Transcript: CIA Director John Brennan’s comments on Feinstein’s accusation of CIA spying on Congress

Partial transcript of CIA Director John Brennan’s comments on Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-California) accusation that the CIA inappropriately searched and removed documents from the Senate Intelligence Committee’s computers. The documents Feinstein said the CIA removed were related to the Senate investigation of CIA’s detention and interrogation program in overseas “black prisons”. Brennan’s comments were made at the Council on Foreign Relations on March 11, 2014:

CIA Director John Brennan: 

As far as the allegations of, you know, CIA hacking into, you know, Senate computers, nothing could be further from the truth. We wouldn’t do that. I mean, that’s just beyond, you know, the scope of reason in terms of –

 

Question: 

But she says that there are potentially illegal and unconstitutional breaches by the CIA.

 

CIA Director John Brennan: 

Well, the appropriate authorities right now both inside the CIA as well as outside of CIA –

 

Question: 

Justice Department

 

CIA Director John Brennan: 

– are looking at what CIA officers as well SSCI [Senate Select Committee on Intelligence] staff members did, and I defer to them to determine whether or not there was any violation of law or principle. And I referred the matter myself to the CIA Inspector General to make sure he was able to look honestly and objectively at what CIA did there.

And when the facts come out on this, I think a lot of people who are claiming that there has been this tremendous sort of spying, monitoring, and hacking will be proved wrong.

 

Question: 

You said at your confirmation hearing you wanted to restore the trust between the CIA and the overseers in the Senate. This is a pretty major gulf. If it is proved that the CIA did do this, would you feel that you have to step down?

 

CIA Director John Brennan: 

I – I am confident that the authorities will review this appropriately, and I will deal with the facts as uncovered in the appropriate matter. I would just encourage some members of the Senate to take their time to make sure that they don’t overstate what they claim and what they probably believe to be truth. These are some complicated matters.

We have worked with the committee over the course of many years. This review that was done by the committee was done at a facility where CIA had the responsibility to make sure that they had the computer wherewithal in order to carry out their responsibilities.

And so if there was any inappropriate actions that were taken related to that review either by CIA or by SSCI staff, I’ll be the first one to say we need to get to the bottom of it. And if I did something wrong, I will go to the President and I will explain to him exactly what I did and what the findings were, and he is the one who can ask me to stay or to go.

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