Leak Investigators to Get Phone Log
Saturday, March 6, 2004
CRAWFORD, Tex., March 5 -- Aides to President Bush agreed to turn over a log of a week's worth of telephone calls from Air Force One and other records to satisfy subpoenas from a federal grand jury investigating the leak of a CIA operative's identity, White House officials said Friday.
The grand jurors also asked the White House to surrender two years of records of any conversations about the case with reporters, including approximately 25 who were specified by name.
The grand jury, which has been taking testimony from current and former White House officials, issued three subpoenas Jan. 22, three weeks after Attorney General John D. Ashcroft recused himself from the investigation.
White House officials said they have turned over much of the material, but not all of it, and intend to eventually provide all the subpoenaed documents.
"It's just a matter of getting it all together," said White House press secretary Scott McClellan.
The document requests are the clearest sign yet that the new prosecutor, U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald of Chicago, is taking an aggressive approach to determining how columnist Robert D. Novak learned the name of the undercover operative, Valerie Plame.
Plame's husband, former U.S. diplomat Joseph C. Wilson IV, was a vocal critic of the administration's case for war against Iraq. Administration officials have said that some of their colleagues, apparently seeking to undercut Wilson's credibility, told reporters he was chosen for a sensitive CIA mission to Africa only because his wife helped get him the assignment.
The grand jury subpoenas, first reported by Newsday, also ask for the text of a White House briefing that referred to the controversy but was missing from the White House Web site. Officials posted it Friday and said it had been omitted inadvertently.
The subpoenas also seek documents from July 6 to July 30 relating to the White House Iraq Group, a group of communications, political, national security and legislative aides who met weekly in the Situation Room.
One subpoena demanded a list of attendees at a July 16 White House reception for the 90th birthday of former president Gerald R. Ford. The reception apparently came up in interviews conducted by FBI agents or in grand jury testimony, but Bush's aides said they did not know why.
That was two days after Novak published the column naming Plame. He attributed the information to "two senior administration officials," who could have committed a crime by disclosing the information if they did so intentionally and knew of Plame's undercover status.
Bush was in Africa the week before the column appeared, and the investigators are trying to determine whether anyone in his traveling party had called back to talk to Novak or other reporters about Plame. The subpoena asks for Air Force One's July 7-12 phone records.