Holder Acknowledges DOJ Review of CIA Spying Allegations

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Justice Department is reviewing allegations made by the CIA and the Senate Intelligence Committee accusing each other of improper activity.  

Asked about the matter on Wednesday, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., stopped short of calling the Justice Department's involvement an investigation.  

"We get referrals all the time. The fact that we get a referral does not necessarily mean we make a decision that we're going to investigate on the basis of that referral," Holder said at a news conference. "And so, we are looking at the matters that have been referred to us before we make any determinations about what action, if any, the Justice Department will take."  

Holder was asked whether it was a matter best worked out between the parties involved. Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein alleged in a bombshell floor speech on March 11 that the CIA had improperly accessed computer files being used by the California Democrat's committee staff. In a related matter, the CIA has asked the Justice Department to review potential illegal acts by committee staffers in removing documents from the secure facility.  

Media outlets including Reuters reported on Tuesday  that the FBI was looking into the competing complaints.  

This is all related to the committee's production of a 6,300 page report on torture techniques and detainee policies used in interrogations during the George W. Bush administration. In her floor speech, Feinstein signaled an intent to move ahead with a vote on declassification as early as this month.  

Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., the chairman of the Appropriations subpanel that provides funding for the intelligence services, wouldn't rule out using the power of the purse to help make sure release of the report moves forward. Durbin fired off a detailed missive to CIA Director John O. Brennan outlining his concerns  and backing Feinstein.