Senators Write Letter to FBI Director Mueller

Three senators — Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.; Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa; and Arlen Specter, R-Pa. — sent a letter today to FBI Director Robert Mueller asking for a copy of a letter written by FBI Agent Coleen Rowley. Leahy is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee while the other two senators are committee members.

The Honorable Robert S. Mueller Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation

Dear Director Mueller:

Thank you for meeting with the Committee in classified session on May 21, 2002, and making available FBI Agents from the Phoenix field office to discuss the Phoenix memorandum regarding suspicious activity at civil aviation schools. We want to follow up on a number of matters from this meeting.

First, we want to make sure that you are now aware of the Committee's practice of holding all classified sessions on the record with a transcript. The Committee planned to hold the May 21 meeting on the record, as is regularly done by this Committee and the Select Committee on Intelligence for classified sessions. As you can appreciate, these are important matters for all Members of the Committee but all Members are not always able to attend the full sessions. Transcripts are the only mechanism to keep all members entitled to review this important information fully informed. For this reason the Select Committee on Intelligence always puts classified hearings and meetings with Members present on the record. The Judiciary Committee does the same.

At the outset of the meeting, you requested that a formal record transcript not be made of the statements of Agent Kenneth Williams and Supervisory Special Agent Billy Kurtz. Your request was granted so that we could proceed without disrupting or delaying the meeting and over the objection of one of us — Senator Specter — who appropriately and correctly requested that regular order be followed and a record be made.

Subsequently, the Committee has learned that you and the same two Phoenix Agents met with the Select Committee on Intelligence, including both Members and staff, on May 22, 2002, and that this meeting was on the record with a formal transcript made of the statements of the Agents. Please explain the disparity in the FBI's position regarding making a formal transcript of the proceedings before the Judiciary Committee and the Select Committee on Intelligence.

Second, a Justice Department representative advised the Chairman's staff that a record of the meeting would have "profound implications for the trial." Please explain what trial he was talking about and whether a record made in the Intelligence Committee will have fewer "implications for the trial" than a record made in a classified session before the Judiciary Committee.

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