U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer's Jan. 6, 2004 letter to White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card
January 6, 2004
Dear Mr. Card:
Over the weekend, several news outlets reported that the Department of Justice has asked many White House officials to waive the confidentiality of their conversations with journalists regarding the identity of a covert CIA agent whose name was leaked in apparent retaliation for her husband’s revelations regarding Iraq’s efforts to obtain weapons of mass destruction.
Through spokespeople, the White House has claimed that it is “fully cooperating” with the criminal investigation into this leak. The White House staff has partially cooperated by turning over phone and email records, but the professional prosecutors handling the investigation into this national security breach have determined that they would be aided by these waivers of confidentiality. Full cooperation requires that these staffers comply with this reasonable request from law enforcement.
In 1998, Republican Congressional leaders began investigating whether White House officials were leaking information about members of Congress. Then-White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles informed news organizations that the White House was waiving all confidentiality rights regarding such leaks.
That would be a good step, but because some journalists might consider the confidentiality agreement to attach to the person and not the White House itself, signed waivers from each individual – as prosecutors have requested -- would be the best step that could be taken. The only way that will happen is if you order it of your employees. I encourage you to do so in the strongest possible way.
I know you and the President care passionately about the men and women who serve America and protect us from those who would do us harm. In a post-9/11 world, we have no more valuable soldiers in the war on terrorism than our intelligence operatives. The leaking of this woman’s name was not only a despicable thing to do to her, it threatens our network of operatives and informants, harms our efforts to recruit new informants, and drastically undermines national security. It simply cannot be tolerated.
“Full cooperation” requires freeing these journalists
from their obligations to protect their sources. I hope you will
do so as soon as possible.