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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 24, 2004

White House Campaign To Besmirch Clarke Is More Aggressive Than Its Efforts To Cooperate In Plame Case

White House move to release Clarke background briefing stands in stark contrast to its refusal to order White House officials to release reporters from confidentiality agreements in the Valerie Plame case

Schumer: When it comes to getting re-elected, this White House is quick to waive confidentiality but when it comes to the CIA leak probe, they stonewall

US Senator Charles Schumer today wrote to White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card to ask why the White House is willing to waive the confidentiality surrounding comments Richard Clarke made to reporters on background as a “senior administration official” while still serving in the Bush administration but refuses to order White House officials to release reporters from confidentiality agreements in the Valerie Plame case. "When it comes to getting re-elected, this White House is quick to waive confidentiality but when it comes to the CIA leak probe, they stonewall," Schumer said. "It looks like the White House is more interested in besmirching Richard Clarke than it is in getting to the bottom of a national security case involving a covert CIA agent's identity being disclosed."

In his letter to Card, Schumer wrote: "The White House has the right to release this transcript to defend itself against the allegations Mr. Clarke has made. As White House spokesman Scott McClellan noted today, the White House is frequently asked to lift the confidentiality of sources and occasionally does so. But the release of Mr. Clarke’s confidential conversation with reporters stands in stark contrast to the White House’s ongoing refusal to order White House officials to release reporters from confidentiality agreements in the Valerie Plame case.

"As you are aware, late last year, federal investigators reportedly asked White House employees to sign waivers releasing reporters from any confidentiality agreements regarding any conversations about Valerie Plame, the covert CIA agent whose identity was improperly disclosed by “senior administration officials.” Although the White House has regularly promised to cooperate with the investigation, some White House employees have reportedly refused to sign these waivers, making it harder for investigators to speak with reporter who might have knowledge of the case. Thus far, you have declined to order your staff to release reporters from such agreements.

"In light of your decision to make public the comments Mr. Clarke made on background as a “senior administration official,” I write to renew my request that you order White House staff to permit reporters to speak freely about the “senior administration officials” who endangered our national security and may have committed serious criminal offenses by publicly identifying a covert CIA operative."

Schumer was the first to call for a thorough investigation of the leak after it appeared in Robert Novak's column. In October, he urged Attorney General Ashcroft to appoint a special counsel and to formally recuse himself from the Justice Department's investigation into whether senior White House officials illegally leaked a covert CIA operative's identity to the media. Schumer has praised the Attorney General's decision to recuse himself from the investigation into who leaked the name of a CIA agent and the appointment of Patrick Fitzgerald to lead the probe.

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