“F.B.I. Inquiry on 9/11 Leak Upsets Lawmakers on Committees”

Christopher Marquis reports for the New York Times. This short article is cited here in full:

WASHINGTON, Aug. 1 — The F.B.I. has interviewed dozens of members of the House and Senate intelligence committees and asked them to submit to lie detector tests as part of an effort to learn who leaked classified material to reporters in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Congressional officials said today.

But a number of the lawmakers on the committees have refused to take the polygraph tests and have voiced uneasiness over the constitutional precedent of being investigated by the agency they oversee, the officials said.

Ranit Schmelzer, a spokeswoman for Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota, the majority leader, said the inquiry had provoked “grave concerns about the constitutional separation of powers issues raised by having one branch of government administering a polygraph to employees of another branch.”

Still, Ms. Schmelzer said, the matter “is between the House and Senate intelligence committees and the Justice Department.”

The committee had asked that the F.B.I. conduct the investigation into accusations of leaks of secret information by someone affiliated with the committee and, Ms. Schmelzer said, it was up to the bureau and the committee officials to develop appropriate guidelines.

Lawmakers’ complaints about the F.B.I. inquiry were first reported in the Friday issue of The Washington Post, which said nearly all 37 members of the two committees had been interviewed, as well as 60 Congressional staff members and officials at the Central Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon and the National Security Agency.

The F.B.I. inquiry was requested by the chairmen of the intelligence committees, Senator Bob Graham, Democrat of Florida, and Representative Porter J. Goss, Republican of Florida, after news organizations reported on Arabic conversations that had been intercepted by the National Security Agency a day before the attacks.

That disclosure embarrassed the officials at the security agency, which failed to translate conversations that anticipated the attacks until Sept. 12. The agency intercepts reportedly included the remark: “Tomorrow is zero hour.”

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