All-Star Panel: Reaction to CIA spying on Senate staffers

'Special Report' All-Star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," July 30, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN, D - CA: I have asked for an apology and a recognition that this CIA search of computers used by its oversight committee was inappropriate. I have received neither.

JOHN BRENNAN, CIA DIRECTOR: As far as the allegations of, you know, CIA hacking into Senate computers, nothing could be further than the truth. We wouldn't do that. I mean, that's just beyond the, you know, the scope of reason.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Beyond the scope of reason back in March. Today, guess what? It happened. The CIA apologized to the Senate intelligence Committee, and that lead for a Democrat calling for the CIA director -- president's CIA director to resign. Mark Udall, Democrat from Colorado, saying "After being briefed on the CIA inspector general report today I had no choice but to call for the resignation of CIA Director John Brennan. The CIA unconstitutionally spied on Congress by hacking into Senate Intelligence Committee computers. This grave misconduct not only is illegal but it violates the U.S. Constitution's requirement of separation of powers." We're back with the panel. Ron?

RON FOURNIER, SENIOR POLITICAL COLUMNIST, NATIONAL JOURNAL: I can't hardly think of a more ominous abuse of power than the CIA investigating the only check on them and then lying about it. And then the only thing that happens today is a Democratic senator asked for an apology? And the White House press secretary stands up and says the president has confidence in the CIA director? And, oh, excuses it because the CIA director has a tough job? This is really, really bad stuff and somebody has to be held accountable. And Udall is right, heads need to roll.

BAIER: David?

DAVID DRUCKER, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: It's a damaging admission and it's damaging because U.S. intelligence agencies, the CIA, are something the country needs in order to prosecute still the terrorist threats and other ongoing threats around the world. We need the intelligence agencies to be trusted and effective. And at a time when there is already shaken confidence in them, something like this really hurts. And it can lead to Congress trying to limit funds for intelligence agencies, which can limit their effectiveness. And it's a serious breach of executive overreach. It's a problem.

BAIER: Charles, we had a former CIA analyst on to say that it's important to clarify that these were CIA computers and a CIA facility. Senate Intelligence Committee staffers broke an agreement with the CIA on how these documents would be handled. Yes, he said the CIA played fast and loose with the rules, but the Senate Intelligence Committee staffers broke the rules and stole the documents. They did something they didn't agree to. They have to be held accountable.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, it seems as if the scope of reason is narrower than Brennan imagines. But it's rather amusing to see the two sides accusing each other. It's reminiscent of the old Mad magazine cartoon of "Spy Versus Spy," because, in fact, the defense of the CIA is they broke into the Senate part of that computer, supposed to be inviolable, because they suspected that the Senate staffers had come up with a secret CIA report, so they were looking for a breach on the part of the Senate staffers.

Look, I think what this tells you is that you have got two agencies, incidentally on one hand a Democratically led CIA, a democratically led committee, at loggerheads with each other. I think an apology is appropriate. But I find it interesting that Mark Udall finally after years and years of executive usurpation stands up against the executive trespassing --

BAIER: We should also point that up Mark Udall is up for reelection in a tough --


FOURNIER: If I could really quickly, this isn't Spy Versus Spy. This is Spy versus the people's House. What they were looking into was a report that we have seen from the early reports to be very damning, that the CIA exaggerated the effectiveness of torture, deceived the executive branch about it, deceived -- which would have been President Bush's office, deceived Congress about it, withheld the information from the secretaries of state, worked with black site countries, foreign countries to hide the information from our State Department. I mean, this sounds to me like a runaway CIA. It is not Spy Versus Spy.

KRAUTHAMMER: At the time Porter Goss, who was head of the House Intelligence Committee, said that when he and Nancy Pelosi, who was the ranking member, were briefed in September of 2012 about this program, which had begun a month earlier, nobody objected, everybody supported it, and, in fact, they pledged funding for it. So all of this is 10 years hindsight, post facto indignation, which was not there at the time of the crisis when they were scrambling the Bush administration to gather information after a blinding attack on 9/11.

BAIER: I have got to run. But there is not a lot of coverage of this besides this channel from what I have seen. So we will continue to stay on it. That's it for the panel. But stay tuned for throwback Thursday, commander and chief edition.

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