Justice Department Passes on Spat Between Senate and CIA

The U.S. Justice Department has declined to pursue a criminal investigation in a dispute between a Senate committee and the CIA over accusations of spying and the purloining of classified documents.

Federal prosecutors “carefully reviewed the matters referred to us and did not find sufficient evidence to warrant a criminal investigation,” said Peter Carr, a spokesman for the Justice Department.

The dispute stemmed from a Senate Intelligence Committee investigation of the enhanced interrogation techniques employed by the Central Intelligence Agency in the years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. In March, committee Chairwoman Diane Feinstein, a California Democrat, publicly accused the CIA of spying on the computers her staff used to compile a 6,200-page study of waterboarding, sleep deprivation, confinement in small spaces and other interrogation techniques used on suspected terrorists at secret prisons.

The CIA issued a counter accusation -- that Feinstein’s staff improperly removed classified documents from CIA facilities and brought them back to their Senate offices -- and asked the Justice Department to investigate.

The Justice Department said today that it sent letters yesterday to the CIA Inspector General, which referred the spying allegations to be investigated, and the CIA general counsel, saying it won’t open a criminal probe. The letters were not made public.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said today that “what the CIA did to my senators is wrong,” adding that an investigation he ordered into the matter by the Senate Sergeant at Arms is still under way.

The CIA declined to comment. Feinstein didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Senator Mark Udall, a Colorado Democrat on the Intelligence panel, said the Senate “shouldn’t let this drop until we have some fundamental resolution of what happened.”

The intelligence committee has asked the Obama administration to declassify and release portions of the lengthy report. The White House said it was working in “all due haste” to release the documents.

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