CIA Director John O. Brennan has apologized to leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee after an agency investigation determined that its employees improperly searched computers used by committee staff to review classified files on interrogations of prisoners.
The embarrassing admission by the agency follows a dispute that erupted earlier this year when the CIA and the committee traded accusations of snooping on one another, allegations that led to an extraordinary public feud between Brennan and senior lawmakers.
The conflict centered on computers that the CIA set up at a secret office in Northern Virginia to enable committee aides to examine records of the agency’s use of harsh interrogation measures on al-Qaeda suspects after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
A statement released by the CIA on Tuesday acknowledged that agency employees had searched areas of that computer system that were supposed to be accessible only to committee investigators. Agency employees were attempting to discover how congressional aides had obtained a secret CIA internal report on the interrogation program.
“Some employees acted in a manner inconsistent with the common understanding reached” between the CIA and lawmakers in 2009, when the committee investigation was launched, according to the agency statement, which cited a review by the CIA’s inspector general. The CIA statement was first reported by the McClatchy news service. . .