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Inside the Beltway

Washington politics and government with a New Mexico flavor

Heinrich applauds Feinstein speech accusing CIA of improperly searching congressional computers

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This morning, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein said the CIA had improperly searched computers belonging to committee staffers in a possible violation of the Fourth Amendment barring unreasonable searches and seizures.

Feinstein’s speech, at shortly after 9 a.m eastern time, effectively poured kerosene on a long-smoldering dispute between the CIA and the committee, which has pressed the agency to release details of a 6,000-page classified report on its detention and interrogation techniques.

Sen. Martin Heinrich, a New Mexico Democrat who sits on the committee, has been pressing for the report’s release, as well. Last week, he got in a testy exchange of statements with CIA Director John Brennan. I wrote about that here. You can watch some of Feinstein’s speech here.

“The unilateral action taken by the CIA, described in great detail by Chairman Feinstein today, offends the very notion of the separation of powers, and threatens the autonomy of the legislative branch in carrying out its constitutionally granted authority to oversee the executive branch,” Heinrich said in a statement provided to the Journal this morning.

He also had tough words for Brennan’s first year on the job.

“Despite Director Brennan’s commitment to ‘strengthen the trust’ between the CIA and the Intelligence Committee, the relationship between our respective bodies has only deteriorated during the first year of his tenure.”

Here is Heinrich’s full statement:

“I thank and recognize Chairman Feinstein for her efforts to set the factual record straight regarding the deeply disturbing events and indefensible judgment exhibited by the CIA with respect to the Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation program. I know she has tried to address this discretely through a constructive dialogue with the Administration, but a steady stream of inaccurate and off-the-record anonymous leaks to the press have made that effort impossible.       “In an attempt to intimidate and silence our oversight work, the CIA has gone so far as to accuse senate staff of criminal wrongdoing. I reject those claims and I strongly support the Intelligence Committee staff tasked with writing this report and uncovering the truth about what took place under the auspices of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program.       “A year ago, I voted to approve John Brennan to lead the CIA, in the hope that he could help rebuild some of the trust between the agency and the Intelligence Committee. But here we are one year later, and instead of celebrating the bridging of a divide that has existed for far too long between the CIA and the Intelligence Committee, we find ourselves staring at a chasm far wider than most committee members have ever seen.       “The unilateral action taken by the CIA, described in great detail by Chairman Feinstein today, offends the very notion of the separation of powers, and threatens the autonomy of the legislative branch in carrying out its constitutionally granted authority to oversee the executive branch. Despite Director Brennan’s commitment to ‘strengthen the trust’ between the CIA and the Intelligence Committee, the relationship between our respective bodies has only deteriorated during the first year of his tenure.       “One of the first steps we must take in rebuilding this relationship is for the Intelligence Committee to move forward with a vote to declassify and release its study of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program. This was a dark and regrettable chapter in our country’s history and betrayed the American values of respecting and upholding the dignity and human rights of all people. We must provide the American people with a full accounting of what happened, so that they can come to terms with what has been done in their name.”

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