WASHINGTON -- Congressional reaction struck an unusually partisan tone Tuesday following Sen. Dianne Feinstein's contention that the CIA spied on Senate Intelligence Committee computers, a reminder that even typically common ground can become political fodder in an election year.
Democrats largely backed Feinstein, the California Democrat who chairs the Intelligence Committee. "I'm glad that she spoke up," said Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.).
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who has led efforts to stem the CIA's surveillance reach, said: "This goes precisely to the question of whether the Congress can do effective oversight of the modern intelligence apparatus."
"That is why today is important," he said.
They were joined by two longtime defense hawks, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.).
"If true, this is Richard Nixon stuff," Graham said, suggesting those responsible should be fired.
But other Republicans were more muted in their reaction. Several declined to comment, and one suggested that Feinstein should not have discussed the matter publicly.
"I personally don't believe anything that goes on in the Intelligence Committee should be discussed," said Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) "Any member of the committee that talks about classified information has broken the oath."
The CIA has disputed Feinstein's portrayal of events, which stem from the committee's long-running oversight of the spy agency's interrogation and detention practices during the George W. Bush administration.
The CIA has said it launched an investigation of the computers after committee staffers were able to gain access to classified information.
The Justice Department is investigating the incident.
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