I am no expert on how to conduct intelligence, but its a guarantee that our CIA would do a better job if they spent less time spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee staffers and more time spying on “the bad guys.”

According to Wednesday’s New York Times, the CIA is trying to keep the details of a defunct detention and interrogation program secret and the Senate Intelligence Committee is fighting to get the details. Not only has this investigation led to bad blood between the two, but the CIA has been caught spying on the Senate Committee’s staffers. And now the CIA’s Investigator General is getting involved.

The agency’s inspector general began the inquiry partly as a
response to complaints from members of Congress that C.I.A. employees were
improperly monitoring the work of staff members of the Senate Intelligence
Committee, according to government officials with knowledge of the
The committee has spent several years working on a
voluminous report about the detention and interrogation program, and according
to one official interviewed in recent days, C.I.A. officers went as far as
gaining access to computer networks used by the committee to carry out its
The events have elevated the protracted battle — which began
as a fight over who writes the history of the program, perhaps the most
controversial aspect of the American government’s response to the Sept. 11
attacks — into a bitter standoff that in essence is a dispute over the
separation of powers and congressional oversight of spy agencies.
The specifics of the inspector general’s investigation are
unclear. But several officials interviewed in recent days — all of whom
insisted on anonymity, citing a continuing inquiry — said it began after the
C.I.A. took what Senator Mark Udall, Democrat of Colorado, on Tuesday called an
“unprecedented action” against the committee.
The action, which Mr. Udall did not describe, took place
after C.I.A. officials came to suspect that congressional staff members had
gained unauthorized access to agency documents during the course of the
Intelligence Committee’s years-long investigation into the detention and interrogation
It is not known what the agency’s inspector general, David
B. Buckley, has found in the investigation or whether Mr. Buckley has referred
any cases to the Justice Department for further investigation. Spokesmen for
the agency and the Justice Department declined to comment.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California and
chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee, gave few details about the dispute on
Tuesday as she left a closed committee hearing on the crisis in Ukraine, but
she did confirm that the C.I.A. had begun an internal review.
“There is an I.G. investigation,” she said.
Asked about the tension between the committee and the spy
agency it oversees, Ms. Feinstein said, “Our oversight role will prevail.”
The episode is a rare moment of public rancor between the
intelligence agencies and Ms. Feinstein’s committee, which has been criticized
in some quarters for its muscular defense of many controversial intelligence
programs — from the surveillance operations exposed by the former National
Security Agency contractor Edward J. Snowden to the Obama administration’s
targeted killing program using armed drones.
The origins of the current dispute date back more than a
year, when the committee completed its work on a 6,000-page report about the
Bush administration’s detention and interrogation program. People who have read
the study said it is a withering indictment of the program and details many
instances when C.I.A. officials misled Congress, the White House and the public
about the value of the agency’s brutal interrogation methods, including
The report has yet to be declassified, but last June, John
O. Brennan, the C.I.A. director, responded to the Senate report with a 122-page
rebuttal challenging specific facts in the report as well as the
investigation’s overarching conclusion — that the agency’s interrogation
methods yielded little valuable intelligence.

While the latest investigation may be a rehash of earlier claims the Democrats have made against the Bush Presidency, the congressional right of oversight must take precedence here. In order to remain the civilian led government we have, executive agencies such as the CIA must acquiesce to the investigations run by congress, without a display of intimidation such as spying on the investigators.