Did Gonzales delay Renzi corruption probe? Four intel lawmakers 'under FBI scrutiny'
Published: Wednesday April 25, 2007
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Four sitting members of the House Intelligence Committee have come "under FBI scrutiny" over the last two years, and a top Democratic senator believes that the Attorney General may have been successful in delaying one probe of a Republican Congressman until after the midterm elections.

"As midterm elections approached last November, federal investigators in Arizona faced unexpected obstacles in getting needed Justice Department approvals to advance a corruption investigation of Republican Rep. Rick Renzi, people close to the case said," John R. Wilke and Evan Perez report for the Wall Street Journal. "The delays, which postponed key approvals in the case until after the election, raise new questions about whether Attorney General Alberto Gonzales or other officials may have weighed political issues in some investigations."

The article continues, "Investigators pursuing the Renzi case had been seeking clearance from senior Justice Department officials on search warrants, subpoenas and other legal tools for a year before the election, people close to the case said."

However, Bryan Sierra, a spokesman for the Justice Department, denied any kind of "foot-dragging," insisting that "[t]here was no such delay."

"Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.), a Judiciary Committee member who has called for Mr. Gonzales's resignation, said his panel is planning to pursue whether the Renzi case was a factor in Mr. Charlton's firing," the WSJ article continues.

"I'm not saying there's evidence and I'm not making allegations," Mr. Schumer said. "But it's something we should look into."

At ABC News, Justin Rood notes, "When the FBI raided a business connected to Rep. Rick Renzi, R-Ariz., last week, the lawmaker joined a group that has sadly grown less exclusive in recent years: House intelligence committee members confirmed to be facing a federal criminal investigation."

Excerpts from ABC article:


Since 2005, four sitting members of the House panel entrusted with the nation's deepest secrets have come under FBI scrutiny.

The committee, known formally as the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI, for short), reviews classified budgets and operational plans for the CIA, the NSA and other so-called three-letter agencies.

Unlike nearly everyone else who works with the nation's deepest national security secrets, lawmakers on intelligence committees undergo no background checks, no polygraphs and no lifestyle audits. They are automatically waived in to review everything from secret satellite data to nuclear weapons intelligence.

"That means the people who serve on that committee have to have the highest integrity possible," said Vince Cannistraro, a former senior CIA official and case officer.