Saying the House may need to get involved, Congressman John Yarmuth, D-Ky., worries the Central Intelligence Agency is “going rogue” if accusations the agency spied on a Senate committee turn out to be true.
The allegations stem from an eye popping floor speech by a veteran lawmaker this week.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Cali., called out the CIA this week, alleging they are trying to intimidate an oversight committee’s investigation of its controversial interrogation program.
She went further, saying the CIA may have broken laws by searching the computers of Senate staffers without their knowledge and removing key documents.
“I’ve never known Senator Feinstein to be irresponsible and she’s always been a supporter of the intelligence community. So I think we have to take her charges very seriously,” Yarmuth told WFPL.
The congressman argues intelligence agencies should be able to obey the law while doing everything they can to keep Americans safe, but that the public ought to be concerned and demand a full investigation.
“I would assume if the CIA were snooping on the Senate Intelligence Committee they would be doing it to the House Intelligence Committee too. I suspect it would be appropriate for the House to get involved in an investigation. If I were chair of the House committee I would certainly want to investigate if that activity were going on as well.”
CIA Director John Brennan has said much of what Feinstein has said will be proven wrong once all the facts are out, but this presents the American public with another scandal surrounding an intelligence agency.
This comes months after a scandal involving the National Security Agency surfaced that found they had an unprecedented domestic surveillance program. Feinstein defended that program and criticized former contractor Edward Snowden for leaking its existence to the press.
Other area lawmakers in Washington have been more reticent in the controversy’s wake.
A spokesman for Senator Dan Coats, R-Ind., who sits on the intelligence panel, said he is still reviewing the situation and is not commenting.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he is watching the situation closely, but also declined to comment when asked by reporters if the CIA should be held accountable if Feinstein’s allegations are prove.
In a statement to WFPL, Senator Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., said it’s “important that we get the facts and determine exactly what happened.”
Feinstein’s accusations rocks the foundation of constitutional separation of powers and the idea of secrecy in government. Given the nature of the committee’s torture probe observers have also raised questions about whether the CIA was trying to derail a matter that could have criminal implications.
“The only accountability that the CIA has is from the intelligence committees in the House and Senate,” says Yarmuth. “If the CIA is then spying on the body that is supposed to be providing that accountability then that’s a breakdown in the entire system. It’s intolerable.”