WASHINGTON — A festering conflict between the CIA and its congressional overseers broke into the open Tuesday when Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, chairwoman of the intelligence committee, and one of the CIA’s staunchest defenders, delivered an extraordinary denunciation of the agency, accusing it of withholding information about its treatment of prisoners and trying to intimidate committee staff members investigating the detention program.
Describing what she called a “defining moment” for the oversight of US spy agencies, Feinstein said the CIA had removed documents from computers used by Senate Intelligence Committee staff members working on a report about the agency’s detention program, searched the computers after the committee completed its report, and referred a criminal case to the Justice Department in an attempt to thwart their investigation.
The 6,300-page report has been at the center of a bitter dispute between the committee and the agency, which says it contains many inaccuracies and wants them to be corrected before it is released.
Feinstein’s disclosures came a week after it was first reported that the CIA last year had monitored computers used by her staff in an effort to learn how the committee may have gained access to the agency’s internal review of the detention and interrogation program.
Feinstein said the internal review bolstered the conclusions of the committee’s still-classified report on the program, which President Obama ended in January 2009.
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