Will the Senate Push John Brennan to Resign From the CIA?

CIA Director John Brennan CIA Director John Brennan Carolyn Kaster/AP

Democratic Sens. Mark Udall and Martin Heinrich both called for CIA Director John Brennan's resignation late Thursday after the spy agency admitted it had improperly hacked into Senate staffers' computers used during a review of the agency's Bush-era interrogation practices.

"After being briefed on the CIA Inspector General report today, I have no choice but to call for the resignation of CIA Director John Brennan," Udall said in a statement. "The CIA unconstitutionally spied on Congress by hacking into Senate Intelligence Committee computers."

Additional reports claimed that Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham was also asking Brennan to step down due to the controversy. An aide Thursday denied knowing of any call for resignation.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stopped short of calling for Brennan's head, but said the CIA's admission was "appalling and deeply threatening to our system of checks and balances."

"The CIA's leadership must take action to address these misdeeds, restore its trust with Congress and ensure that this episode will never, ever be repeated," Reid added.

Other senators, including Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, have refused comment on whether they believe Brennan should be removed from his post. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, the Intelligence panel's top Republican, said calls for a resignation were "premature."

"There are still a lot of undisclosed facts out there," Chambliss said.

Sen. Susan Collins said she had "been shown no evidence that [Brennan] directed, authorized, or approved of the intrusions themselves, which I consider to be a very serious infringement on Congressional oversight."

Earlier Thursday, the CIA admitted that its employees had "acted in a manner inconsistent with the common understanding" agreed to between the agency and its Senate overseers, according to CIA spokesman Dean Boyd. The mea culpa marked a sharp reversal of previous denials by Brennan, who said allegations of hacking of Senate computers was "beyond the scope of reason."

Feinstein earlier this year took to the Senate floor to deliver bombshell allegations that the CIA had secretly accessed her panel's computers that were being used to review documents related to the government's torture, detention, and rendition policies allowed during George W. Bush's presidency. She accused the CIA of impeding her staffers' investigation and charged the agency with possibly violating the Constitution.

Udall, who serves on the Intelligence panel, was the first senator to state publicly that Brennan should give up his position. The Colorado Democrat is facing reelection this year in a tight race that The Cook Political Report has deemed a Toss-Up.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    View
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    View
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    View
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    View
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    View
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    View
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    View

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.