Plame case prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has issued subpeonas demanding telephone records for New York Times reporters Philip Shenon and Judith Miller in pursuit of a second, earlier leak case:
Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald, who is also acting as a special prosecutor in the CIA leak probe, informed the Times by letter last week that his office has subpoenaed telephone company records. The move is part of an effort to determine whether anyone in the government told Times reporters of planned federal asset seizures in December 2001 at the offices of an Islamic charity suspected of providing funding to al Qaeda, according to several sources familiar with the case.
The FBI believes that a call from a reporter to a representative of the charity, the Illinois-based Global Relief Foundation, may have led to the destruction of documents there the night before the government’s raid, according to findings by the Sept. 11 commission.
The subpoena seeks the phone records of two Times reporters, Philip Shenon and Judith Miller, according to the sources. Officials at the Times and in Fitzgerald’s office refused to comment.
Fitzgerald’s leak investigation in the Global Relief matter began shortly after NATO troops and U.S. personnel, acting at the direction of the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), raided several of the charity’s overseas offices on Dec. 14, 2001. At the time, the Chicago U.S. attorney’s office was conducting a criminal investigation of the Illinois offices of Benevolence International Foundation and Global Relief Foundation.
An examination of those investigations by the Sept. 11 commission said that Fitzgerald’s “original plan did not call for searches or takedowns of the GRF or BIF offices in Illinois.” Instead, the commission found, the FBI had planned to listen via wiretap to the charities’ reaction to the overseas searches.
But, the commission said in findings released after its main report, “this plan went awry when word of the impending action apparently leaked to GRF. FBI personnel learned that some of the targets of the investigations may be destroying documents.” Agents then “hastily assembled” a search, the commission reported.
The commission’s findings added that “press leaks plagued almost every OFAC blocking action that took place in the United States.”
Oh, my. Warning a possible terrorist group about an ongoing criminal investigation should put you in GITMO for a few years, right?