Dianne Feinstein: CIA Is Spying on the Senate

Says the removal of private documents was "the exact sort of CIA investigation that we sought to avoid from the outset."
3:00 | 03/11/14

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Transcript for Dianne Feinstein: CIA Is Spying on the Senate
This is a special room. What was unique -- interest thing about the internal documents. Was not there classification. Level. But rather their analysis. And acknowledgment. Of significant. CIA. Wrong doing. Senator Dianne Feinstein the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee. And one of the biggest backers of domestic surveillance programs on Capitol Hill not taking so kindly to reports. Her own committee's documents have been snooped on by the CIA. I'm Michelle Franzen in new York and DC a bit of an uproar today as senator Feinstein confirmed she has sent the matter to the Justice Department. For a possible criminal investigation she also suggested the agency. Had violated the Fourth Amendment and called into question CIA -- John -- ability to continue his job. Let's get right into this with the dramatic morning in the senate. Let's go to ABC news senior Washington correspondent Jeff Melanie Jeff Feinstein has been one of the most hardline supporters of intelligence surveillance program so what. Changed. She -- Michelle -- obviously right in this was a very unusual and it's an extraordinary lengthy floor speech on this on the senate floor but just a short time ago this morning. What changed was this senator Feinstein -- really. Said that she had hoped to resolve this and a discreet and respectful way as she put it but she believes that to she had to speak out. And draw attention to what she believes is a violation of federal law so we have to go all the way back to be -- bush air. Controversial. -- detention programs and interrogation programs used by the CA in the wake of nine elevenths. The Senate Intelligence Committee has been reviewing -- -- examining means for all these years. There on the the cost of producing the report but in the process of doing this the CIA she alleges has been trying to get an early look at this report. And she says that on -- as recently as on January 15 of this year the CIA essentially snooped on or spied on. BS senate committee's work here she calls it a violation of the law and down the Justice Department as you said is investigating. Let's hear a little bit more Jeff from senator Feinstein about her great concerns. CIA personnel. Electronically. Removed committee access to CIA documents. After providing them to the committee. This included. Roughly 870. Documents or pages of documents. That were removed in February 2010. And secondly. Roughly another fifty. That were removed in mid may 2010. This was done without the knowledge or approval of committee members or staff. And in violation. Of our written agreements. Further this type of behavior. Would not have been possible. Had the CIA. Allowed the committee to conduct the review of documents here in the senate. In short. This was the exact sort of CIA interference in our investigation. That we sought to avoid at the outset. -- -- we just heard from senator Feinstein a few more details about that what exactly -- -- was the CIA looking for an how -- saying. Get to do this without any sort of oversight or approval. Close we heard senator Feinstein say there. It would not have happened she believes if the if the senators or the committee had remained in the senate but what was happening was. -- members of the Senate Intelligence Committee would actually travel out to a C -- building in Virginia just outside Washington. And they would go through all the documents there what's believed at that facility at that site the CIA. Was. Essentially spying on the senate to committee's work. And what she says is removing document -- the reason this matters is this the CIA is still bristling all these years later. Having. Final history written of these controversial. Interrogation. In detention programs the waterboarding and other things. And they are trying to. Have there finals stamp on the senate review and they're trying to keep this classified. But what senator Feinstein and others are alleging are -- to members of the CIA or. Perhaps some staff members there were actually trying to influence the report by taking out some documents. And trying to -- -- with this Senate Intelligence Committee report it's very convoluted controversial. And one of the reasons she came to the senate floor is because CIA director John Brennan. He a few days ago looked to use the senate the story is attacks against the CA so he provoked for in -- Respects here we're going to hear from him this morning in a speech on -- scheduled but. All this is going to be. In the hands of the Justice Department which is going to investigate if there were any laws broken real quickly just give me an idea what message does this end of this committee -- the CIA was in fact doing all of this and what does this mean for John Brennan. And his future. Well it's very serious because the who's who of the congress has an oversight role. Over seeing the C case of this is going to go on and deepened and intensified there's no question that this is going to be going on for out. -- a final years of the Obama ministries and perhaps beyond that for John Brennan itself in me he inherited this program so I'm not exactly sure. What this means for him we'll have to see how it plays out here this is -- administration spanning many directors but. One thing is clear no matter who was in charge the CIA was trying to. In a sense isolate and protect itself as the history of these programs have been written and it. Now the tensions that have been under of the surface really between the CIA and the senate are out in full view and this is a serious serious. Jeff I think what we're also going to hear more about is that the CIA feels that they the panel -- -- their possessions and classified documents. Which is why they went in to begin with here's Feinstein explaining how they got the documents in their possession. To be clear. The committee's staff did not hack -- to CIA. Computers. To obtain these documents as has been suggested in the press. The documents were identified. Using the search tool provided by the CIA. To search the documents provided to the committee. We have no way to determine who made the internal Panetta reviewed documents available to the committee. Further we don't know whether the documents were provided intentionally. By the CIA. Unintentionally. By the CIA. Or intentionally by a whistle blower. In fact we know that over the years on multiple occasions. The staff have asked the CIA. About documents made. Available for investigation. At times the CIA. Has simply been unaware. That these specific documents were provided to the committee. And while this is alarming. It is also important to note that more than six point two million. Pages of documents have been provide. This is simply a massive amount of records. And so we're hearing about the records and also senator Feinstein given -- strong defense of her own panel. We have discussed this with the senate legal counsel. Who has confirmed. That congress does not recognize. These claims of privilege. When it comes to documents. Provided to congress for our oversight duties. These word documents. Provided by the executive branch pursuant. To an authorized. Congressional. Oversight investigation. So we believe. We had every right to review -- and keep the documents. Jeff we've heard of. -- these documents being looked out on a standalone computer what does that mean exactly what this stand -- computer network is essentially a network that the FCA provided for these. For these overseers of the summit. The senate and intelligence committee staff and it would go over to a CIA outpost an office just outside Washington. And sit in a nondescript computer and a -- will. And look through some of these documents so that's the network that was a provided. For this senate. You know perhaps no surprise since of these staffers were actually sitting inside -- CA. Computer room that this was happening that's why senator Feinstein say it had this happened in the senate it would. It would not have. The spying may not have taken place so what this means going forward is that it really has broken down the trust. And agreements reached between the CIA. And the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee was created to oversee. The Central Intelligence Agency -- it has specific. Oversight a role so this is a historical first an anomaly and it's going to have deep -- for patients. Of how these agencies work together. An ongoing adversarial. Relationship that we have not heard the last of -- felony thank you so much for joining us thanks. You can keep up with this story in real time by downloading the ABC news -- and starring this story for exclusive updates on the go. And also stay with abcnews.com for your latest headlines for now I'm Michelle Franzen -- New York with -- ABC news digital special report.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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