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CIA Launches Probe of Possible Spying on US Senate Staffers

FILE - Lobby of the CIA Headquarters Building in McLean, Virginia.
The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency has launched an internal review into allegations that its officers had improperly monitored congressional staffers assigned to investigate the agency's interrogation program.

Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein told reporters Wednesday about the investigation by the CIA's inspector general Wednesday, confirming earlier reports by The New York Times and McClatchy Newspapers.

Feinstein is the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which conducted a four year investigation into the CIA's now-defunct terrorist detention and interrogation program, which began under former President George W. Bush. Under an agreement between the committee and the spy agency, the CIA provided computers for the committee's staff members so they could review millions of pages of classified documents.

CIA officers allegedly conducted unauthorized searches of those computers to monitor the staffers' activities, which lawmakers say violated the agreement.

CIA Director John Brennan issued a statement late Wednesday saying he was "deeply dismayed" over what he called "spurious allegations" made by lawmakers.

Both the Times and McClatchy said the CIA's inspector general, who is handling the internal probe, has referred the matter to the Justice Department.

Some lawmakers have suggested the alleged monitoring may have also violated federal law that prohibits unauthorized access to a computer.

The Senate Intelligence Committee approved a 6,000-page report in December 2012 that concluded the CIA's detention and interrogation program, which held suspected terrorists in secret overseas prisons and engaged in harsh interrogation techniques such as waterboarding, yielded little or no significant intelligence.

The committee sent the report to the CIA so the agency could review it and add its own comments before it was released to the public.