Transcript: Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s floor statement on improper CIA search of congressional computers – Part II of V

Part II of V: Partial transcript of Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-California) floor statement accusing the Central Intelligence Committee of improperly accessing and searching computers used by the Senate Intelligence Committee to investigate the CIA’s detention and interrogation programs at “black prisons” overseas. Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, delivered her statement on March 11, 2014.

As a result of the staff’s initial report, I proposed and then-Vice Chairman Bond agreed and the committee overwhelmingly approved that the committee conduct an expansive and full review of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program.

On March 5, 2009, the committee voted 14 to 1 to initiate a comprehensive review of the CIA detention and interrogation program.

Immediately, we sent a request for documents to all relevant executive branch agencies, chiefly among them the CIA.

The committee’s preference was for the CIA to turn over all responsive documents to the committee’s office as had been done in previous committee investigations.

Director Panetta proposed an alternative arrangement to provide literally millions of pages of operational cables, internal emails, memos, and other documents pursuant to a committee’s document request at a secure location in Northern Virginia.

We agreed but insisted on several conditions and protections to ensure the integrity of this congressional investigation.

Per an exchange of letters in 2009, then-Vice Chairman Bond, then-Director Panetta, and I agreed to in an exchange of letters that the CIA was to provide a “standalone computer system” with a “network drive segregated from CIA networks” for the committee that would only be accessed by information technology personnel at the CIA who would “not be permitted to share information from the system with other CIA personnel except as otherwise authorized by the committee.”

It was this computer network that notwithstanding our agreement with Director Panetta was searched by the CIA this past January and once before, which I would later describe.

In addition to demanding that the documents produced for the committee be reviewed at a CIA facility, the CIA also insisted on conducting a multi-layer review of every responsive document before providing the document to the committee. This was to ensure the CIA did not mistakenly provide documents unrelated to the CIA’s detention and interrogation program or provide documents that the President could potential claim to be covered by executive privilege.

While we viewed this as unnecessary and raised concerns that it would delay our investigation, the CIA hired a team of outside contractors, who otherwise would not have had access to these sensitive documents, to read multiple times each of the 6.2 million pages of documents produced before providing them to fully-cleared committee staff conducting the committee’s oversight work. This prove to be a slow and very expensive process.

The CIA started making documents available electronically to the committee staff at the CIA-leased facility in mid-2009. The number of pages ran quickly to the thousands, tens of thousands, the hundreds of thousands, and then into the millions.

The documents that were provided came without any index, without any organizational structure. It was a true document dump that our committee staff had to go through and make sense of.

In order to piece together the story of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program, the committee staff did two things that will be important as I go on.

First, they asked the CIA to provide an electronic search tool so they can locate specific relevant documents for their search among the CIA-produced documents, just like you would use a search tool on the Internet to locate information.

Second, when the staff found a document that was particularly important or might be referenced in our final report, they would often print it or make a copy of the file on their computer so they could easily find it again. There are thousands of such documents in the committee’s secure spaces at the CIA facility.


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