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Sen. Rockefeller Has Coal for CIA’s Stocking

(CN) - Pressure is mounting for the CIA to face a reckoning, both for its torture program and for allegedly spying on the computers of the senators who exposed it.

On Sunday, the New York Times reported that the CIA's internal review board is unlikely to discipline any of the agents accused of hacking into the computers of members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI).

The article also noted that CIA Director John Brennan may have directed the searches.

Addressing these points in a statement Monday, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W. Va, said:

"If this is accurate, it is unacceptable."

Rockefeller has been one of the Senate committee's most outspoken members, aside from Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat who served as its chair.

Feinstein took to the Senate floor for 40 minutes in March to accuse the CIA of "possibly violat[ing] criminal laws" to withhold a key document supporting the conclusions of SSCI's 6,200-page report on the agency's torture program.

Named after ex-CIA chief Leon Panetta, the so-called "Panetta review" mysteriously appeared among the millions of classified documents that the committee had been reviewing in a secured room in Northern Virginia, Feinstein told the Senate.

Though still not released, the Panetta review is believed to show that the CIA lied to Washington about its so-called "enhanced interrogation" program while internally acknowledging that its torture proved ineffective and more brutal than previously disclosed.

Feinstein added that she did not know at the time whether the document had been "provided intentionally by the CIA, unintentionally by the CIA or intentionally by a whistle-blower."

To prevent CIA interference with the probe, Feinstein said the committee had moved the document to Washington, in a secure room of the Senate's Hart Building.

The CIA urged the Department of Justice to open a criminal probe against the senators over the removal of this document, but that probe later evaporated.

Rockefeller revealed Monday that he had spoken to the CIA's inspector general about this episode, and that this conversation was "extremely troubling."

"The CIA's unauthorized search of computer files and emails belonging to its congressional oversight committee was a massive breach of the separation of powers and very well may have violated federal laws," he wrote. "Added to this is the CIA's baseless and retaliatory criminal referral against Committee staff, and the fact that Director Brennan continues to impede oversight by refusing to answer repeated and basic bipartisan questions from the Committee about his role in the search.

"That there would be no repercussions for any of this is beyond the pale. It enables a culture where serious mistakes are tolerated and swept under the rug. Such an unabashed lack of accountability would not be acceptable at any other department or agency, and it should not be acceptable at the CIA. That the CIA operates largely in a culture of secrecy must not be a free pass - rather it means that its leaders should meet an even higher standard for internal oversight and discipline.

"Plain and simple, the search was deeply inappropriate and shows a major lapse in judgment. If it was conducted without Director Brennan's approval, whoever ordered it should be held accountable. If Director Brennan called for the search, then the White House needs to hold him accountable. Period."

A spokeswoman from the White House's National Security Council did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

CIA spokesman Ryan Trapani commented that the so-called Accountability Review Board's deliberations are "ongoing and not final."

Internal documents from the board are furthermore "not usually released to the public," Trapani added.

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