A Slow Leak in the Senate Judiciary Committee

By Al Kamen
Friday, March 30, 2007

Round up the usual suspects! A leak has sprung on Capitol Hill! And some folks at the Senate Judiciary Committee are most unhappy about it.

Seems Jennifer Leathers, a committee hearing clerk, sent an e-mail to the committee's staff on Wednesday at 10:20 a.m.: "Attached is the written testimony and CV of D. Kyle Sampson, former chief of staff to the attorney general, for tomorrow's hearing titled 'Preserving Prosecutorial Independence: Is the Department of Justice Politicizing the Hiring and Firing of U.S. Attorneys? -- Part III.' "

Nine minutes later, a clearly concerned Bruce A. Cohen, the committee's chief counsel, sent a follow-up to everyone: "Please do NOT release the testimony in advance of the hearing. Mr. Sampson's lawyer has asked that it NOT be released, NOT be made public. This is for Judiciary senators and their staffs to prepare for the hearing and NOT to be released."

Then came the inevitable e-mail from Cohen at 6:40 p.m.: "I hear that the AP has a copy of the Sampson testimony. If you provided it to the AP or provided [it] to someone who provided it to the AP please come forward and identify yourself to me or Mike immediately." (That's Michael O'Neill, the committee's minority chief counsel.) So far, no confessions.

It turns out the first "flash" from AP came at 5:49 p.m., 7 1/2 hours after Leathers's e-mail. We are conducting a full Loop investigation as to why it took so long to leak. Anyone who deliberately sat on the testimony or gave it to someone who failed to leak it, please come forward and identify yourself.

'Totally Paranoid,' but Paranoid Enough?

The cameras are off, but that doesn't mean the microphones are off, too. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform grilled General Services Administration chief Lurita Doan on Wednesday over allegations that she tried to give a no-bid job to a business associate, intervened in a contract dispute with a technology company, and had a White House official brief top political appointees at the agency on targeting Democrats and helping Republicans in 2008. All that in just 10 months running the agency.

After a couple of hours, Chairman Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), had to call for a quick recess so members could go to the House floor for a vote. The camera lights went off as the lawmakers scurried out and folks at the hearing milled about.

Doan, apparently not realizing her microphone was still on, turned to an aide and said: "Take my water, and my glass. I don't want them to track my fingerprints. They've got me totally paranoid." (To listen to the audio snippet, go to washingtonpost.com and click on today's In the Loop column.) Doan's husband and her chief of staff both have a military-intelligence background, and she has sold surveillance equipment to the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies -- so she knows how these things work.

As "CSI: Miami" fans would know, however, it was too late. She had rubbed her hands on the arms of her chair, so committee staffers could easily get her DNA from her epithelials.

But she's not paranoid. They really are out to get her.

Bush, Smiling With the 'Butcher of Chechnya'

Red-faced Bush administration officials were trying to explain yesterday how it was that no one noticed that that fine Russian general -- and alleged war criminal -- who met with President Bush and retired Air Force Gen. Robert Foglesong on Monday in the Oval Office has been accused of overseeing some of the most notorious atrocities against civilians in Chechnya.

Bush met with Foglesong, now head of Mississippi State University, and Gen. Vladimir Shamanov in their capacities as co-chairs of a U.S.-Russian commission on missing soldiers.

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