- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 1, 2018

The CIA during the Obama administration intercepted and analyzed the email of some congressional staffers, the agency publicly confirmed this week, releasing declassified notifications from 2014 that contained details of the snooping.

The emails dealt with CIA whistle-blowers, and the agency said they were snared during “routine counterintelligence (CI) monitoring of government computer systems.”

The agency then prepared a report on the information in the emails — apparently sensitive conversations about protecting whistle-blowers looking to report malfeasance by the agency.

The inspector general at the time, I. Charles McCullough III, called the collection “lawful and justified.”

But Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said that was a whitewash of the serious issues.

“The fact that the CIA under the Obama administration was reading congressional staff’s emails about intelligence community whistle-blowers raises serious policy concerns as well as potential constitutional separation-of-powers issues that must be discussed publicly,” he said.

Mr. Grassley had been trying for four years to get two 2014 memos detailing the snooping to be made public. He said “bureaucratic foot-dragging” by Obama-era National Intelligence Director James R. Clapper and CIA Director John O. Brennan shielded the touchy issues from public view.

Mr. Grassley praised new Inspector General Michael K. Atkinson, appointed in May, for fast action in prying the memos free from the maw of secrecy.

The Iowa Republican is Congress’s most ardent champion for whistle-blowers, and he said the CIA’s moves to monitor and draw up a report on whistleblower communications matters being discussed on Capitol Hill was a serious problem.

He said “nothing — nothing — should inhibit or interfere with Congress’s constitutional job and protecting whistle-blowers,” he said.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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