Senate-CIA controversy widens over enhanced interrogation probe

CIA hacking accusations divide senators 02:46

The public battle between the Senate Intelligence Committee and the CIA is growing over a confidential report on the spy agency. The committee's top Republican says a special investigator may now have to get involved.

The highly unusual case is now dividing not just the Senate and the CIA but senators themselves, Nancy Cordes reports. Many Republicans didn't want to investigate the CIA in the first place. They didn't have a problem with its enhanced interrogation tactics, and they now feel the Democrats might be making too many uncomfortable details public.

CIA Director John Brennan was on Capitol Hill Wednesday but ignored CBS News' questions about his agency's dispute with Congress.

Brennan denies claims made by Senate Intelligence Chair Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. She said Brennan informed her earlier this year that CIA agents searched her committee's computer system while the committee was investigating the CIA's Bush-era interrogation program. Feinstein said in her speech Tuesday, "The CIA's search may well have violated the separation of powers principles embodied in the United States Constitution."

Outrage spread Wednesday, with Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. - who chairs the House Oversight Committee - calling the CIA's actions, if true, "effectively treason."

But not all Republicans shared his view. After meeting with Brennan, Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., the top member on the Intelligence Committee, argued the facts are still murky.

"Both parties have made allegations against one another and even speculated as to each other's actions, but there are still a lot of unanswered questions that must be addressed," he said.

The committee's investigation of the CIA, initiated by Democrats, took four years, cost $40 million and yielded a 6,300-page report, which is still secret.

In his first public comments about the controversy, President Obama said he still wants to declassify the report. He declined to take sides. He said, "That's not something that is an appropriate role for me and the White House to wade into at this point."

A top CIA lawyer argues that it is the Intelligence Committee that committed a crime when staffers copied and removed a sensitive CIA document, but Feinstein says that her staffers only did that because those documents had a habit of disappearing once they found them.