PCJF statement: CIA clears itself of wrongdoing after hacking Senate oversight committee

PCJF statement: CIA clears itself of wrongdoing after hacking Senate oversight committee

Yet another outrageous violation of the Constitution

A CIA review panel has announced that its agents did not break the law when they searched the computers and hacked the emails of Senate staffers tasked with investigating the CIA's record of torture. The CIA itself opened up a portion of their systems to the staffers, but then — in violation of a previous agreement — secretly searched the staffers' computers to see what they had accessed.

The panel's decision reverses that of the CIA's own Inspector General, who had previously suggested such actions violated the law and the Constitution. The panel went so far as to suggest the Senate staffers were really at fault!

But this is no surprise. After all, the Senate report produced from that investigation detailed horrific and continual forms of illegal torture, and deliberate lying to the American people, but resulted in no prosecutions or accountability whatsoever. The one person who has even been prosecuted in connection with the torture program is John Kiriakou, the whistleblower who first exposed it.

The Justice Dept. announced that it would not prosecute the agents who carried out torture, or the top officials who authorized it. Then it declared that there would be no criminal prosecution for the CIA hack of Senate staffers. Given that this is the culture of impunity that runs through the entire state security apparatus, in all branches of government, it was hardly shocking when the CIA cleared itself of wrongdoing.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein called the CIA hack a violation of the "separation of powers." That is putting it mildly. The Senate Intelligence Committee was created in 1976 as a new oversight body for the CIA after the Church Committee exposed its collection of intelligence on U.S. citizens, its assassination attempts against foreign leaders and other illegal covert actions.

In effect, we are back to a time before any accountability and transparency — a time when the CIA was left to police itself, neither checked nor balanced by the legislative branch or the courts.

This is an outrage. The same agencies and officials responsible for the torture programs are those that say the American people must relinquish their privacy and right to an open government.

The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund calls for the complete elimination of mass surveillance programs, an explicit ban on the torture methods described in the Senate report, as well as the prosecution of officials responsible for torture and the hack of Senate investigators, which so flagrantly flouted the U.S. Constitution.