Senate-CIA Conflict Over Torture Report Exposes U.S. Spy Agencies' Dangerous Lack of Accountability

Posted March 19, 2014

MP3 Interview with Ray McGovern, retired CIA officer, conducted by Scott Harris

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On March 11, Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., made an unexpected and dramatic speech. In her remarks made from the Senate floor, Feinstein accused the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency of conducting a long campaign of obstruction with the goal of covering up the agency’s illegal post-9/11 torture program. She described the current conflict between her committee and the CIA as a “defining moment” for political oversight of the U.S. intelligence service.

The Senate began investigating the Bush administration’s CIA torture program of post-9/11 detainees in December 2007. After President Obama took office in January 2009, an expanded bi-partisan investigation was launched, but Obama-appointed CIA Director Leon Panetta impeded the Senate review. When the Senate Intelligence Committee completed its 6,300-page investigation report, the CIA objected to its public release claiming there were major inaccuracies. But a suppressed internal document, known as the “Panetta Review,” directly contradicted the CIA’s criticism of the Senate report.

Sen. Feinstein charges that the CIA hacked into computers used by Senate staff investigators, and says that the agency has deliberately withheld and destroyed information critical to understanding the Bush Detention and Interrogation program. The CIA for its part recently referred charges to the Justice Department claiming that Senate staffers stole classified documents. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Ray McGovern, a retired 27-year veteran CIA officer who during his career briefed Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush before leaving the agency in 1990. Here, McGovern discusses the current conflict between the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee and the CIA, amid growing concern that the spy agency is now a power unto itself, beyond executive branch or congressional accountability.

Ray McGovern founded the group Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. Ray McGovern's website is raymcgovern.com.

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