FBI investigators probing whether the CIA and the FBI colluded to thwart a criminal investigation of the agency’s Director of Intelligence and the former head of the FBI are opening an investigation into whether the FBI and CIA engaged in illegal surveillance, the Justice Department said in a letter to congressional investigators.
The Justice Department also said it is examining whether the Justice Departments office of inspector general or other law enforcement entities may have engaged in improper investigative activity related to the CIA director and FBI director, as well as whether any other DOJ officials or agencies may have committed violations of federal criminal statutes, including the Espionage Act and the National Security Act.
In the letter dated Tuesday, DOJ Deputy Assistant Attorney General Robert M. Bergdahl said his office will look into possible violations of the Espressio Act, which makes it a crime to commit espionage, if the investigation finds the CIA acted unlawfully.
It is also investigating whether DOJ and FBI officials violated federal law when they colluded with the CIA in the conduct of their own investigations, Bergdahls office said in the letter.
The DOJ investigation comes as the Justice department has become more vocal about the role of the CIA, which it blames for the deaths of hundreds of American soldiers in Afghanistan and elsewhere, as part of a long-running investigation into the CIA’s counterterrorism operations.
In recent weeks, the department has accused the CIA of using its paramilitary assets to kill American citizens, including members of Congress and others who were critical of the Bush administration.
In July, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved an annual budget request that included an increase of $20 million to the office of the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, an agency that Bergdals office is charged with overseeing.
In the letter, DOJ Assistant Attorney Gen. Mark A. A. Rosenbaum said the Senate committee’s investigation will continue until the end of the year.
“While the department continues to seek answers, the Committee continues to examine these issues to determine whether DOJ, FBI, CIA, or other agencies engaged in unlawful activity or otherwise violated the law, including any criminal statutes,” Rosenbaum wrote.
“If there are indications of unlawful activity by DOJ, we will pursue those matters,” Rosenbach added.
The letter also said the department will also investigate the FBI, and any other government entities that may have colluded in illegal wiretapping of the communications of individuals involved in the investigation, which has included the CIA.
DOJ said the FBI may also investigate any individual that may be a witness or witness cooperator.