Reid backs Feinstein in CIA dispute

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is getting Dianne Feinstein’s back.

Reid has ordered the Senate sergeant-at-arms to investigate a computer network used by Senate Intelligence Committee staffers as they prepared a report on CIA detainee interrogation policies in use during the George W. Bush administration.

Feinstein said in a remarkable Senate floor speech last week that the CIA has hindered her committee’s investigation, going so far as to remove documents from a secure computer network used by committee staff in the investigation. At issue is an internal review commissioned by ex-CIA Director Leon Panetta of the program.

The CIA not only denied wrongdoing, but claimed Senate staffers had illegally accessed CIA materials outside their security clearance level. The CIA’s then-acting general counsel (who oversaw the interrogation program when it was running and is mentioned often in the Senate’s oversight report) went so far as to make a referral to the Justice Department for possible prosecution of the staffers.

Reid’s letter makes it clear he doesn’t think staffers could hack into the CIA’s computers. More than that, it shows he’s siding with Feinstein rather than the CIA, the first high-ranking Democrat to do so, given President Barack Obama’s failure to mediate the dispute himself.

UPDATE:Here’s more on the story from the Huffington Post.