Democratic party staffers for the Senate Intelligence Committee obtained secret documents related to a damning report against the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) three years before the agency noticed and demanded their return, McClatchy Newspapers reported on Friday.

Intelligence officials reportedly did not catch on to the loss of the documents until after Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) contacted President Barack Obama in January demanding that Obama order the committee be given access to findings from a review ordered by former CIA Director Leon Panetta.

A draft of the review allegedly agreed with a 6,300-page commitee report criticizing the CIA's use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" during George W. Bush's presidency at secret agency facilities around the world. Despite the added intensity, the committee argued, the CIA's questioning methods did not produce solid leads.

However, the agency's official statement expressed disagreement with the Intelligence Committee report. And after Udall's letter to Obama, the CIA examined "audit logs" from computers inside a secret facility in Virginia and found that the documents had been accessed and printed from an unauthorized source, meaning not the computers available for committee staffers to use in the facility's secured reading room.

One official told McClatchy under condition of anonymity that the materials were marked in such a way that they should not have been accessible to the committee staffers.

"It eventually becomes apparent that they had the documents," another anonymous official told McClatchy. "It was the majority staff, not minority. It was just the Democrats."

The committee and the agency have been embroiled in a dispute over the $40 million report, resulting in both the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation being asked to look into the matter.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]