Senate Intelligence Committee staff were investigating the Central Intelligence Agency's Bush/Cheney-era torture programs.*
The compromise agreement between the Intelligence Committee and the CIA regarding investigation-related documentation was for the CIA to provide a secure room with computers, a local network, and electronic copies of the millions of documents.
Among those documents were drafts of the so-called Leon Panetta torture review, which confirmed the Intelligence Committee's torture report conclusions and proved that the CIA lied to the Intelligence Committee about torture multiple times.
Without telling the Intelligence Committee and without permission, the CIA went onto the computers in the secure room and deleted files, including some of the Panetta review drafts, more than once. At some point the CIA also searched the computers and told the Intelligence Committee after-the-fact.
At some point Intelligence Committee staff took a copy of a Panetta review draft, redacted certain information from it according to standard protocol, printed it, and took it to the Committee's own secure room in the Capitol.
The Intelligence Committee has referred the matter to the Department of Justice for investigation into constitutional and criminal violations on the part of CIA officials.
The CIA has referred the the matter to the DoJ for investigation into crimes related to the handling of classified information on the part of the Intelligence Committee staff.
If we are to have a national government that operates under any semblance of the rule of law—if we are to have a legitimate constitutional form of government with separation of powers—if we are to have any pretense of a free country—then the Senate must win, and the Central Intelligence Agency must lose.
This would mean that high CIA officials would be up for potential prosecution and prison sentences.
The prospect is strong that they will not go quietly.
The Senate Intelligence Committee's torture report is complete. Declassification and public release are pending.
The Senate has the unilateral power to publish the torture report, should the body so decide. Per Sen. Mike Gravel's historic act with the Pentagon Papers, any one senator with committee or subcommittee chair powers could singlehandedly read the torture report into the record.
One illustrative detail out of the affair: Robert Eatinger, the CIA attorney who referred the Senate staffers to the DoJ for prosecution, was also involved in the decision to destroy the torture tapes.
Transcript: Sen. Dianne Feinstein says CIA searched Intelligence Committee computersThe CIA provided its response to the study on June 27th, 2013. As CIA Director Brennan has stated, the CIA officially agrees with some of our study, but has been reported the CIA disagrees and disputes important parts of it.
Washington Post, March 11, 2014
Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Tuesday morning accused the CIA of violating federal law, detailing how the agency secretly removed documents from computers used by the Senate Intelligence Committee. The following is a complete transcript of Feinstein’s speech, courtesy of Federal News Service.
And this is important. Some of these important parts that the CIA now disputes in our committee study are clearly acknowledged in the CIA's own internal Panetta review.
The Senate-CIA Blowup Threatens a Constitutional CrisisThis morning, on C-SPAN, the foundation of the national security state exploded.
The allegations of CIA snooping on congressional investigators isn't just a scandal—the whole premise of secret government is in question.
By David Corn, Mother Jones, Tue Mar. 11, 2014 10:01 AM GMT
* Expressly "torture," not "enhanced interrogation methods"Where the Bodies Are Buried: A Constitutional Crisis Feinstein Better Be Ready To WinBut I’m not sure the crisis stems from Feinstein “going nuclear” on the floor of the Senate today. Rather, I think whether Feinstein recognized it or not, we had already reached that crisis point, and John Brennan simply figured he had prepared adequately to face and win that crisis.
By emptywheel, March 11, 2014