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From: Otis Willie
Subject: FBI is asked to find origin of leak on al-Qaeda messages
Organization: The American War Library
NNTP-Posting-Date: Fri, 21 Jun 2002 18:43:57 EDT
Date: Fri, 21 Jun 2002 22:43:57 GMT
FBI is asked to find origin of leak on al-Qaeda messages
(EXCERPT) Fri Jun 21,10:31 AM ET
Kathy Kiely USA TODAY
WASHINGTON -- The leaders of a joint congressional committee
investigating Sept. 11 intelligence failures asked the FBI ( news -
web sites) on Thursday to hunt down the source of an embarrassing news
leak about the National Security Agency's failure to translate
al-Qaeda messages sent on the eve of the terrorist attacks.
After a public scolding from the White House and an angry phone call
from Vice President Cheney, the bipartisan leadership of the House and
Senate intelligence committees asked Attorney General John Ashcroft (
news - web sites) to investigate the leak. ''We will cooperate with
the FBI in every way possible,'' said House Intelligence Committee
Chairman Porter Goss, R-Fla.
The decision was unusual in an institution where reporters roam freely
and interference by the executive branch is generally resented as
constitutionally questionable. It came after two days of closed-door
testimony before the joint intelligence panels by CIA ( news - web
sites) Director George Tenet, FBI Director Robert Mueller and Air
Force Lt. Gen. Michael Hayden, the headof the National Security Agency
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer ( news - web sites) said President
Bush ( news - web sites) ''has very deep concerns'' about the leak.
Based on the leak, news organizations reported that the NSA
intercepted two al-Qaeda messages Sept. 10 but failed to translate
them from Arabic until the day after the attacks that leveled the
World Trade Center and damaged the Pentagon ( news - web sites).
''The match begins tomorrow,'' one message said. The other read:
''Tomorrow is Zero Hour.''
Fleischer said the news stories were ''alarmingly specific'' and could
jeopardize intelligence-gathering operations. He said Bush asked
Cheney to convey his displeasure to the committee chairmen.
Leaders of the congressional investigation have worried that the
administration might cite leaks as a reason for denying them
information. But they said Cheney made no such threat in his phone
call. The lawmakers said that requesting an FBI investigation was
''It is appropriate we ask for this investigation and let the chips
fall where they may,'' said Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, the
top-ranking Democrat on the House intelligence panel and the
second-ranking House Democratic leader. Federal law makes disclosure
of classified information a crime; under congressional rules, staff
members who leak classified material can be fired and lawmakers
The committee leaders also postponed the panel's first public
hearings, originally scheduled to begin next week. One reason for the
delay is an ongoing tussle with the administration about the material
that the committee wants declassified.
The committee will resume formal meetings next month, but a date for
public hearings is not fixed. That distresses some relatives of Sept.
''These hearings should have started a long time ago,'' said Lori Van
Aucken, whose husband died in the attacks on the World Trade Center.
''We have a thousand questions, and none of them have been answered.''
The American War Library
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