Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham have joined the chorus expressing outrage at the bombshell confirmation that the CIA was snooping on the Senate. The two senators indicated they looked forward to having conversations with colleagues over the August recess about a variety of responses, including congressional inquiries or a special prosecutor.
"This is to me [of] the utmost seriousness. What did the director of the CIA know and when did he know it?" McCain said. Both senators blasted CIA Director John O. Brennan for having issued a public denial of the original allegations made by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. Other senators have begun to call for the resignation of Brennan, as New Mexico Democrat Martin Heinrich did just after noon Friday on MSNBC.
The CIA conceded Thursday that it had, in fact, improperly accessed computers being used by Senate Intelligence Committee investigators to investigate the use of torture tactics during the George W. Bush administration.
"What action did he take if he knew about it, and if he didn't know about it, why in the world didn't he know that people under his direct responsibility were violating the fundamental barriers of constitutional authority and responsibility?" asked McCain. "If we don't hold the director of the CIA responsible for this, then I don't know ... where responsibility could lie."
Graham, a South Carolina Republican, said one key would be to make sure that the issue remains on the radar of fellow senators.
"The first thing you've got to do is to create desire. We've got to create desire among the body not to let this pass. We've got to create ... desire to make sure that this apology is not the end of the inquiry here, because of the ramifications that Sen. McCain indicated," Graham said.
"There needs to be an objective investigation composed of individuals that have the trust and confidence of the American people. Now exactly what that is, I think we should discuss," McCain said. "I am a great admirer of my former colleague Sen. [Evan] Bayh, but an accountability review board is not appropriate for an issue of this magnitude."
The CIA said Thursday that Bayh, an ex-Democratic senator from Indiana, would head up a review.
"I've never believed that an agency of government, particularly with the capabilities of the CIA, would carry out such actions, which is a clearly unconstitutional ... in some ways it's worse than criminal," McCain said.