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One of the lawmakers rallying behind Mrs. Feinstein was Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, who said the charges are so serious that they call for an independent investigator who can get to the bottom of a dispute that has ensnared major figures in both branches of government.

Republicans on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence said the matter should be handled internally for now.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss, Georgia Republican and committee vice chairman, indicated that he wanted more details.

Sen. Susan M. Collins, Maine Republican, said she wants committee members to call their staffers and CIA officials to testify. She said it’s too early for her to judge whether there was any wrongdoing.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, told reporters that he backed Mrs. Feinstein “unequivocally.”

“And I’m disappointed that the CIA is apparently unrepentant on what I understand they did,” Mr. Reid said.

He added, though, that he is not ready to support a criminal investigation until more is known.

Caught in the middle, the White House took a wait-and-see approach.

“I’m not going to comment on particulars of matters that are under review,” press secretary Jay Carney said.

He added that President Obama “has great confidence” in Mr. Brennan, who was the president’s top counterterrorism official before becoming CIA director.

Mrs. Feinstein said the Panetta review was turned over to her committee by the CIA and could be accessed using search techniques that the CIA gave to committee staffers. She said it’s not clear whether the CIA intended to give the review to Congress and even suggested it might have been included by a whistleblower. Either way, she said, the committee obtained the review legally.

Committee staffers with proper clearance took a copy of the document from the secure facility in Northern Virginia and brought it to the committee’s offices in the Senate. Mrs. Feinstein said the moves complied with all legal and procedural requirements for handling sensitive material.

The dispute stems from a yearslong committee investigation into the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques, which many have labeled torture, and that were authorized by the Bush administration for use in the war on terrorism.

The intelligence committee and the CIA reached an agreement in 2009 that said the spy agency would provide documents to congressional investigators, who would have to abide by certain rules about reviewing and storing those documents.

Mrs. Feinstein said the CIA apparently removed documents from the Senate computers twice before but that the CIA apologized for those incidents and she thought the matter was closed.

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