Sensitive documents hacked from current CIA director John Brennan’s personal email account have been posted by WikiLeaks, revealing his concerns over U.S. surveillance policy towards civilians and other matters.
Email documents revealed that Brennan’s opinions on domestic intelligence included the desire for “firm criteria” governing such operations as well as stringent oversight by all branches of government. The opinion refers specifically to the mass surveillance conducted against law abiding Americans by the National Security Agency (NSA) which was exposed by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
In a 2007 position paper he stated, “The FBI, Department of Homeland Security, National Security Agency, CIA, and Department of Defense are all engaged in intelligence activities on U.S. soil, and these activities must be consistent with our laws and reflect the democratic principles and values of our Nation.”
Brennan’s tenure has seen previous leaks that revealed CIA hacking into Senate employee email accounts, which he at one time denied. Those hacks followed the actions of Senate members who obtained documents from CIA facilities without authorization, which Senator Dianne Feinstein defended by raising the instance where the CIA had previously destroyed videotapes of harsh interrogation methods used in 2005.
Details about the ongoing conversation about what the U.S. policy on interrogation techniques should be were also revealed, including a 2008 letter from Senator Kit Bond aimed at striking a balance between techniques that were seen as too intense and the rules that might be too restrictive if the CIA were to simply adopt the Army Field Manual.
Even though Obama would eventually go the field manual route, Bond was more partial to simply avoiding techniques expressly forbidden within the manual, rather than only allowing those which it expressly allowed.
The CIA called the recent leaks a crime, with the Brennan family as victims. The organization went on to say that there was no indication that any of the documents released were classified, which would go against WikiLeaks’s intent of only publishing non-publicly available information.
The leak also revealed the similarities between Obama’s current Iran strategy and what Brennan in 2008 referred to as a “carrot-and-stick” approach. Despite his desire for this type of strategy, Brennan did not specifically endorse the system of economic sanctions that Obama would eventually implement.
The source of the leak is said to be an American under the age of 22, described as a “stoner high school student” who is reported to have previously hacked into the Comcast account of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.