And Udall is holding onto this nominee because he wants Obama to come clean on this:Colorado Democrat Mark Udall will continue to seek answers to questions in connection to the nomination of Caroline Krass to be CIA general counsel until receiving answers.
There is not yet a technical hold, but it would be difficult to see Krass winning quick confirmation without responses to Udall about CIA interrogation programs.
“The CIA tried to intimidate the Intelligence Committee, plain and simple,” Udall said. “I’m going to keep fighting like hell to ensure that the CIA never dodges congressional oversight again.”
Sen. Ron Wyden, a kindred spirit on these issues, said he expected Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., to provide what he called “additional information” about new allegations of CIA monitoring of computers used by committee staff.
“What I will tell you is that at the worldwide threat hearing, which is an open hearing, I thought it was important to ask Director Brennan, the head of the CIA, whether or not the computer fraud statute applied to the agency,” Wyden said. “He has indicated now to me in writing that it does.
“I think it is a huge challenge in terms of vigorous oversight, because of course there are very substantial threats to our country,” Wyden said. - Roll Call, 3/5/14
Here's a little background info:Colorado Sen. Mark Udall is asking President Obama to declassify a special report reviewing a CIA interrogation program. This wasn't the first time.
Udall's Tuesday letter said that declassifying this report was "vital," because so much of the information that has already been released to the public is "misleading and inaccurate."
"Much of what has been declassified and released about the operation, management, and effectiveness of the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program is simply wrong," Udall wrote.
Udall is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which was reported in a CIA spying scandal on the same day that Udall's letter was sent. The scandal, according to McClatchy DC, is that the CIA has been monitoring computers used to prepare the report on its own interrogation program that Udall is calling for declassifying.
"I know we share the assessment that the use of coercive interrogation techniques by our country was a grave mistake that ran counter to our values and founding principles, as well as counter to our national security interests," Udall wrote. "I know we also share a commitment to transparency and the rule of law. It is my belief that the declassification of the Committee Study is of paramount importance and that decisions about what should or should not be declassified regarding this issue should not be delegated to the CIA, directly handled by the White House." - ABC 7 Denver Channel, 3/7/14
Udall's been one of the lead Senator on the disclosure of this report:A long-simmering feud between the Central Intelligence Agency and its congressional overseers, relating to a Senate investigation into CIA interrogation policies, has erupted into a noisy public spectacle of finger-pointing and accusations.
This current battle traces to an internal review the CIA compiled about its program of interrogating terror suspects at undisclosed sites around the world in the years after the 9/11 attacks. CIA officials think Senate staff gained unauthorized access to the review, which was assembled under former CIA Director Leon Panetta. Senate staffers think the CIA overstepped its bounds in investigating the matter. Both aspects of the dispute are subjects of a Justice Department review, a person familiar with the matter said.
At its core, the argument is about a highly critical, 6,300-page, classified report on the CIA's interrogation program that the Senate completed in 2012. In June, the CIA issued a classified rebuttal, which numbered more than 100 pages, pointing out what it said were factual errors in the report.
The committee and agency have been on a collision course ever since, jockeying over the pending decision that will determine whether or how much of the Senate report will be declassified. If nothing else, the dispute is evidence of how CIA's role in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks remains a potent and sensitive topic of debate.
Years ago, the CIA set up a facility for the Senate intelligence committee to access documents related to its investigation. A U.S. official said the committee was informed that the computers at the facility had an audit capability that could determine who accessed certain documents.
In late 2013, lawmakers began making requests to the CIA for a copy of an internal review assembled under Mr. Panetta, who ran the agency from 2009 to 2011. It isn't known when the internal review was done. - Wall Street Journal, 3/17/14
But things are getting interesting in this battle between the CIA and the Senate Intelligence Committee:Amid new accusations that the CIA has been monitoring the computers of Senate aides and a carefully worded letter from Senator Mark Udall to President Obama that seems to indicate the president was aware of the practice, Senator Martin Heinrich released a statement saying, "The Senate Intelligence Committee oversees the CIA, not the other way around."
This is tantamount to a declaration of political war between Congress and the CIA. Udall's letter says, "It is essential that the Committee be able to do its oversight work – consistent with our constitutional principle of the separation of powers – without the CIA posing impediments or obstacles as it does today." He doesn't specify those impediments or obstacles, but he starts the paragraph, "As you are aware..."
It is believed that he is referring both to the CIA's refusal to declassify a damning 6000 page report into torture allegations during the Bush administration, and also to new accusations that the CIA has been monitoring Senate computers. Earlier this week McClatchy DC reported that the Justice Department has been asked to investigate allegations of malfeasance by the CIA. "The criminal referral may be related to what several knowledgeable people said was CIA monitoring of computers used by Senate aides to prepare the study. The monitoring may have violated an agreement between the committee and the agency," says the report.
