McClatchy: CIA Monitored Senate Staffers Investigating the CIA

The Senate Intelligence Committee has been working for years on a report about the CIA’s secret detention and torture program. It finished its work over a year ago, but the report is still stuck in limbo, awaiting CIA authorization before it can be released. That fight is ongoing, but in the meantime McClatchy reports on yet another potential scandal:

The committee determined earlier this year that the CIA monitored computers — in possible violation of an agreement against doing so — that the agency had provided to intelligence committee staff in a secure room at CIA headquarters that the agency insisted they use to review millions of pages of top-secret reports, cables and other documents, according to people with knowledge.

In other words, the CIA spied on Senate staffers who were engaged in congressional oversight of the CIA. Andrew Sullivan is apoplectic:

What we have here is a rogue agency, believing it is above the law, above Congress and indeed immune to even presidential oversight. John Brennan, a man who never piped up as the CIA was orchestrating war crimes in a manner unprecedented in US history, is now revealed as running an agency that broke the law and attacked the very basis of a constitutional democracy by targeting the Congress for domestic spying! The CIA is legally barred from any domestic spying, let alone on its constitutional over-seers.

It’s enough to make you think that the CIA committed crimes so damning and lied so aggressively during the torture regime that it is now doing what all criminals do when confronted with the evidence: stonewall, attack the prosecution, try to remove or suppress evidence, police its employees’ testimony, and generally throw up as much dust as possible.

Actually, the funny thing is that this might not be true. It’s possible that spying is simply so ingrained in the CIA’s culture that they do it anytime they can, even if there’s no good reason for it.

Alternatively it’s possible that the CIA committed crimes so damning and lied so aggressively during the torture regime that it’s now terrified of a full accounting of what it did. I could believe either possibility.


Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

We Recommend


Give a Year of the Truth

at our special holiday rate

just $12

Order Now

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.