White House blocks panel from FBI files

July 17, 2008 at 10:09 AM
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WASHINGTON, July 17 (UPI) -- The White House has claimed executive privilege, blocking a U.S. House panel's efforts to get internal FBI reports about the leak of a CIA officer's identity.

They claim that interview notes concerning Vice President Dick Cheney and other administration officials escalates the conflict between President George Bush and the House Government Reform Committee, which issued a subpoena to U.S. Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey for the records, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

Committee Chairman Rep. Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif., has called the claim "ludicrous" and pledged to pursue a contempt citation against Mukasey.

Cheney and others were interviewed in the investigation by Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald into the leak of the identity of former CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson. Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, was convicted on charges of perjury, obstruction of justice and lying to the FBI as a result of the probe.

"This unfounded assertion of executive privilege does not protect a principle; it protects a person," Waxman said Wednesday. "If the vice president did nothing wrong, what is there to hide?"

In a letter to Bush released by Waxman's committee, Mukasey said the report contained summaries of conversations between Bush and his aides, covered by executive privilege. Mukasey also said releasing the documents could have a "chilling effect" on future Justice Department investigations.

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