Since so much to do with the CIA and the NSA is automatically 'classified' there is little explicit reporting. Nevertheless, in January 2014 Sen Ron Wyden explicitly asked CIA chief John Brennan, "Does the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act apply to the CIA?" Techdirt said at the time, "When Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall ask questions to senior intelligence community officials in open hearings, it's not because they don't know the answers, but because they do, and they have information that they think should be public... Given all this," it concludes, "how long will it be until we discover 'explosive' revelations about the CIA that confirm what Wyden and Udall have been hinting at?" - Info Security, 3/7/14
Here's a little more info:The CIA and the Senators overseeing the agency are nearly at war. And it all revolves around the contents of a secret database documenting the CIA's clandestine prisons.
At the center of CIA director John Brennan’s first major clash with the Senate is a massive database containing millions of pages of secrets about the agency's "black site" prison networks and what the CIA euphemistically labeled “enhanced interrogation.” The rest of the world called it torture.
The CIA created the database in 2009 so that staffers from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence could review the documents at an agency facility as it prepared its own report ontorture. According to one Senate staff member familiar with the database, the computer network contains the cables, spot reports, interrogation logs and other details of the CIA's "black sites," a network of prisons around the world where captured al Qaeda operatives would usually end up for questioning before being sent to Guantanamo Bay.
For years, the CIA officially has said the black site program was responsible for obtaining invaluable information from suspected terrorists and even may have led to helping find Osama bin Laden. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, however, disagrees. Its still-classified report (completed in December 2012) concludes that the secret interrogations, renditions and detention did not provide valuable intelligence at all. Since December 2012, the Senate’s report has been locked up in a back and forth with the CIA who has provided its own response to its conclusions—all of which remain classified.
The committee’s report is based on its own independent review of the documents inside the CIA’s database, which was created in 2009. This week, the New York Times and McClatchy first reported allegations from some on the committee that the CIA had been spying on the staffers as they mined the database. They charge that the CIA interfered with the oversight committee’s work by tracking the materials accessed at the CIA facility by the Senate staff members.
In a March 4 letter to President Obama, Sen. Mark Udall, a Democrat from Colorado on the intelligence committee, called the CIA’s actions “unprecedented.”
But one U.S. official familiar with the matter told The Daily Beast Friday that the CIA only audited the database used by the staffers after Senators asked the agency to hand over an “internal review” conducted by Obama’s first CIA director, Leon Panetta. That first request was made in 2013, but it continues to be of particular interest to Udall; he's put a hold on Obama’s nomination of Caroline Krass to be the agency’s general counsel until he gets access to the documents. - Daily Beast, 3/7/14
We shall see how this all plays out. I will applaud Udall's continued work for answers on this and it's important we keep him in the U.S. Senate this year. If you'd like to donate or get involved with Udall's re-election campaign, you can do so here:The removal of the documents is the focus of an intense legal dispute between the CIA and its congressional overseers, said several people who also cited the matter’s sensitivity in asking to remain anonymous.
Some committee members regard the monitoring as a possible violation of the law and contend that their oversight powers give them the right to the documents that were removed. On the other hand, the CIA considers the removal as a massive security breach because the agency doesn’t believe that the committee had a right to those particular materials.
“Even if the agency is technically correct on the legalities, it’s a real asinine thing to pick a fight with your oversight committee like this,” said a U.S. official who was among those who spoke to McClatchy. “You’ve got to be asking yourself why the agency would be willing to take such a risk. The documents must be so damned loaded.”
White House officials have held at least one closed-door meeting with committee members about the monitoring and the removal of the documents, said the first knowledgeable person.
White House officials were trying to determine how the materials that were taken from the CIA facility found their way into a database into which millions of pages of top-secret reports, emails and other documents were made available to panel staff after being vetted by CIA officials and contractors, said the knowledgeable person.
The extraordinary battle has created an unprecedented breakdown in relations between the spy agency and its congressional overseers and raises significant implications for the separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches of the government. It also has fueled uncertainty over how much of the committee’s report will ever be made public.
“The CIA has gone to just about any lengths you can imagine to make sure that the detention and interrogation report won’t be released,” said Sen. Mark Heinrich, D-N.M., a Senate Intelligence Committee member who has pushed hard for the release of the report.
“As furious as I am about these allegations, I want to keep focused on getting that report out to the people so that they can read the truth and make up their own minds as to who made those decisions and why,” he said. - The Macon Telegraph, 3/7/14