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CIA Sued Over Senate Spying

Alex Constantine - October 6, 2014

By Julian Hattem

A Washington-based privacy organization is suing the CIA to obtain details about how it spied on Senate staffers.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to obtain the agency inspector general’s report on the spying incident, it announced on Thursday.

To date, the CIA has yet to release the full details of how five agency staffers “improperly accessed” committee files and records on a network used by the Senate Intelligence Committee. Instead, the agency released a one-page unclassified summary of the report in July.“That doesn’t give you any information about what actually happened, how purposeful this was, how high-level these people were,” EPIC associate director Ginger McCall told The Hill. “Were these high-level agency officials versus just minions down at the bottom?”

“There’s not a lot of information in this and it certainly doesn’t say anything about what they’re doing to remedy the problem or how these people are being dealt with,” she added. “That’s what we’re interested in finding out.”

The organization first filed a FOIA request to obtain the watchdog report nearly two months ago, but has yet to receive a response, it said.

By law, a federal agency is supposed to respond to a FOIA request within 20 business days. It is supposed to respond to a request to expedite the response — which EPIC also asked for — within 10 days.

The CIA’s snooping on the Senate came as the Intelligence Committee was preparing a report on the agency’s "enhanced interrogation” and detention methods, such as waterboarding. The so-called “torture report” is expected to contain brutal details of the tactics, most of which were abandoned when President Obama came to office.

The incident ignited a new fight between the CIA and Capitol Hill and led some critics to call for Director John Brennan to resign.

An unclassified summary of the Senate committee’s report has been delayed multiple times, most recently until late October.

The CIA declined to comment on the lawsuit.