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March 11th, 2014
06:00 PM ET

Sen. Wyden: CIA, NSA leadership have developed a pattern of false statements, misleading actions

(CNN) – Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Sen. Dianne Feinstein suggested Tuesday that the CIA violated federal law by secretly pulling classified documents from her panel's computers during a staff probe of the spy agency's controversial detention and interrogation program.

Feinstein said CIA Director John Brennan told her in January that agency personnel searched the computers last year because they believed the panel's investigators might have gained access to materials on an internal review they were not authorized to see.

Feinstein says CIA spied on Senate computers

Democratic Senator Ron Wyden also questioned Brennan in January about this issue, asking him bluntly whether the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act applies to the CIA.

"I would have to look into what that act actually calls for and its applicability to CIA's authorities," Brennan replied at the time.

Brennan later responded to Wyden by letter, saying that the Act does not "prohibit any lawfully authorized investigative, protective or intelligence activity of an intelligence agency."

"Mr. Brennan also did say ... that, in fact, the computer fraud law does apply to them. And the reality is those computers, in effect, belonged to the CIA, but they were reserved exclusively for the committee's use," said Wyden.

"The fundamental question here is whether the Congress of the United States is going to be able to do effective oversight over the intelligence apparatus. And again and again ... the intelligence leadership has, in effect, thwarted the ability of Congress to get the information it needs to do that oversight," said Wyden.

NSA leaker Edward Snowden issued a statement Tuesday, pointing out what he considers to be hypocrisy by Feinstein, saying the NSA policies he made public are also a constitutional issue. Snowden argues that Feinstein believes it's only a scandal when it happens to a politician.

"This is a part of a pattern by the intelligence leadership. We saw, for example, the head of the NSA, Keith Alexander, say, 'We don't hold data on U.S. citizens.' I consider that to be one of the most false statements that's been made about surveillance.

"So we have false statements. We have misleading actions," said Wyden.

For more of our interview with Sen. Ron Wyden, check out the video above.

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