Congressional Dems Request 'Investigation' Investigation on '12-Hour Gap' and '67-Day Gap'!
(Includes Copy of Original CIA Letter)
By Brad Friedman on 7/26/2005, 1:42pm PT  

Many are now speaking of the '12-Hour Gap' between the time White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales was told by the Department of Justice about the official investigation into the unprecedented outing of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame and the time he "officially" notified the White House to preserve all documents relating to the investigation.

We now know, of course, that Gonzales first told White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card about the investigation the night before he gave "official" notice to the White House, thus giving them a full 12 hours heads-up before "shredding" evidence would be in official violation of the DoJ order.

Since that matter came to light on Sunday, we've also learned the '12-Hour Gap' was as likely a full '3-and-a-half Day Headstart', since MSNBC had reported on the investigation some 84 hours prior to Gonzales' giving "official" notice to the White House.

And today, we're now reminded, vis a vis a letter from several Judiciary Committee Democrats, that the DoJ had actually spent a total of 67 days before answering the official CIA request for an investigation into the matter!

Back in February of '04, Josh Marshall reported on a letter sent by the CIA on January 30, 2004 in reply to Rep. John Conyers' (D-MI) request for information related to the outing after he had requested the DoJ appoint a Special Prosecutor in the matter (eventually, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was appointed to the case).

Today, Conyers and nine other Democratic members of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee sent a letter to the DoJ's Inspector General, Glenn A. Fine, asking for an investigation into both that '12-Hour Gap' and what appears now to have been a full 67 Day Gap between the time the CIA had first requested a DoJ investigation, and the time the DoJ actually began one!

In today's letter to DoJ Inspector General, Glenn Fine, the Congressional Democrats point out that Gonzales did not follow the practice for such matters (Jesse of Stakeholder has the full text of the letter):

For example, this twelve hour head start is a clear and troubling departure from Department practice. When White House contacts with Enron became essential to that investigation, then-Deputy Attorney General Christopher Wray immediately directed the White House to preserve all e-mails, memos, notes, letters and other documents from Enron employees or "any individual acting officially or unofficially, directly or indirectly on behalf" of the company. Less than an hour after receiving the directive, Mr. Gonzales issued an "administrative alert" directing officials to comply.

Equally as disturbing, however --- perhaps even more so --- is the information detailed in the letter concerning the DoJ's footdragging after being notified by the CIA of the outing of a covert agent! (A copy of the entire original letter from the CIA to Conyers from January 2004, detailing the following, is at the end of this article).

The key points on this are outlined in today's letter:

1. On July 24, 2003, a CIA attorney left a phone message for the Chief of the Counterespionage Section of the Department of Justice noting his concern with recent stories apparently exposing the identity of Valerie Plame, an employee of the agency working under cover. There was apparently no response from the Department.
2. On July 30, 2003, the CIA reported to the Criminal Division of the DOJ a possible violation of criminal law concerning the unauthorized disclosure of classified information. There was apparently no response from the Department.

3. The CIA again transmitted their concerns by facsimile on September 5, 2003.

4. On September 16, in accordance with the Agency's standard practice in these matters, the CIA advised the Department that it had completed its own investigation of the matter, provided a memorandum setting forth the results of the investigation and requested that the FBI undertake a criminal investigation of the matter.

5. Finally, on September 29, 2003-sixty-seven days after the initial concerns were expressed by CIA employees --- the DOJ responded and advised the CIA that the Counterespionage Division had requested that the FBI initiate an investigation of this matter.

Thus, it appears, that not only did DOJ personnel countenance a 12-hour delay in notifying White House staff to preserve all records (while the White House Chief of Staff was given a heads up of the existence of the investigation), but that the DOJ also appears to have ignored repeated entreaties from the CIA to initiate a law enforcement investigation into this matter several months before hand. We would therefore urge you to examine the extent that this course of conduct and other delays by the Department are consistent with standards of prosecutorial conduct and integrity.

And here is a copy of the original letter sent from the CIA's Director of Congressional Affairs, Stanley M. Moskowitz to John Conyers in response to his initial inquiry...