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Senate approves new CIA general counsel amid criticism of acting predecessor

Posted Mar 14, 2014 10:57 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The U.S. Senate approved Caroline Krass as the general counsel of the Central Intelligence Agency on Thursday, just two days after U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein criticized Krass’ acting predecessor.

The Senate confirmed Krass in a 95-4 vote, report the New York Times, the Washington Post, Politico and the Associated Press. The Times describes Krass as a career government lawyer who previously worked in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. She also worked at the National Security Council and the State Department, Politico says.

On Tuesday, Feinstein said the CIA had searched computers used by the Senate Intelligence Committee to investigate harsh interrogation techniques and removed previously available documents from the system. Feinstein also criticized Krass’ predecessor, acting general counsel Robert Eatinger, though she did not refer to him by name. Feinstein chairs the committee.

Apparently referring to Eatinger, Feinstein accused the acting general counsel of “a potential effort to intimidate” congressional staffers by asking the Justice Department to investigate whether the aides improperly obtained classified documents. Feinstein said the acting general counsel was previously the chief lawyer for the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Unit, and he is mentioned by name 1,600 times in an interrogation report drafted by those staffers whom Eatinger referred to the Justice Department.

CIA director John Brennan praised the vote and also defended Eatinger, Politico says. “Bob is an exemplary public servant who has demonstrated throughout his career exceptional competence and integrity and has made numerous contributions to our nation’s security,” Brennan said in a statement.

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