NEW YORK -- Dr. James Knodell, director of the Office of Security at the White House, told a congressional committee today that he was aware of no internal investigation or report into the leak of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame.
The White House had first opposed Knodell testifying but after a threat of a subpoena from the committee yesterday he was allowed to appear today.
James Knodell, Director of the White House security office, testifies at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington March 16, 2007. The hearing was on whether White House officials followed appropriate procedures for safeguarding the identity of former CIA operative Valeria Plame Wilson. REUTERS/Jason Reed
Knodell testified that those who had participated in the leaking of classified information were required to attest to this and he was not aware that anyone, including Karl Rove, had done that.
He said that he had started at the White House in August 2004, a year after the leak, but his records show no evidence of a probe or report there: "I have no knowledge of any investigation in my office," he said.
Rep. Waxman recalled that President Bush had promised a full internal probe. Knodell repeated that no probe took place, as far as he knew, and was not happening today.
Knodell said he had "no" conversations whatsoever with the president, vice president, Karl Rove or anyone about the leak.
Asked by chairman Rep. Henry Waxman if he knew this was an issue of concern, he said "yes." Asked if he learned this from the White House or the press, he said, "through the press."
Rep. Elijah Cummings said all of this was "shocking."
Waxman said that Knodell's office's lack of action was a "breach within a breach." Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton called this a "dereliction of duty."
Knodell, who is a career employee and not a Bush appointee, said he would go back and "review this with senior management." He admitted that leaking classified information called for action, whether the leak was accidental or on purpose.
Democrats challenged his assertion that no probe was necessary since a criminal investigation was underway. They said that the criminal probe was narrowly focused, started well after the leak -- during which the White House apparently did nothing -- and that in any case, the White House was required to carry out its own probe and deny security clearances to anyone who had leaked classified information.
They demanded to know why Rove's security clearance had not been revoked.
Rep. Waxman at one point said that he regretted not being able to put up a video of the president promising a full probe but added, "I guess we will leave that to The Daily Show."
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