A review commissioned by the CIA has determined that agency personnel should not face discipline for improperly accessing Senate computer files.
Former Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., was tasked with chairing the Agency Accountability Board by CIA Director John O. Brennan.
"The Board found that no discipline was warranted for the five CIA personnel under review because they acted reasonably under the complex and unprecedented circumstances involved in investigating a potential security breach in the highly classified shared computer network, while also striving to maintain the sanctity of SSCI work product," Bayh said in a statement. "Because there was no formal agreement — or even clear common understanding — governing the procedures to be followed in investigating a potential security incident in these circumstances, no course of action was free of potential complication or conflict."
Bayh said that his review panel found "insufficient evidence" that the personnel involved provided inaccurate or misleading statements.
Bayh and fellow board member, and former White House counsel, Bob Bauer briefed Senate Intelligence Committee leaders Richard M. Burr and Dianne Feinstein about the matter earlier in the day Wednesday.
"Declassified versions of the two CIA reports publicly released today conclude that CIA personnel improperly accessed Senate Intelligence Committee computer networks," Feinstein said in a statement.
Sen. Ron Wyden, one of the CIA's foremost critics on Capitol Hill, blasted what he called a lack of accountability.
"Both the CIA Inspector General and the review board appointed by Director Brennan have now concluded that the CIA's unauthorized search of Senate files was improper. It is incredible that no one at the CIA has been held accountable for this very clear violation of Constitutional principles," the Oregon Democrat said in a statement. "Director Brennan either needs to reprimand the individuals involved or take responsibility himself. So far he has done neither."
"In summary, the Board found that the five individuals previously cited by the OIG for improper access to the SSCI side of a CIA computer network had acted reasonably in an effort to investigate a potential security breach in that highly classified computer network, and determined that no disciplinary actions for the individuals were warranted. CIA leadership, in consultation with the Director of National Intelligence, has accepted the recommendations on accountability," the CIA said in a statement. "The Board also made a handful of recommendations regarding systemic issues, which CIA leadership has accepted."
The conclusion of the review without internal disciplinary actions is the end of another chapter in last year's separation of powers dispute between the CIA and the Senate. Feinstein, then-chairwoman of the Intelligence panel, blasted the improper accessing of Senate computer files that were part of a years-long investigation into the use of torture by the CIA during the George W. Bush administration. A redacted version of the executive summary of the report from that study was ultimately released late last year, shortly before Feinstein ceded the gavel.
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