GAC Democrats Seek Directive to Prevent Cover-Up in Investigation Surrounding Disclosure of CIA Agent’s Identity

WASHINGTON – The eight Democrats on the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee – the Senate’s principal oversight committee – asked White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card Tuesday to ensure that the White House was “taking every step necessary” to preserve evidence that might be relevant to the investigation into allegations a White House employee disclosed the name of a covert CIA agent.

The Senators asked Card to issue a directive covering six specific points “to ensure that those responsible do not seek to cover up their misdeeds,” in a letter dated September 30, 2003. Signing the letter were Ranking Member Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations Ranking Member Carl Levin, D-Mich., Financial Management Subcommittee Ranking Member Daniel Akaka, D-Hi., Oversight of Government Management Subcommittee Ranking Member Richard Durbin, D-Ill., and Committee members Thomas Carper, D-Del., Mark Dayton, D-Minn., Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., and Mark Pryor, D-Ark.

The Senators asked that Card ensure:

  • That White House staff knows it has an “affirmative obligation” to provide relevant information
  • That all White House records, and all relevant personal records, are preserved
  • That anyone who doesn’t cooperate with investigators will be dismissed
  • That anyone tampering with public or personal records will be dismissed
  • That White House staff – if asked by authorities – must absolve anyone with whom they spoke about this issue of any confidentiality agreements
    Following is the full text of the letter:

    September 30, 2003

    Andrew H. Card Jr.
    Chief of Staff
    The White House
    1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
    Washington, DC 20500

    Dear Mr. Card:

    We are writing to ask for your immediate and public assurance that the White House is taking every step necessary to preserve relevant evidence and ensure the full cooperation of White House personnel in the investigation into the apparently illegal disclosure of a covert CIA operative’s identity.

    Our government has no greater responsibility than to protect and advance our national security, and the people who work for our government have no greater obligation than to protect and defend those spending and risking their lives for our national security. Yet it now appears that one or more high level Bush Administration officials took it upon themselves to act contrary to that responsibility and that obligation. In an apparent reaction to Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson’s credible allegations about the Administration’s manipulation of intelligence information, some high level Bush Administration officials reportedly decided to identify the Ambassador’s wife as a covert government operative. This action potentially endangered not just her, but the many people who may have associated with her and provided help to the United States. When people abroad worked with Ambassador Wilson’s wife to aid our national security, many knew that they risked much to do so. But they undoubtedly never would have thought that the risks include the possibility that a high level Bush Administration appointee would intentionally put into the press information that would jeopardize their safety or their lives. Those individuals trusted our government, and someone in our government apparently breached that trust.

    This is not just an outrage; it also appears to be a crime. It must be investigated – immediately and independently. Indeed, the Justice Department reportedly informed you last night that it believes the allegations to be serious enough to warrant a full blown investigation. We strongly believe that such an investigation should be led by a non-partisan, independent special counsel, and not by this Administration’s political appointees. But whoever conducts the investigation must receive the full cooperation of the White House. We therefore call upon you to do everything in your power to ensure that whoever ends up investigating this manner has the White House’s full cooperation and to inform the public of the steps you intend to take to ensure this cooperation.

    We understand that this morning, White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales told White House staff: “You must preserve all materials that might in any way be related to the department’s investigation.” It is unclear from press reports whether this was the totality of Judge Gonzales’ direction. If it was, we believe that much more is warranted to make absolutely clear to White House staff what is expected of them. Any breach that occurred was of the utmost seriousness, and the White House must do all it can to ensure that those responsible do not seek to coverup their misdeeds. In short, we urge you to issue a much more specific directive and to underscore the seriousness with which any failure to comply will be met. Specifically, we ask you to:

    • Direct all White House personnel to maintain all records, phone logs, e-mails, correspondence and anything else that may relate to these events. This direction should make clear that it refers to both government records and any purportedly personal records generated, for example, by a personal e-mail or telephone account. The direction also should include a mandate to the White House’s archivists and information technology personnel to ensure that any paper or electronic records dating to the relevant time period will be maintained and are ready to be turned over to the Justice Department or special counsel, whichever ends up investigating this matter.

    • Make clear that anyone destroying or otherwise tampering with these records will be immediately dismissed.

    • Instruct all White House personnel to cooperate with any request from those investigating the matter – whether that request be for interviews, government documents or records or personal phone logs or email accounts, and make clear that lack of cooperation will be grounds for immediate dismissal.

    • Direct White House staff that they have an affirmative obligation to communicate relevant information to investigating authorities, including the identity of persons involved in the decision to disclose information about the Ambassador’s wife.

    • Direct White House staff that, if asked to by investigating authorities, they must absolve all those they have been in contact with of any agreement to keep conversations with them confidential, and make clear that a failure by White House staff to do so will result in immediate dismissal.

    • Immediately inform the public of whether you have taken each of these steps or issued any other directives related to this investigation.

    We look forward to hearing your prompt answer to this letter.


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