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Mr. Grassley and Sen. Jeff Sessions, Alabama Republican, also criticized Mr. Holder for the decision not to prosecute one of Justice’s former attorneys who tipped off the media about the Bush administration’s warrantless eavesdropping program. They said they were disappointed to read news reports last week that Thomas Tamm will not be prosecuted for the leak that he acknowledged making to the New York Times and that then-President George W. Bush called a breach of national security.

“It just seems to me that it sends a very, very bad signal that leaking is OK and you aren’t going to get prosecuted for it,” Mr. Grassley said.

Mr. Holder said that the decision was made by career lawyers in the department, that he did not sign off on it, and that he couldn’t comment on why Mr. Tamm wasn’t prosecuted.