The vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has sent a second letter to the CIA asking why the agency did not launch an investigation into the disclosure of classified information appearing in the best-selling book "Bush at War," by Washington Post Assistant Managing Editor Bob Woodward.
In March, Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) wrote the CIA to ask why it had not made a formal criminal referral to the Justice Department regarding the possible unauthorized disclosure of classified information contained in the book. Rockefeller cited 20 passages that he said contained highly classified information.
The CIA's congressional affairs director, Stanley Moskowitz, replied in a June letter that no referral was made because George J. Tenet, who was then director of central intelligence, "authorized a number of CIA officers to meet with Mr. Woodward. They were under instructions not to discuss any classified material with Mr. Woodward. It is my understanding that the Administration had authorized additional personnel to talk to Mr. Woodward." Disclosure of classified information without authorization can be a criminal offense.
In his second letter, dated Sept. 1, Rockefeller called Moskowitz's response "completely unacceptable" and asked for a list of CIA officials who met with Woodward and the names of any officials outside the CIA who were authorized to meet with him. He also asked, "Were these officials authorized to disclose classified information, and, if so, by whom?"
Rockefeller, along with some Senate colleagues, has complained that the Bush administration has selectively declassified intelligence that supports its political goals. They argue that the administration refused to declassify parts of its Iraq assessment that would have cast doubt on its case for war there before the conflict began. The Justice Department has aggressively investigated other instances of classified information appearing in print.
Woodward said yesterday that it would be inaccurate to conclude that most of the sensitive material in his book came from an official decision by the administration to disclose information to him. Rather, he said, the book "is a compilation of confidential sources and people at all sorts of levels providing bits of information or lots of information. There's no Daniel Ellsberg who comes in with a grocery cart of documents."
Although some of the information in the book was classified, Woodward said, "no one has seriously suggested to me that there is information in the book that has harmed U.S. national security. That's the real test."
But Rockefeller, in his most recent letter to Moskowitz, wrote: "Regardless of who was authorized to meet with the author, it is undeniable that extremely sensitive information was disclosed in Bush at War that, in my view, has damaged the security of our nation."