Fire CIA Director John Brennan for illegal spying on Congress
It’s shocking: CIA Director John Brennan admitted last week that his agency illegally spied on the U.S. Senate committee charged with overseeing the CIA and holding it accountable.1 2 3
Worse, the spying took place as part of a CIA effort to impede a Senate report concluding that the agency’s unconstitutional and immoral Bush-era torture program was ineffective for gathering intelligence and that the CIA lied to Congress and the White House about the use of torture.
This is the latest evidence that America's shadowy intelligence community is out of control. Yet disturbingly, President Obama is still defending Brennan.4 We need to speak out now to make sure that the CIA is held accountable for its latest reckless assault on our constitution.
Tell President Obama: Fire John Brennan and CIA staff that participated in or knew about the spy operation targeting Congress. Then direct your Department of Justice to open a criminal investigation into their appalling actions.
The U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence will soon release a 6,300 page report on the CIA’s torture program. It is still classified, but will be released to the public soon and is, by all accounts, utterly damning for the CIA.
Last year, Brennan wrote a classified rebuttal to the report aggressively challenging its conclusions. But shortly afterward, Senator Mark Udall, who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, revealed that the CIA had withheld from committee investigators an internal CIA review of the torture program that corroborated the committee’s report, and contradicted Brennan’s defense of the CIA.
But instead of coming clean and releasing the internal CIA review to the Senate, the CIA hacked into computers used by Senate committee staff working on the torture report in an apparent effort to determine how the committee learned about the damaging internal review.
And the story only gets worse. When news of the spying broke earlier this year, John Brennan apparently lied to the public by vigorously denying that it took place -- even though he had privately informed Senators Dianne Feinstein and Saxby Chambliss that the CIA hacked into Senate Intelligence Committee computers.5 Then the CIA demanded that the Department of Justice open a criminal investigation into the Senate Intelligence Committee staffers working on the torture report, absurdly claiming that they broke the law by obtaining a draft version and summary of the CIA’s internal review of its torture program!6
As a high-level official in the Bush administration, CIA Director John Brennan publicly embraced and defended the use of torture by the American government.7 While we don’t know whether Brennan ordered the CIA to spy on Congress, the CIA under Brennan’s leadership is clearly desperate to cover up its Bush-era torture crimes. As Director of the CIA, Brennan is ultimately responsible for the conduct of his agency.
President Obama must immediately replace him and hold accountable the people responsible for spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee.
1. Mark Mazzetti and Carl Hulse, "Inquiry by C.I.A. Affirms It Spied on Senate Panel," New York Times, July 31, 2014
2. Jonathan S. Landay and Ali Watkins, "CIA admits it broke into Senate computers; senators call for spy chief’s ouster," McClatchy, July 31, 2014
3. David Corn, "Should Obama Fire His CIA Chief for Misleading the Public About the Senate Spying Scandal?" Mother Jones, July 31, 2014
4. Kevin Drum, "John Brennan Needs to Leave the CIA, One Way or Another," Mother Jones, August 1, 2014
5. Summary of CIA Inspector General's report
6. "Statement on Intel Committee’s CIA Detention, Interrogation Report," Senator Dianne Feinstein, March 11, 2014
7. Glenn Greenwald, "John Brennan's extremism and dishonesty rewarded with CIA Director nomination," The Guardian, January 7, 2013