Democrat Senator Suggests White House Knew About CIA Spying On Congress


This news of a Senator, a Democrat no less, making the subtle suggestion that the Obama administration knew about the CIA spying on Congress seems like a big deal (emphasis mine):

A leading US senator has said that President Obama knew of an “unprecedented action” taken by the CIA against the Senate intelligence committee, which has apparently prompted an inspector general’s inquiry at Langley.

The subtle reference in a Tuesday letter from Senator Mark Udall to Obama, seeking to enlist the president’s help in declassifying a 6,300-page inquiry by the committee into torture carried out by CIA interrogators after 9/11, threatens to plunge the White House into a battle between the agency and its Senate overseers.

McClatchy and the New York Times reported Wednesday that the CIA had secretly monitored computers used by committee staffers preparing the inquiry report, which is said to be scathing not only about the brutality and ineffectiveness of the agency’s interrogation techniques but deception by the CIA to Congress and policymakers about it. The CIA sharply disputes the committee’s findings.

Udall, a Colorado Democrat and one of the CIA’s leading pursuers on the committee, appeared to reference that surreptitious spying on Congress, which Udall said undermined democratic principles.

“As you are aware, the CIA has recently taken unprecedented action against the committee in relation to the internal CIA review and I find these actions to be incredibly troubling for the Committee’s oversight powers and for our democracy,” Udall wrote to Obama on Tuesday.

Of course, we already knew that Congress has been spied on by the executive branch. The NSA has been spying on pretty much everyone in America, including Congress, and when the agency has been specifically asked about gathering and storing the private data of members of Congress they have refused to answer the question.

You could argue that the NSA’s surveillance of Congress was passive rather than active – that their data was being scooped up just like everybody else’s – unlike the CIA which stands accused of active infiltration for a specific purpose, but once we cross that bright line into what can fairly be described as spying on Congress do such distinctions even matter?

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

  • Bat 1

    If the fact that the Obama regime knew of, and condoned, the CIA spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee gets any traction in the MSM, the Democrats’ response will be to try and change the subject by focusing on “torture” and “illegal” interrogation techniques by the Bush administration, and ignore the issue of domestic spying by Obama.

  • The Whistler

    It’s wrong as wrong can be for the government to be spying on the other branches of Congress. However it is equally bad for them to be spying on private citizens.

  • kevindf

    Doesn’t the White House know about everything the government does? If they didn’t know about this, why didn’t they know?

  • matthew_bosch

    I thought over dramatized backstabbing, spying and blackmail was just a cliche plot devise used for cable dramas, but it turns out it’s really going on and at the cost of our constitutional rights, tax dollars and national integrity.

  • headward

    Didn’t Nixon get in trouble for spying on people?

    • The Whistler

      Yeah, but he was a Republican so that’s different somehow.

  • Bat 1

    A close reading of the McClatchy article ( reveals that the “spying” was really in-house monitoring of CIA computers in the CIA Headquarters research section used by Senate staffers among others. If CIA was – and is still – monitoring the machines on its own internal network as part of its data security program, well, that’s a lot different than “spying on congressional staffers” as first gratuitously alleged.

  • Drain52

    As usual, only a few congressmen complain about being spied on. The rest act their predictable, pathetic selves, unconcerned that a tyrannical executive is undermining them and America. How wrong the Founding Fathers were to assume that Congress would jealously defend its own powers.

    Truth is, a body of legislators is apparently always incapable of standing up to one determined autocrat for a serious length of time. Must be in the nature of things.