Conflict of interest: CIA lawyer at center of computer snooping clash

n13-iconThe Associated Press reports: The senior CIA lawyer accused by the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee of trying to intimidate the panel over its investigation into secret prisons and brutal interrogations of terrorism suspects was himself involved in the controversial programs. The attorney, the CIA’s top lawyer, is cited by name for his role more than 1,600 times in the Senate’s unpublished, 6,300-page investigative report, according to the panel’s chairwoman, Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

Until the California Democrat’s extraordinary Senate speech Tuesday, the CIA’s senior deputy general counsel, Robert Eatinger, was little known outside a small cadre of highly specialized national security lawyers. He has maintained a low profile in a legal career that has spanned two decades at the CIA and in the Navy. But Feinstein’s remarkable accusations instantly made Eatinger famous — or infamous — over a simmering constitutional dispute that threatens to engulf two branches of the government.

Eatinger had filed a formal criminal complaint earlier this year on behalf of the CIA asking the Justice Department to investigate whether the Senate Intelligence Committee had improperly obtained classified CIA documents for an as-yet unreleased Senate report on the agency’s use of waterboarding and other abusive tactics against al-Qaida prisoners during the George W. Bush administration.

Eatinger’s move boomeranged Tuesday. [Continue reading…]

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