Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden accused Sen. Dianne Feinstein of hypocrisy Tuesday for complaining about alleged CIA spying on U.S. senators while tolerating government spying on private citizens.
Feinstein, the California Democrat who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Tuesday that the CIA had searched the committee's computers and that the search was potentially criminal and may have violated the Fourth Amendment.
"It's clear the CIA was trying to play 'keep away' with documents relevant to an investigation by their overseers in Congress, and that's a serious constitutional concern," said Snowden in a statement to NBC News. "But it's equally if not more concerning that we're seeing another 'Merkel Effect,' where an elected official does not care at all that the rights of millions of ordinary citizens are violated by our spies, but suddenly it's a scandal when a politician finds out the same thing happens to them."
Snowden was apparently referring to German Chancellor Angela Merkel's indignation at reports that the U.S. had listened in on her personal conversations, but her failure to condemn the NSA for mass surveillance of communications of German citizens. Both were revealed by the release of documents that Snowden took from NSA computers and distributed to journalists.
In a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday, Feinstein said she had asked the CIA for an apology for spying and an acknowledgment that its actions were wrong and had received neither.
"The CIA just went and searched the committee's computers," Feinstein said. She later called the matter a "defining moment" for the oversight of the committee.
The search came as the committee was investigating the CIA's use of secret detention and enhanced interrogation during the Bush administration, including waterboarding, which President Obama has referred to as torture.
At issue is an internal review of the detention and interrogation program ordered by Leon Panetta, who was director of the agency from 2009 to 2011. Feinstein says the committee obtained the review from the CIA because it was provided as part of a searchable database of documents. The CIA has alleged that the committee may have obtained that document illegally.