May 26 2006
Hat Tip to Mac Ranger on this CNN report regarding the focus on Congress as the source of the leaks to the NY Times regarding the NY Times story. Recall that the original leaks occurred a year before the story broke last fall – so the leak happened during or prior to December ’04:
The FBI wants to interview top members of Congress from both parties about the leak to The New York Times concerning the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance program, sources told CNN.
The desire to interview, and then possibly later seize records and documents, is why Hastert is on the wrong side of this issue. And it explains why Bush is giving Hastert and company 45 days to think this through. Congressional leadership must know, if the leakers are in Congress, there will be precendent set in terms of bringing Senators and Representatives to justice for these leaks. The question is will they circle the imperial wagons are do what is right for the nation. The Jefferson situation is simple and obvious. The subject of NSA leaks is not so clear and clean (because accidental leaks do occur).
The Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call first reported that the FBI wanted to question federal legislators as part of its probe. The sources do not know if any members have been interviewed yet.
From sources like Mac Ranger we know staff has been interviewed and possibly more. But the investigation is not hard in terms of discerning potential leakers:
Only a few members of the House and Senate were briefed on the NSA program before it became public.
One source with knowledge of the investigation said: “There is only a certain universe of people who had this information and could have leaked it. Obviously any investigation would focus on that universe. If members who had knowledge were not interviewed, then any investigation would not be complete.”
As I read further it is obvious the Jefferson issue became wrapped up in the NSA investigation:
A House Intelligence Committee official said discussions are going on between congressional officials and the Justice Department and FBI about the interviews.
“The full scope of this is still being negotiated between all sides,” the official said. “There are a broad range of issues to consider. There are constitutional separation of power issues that have to be resolved.”
The real issue is stopping the law breakers, not whether Congess has unique rights above other Americans under the 4th Amendment.
Addendum: In a rare instance of using Raw Story as a source, we get some possible details beyond CNN’s reporting:
Those being targeted for interviews include GOP and Democratic leaders, as well as the chairmen and ranking member of the Intelligence committee. Altogether, 15 senior Members and Senators were briefed about the existence of the NSA program before the Times first disclosed it in a Dec. 16 article, according to briefing records released last week by John Negroponte, director of the Office of National Intelligence.
Interesting information. The domain of possible leakers is 15 people across the House and Senate. Interesting this information came from Negroponte briefs.