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Brennan Apologizes To Feinstein Over Latest CIA-Senate Spat

The head of the CIA has apologized to Calif. Senator Dianne Feinstein after she accused the agency of improperly snooping on a Senate investigation.
Posted at 8:31 PM, Jul 31, 2014

In a rare public mea culpa, the CIA has acknowledged it interfered with an oversight probe by snooping on Senate computers.

In a statement first reported by McClatchy, the intelligence agency admitted "Some CIA employees acted in a manner inconsistent with the common understanding reached between [the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence or] SSCI and the CIA."

The apology stems from accusations made by Senator Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the SSCI. Back in March, she accused the CIA of improperly accessing Senate computers and deleting key documents being used by Senate investigators. (Via Getty ImagesC-SPAN)

The Senate was probing the CIA's Bush-era detention and interrogation program, which has drawn harsh criticism and been compared to torture. Those programs are now defunct. (Via Getty Images)

At the time, CIA director John Brennan was adamant that Feinstein's accusations were false. 

BRENNAN: "Let me assure you that the CIA in no way was spying on the SSCI or the Senate." (Via MSNBC)

But Brennan changed his tune after the CIA's own investigation proved Feinstein's suspicions. He's since apologized to the Senator and sent the report over to an accountability board, which Feinstein called "positive firsts steps."

Feinstein's reaction to the apology was perhaps more charitable than her Senate colleagues Mark Udall and Ron Wyden, both of whom have been vocal critics of the intelligence agency in the past.

This probably won't be the last controversy we hear on this subject. The New York Times reports former CIA director George Tenet, who oversaw the controversial Bush-era interrogation techniques, is "quietly engineer[ing] a counterattack" against the Senate's findings.

Those findings are expected to be declassified in a few weeks — and it doesn't look good for the CIA. A leaked White House memo says the report "tells a story of which no American is proud" and leaves "no doubt that the harm caused by the use of these techniques outweighed any potential benefit."