Skip to main content

House intel chair warns of penalty if CIA searched Senate computers

By Mariano Castillo, CNN
updated 12:59 PM EDT, Wed March 12, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Rep. Mike Rogers wants to get to the bottom of the accusations against CIA
  • If Sen. Dianne Feinstein made the accusation, there may be something there, he says
  • He wants to make sure that no laws were broken

(CNN) -- If the CIA did, in fact, secretly remove classified documents from Senate computers during an oversight probe, there will be consequences, the chairman of the House Intelligence committee told CNN Wednesday.

"We're going to have to unwind this, find out what the truth is," Republican Mike Rogers of Michigan told CNN's Chris Cuomo on "New Day." "If someone broke the law, they're going to have to pay the penalty."

Rogers' comments followed Tuesday's accusation by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, that the CIA removed some documents from her staff's computers in the middle of an oversight investigation.

Feinstein said the CIA searched Senate 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. The committee launched a full-blown investigation after learning in an initial review that the CIA had "withheld and destroyed information about its detention and interrogation program."

Inside Politics: Feinstein & CIA spying
Senate: CIA evidence suddenly disappeared

Her concern is that the search may have violated federal law regarding domestic spying as well as congressional oversight responsibilities under the Constitution.

Just the fact that Feinstein would publicly make the accusation indicates there is something to it, Rogers said.

"It's troubling to see this, but I do have immense respect for Sen. Feinstein," Rogers said. "If she's going down to the floor, she clearly believes that something untoward happened."

CIA Director John Brennan, speaking to the Council on Foreign Relations Tuesday, denied the accusations, saying "nothing could be further from the truth."

Rogers expressed concern about the situation, but declined to speculate.

On one hand, he said, there is a need to get to the bottom of the accusations so that it doesn't prevent the CIA from doing its work. On the other hand, if laws were broken, it would destroy the legislative-CIA relationship, he said.

The Inspector General has referred to the issue to the Department of Justice, he said.

The Justice Department is looking at whether to launch an investigation involving the committee's review of millions of documents at a Virginia facility and counterclaims by the CIA about Intelligence Committee staffers gaining access to things they shouldn't have seen.

There is plenty of oversight cooperation between the CIA and Congress, Rogers said, and these accusations should not taint the entire agency.

Feinstein says CIA spied on Senate computers

Opinion: Feinstein is no bomb thrower

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT