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Brennan Appeals to CIA Staff in Letter

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 11: Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan takes questions from the audience after addressing the Council on Foreign Relations March 11, 2014 in Washington, DC. Brennan denied accusations by U.S. senators who claim the CIA conducted unauthorized searches of computers used by Senate Select Committee on Intelligence staff members in an effort to learn how the committee gained access to the agency's own 2009 internal review of its detention and interrogation program, undermining Congress' oversight of the spy agency. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

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In a letter to CIA employees obtained by NBC News, CIA Director John Brennan says that the CIA has “tried to work as collaboratively as possible” with the Senate Select Intelligence Committee but that he will work to make sure that the panel’s report on the agency’s past interrogation programs are “balanced and accurate.”

Reiterating his comments Tuesday at the Council on Foreign Relations, Brennan told CIA staff that “we are a far better organization because of Congressional oversight, and as long as I am the Director of CIA, I will do whatever I can to be responsive to the elected representatives of the American people.”

“Even as we have learned from the past, we must also be able to put the past behind us so that we can devote our full attention to the future,” he said of the agency’s now-discontinued rendition, detention and interrogation program.

Also attached to the message was a separate letter Brennan sent Senate Intelligence chief Dianne Feinstein in January, in which he objected to what the CIA claims was unauthorized Senate use of intelligence documents relating to the torture investigation.

The letter will also be sent to the relevant intelligence committees on Capitol Hill.

The full text of Brennan’s letter is below:

Colleagues,In light of public assertions made earlier this morning by Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) Chairman Dianne Feinstein, I feel compelled to share with you some information as well as my thoughts surrounding CIA's interaction with the SSCI in relation to the now-defunct Rendition, Detention and Interrogation (RDI) program. Attached is a letter I sent to Chairman Feinstein, Vice Chairman Chambliss, and the full SSCI Committee on 27 January 2014.As I said earlier today in my remarks at the Council on Foreign Relations, CIA believes strongly in the necessity of effective, strong, and bipartisan Congressional oversight. We are a far better organization because of Congressional oversight, and as long as I am the Director of CIA, I will do whatever I can to be responsive to the elected representatives of the American people. To that end, CIA and the SSCI have been working for many months to resolve issues related to the Committee's RDI report.CIA has more than enough current challenges on its plate, which is why, far more than any other institution of government, the CIA wants to put the rendition, detention, and interrogation chapter of its history behind it. The Agency's detention facilities have long been closed. President Obama officially ended the program five years ago, by which time the CIA had ceased its interrogation activities. Over the past decade, there have been numerous internal and external reviews of the program, and CIA has taken steps to address the shortcomings, problems, and performance deficiencies that became evident in those reviews.As you know, the SSCI has conducted an extensive review of that program, a review that CIA has devoted considerable resources to supporting over the last several years. CIA has tried to work as collaboratively as possible with the Committee on its report. We will continue to do so, and I have talked extensively to Chairman Feinstein and Vice Chairman Chambliss about the report and the way forward. CIA agrees with many of the findings in the report, and we disagree with others. We have acknowledged and learned from the program's shortcomings, and we have taken corrective measures to prevent such mistakes from happening again. But we also owe it to the women and men who faithfully did their duty in executing this program to try to make sure any historical account of it is balanced and accurate. We have worked closely with the Committee to resolve outstanding issues, and we look forward to working with the Committee should it submit any portion of its report to us for classification review. Even as we have learned from the past, we must also be able to put the past behind us so that we can devote our full attention to the future.As always, thank you for your outstanding service.John

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