Grand jury subpoenas Air Force One phone records

Files needed for probe of leak of CIA agent's name

March 05, 2004|By Tom Brune | Tom Brune,NEWSDAY

WASHINGTON - The federal grand jury probing the leak of a covert CIA officer's identity has subpoenaed records of Air Force One telephone calls in the week before the officer's name was published in a column in July, according to documents obtained by Newsday.

Also sought in the wide-ranging document requests contained in three grand jury subpoenas to the Executive Office of President Bush are records created in July by the White House Iraq Group, a little-known internal task force established in August 2002 to create a strategy to publicize the threat posed by Saddam Hussein.

And the subpoenas asked for a transcript of a White House spokesman's press briefing in Nigeria, a list of those attending a birthday reception for a former president, and, casting a much wider net than previously reported, records of White House contacts with more than two dozen journalists and news media outlets.

The three subpoenas were issued to the White House on Jan. 22, three weeks after Patrick Fitzgerald, the U.S. attorney in Chicago, was appointed special counsel in the probe and during the first wave of appearances by White House staff members before the grand jury.

The investigation seeks to determine if anyone violated federal law that prohibits officials with security clearances from intentionally or knowingly disclosing the identity of an undercover agent.

The subpoenas underscore indications that the initial stages of the investigation have focused largely on the White House staff members most involved in shaping the administration's message on Iraq, and appear to be based in part on specific information already gathered by investigators, attorneys said yesterday.

Fitzgerald's spokesman declined to comment.

The investigation arose in part out of concerns that Bush administration officials had called reporters to circulate the name of the CIA officer, Valerie Plame, in an attempt to discredit the criticism of the administration's Iraq policy by her husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV.

In 2002, Wilson went to Niger at the behest of the CIA to check out reports that Iraq was seeking to buy uranium "yellow cake" to develop nuclear weapons.

All three subpoenas were sent to employees of the Executive Office of the President under a Jan. 26 memo by White House counsel Alberto Gonzalez.

Newsday is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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