Obama ‘confident’ in CIA director; some in Senate aren’t so sure
August 3rd, 2014
01:04 PM ET
6 years ago

Obama ‘confident’ in CIA director; some in Senate aren’t so sure

Washington (CNN) – Will an apology be enough to soothe the strained relations between the CIA and members of the Senate Intelligence Committee? It’s a critical lingering question in the rare public spat between the intelligence agency and the lawmakers charged with the agency’s oversight.

Tempers on the committee flared in recent months over reports that the CIA spied on computers used by intelligence committee staffers. A CIA inspector general’s report confirmed these reports this past week, prompting CIA Director John Brennan to apologize to committee members Thursday. However, some members aren’t satisfied, citing Brennan’s previous remarks that batted down the spying accusations

“I don't think an apology is enough,” Independent Sen. Angus King of Maine told CNN’s Candy Crowley on “State of the Union.” “I think we've really got to have some serious discussions about John Brennan, find out what he knew about this when he was making those statements, what he knew about it at the time. I'm not calling for his resignation, but I'm pretty skeptical right now.”

In contrast, the White House reconfirmed support of Brennan.

“John Brennan is a man of great integrity and ability. He's someone the President knows very well, and the President has confidence in,” White House Senior Advisor Dan Pfeiffer told ABC’s “This Week.”

Pfeiffer pointed to Brennan’s actions since the reports of spying came to light.

“When there were allegations of improper conduct, [Brennan is] the one who referred it to the inspector general. The inspector general came back with its report this week; he's setting up an accountability review board to ensure that the right steps are taken to provide accountability.”

Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, called for a fuller look at the facts as the two sides begin to rebuild trust.

“This is very serious, but I don't think this is some conspiracy notion that they wanted to spy on either of our committees. Than would, of course, be intolerable. I think it would be a crime,” Rogers told Crowley. “It is a very serious breach of trust, but I don't think this should be taken and extrapolated that every CIA officer out there is operating under this culture of lawlessness.”

King, however, pressed the broader point that transparency from the CIA is critical to the committee’s work.

“If we can't trust the information they're giving us, how do you do oversight?” King asked. “We may have to embed people in the agency or create an office of oversight in the agency because it's just essential. The American people are relying on us to watch what's going on.”

The computers were used by staffers investigating the controversial post-9/11 CIA interrogation and detention program. The investigation resulted in a 6,800-page report. A 700-page summary of that report could soon be declassified and released as early as this week.

Senators on the committee have indicated the report is critical of the CIA's treatment of terrorism suspects, saying it amounted to torture, something CIA officials have denied. It also finds that harsh interrogation techniques did not help disrupt future attacks as many in the intelligence community have claimed.

The report that was approved a year and a half ago by the committee, which was sharply divided along party lines. King said he voted to declassify it not as a means to smear the agency, but as a lesson for future leaders faced with challenging events.

I think it's an object lesson to future presidents, future intelligence agencies, future Congresses about how things can get off the rails, how things can go awry,” King said.

Pfeiffer said the President, who has called for the report to be declassified, wants to acknowledge it and continue to move forward.

“What we want to do now is we want to make sure it never happens again.”

- CNN’s Evan Perez contributed to this report.


soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    Well, well, well... Who COULDN'T have predicted that this technology would be used to spy on more than just "terrorists"? Apparently those in Congress that passed this under Bush! (Russ Fiengold excluded, and HE got the boot for it...)

    And now they're whining about it...

    August 3, 2014 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  2. Mr. Balls

    Congressional oversight is a joke.

    August 3, 2014 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  3. sonnie3

    Well he is a bold faced liar and fits well with obama and holder. They need to keep him as he is one of their own.

    August 3, 2014 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  4. AmericansRights

    Another obama court jester. Of course obama is the king of them all.

    August 3, 2014 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  5. Rick McDaniel

    Any CIA director, who allowed the President to order him to spy on the Senate, should NOT have the job.

    August 3, 2014 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  6. Marie MD

    Sorry, but congress is full of domestic terrorists. Somebody needs to keep the teaklans in check and escort at least one of them back to his birth country of Canada.

    August 3, 2014 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  7. Polopoint

    If Obama actually said this, then he is confident in a Law Breaker. Brennan needs to go. And then go to jail.

    August 3, 2014 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  8. sjones581

    Well I guess Congress should read the fine print when passing laws for domestic spying.

    August 3, 2014 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  9. Tom l

    Some animals are more equal than others

    August 3, 2014 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  10. Ric

    Well, if Obama is confident with him then we can all rest easy.

    August 3, 2014 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  11. Jim Collins

    So what else is new. We all know that this administration is loaded with people that don't know what the truth is. Yea, Obamas legacy, Liar In Chief. Just like Clapper, Lerner, Holder, Biden, Pelosi, Reid, Frank, Rangel and the list is never ending, that has perpetrated lies on us to further their own agenda. All of these should be jailed.

    August 3, 2014 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  12. itisabouttime

    Of course Obama is confident in him, he is another failure that is corrupt and a liar to congress All the traits OBAMA values.

    August 3, 2014 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  13. Cujo

    Interesting how in government you can do just about anything and you won't get penalized, not even fired.
    You even get a vote of support.
    Lied in a Congressional hearing to the American people (Clapper) – No problem
    Had CIA infiltrate computers of congressional staffers – No problem
    Created false reports on which US went to war and thousands died (Iraq WMD and Gulf of Tonkin NSA) – No problem
    Need a job where you can fulfill your bloodlust, break the Constitution and still make plenty of money and not get fired? Joine the Government. Laws and consequences are only for the peasants NOT those in the government.

    August 3, 2014 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  14. Longtimer

    Mr. Balls
    Congressional oversight is a joke.
    The Republicans certainly made that so- Issa the car thief? Bachmann on the Intelligence committee? Boehner the do-nothing? You couldn't make that stuff up in a million years!

    August 3, 2014 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  15. Name

    hey hey wait up a minute, i thought the cia was supposed to be a covert agency. how the hell can they tap into folks phones to see who is trying to harm us. their job is country security, not lessening to folks private conversation. lesson the cia is not in the business of what Johnson telling sally we have

    August 4, 2014 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  16. Thomas

    The CIA director controls Glenn Beck's brain.

    I Said 'Stupid Things' While At Fox
    Rock Stars Surprisingly Defense of Capitalism. Bono and Glenn Beck.

    August 4, 2014 02:13 am at 2:13 am |
  17. Raven

    "John Brennan is a man of great integrity and ability". Bawahahahaha...

    August 4, 2014 03:01 am at 3:01 am |
  18. casual observation

    It was all good during w reign, why cry now, because your on your way out of power, soon you will have to have the scotus put you in power with more corrupting of the vote, gerrymandering again in Florida I see.

    August 4, 2014 06:31 am at 6:31 am |

    Obama likes surrounding himself with liars ans spies, just ask J Clapper.

    August 4, 2014 07:25 am at 7:25 am |
  20. Rudy NYC

    Seriously? The White House has little choice but to express support for its' appointees.

    August 4, 2014 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  21. smith

    Obama has kept Holder around so why would Brennan be any different. The report is going to end up being a dud anyway.

    August 4, 2014 08:35 am at 8:35 am |