Did CIA Spy on Senate Committee to Cover Black Site Prison Details?

By:  Joe Wolverton, II, J.D.
Did CIA Spy on Senate Committee to Cover Black Site Prison Details?

A New York Times article reports that the CIA's suspected spying on a Senate committee may have been designed to prevent the committee from discovering information on black site prisons.

Was it their digging into the truth about the activities carried on at “black site” prisons that prompted the CIA to spy on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence?

That’s the theory supported by a recent New York Times article reporting on the alleged surveillance.

On March 4, Mark Mazzetti wrote:

The Central Intelligence Agency’s attempt to keep secret the details of a defunct detention and interrogation program has escalated a battle between the agency and members of Congress and led to an investigation by the C.I.A.’s internal watchdog into the conduct of agency employees.

The New American’s Thomas R. Eddlem added to the story, reporting on Senator Mark Udall’s letter to President Obama charging the CIA with spying on the Senate committee. Eddlem writes:

Among the CIA's actions against the American Republic, Udall implies that the CIA had been “posing impediments and obstacles” to the oversight responsibilities of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, particularly regarding the CIA's secret torture prisons used primarily during the Bush era.

Senator Udall’s press secretary, James Owens added context to the story, counterbalancing the effort of the Obama administration to downplay the details of the story.

“These documents, whatever it is that you call them, it is our understanding that some of the contents contradict the CIA’s official response,” Owens said, as reported in The Daily Beast, referring to the spy agency’s “official response” to claims that the black site prisons maintained overseas were used to conduct torture of detainees, torture that violates U.S. law.

For those unfamiliar with the term, “black sites" is the name given to the supposedly shuttered network of secret prisons located throughout the world used by the CIA to imprison and interrogate individuals suspected of committing or conspiring to commit terrorist activities. 

These facilities are built outside of the jurisdiction of the U.S. government and thus not subject to American laws against torture.

Persons accused by the U.S. government of being "enemy combatants" were subject to "extraordinary rendition" and then captured and shipped off to one of the prisons for questioning, often reportedly using inhuman tactics to illicit responses from detainees.

In 2011, the the Associated Press (AP) teamed with German investigative reporters to conduct an investigation that seemed to discover a suspected black site prison in Romania. Reportedly, former CIA operatives led the reporters to the building. In fact, the AP story claims that, "former intelligence officials both described the location of the prison and identified pictures of the building."

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