When the CIA got caught spying on its Senate overseers, John Brennan, its director, at first defended the scandal-prone agency, dismissing the possibility of an act so unthinkable. Later, the CIA admitted breaking into computers being used by Senate intelligence committee staffers as they studied the agency’s brutal torture of prisoners. Two senators called on Brennan to resign. Others demanded a formal apology.
Now, newly released documents reveal that Brennan drafted a formal apology to Senators Dianne Feinstein and Saxby Chambliss, co-chairs of the intelligence committee.
“I apologize for the actions of CIA officers,” he wrote.
But Brennan never sent that letter. Instead, he sent a different draft with no apology. Jason Leopold of Vice News reports:
The draft apology letter Brennan wrote to Feinstein and Chambliss are two of more than 300 pages of documents VICE News obtained in response to a joint Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed against the CIA with Ryan Shapiro, a historian and doctoral candidate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. We sued the CIA seeking a wide range of documents related to the allegations that the agency had spied on the Intelligence Committee and hacked into their computer network. While the CIA turned over some records, it also withheld thousands of pages, citing nearly every exemption under FOIA.
Here’s the best part:
After VICE News received the documents, the CIA contacted us and said Brennan's draft letter had been released by mistake. The agency asked that we refrain from posting it.
Notice the letter that the CIA meant to exclude didn’t contain any classified material or compromise any national-security secrets whatsoever. The public wasn’t going to be allowed to see it because the draft was embarrassing to people in power, even though it is plainly of interest to the press and to citizens engaged in self-governance. Meanwhile, as Feinstein told Leopold, “the CIA still has held no one responsible” for spying on the Senate, which ought to be reason enough for President Obama to fire its director. Perhaps Obama feels constrained by the fact that Brennan knows where the bodies aren’t buried by virtue of being intimately involved with virtually every drone strike of questionable legality that Obama has authorized. (It isn’t beyond the realm of possibility that a future Senate intelligence committee will attempt a 6,000 page report on crimes committed during the course of America’s drone war in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia.)