The Reid Report   |  March 12, 2014

Senate, CIA rift grows amidst spying claims

Chris Hayes joins Joy Reid to talk about the growing rift between the CIA and its Senate overseers after Sen. Dianne Feinstein accused the CIA this week of conducting unconstitutional searches on Senate Committee staffers’ computers.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> without prior notification or approval, cia personnel had conducted a search that was john brennan 's word of the committee computers. i have great concerns that the cia 's search may well have violated the separation of powers principle embodied in the united states constitution .

>> as far as the allegations of, you know, cia hacking into, you know, senate computers, nothing could be further from the truth, and we wouldn't do that. i mean, that's -- that's just beyond the -- you know, the scope of reason in terms of what we would do.

>> senators on both sides of the aisle are rallying around senate intelligence committee dianne feinstein following her bombshell speech yesterday of accusing the cia of spying on the senate. today nbc news is reporting colorado senator mar udall has jumped into the fray and is putting a hold on the president's nomination of caroline kraft to be agency's top lawyer. last night on msnbc he had harsh words for cia director john brennan .

>> i've lost confidence in director brennan, particularly because he won't acknowledge the misdeeds and misconduct of the c cia .

>> meanwhile, south carolina senator lindsey graham called the allegations richard nixon stuff adding people should go to jail if it's true. and if true, the legislative branch should declare war on the cia . oregon stan ron widen said i'm extremely troubled that the cia leadership has neither responded to specific questions about this search or even acknowledged that it occurred. feinstein's hour-long speech exposed a rift over important issues that date back to the bush administration and those issues are not about spying. as my colleague chris hayes sprained on his show "all in" last night.

>> it's about torture. it's about the 6,000-page cia torture report that the agency does not want you to see. today feinstein gave us a hint as to why.

>> the interrogations and the conditions of confinement at the cia detention site were far different and far more harsh than the way the cia had described them to us.

>> for far too long the senate intelligence committee and the cia have functioned basically as partners, colluding to withhold information about the activities of the agency from the american people .

>> and chris hayes , host of msnbc's "all in" joins me now. chris, does it drive you crazy that we're now getting all of this umbrage and all of this desire to investigate and linds e graham saying somebody might have to go to jail when it's about the senators?

>> yes, i mean, i think that's -- that is the crazy thing. dianne feinstein has been one of the most reliable allies of the cia , of the entire intelligence community and has fought back against disclosure and condemned people who called more about it. nobody wants to be the person spied on. ask angela merkel in germany. germans spying on everyone and she got bugged and she's not happy.

>> the good from this could be to get to the core issue, not about the senators and what was done to them. the core issue is about torture.

>> no one was ever held accountable for the fact that the united states tortured people for a period of time and here's what's even more galling, not only was no one held accountable and we had an election, a new executive was ele elected, another election, five years later, the agency that committed the horror still believes what they did was effective, still is unwilling to accept the fact that she is were crimes. that's what's crazy. we're having this discussion 2014 . this should have been litigated long ago.

>> and the other issue, too, as you've said is we've had elections about this. not litigated this. there's been no accountability, but now what are the chances that the same leaders of committees like dianne feinstein who basically rubber stamped, were read in on a lot of programs, knew it was going on. we didn't have the outcry then really what. are the chances that we'll have accountability now?

>> well, i think a big part depends on what is in this report and what it gets out. i don't know what's in the 6,000 pages, might really be explosive stuff that makes us look into the heart of darkness once again because it's a chapter we've all sort of changed the page on, closed the book, nod looked backwards, if we learn things from that report that shock the conscience we might have another round of this, and i think that that -- we never had the first round in certain ways and that's the problem. and i really think, of all the things that i would like to see leaked at this point, or i would like to see some parts of, that 6,000 pages or some of it, that needs to make its way to the public in some way.

>> and brennan said he's not going anywhere. he's one person who said, listen, he's upset that these things have come out, you know. panetta has said he's upset and disappointed. this is panetta's quote, i wish they would work together because ultimately we ought to be focusing on the threats of today and not the past so there's bipartisan agreement we should move on so if you don't have the leaders of these agencies and former leaders of them saying, you know what, something should change and this stuff should be disclosed, i guess i'm overly cynical.

>> that is why i find this so stunning. the cia , let's remember, destroyed evidence of almost -- of possible crimes. they destroyed 70-plus interrogation tapes. go try to do that, joy reid or anyone watching this on a crime that's been committed when you're holding evidence. try to destroy that and see how the legal system treats you. the cia did this and are totally unre.ant about it.

>> right.

>> that's the issue this. agency strikes me as an agency that is in need of a deep institutional transformation in how they understand their role in executing and abetting what was a very dark chapter in american intelligence history.

>> also, there's numbness on the part of the public. the public has become much more risk averse because of iraq. a lot has changed including the limits of our foreign policy . the american people looked at syria and said, no thank you, we don't want to get involved, but there doesn't seem like there's been an outrage brewing up from the public itself to go back and relitigate those policies. without that, how do we get our representatives, people like these senators, to actually go back?

>> that's why -- again, that's why i think the revelations in the report matter. you're right. all this seems very remote to folks at this point, and, again, we turn the page . the chapter is in the past so the only way that you actually are going to get -- the only way you might have something approaching an accountability moment, aside from the 2008 election we have not had in any kind of judicial or institutional sense. the only way you get that that is if we learn a little bit more about actually what happened.

>> and that would take weeks.

>> that takes weeks.

>> and that probably won't happen.

>> it's not going to happen, although the speech and debate clause , the pentagon papers were read into the congressional record . if dianne feinstein feels so strongly about that, she can choose portions that she thinks are safe from a classification standpoint, get up there in the well of the senate right now and she could read what americans seem to think. she's protected by the constitution to be done and there's precedent.

>> follow her own moment welcome.

>> if she really believes what she's saying.

>> chris hayes host of "all in" which you can watch weeknights at 8:00 p.m . eastern