CIA Admits Hacking Senate Computers After Months of Denials

by | Aug 1, 2014

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In the same week as the State Department report endorsing findings that the CIA lied to Congress and brutalized suspects, the CIA is now admitting that its recent denials of hacking Senate computers was also false. Once again, however, there is not even a suggestion of discipline, let alone criminal charges, for CIA officials who lied to Congress (or allowed others to lie) and hacked into congressional computers.

CIA Director John Brennan used the type of Orwellian speech that we have come to expect when discussing CIA abuses. He admitted that employees “acted in a manner inconsistent with the common understanding” between the agency and the Senate. That “inconsistency” just happened to involve hacking into computers during an investigation of the CIA itself on Bush-era interrogation practices.

Keep in mind that it was Brennan who just a few months ago mocked the allegations and said “As far as the allegations of the CIA hacking into Senate computers, nothing could be further from the truth. … That’s beyond the scope of reason.” Now one of two possibilities exist. First, Brennan lied to the Senate and then lied to the American people. Second, high-ranking CIA officials lied to Brennan and then sat back as he lied to the Senate and the public. I am not sure which is worse but both would seem a logical basis for a criminal investigation.

The Obama Administration last year struggled with questions of why it has blocked any investigation, let alone prosecution, of James Clapper, director of National Intelligence, who previously acknowledged lying before the Senate. Not only has Clapper not been fired, but Obama has asked him to help oversee the “reforms” of the very abusive program that he helped run and then lied about to Congress. It is part of America’s Animal Farm where government officials can commit crimes with impunity while pursuing others like Snowden for arrest. Yet, the questions persist about Clapper so the Administration sent forth National Intelligence general counsel Robert Litt, who promptly made it far worse.

You may recall that when Clapper appeared before the Senate, he was asked directly, “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” Clapper responded, “No, sir. … Not wittingly.”

We now know that was a lie. Later, Clapper admitted to giving a false answer to Congress but explained that his testimony was “the least untruthful” statement he could make. Yet, of course, that would still make it an untrue statement — which most people call a lie and lawyers call perjury. Indeed, when Roger Clemens was prosecuted for untrue statements before Congress, he was not told of the option to tell the least untrue statement on steroid use.

The scandal followed the Clapper false testimony but the CIA did not hesitate to deny the allegation in the face of bipartisan criticism. Brennan reportedly apologized in private but of course such admissions are not made in public –just between members of what appears a ruling elite in this country. In a truly Orwellian twist, Dianne Feinstein (who has not commented on the admission) issued a statement . . . thanking the Administration for not opening a formal investigation of her staff. That’s right. Feinstein was thankful that the Administration that hacked Senate computers and lied to its members did not proceed to investigate the victims of the hacking. That passes for progress today in our new massive national security system.

So let just keep score. We have the recent admission of Clapper lying to Congress in testimony. He is allowed to keep his position and even put on the board reviewing the very program that he lied about. We have the CIA lying to Congress about torture and destroying evidence. No one is charged and the man who ordered the destruction is allowed to retire with full honors. We have the hacking of Senate computers and lies to Congress by CIA officials. The Senate then thanks the Administration for not investigating the victims and no investigation is ordered of the CIA officials.

It appears, as explained by the pig Squealer in Animal Farm, “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

Reprinted with author’s permission from his blog.


  • Jonathan Turley

    Professor Jonathan Turley is a nationally recognized legal scholar who has written extensively in areas ranging from constitutional law to legal theory to tort law. He has written over three dozen academic articles that have appeared in a variety of leading law journals at Cornell, Duke, Georgetown, Harvard, Northwestern, University of Chicago, and other schools.

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