This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
There is no justifying the actions of Central Intelligence Agency officials who surreptitiously hacked into a computer network used by the Senate intelligence committee.
This is clearly a breach of the separation of powers under the U.S. Constitution. And it may be a crime.
And those responsible surely knew it.
Heads should roll, starting with CIA Director John O. Brennan.
And it shouldn't end with the firings of those who should have known better.
Colorado's Mark Udall, a Senate Democrat and a member of the intelligence committee, was the first to call for Brennan's resignation. He also said the administration should appoint special counsel to investigate potential criminal activity.
He's right on both points.
The hacking controversy reached a fever pitch Thursday as the findings of an inspector general probe into the matter became public. What's particularly galling is that the Senate committee was looking into the CIA's harsh interrogation techniques. The CIA had no business peering into its work.
Just before the report became public, Brennan apologized to key senators for his agency's deeds. It's hard to reconcile this Brennan with the one who in March who indignantly warned lawmakers about accusing his agency of improperly snooping.
It makes us wonder about Brennan's character and competence. If he didn't know CIA employees were improperly searching computers used by congressional staffers, he should have. At the very least he should have found out before denouncing the possibility.
The affair is reminescent of the scandal last summer in which Director of National Intelligence James Clapper misled Congress about the depth of spying the National Security Agency was carrying out on ordinary Americans.
And yet he kept his job.
Both incidents are part of a troubling trend that should not go unaddressed. The administration should move swiftly to show its respect for law and the Constitution.