CIA director chastised by some, defended by others on Sunday shows

CIA Director John Brennan apologized this week after an internal agency report showed that CIA employees improperly searched computers used by Senate staffers probing the agency's interrogation techniques. And, as is always the case, many different opinions about the issue were aired on the Sunday talk shows.

No one new called for Brennan's resignation, as Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and other lawmakers have in the past few days. President Obama said Friday that he has "full confidence" in Brennan. But the CIA director continues to be under fire from some and defended by others.

"I think he should view his position as in real jeopardy," Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said Sunday. "I think he's in a very deep hole."

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) said on CBS's "Face the Nation" that the Senate report, which has been five years in the making, as well as a minority rebuttal report and a response from the CIA showed that "information gleaned from these interrogations was in fact used to interrupt and disrupt terrorist plots, including some information that took down bin Laden."

Chambliss noted that he voted against Brennan's confirmation and has long been a critic of the director but said he believes Brennan did not know until recently that Senate staff computers were improperly searched.

"John has done a really good job" as director, Chambliss said, noting that Brennan immediately apologized to legislators once he knew the scope of the computer-search issue. "Once he got all the facts, he apologized."


CIA Director John O. Brennan has acknowledged that his agency improperly searched Senate computers. (Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press)

"If I thought John Brennan knew about this, then certainly we'd be calling for his resignation," Chambliss said. "He did not." 

But, the lawmaker said if the five staffers implicated in the breach worked for him, they would "be gone by now."

Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) said that the charges are "shocking" and that an apology from Brennan is not enough.

"I think we've really got to have some serious discussions with John Brennan," he said on CNN's "State of the Union with Candy Crowley." 

"I'm not calling for his resignation, but I'm pretty skeptical right now because it has really undermined the trust between the committee" and the CIA, King said. "This is serious stuff." 

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said that there is no "conspiracy notion" that the CIA wanted to spy on the committees but that someone "overstepped their bounds" by looking into computers they should not have.

"I don't think it should be taken and extrapolated that every CIA officer was operating under this culture of lawlessness," Rogers said.

"I would be cautious to say that they're rotten to the core," he said. "I think it's wrong."

Katie Zezima covers the White House for Post Politics and The Fix.
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