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CIA admits hacking U.S. Senate computers

CIA admits hacking U.S. Senate computers
photo courtesy of SHUTTERSTOCK

It turns out we're not the only ones who have to worry about government computer spying. An internal investigation by the CIA found that members of the agency illegally accessed Senate computers and read emails.

The report comes from the CIA Inspector General, who was looking into the possibility that agents spied on senators from the Senate Intelligence Committee. The Committee issued a report earlier this year accusing the CIA of using illegal or inhuman interrogation and detention practices under the administration of President George W. Bush.

The report by the agency’s inspector general also found that C.I.A. officers read the emails of the Senate investigators and sent a criminal referral to the Justice Department based on false information, according to a summary of findings made public on Thursday. One official with knowledge of the report’s conclusions said the investigation also discovered that the officers created a false online identity to gain access on more than one occasion to computers used by the committee staff.

The senators had been preparing their report for over five years and released some of their findings in March. Since then the CIA and the Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein have traded accusations against one another.

In a strange twist, the CIA first broke into the Senate computers because it thought the senators had done something illegal to get information for their report.

The C.I.A. officials penetrated the computer network when they came to suspect that the committee’s staff had gained unauthorized access to an internal C.I.A. review of the detention program that the spy agency never intended to give to Congress.

A CIA lawyer sent the findings to the Justice Department. But, the Justice Department chose not to investigate because the information was inaccurate. This scandal has led to criticism of the leadership of CIA Director John Brennan.

The White House has defended Brennan and said that steps are being taken to make sure CIA employees behave properly.


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