February 09, 2016

Watch: Wyden Questions CIA Director on Searching Senate Files, Director of National Intelligence on Strong Encryption

Washington, D.C. –Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore, pressed CIA Director John Brennan on the CIA’s improper search of Senate files at a rare open hearing of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence today.

When you’re talking about spying on the committee responsible for overseeing your agency, in my view that undermines the very checks and balances that protect our democracy and it is unacceptable in a free society,” Wyden said.

The CIA’s own Inspector General concluded the CIA “improperly accessed” Senate files in 2014, while the committee was investigating torture by the CIA during the George W. Bush administration. A review board appointed by Director Brennan concurred, finding that the CIA search resulted in “inappropriate access to SSCI work product.”

The CIA IG report also said criminal allegations by the CIA against Senate Intelligence Committee staff were “solely based on inaccurate information” provided by two CIA attorneys.

Wyden also asked Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to provide an unclassified analysis of “Don’t Panic,” a report on encryption by the Berkman Center at Harvard University, which disputes claims that intelligence and law enforcement agencies are “going dark” as a result of advances in technology. Clapper agreed to provide an answer within 60 days.