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Feinstein Slams CIA Report as Error-Riddled

(CN) - In the waning months of her tenure as head of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, California Democrat Dianne Feinstein transformed into a tireless critic of the CIA's torture program and the measures the agency is accused of taking to avoid scrutiny.

In her latest salvo, a Tuesday press release from Feinstein counts "15 factual errors mistakes and omissions" in a 38-page report by the CIA Accountability Board, clearing the agency of spying on the computers of its Senate investigators.

The CIA's board found that the five still-unknown agents "acted reasonably" one year ago after Senate investigators moved a copy of a still-classified internal report from a Virginia information facility to the Hart Building of the Senate.

In clearing these agents of wrongdoing, the CIA faulted a supposed lack of a "common understanding" between the Senate committee - commonly known as the SSCI - and the agency about how to address security concerns.

Feinstein, the SSCI's vice president to a conservative Republican, countered that the investigators and the agency worked out such an agreement in "formal, signed letters" from 2009.

She called the CIA's January 2014 search the "third unauthorized intrusion we know of into the committee's network" since that agreement.

Under that agreement, the Senate committee did its research from a "stand-alone computer system" designed to be "segregated" from the CIA networks, the press release states.

The CIA's argument that its May 2010 document removals from the SSCI network showed that agents had this authority is "absurd," Feinstein said.

This is precisely the type of behavior that Feinstein notes that she condemned in her 40-minute speech on the Senate floor in March 2013.

She also contested the CIA's characterization of the scale of the breach.

"The CIA Accountability Board claims the CIA's 'transgression' in reconstructing and reading SSCI staffers' emails 'was limited - five e-mails total, none more than fifteen words - and innocuous,'" Feinstein wrote. "This is false; the CIA search of committee emails was not limited."

Even the CIA does not dispute that the agency performed keyword searches of all SSCI staffers' emails, she says.

Since her speech last year, Feinstein has contended that the CIA gave inaccurate information to the Department of Justice to file a "crimes report" against SSCI staffers at an attempt at intimidation.

While the CIA board denies this, the agency's inspector general found that agents did in fact supply Acting General Counsel Bob Eatinger with bad information, Feinstein said.

"The actions of these individuals were ignored by the CIA Accountability Board, which is shocking and unacceptable," the senator's release states.

Feinstein also denied the CIA board's claim that her staffers committed security violations, such as bringing a camera into classified facility.

Calling the allegation "false," Feinstein blamed "an employee of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI)" for this infraction, and said that Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., "personally committed to correct this error" in the CIA board's report before its release.

Bayh, who serves as the chair of the board behind the CIA's report, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

CIA spokesman Dean Boyd defended the board's conclusions in a statement.

"The Agency Accountability Board, which was comprised of former Senator Evan Bayh, former White House Counsel Bob Bauer, and three senior career CIA officers, conducted an extensive review of this matter that spanned many months," Boyd said in an email. "The board examined the full documentary record, interviewed officials at all levels of CIA, and adopted unanimously the findings and conclusions that are set out in detail in its report. The board's report stands on its merits and its recommendations have been accepted by CIA."

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