A New Turn in the Story on CIA Monitoring of Senate Intelligence Committee Computers

In the late evening of March 4, 2014, McClatchy reported that the CIA’s Inspector General had asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into CIA monitoring of computers used by the Senate Intelligence Committee. The CIA had provided the computers to the Committee in a secure room at CIA headquarters. The computers were used by Senate aides in conducting the Committee’s study of CIA secret detention and interrogation programs. 

The McClatchy story did not mention that the Senate aides may have engaged in unauthorized retrieval of classified documents from the CIA computers. A New York Times story in the early morning of March 5, however, did include the element of the story about the unauthorized access and removal of documents by Senate aides.

In other words: the CIA may have been monitoring the unauthorized retrieval of information from their own computers! That said, we do not know when exactly the monitoring began, its scope or purpose.

Yesterday evening, MClatchy caught up to the second half of the story and issued what may amount to a form of retraction. It is no longer as clear that the Inspector General’s referral relates to the CIA’s actions (monitoring). It is possible that the referral to the Justice Department relates to the Senate staffers’ actions (unauthorized retrieval of documents). Here’s the key para. in McClatchy’s new report:

It remained unclear Wednesday if the monitoring, the unauthorized removal of classified material or another matter were the subject of a recent CIA request to the Justice Department for an investigation into alleged malfeasance in connection with the committee’s top-secret study.

  

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About the Author(s)

Ryan Goodman

Co-Editor-in-Chief of Just Security, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Professor of Law at New York University School of Law, former Special Counsel to the General Counsel of the Department of Defense (2015-2016). You can follow him on Twitter @rgoodlaw.