WASHINGTON – FBI agents investigating the leak of classified information have asked members of the Senate Intelligence Committee for telephone records, schedules and other documents indicating any conversations lawmakers had with reporters.
In an Aug. 7 letter to the Senate general counsel's office that was forwarded to committee members, the FBI seeks a broad range of records from senators and aides that might indicate press contacts, including schedules maintained on electronic devices such as Palm Pilots, people familiar with the investigation said Saturday.
The FBI wants information on any contact those senators had with reporters between noon on June 18 to 3:15 p.m. on June 19. That is when one news organization reported the details of two Arabic-language messages the National Security Agency intercepted Sept. 10 making vague references to an impending attack on the United States. Other news organizations also reported on the messages.
Paul Anderson, a spokesman for the committee chairman, Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., said Graham "has instructed his staff to begin gathering the materials that are requested in the FBI letter, and we intend to comply fully."
The FBI declined comment Saturday.
The FBI previously asked lawmakers to consider taking lie detector tests. Several objected to the request, saying it intruded into the separation of powers between the congressional and executive branches of government. The FBI did not pursue it.
The House and Senate Intelligence Committees are conducting a joint inquiry into the Sept. 11 attacks.
They requested the FBI leak investigation in June after news organizations reported details of the NSA intercepts. An intelligence source told The Associated Press they contained the phrases, "Tomorrow is zero hour" and "The match is about to begin." The intercepts were not translated until Sept. 12.
The leaks angered the White House and led Vice President Dick Cheney to complain to Graham and the House chairman, Rep. Porter Goss, R-Fla.