Friday, March 5

While Nero Fiddles In California...

...back in Rome, his aides are bumping into each other dealing with this:

Grand jury seeks records from White House regarding CIA agent

NEW YORK -- A federal grand jury that is probing the leak of a CIA officer's identity has subpoenaed the records of telephone calls made from Air Force One the week before the name of the officer was published in a July newspaper column.

Newsday reports in its Friday editions that the three subpoenas to President Bush's Executive Office also seek the July records created by an internal task force called the White House Iraq Group, which was created to publicize the threat of Saddam Hussein.

In addition, the grand jury wants the transcript of a White House spokesman's Nigeria press briefing, a list of birthday reception guest of a former president, and records of White House contacts with more than two dozen journalists and news organizations.

The subpoenas were issued to the White House on Jan. 22. The grand jury is attempting to find out if a federal law was violated that prohibits the intentional disclosure of the identity of an undercover agent by officials with security clearances.

The investigation came from concerns that officials in the Bush administration had told reporters the name of the CIA officer, Valerie Plame, to discredit her husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, in his criticism of the administration's Iraq policy.