- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 31, 2002

Most members of a Senate committee investigating the September 11 attacks have agreed to provide the FBI with details of their contacts with reporters as part of an investigation into leaks of classified information.
Contacted Thursday, the offices of 13 of the 17 Senate Select Committee on Intelligence members said they were complying with the FBI request. No office said it wasn't. In the other four offices, information wasn't available because the senator was traveling.
The FBI is trying to determine who leaked details of communications collected by the National Security Agency that were discussed June 18 at the House and Senate intelligence committees' closed-door inquiry.
Details of the Arabic communications on Sept. 10 the day before the September 2001 terror attacks initially were broadcast by CNN the day after the closed hearing. The committees had requested the FBI investigation.
Sen. Bob Graham, Florida Democrat, the committee's chairman, has instructed his staff to compile the material requested, his spokesman, Paul Anderson, said.
Mr. Anderson said Mr. Graham supported the FBI investigation because the leak of classified information violated the law.
The FBI also could examine whether the leaks may have come from outside Congress, he said. An internal investigation might not be able to do so.
Mr. Graham "has said that he has nothing to hide," Mr. Anderson said.
But Paul McMasters of Freedom Forum's First Amendment Center said the FBI investigation could go beyond the leaks and uncover unrelated communications between lawmakers and journalists.
"That's where this problem comes in," he said.
Caesar Andrews, president of Associated Press Managing Editors, said the request for information about press contacts "creates a mood of fear and dread among those people who should be helping to put the U.S. efforts in context."
"I think it's more the climate that's created when there's a sense of overly aggressive efforts to clamp down on information," said Mr. Andrews, editor of Gannett News Service.
"Obviously it's an issue that ultimately has a chilling effect on the flow of information from official sources to the public," said Douglas Clifton, editor of the Plain Dealer in Cleveland and chairman of the American Society of Newspaper Editors' Freedom of Information Committee.
The FBI investigation comes as the Justice Department seeks to block public disclosure by Congress of the results of its investigation of Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person charged in the United States in connection with the September 11 attacks.
In court papers unsealed Thursday in Alexandria prosecutors said they didn't object to plans by the House and Senate intelligence committees to disclose what the government knows about the planning and execution of the attacks or what was known about two of the 19 September 11 hijackers who met with al Qaeda operatives in Malaysia in January 2000, shortly before they came to the United States.

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