By Kevin Gonztola
CIA agents “impersonated Senate staffers” while the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence was producing its report
“According to sources familiar with the CIA inspector general report that details the alleged abuses by agency officials,” journalists Ali Watkins and Ryan Grim reported, “CIA agents impersonated Senate staffers in order to gain access to Senate communications and drafts of the Intelligence Committee investigation.”
A source “familiar” with the inspector general report, which remains classified, told Huffington Post, “If people knew the details of what they actually did to hack into the Senate computers to go search for the torture document, jaws would drop. It’s straight out of a movie.”
But Watkins and Grim also quoted another unnamed source “familiar with the events surrounding the dispute between the CIA and Intelligence Committee,” who claimed the agency did not pose as staff to access drafts. Rather, “CIA simply attempted to determine if its side of the firewall could have been accessed through the Google search tool. CIA did not use administrator access to examine [Intelligence Committee] work product.”
In other words, agents did impersonate staffers but not to access a draft of the report. The agents wanted to see if staffers could access documents the CIA did not want them to be able to access.
Previously, Watkins was a national security reporter for McClatchy Newspapers. She and Jonathan Landay reported in July that CIA personnel had “improperly intruded into a protected database” used by the committee staff. In other words, the CIA engaged in hacking, which Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein had alleged in a speech on the Senate floor.
What Watkins and Grim report from their source matches up perfectly with what Feinstein claimed. She suggested CIA employees had conducted searches of committee computers and the network in which they were operating.