Fire Brennan — or Abolish the CIA?

By:  Jack Kenny
Fire Brennan — or Abolish the CIA?

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) called for the firing of CIA Director John Brennan after an internal investigation by the agency confirmed that some CIA officials electronically spied on Senate committee work on an investigation into the agency's interrogation techniques.

Paul was sharply critical of the agency for violating the security of a Senate committee's database and of Brennan for his earlier denial that it happened.  

"It is illegal for the CIA to spy on Americans and an affront to our republic to spy on the Senate," Sen. Paul said in statement released on Friday. He added, "Brennan told the American people that the CIA did not spy on the Senate but now he admits that they did. Brennan should dismiss those responsible for breaking the law and be relieved of his post."

Paul, who led a 13-hour filibuster against Brennan's confirmation in March, became at least the third U.S. senator to call for Brennan's removal since last Thursday when CIA Inspector General David Buckley provided the House and Senate Intelligence Committees with a summary of his investigation. That summary acknowledged that five CIA employees, two lawyers, and three information technology specialists improperly accessed or "caused access" to a database that only committee staff were permitted to use. Senators Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), both Intelligence Committee members, demanded Brennan's resignation that same day.

"I have no choice but to call for the resignation of CIA Director John Brennan," Udall said in a statement. "The CIA unconstitutionally spied on Congress by hacking into Senate Intelligence Committee computers. This grave misconduct not only is illegal, but it violates the U.S. Constitution's requirement of separation of powers. These offenses, along with other errors in judgment by some at the CIA, demonstrate a tremendous failure of leadership, and there must be consequences."

Other senators voiced their outrage over an executive branch agency spying on the Senate.

"This is very, very serious, and I will tell you, as a member of the committee, someone who has great respect for the CIA, I am extremely disappointed in the actions of the agents of the CIA who carried out this breach of the committee's computers," said Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), the committee's vice chairman.

The report clearly contradicted Brennan's denials after committee chair Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) earlier this year charged that the CIA had been tapping into Senate computers.

Feinstein stated, "The investigation confirmed what I said on the Senate floor in March: CIA personnel inappropriately searched Senate Intelligence Committee computers in violation of an agreement we had reached, and I believe in violation of the constitutional separation of powers."

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