It is unusual for the chief spying agency recognize errors. But in the United States, separation of powers and the persistent surveillance of the executive by the legislature, any evidence of espionage legislators by the agents, as happened a few months ago, is likely to cause a constitutional crisis.
After months of dispute with the heads of watching spies on Capitol Hill, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), John Brennan, acknowledged Thursday that some employees improperly accessed computers reserved for Senate, where the Democratic Party holds the majority. The investigators elaborated a report on interrogation methods and CIA detention to be published in the coming days or weeks.
This is not a case of mass surveillance, such as the National Security Agency (NSA). Neither of widespread practices of espionage as CIA allied itself in countries like Germany: the CIA bugged the offices of senators and read their emails.
But the case is sensitive for several reasons. First, because it affects one of the most sinister episodes in the recent history of American espionage, torture of terrorism suspects during the years after the attacks of September 11, 2011, when Republican George W. Bush was president. Second, because the victim was not espionage and German Chancellor an enemy country or an anonymous city, but the people’s representatives in the performance of the task of supervising intelligence agencies. And third, because it happens when U.S. intelligence practices – from the NSA to the presence of CIA agents in the intelligence services Germans again be questioned.
In March, the president of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Democrat Dianne Feinstein, charged that the practices of the CIA represented an affront to the separation of powers and a violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibits unjustified records. Brennan then denied any surveillance work of those researchers, said: “When the facts to come to light, I think it will be shown that the many people who now say that there was tremendous cases of espionage and surveillance and hacking is wrong.”
A report by the CIA inspector general, responsible for controlling irregularities in the agency, has given reason to senators and has been taken from Brennan, who, in a tense meeting with Feinstein and number two on the Intelligence Committee, Republican Saxby Chambliss apologized.
The incident occurred when the Senate was locked in the research program of interrogation and detention that the CIA put in place after the September 11 and Obama banned upon reaching White House in January 2009. To do this, the CIA put available to the Senate computers located in a building of the agency in the state of Virginia, outside Washington. Senate employees could access more than six million pages of classified documents, but only in this place. The CIA undertook to refrain from monitoring the activity of researchers in these computers.
Things get complicated when the CIA suspected that Senate employees had obtained some documents – just the most incriminating on subsequent torture at 9/11 to the Senate apparently could not access. That’s when the CIA began to monitor computers in breach of the agreement between the CIA and the Senate to keep computers out of reach of the spies.
In addition to supporting the bad practices of their agents, Brennan announced the creation of a national council, led by former Democratic senator Evan Bayh, who will review the case.