on his stance on immigration reform:Last week, Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden said he was discussing with his colleagues a seldom-used Senate Intelligence Committee process that could force release of the report.
“Without prior notification or approval, CIA personnel had conducted a search — that was John Brennan’s word — of the committee computers at the offsite facility,” Feinstein said in March. “This search was not only of documents provided by the committee by the CIA but also a search of the stand-alone and walled-off committee network drive containing the committee’s own internal work product and communications.”
McClatchy reported that Feinstein and Intelligence Vice Chairman Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., were briefed on the matter Tuesday by Brennan.
The Senate Intelligence Committee is scheduled to address the matter at a meeting Thursday afternoon, panel member Angus King, I-Maine, told reporters.
Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., called for appointing independent counsel.
“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,” he said in a statement.
Wyden declined to call for Brennan to resign, but he told reporters the revelation should speed disclosure of the torture report.
“What’s needed now is a public apology from Director Brennan to staff and the committee, a full accounting of how this occurred and a commitment there will be no further attempts to undermine Congressional oversight of CIA activities,” Wyden said. - Roll Call, 7/31/14
Gardner is a top target by pro-immigration groups like the SEIU who are pushing to get Latinos out to the polls in big numbers:Colorado Senate candidate Cory Gardner, who's challenging Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, has been hitting the radio airwaves recently with his thoughts on immigration
You don't have to listen too closely to see a pattern in how he talks about the issue.
He usually starts with point number one and works through point four: 1. Sound like you're for immigration reform. 2. Attack others for immigration-reform failures. 3. Sound like you have an actual factual immigration-reform plan, when, in fact, you have nothing specific to offer. 4. Go back to point number 1.
Here's how it works in action, as delivered during a Hot Air interview July 26, so real reporters can be prepared, if they interview Gardner on immigration.
Gardner: We have a humanitarian crisis at our Southern border that underscores the broader need for responsible immigration reform.
[That's point one: He's sounding like he wants rational reform, like most voters do.]
Gardner: My opponent, Senator Udall, voted in favor of the Senate legislation that the Congressional Budget Office estimates would decrease illegal immigration by as little as 33%. Our current problems require long-term reform, not short-term Washington fixes.
[Point two: He's blaming others, even though Udall joined Republicans and Democrats is passing a bipartisan immigration-reform bill, blocked by House Republicans, including Gardner himself, who proposed no alternative! And, by the way, the bill would cut illegal immigration by 33-50 percent.]
Gardner: I believe we should move forward with an immigration policy that prioritizes border security, and that includes a viable guest-worker program that capitalizes on the benefits of legal immigration to this country.
[Pont three and four: He's sounding like he has a plan. But where is it? Judging from his utterances, you'd think he supports the bipartisan Senate immigration bill, which he's just slammed Udall for supporting. What does Gardner support? He opposes the Senate bill, and has no concrete plan of his own. Just these four airy points. - Huffington Post, 7/30/14
immigration reform and Gardner's past support for Personhood Amendments could be what takes him down but of course we have to be ready for anything. Click here to donate and get involved with Udall's campaign:The SEIU is out with new Spanish-language radio ads targeting Reps. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), Joe Heck (R-Nev.) and David Valadao (R-Calif.).
Gardner is a top Senate recruit in a state with a large Hispanic population, while the other three are top Democratic targets in Latino-heavy swing districts.
The ads hit the four on immigration reform, tying them to the national party.
"It's simply unacceptable: Mike Coffman and Cory Gardner, together with the Republicans, have blocked immigration reform. Worse yet, they voted to deport our DREAMers. And now, this is the limit — Republicans attack our children at the border as if they were criminals," the ad says in Spanish. - The Hill, 7/29/14