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FBI seeks senators' records in 9/11 leak probe

Graham
Graham aides say the chairman is complying with the FBI request.  


From Kate Snow
CNN Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The FBI wants senators to provide records of any contact with reporters on two days in June as part of a probe of leaks of classified information from the congressional investigation into September 11.

The FBI is trying to find out who leaked U.S. intelligence intercepts of conversations between individuals suspected of involvement in al Qaeda on September 10, 2001. In calls intercepted by the National Security Agency, a person said, "The match begins tomorrow." In another intercept that same day, a different person said, "Tomorrow is zero hour."

CNN first reported the intercepts on June 19. In both instances, the callers were in Afghanistan, speaking in Arabic to people in Saudi Arabia. But the intercepts were not analyzed until September 12, the day after the terrorist attacks.

FBI agents have asked members of the Senate Intelligence Committee to turn over phone records, e-mail or other electronic messages -- anything that would indicate what contact the senators had with journalists from noon on June 18 to June 19 at 3:15 p.m. A spokesman for Sen. Bob Graham, the Intelligence Committee chairman, told CNN that Graham already has asked his staff to begin compiling material for FBI investigators.

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"He said we need to provide this material. Let's start gathering it and then we'll meet when he's back in town," said spokesman Paul Anderson.

The leak so infuriated the Bush administration that Vice President Dick Cheney called leaders of the joint House and Senate committee investigating intelligence failures before the September 11 attacks to complain. Graham, D-Florida, and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Porter Goss, R-Florida, then called on the Justice Department to investigate the leaks.

One Senate source said some staffers are bothered by what he called the "wackiness" of the fact that the FBI -- which itself is being investigated by the joint intelligence committee over how it handled leading up to September 11 -- is now investigating those same committee members.

"If only they were as diligent in going after terrorists as they were in going after Congress," the source said.

For weeks, the FBI has interviewed members of the joint House-Senate intelligence panel and their staff. Some have been asked to take lie detector tests and have refused.

The FBI requested senators' records in an August 7 memo to the Senate Counsel's office. The memo does not set a deadline for senators to comply with the request.

Another Senate source said people on Capitol Hill understand exactly what the Bush administration is doing -- putting pressure on lawmakers who talk too much to the press.

"The people who've been talking are scared," said this source. "Those who haven't been, aren't."



 
 
 
 







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