Majority Leader Harry Reid called the CIA's snooping on computers used by Intelligence Committee staff "appalling and deeply threatening to our system of checks and balances" and is demanding changes.
The Nevada Democrat issued his statement Thursday after public acknowledgement by the CIA that the agency's inspector general found improper access to computers utilized as part of the Intelligence Committee's investigation into the use of torture during the George W. Bush administration.
"What is even more disturbing is that the unauthorized CIA actions come in the context of the Senate's effort to complete a report of the CIA's interrogation program. The deeply troubling CIA actions show to what lengths some in the CIA are willing to stoop in order to prevent the report's release and to avoid accountability," Reid said. "The CIA is comprised of good men and women of integrity who sacrifice a great deal to protect our nation. The actions of a few risk tarnishing the work of many," Reid said. "The CIA's leadership must take action to address these misdeeds, restore its trust with Congress and ensure that this episode will never, ever be repeated."
Reid stopped short of a call for the resignation of CIA Director John O. Brennan, somethingSen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., demanded earlier Thursday after saying Brennan's credibility had been shattered. Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, who first went public with the allegations in a March floor speech , said in her own statement that she expected the report produced by her committee into CIA torture should soon be made available to the public.
"Director Brennan apologized for these actions and submitted the IG report to an accountability board. These are positive first steps. This IG report corrects the record and it is my understanding that a declassified report will be made available to the public shortly," the California Democrat said.
Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., a member of the Intelligence panel, said the committee should make sure that release happens quickly.
"As shocking as this is, our main focus must be releasing the committee's study of the CIA's detention and interrogation program. This was a dark and regrettable chapter in our country's history and betrayed the American values of respecting and upholding the dignity and human rights of all people," Heinrich said in a statement. "The American people deserve a full accounting of what happened, so that they can come to terms with what has been done in their name."
Heinrich's statement may be an allusion to the use of the provision of what's known as Resolution 400 that allows for the dissemination of classified information without administration approval.