WASHINGTON, July 28 (UPI) -- A former National Security Agency employee has been subpoenaed by a U.S. grand jury as part of an investigation into leaks of classified information.
The subpoena -- issued Wednesday by two FBI agents to whistleblower Russ Tice outside his Maryland home -- was drawn up by federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia, and the letter accompanying it is signed by an attorney from Justice Department headquarters -- a sign that the investigation is being overseen in Washington.
The subpoena says only that the grand jury is "conducting an investigation of possible violations of federal criminal laws involving the unauthorized disclosure of classified information." But it is believed to be the first public sign of the Bush administration's promised aggressive investigation into leaks about the National Security Agency's highly secret program of warrantless wiretapping of suspected terrorists.
Phone and e-mail inquiries to the U.S. Attorney's office and the Justice Department press office were not immediately returned.
Tice, who has briefed appropriately cleared congressional staff on what he says are violations of the law by U.S. intelligence agencies, is required to appear Wednesday at the federal courthouse in Alexandria, Va.
In a statement issued by the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition, Tice said the subpoena was designed to stop others who had evidence of illegal conduct by U.S. intelligence agencies from coming forward. "This latest action by the government is designed only for one purpose: to ensure that people who witness criminal action being committed by the government are intimidated into remaining silent."