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White House Records Subpoenaed in Probe

March 05, 2004|From Newsday

WASHINGTON — A federal grand jury investigating 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 last July, according to documents obtained by Newsday.

Also sought in three grand jury subpoenas to the White House were 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.

The subpoenas also asked for a transcript of a White House spokesman's media briefing in Africa 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 staffers 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 Thursday.

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. He reported that businessmen there told him the Iraqis did not try to buy uranium.

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