O'Neill denies spilling Treasury secrets

Jan. 13, 2004 at 12:44 PM

WASHINGTON, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill says he welcomes an investigation into allegations he leaked secret documents, MSNBC reported.

The Treasury Department announced Monday it was launching an investigation into how the document wound up being used in O'Neill's interview Sunday on the CBS program "60 Minutes," where O'Neill was promoting the new book, "The Price of Loyalty."

Interviewed on the NBC "Today" show Tuesday, O'Neill said after resigning in December 2002, he asked the Treasury Department's chief legal counsel to allow him "to have the documents that are OK for me to have."

The legal counsel's office "sent me a couple CDs, which I never opened," O'Neill said. He said he then gave them to Ron Suskind, the book's author.

He also pointed out what "60 Minutes" showed was a cover sheet from the document, and not any secret material itself.

O'Neill, who was fired by Bush because he opposed another round of tax cuts, is quoted in the book as saying he was surprised by how focused the president was on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq from the start of his administration.

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