[Mb-civic] GOP Leaders Urge Probe in Prisons Leak - Washington Post
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Wed Nov 9 02:57:26 PST 2005
GOP Leaders Urge Probe in Prisons Leak
By Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 9, 2005; Page A01
Congress's top Republican leaders yesterday demanded an immediate joint
House and Senate investigation into the disclosure of classified
information to The Washington Post that detailed a web of secret prisons
being used to house and interrogate terrorism suspects.
The Post's article, published on Nov. 2, has led to new questions about
the treatment of detainees and the CIA's use of "black sites" in Eastern
Europe and elsewhere. The issue dogged President Bush on his recent trip
to Latin America and has created consternation in Eastern Europe.
"If accurate, such an egregious disclosure could have long-term and
far-reaching damaging and dangerous consequences, and will imperil our
efforts to protect the American people and our homeland from terrorist
attacks," Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and House Speaker
J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) wrote in a letter to the chairmen of the
House and Senate intelligence committees.
The letter requests that the committees "immediately initiate" a
bicameral investigation. It also instructs the committees to refer to
the Justice Department any information it uncovers that might constitute
a violation of the law.
The CIA General Counsel's Office has also notified the Justice
Department that a release of classified information took place in
connection with the Post report, a senior administration official said
yesterday. Such referrals are made at the rate of three to four per
week, according to intelligence officials. But the notice is also the
first step in a process that could lead to a criminal investigation, as
happened in the Valerie Plame case.
The CIA will be required to fill out an 11-point questionnaire outlining
the damage done by the release, how the information has been protected
and the individuals or groups with knowledge of the information. Justice
prosecutors will then determine whether they believe a criminal
investigation is warranted.
A spokesman for The Post declined to comment on the letter from the
congressional leaders. The article, by staff writer Dana Priest, said
the CIA has operated a covert prison system that at times included sites
in eight countries, including democracies in Eastern Europe. It cited as
sources unnamed current and former intelligence officials and diplomats
from three continents.
The Post did not publish the names of the Eastern European countries
involved, at the request of senior U.S. officials. The article said the
officials argued that the disclosure might disrupt counterterrorism
efforts in those countries and elsewhere, and could make them targets of
Congress has conducted fewer than a half-dozen bicameral investigations,
reserving the process for the most pressing issues, such as the conduct
of the U.S. Civil War and the illegal arms sales to Iran in the 1980s
that were used to finance rebels in Nicaragua. The most recent
House-Senate investigation came in 2002, when the intelligence
committees looked into the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Lawmakers from both parties immediately expressed misgivings about the
request. Democrats pounced on it, suggesting that if the GOP leaders
believe the disclosure of information on secret prisons deserves to be
investigated, so does the leak of inaccurate intelligence on Saddam
Hussein's weapons of mass destruction and White House officials
identifying Plame as a covert CIA operative.
"There is plenty to investigate about the Bush administration's use and
misuse of intelligence," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi
(D-Calif.). "The American people deserve the truth."
Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) said investigating the source of the
prison article would be acceptable, as long as Congress also
investigates the secret prisons themselves.
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