The head of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee says the CIA improperly searched a computer network used in the panel's investigation of alleged abuses in CIA detention and interrogation programs.
Senator Dianne Feinstein said on the Senate floor Tuesday she has "grave concerns that the CIA's search may well have violated the separation of powers principles embodied in the U.S. Constitution."
Feinstein said CIA Inspector General David Buckley has referred the matter to the Justice Department for investigation of a possible "criminal violation by CIA personnel."
The CIA provided the computers so the panel could review millions of pages of top-secret documents during its investigation into the CIA's use of torture during the administration of former president George W. Bush.
A statement last week by CIA Director John Brennan called the Senate charges "spurious allegations ... wholly unsupported by the facts."
Feinstein refuted reports that her committee's staff hacked into CIA computers to obtain an internal report on the agency's interrogation and detention program. She said the internal CIA report, known as the "Panetta Review" after then-CIA Director Leon Panetta, was obtained with a search tool obtained from the CIA, not through unauthorized means.