A new Department of Justice inspector general report released today found that former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales improperly handled secret information regarding the government’s most sensitive national security programs. DOJ officials have reportedly looked at the report “but did not find a case to prosecute.”
But Gonzales may have done more than just “improperly handle” classified national security documents. CQ’s Spy Talk blog reports that there is “strong evidence” in the report “that the former attorney general lied to federal investigators probing his careless handling of highly classified documents.”
According to the IG report, Gonzales told investigators that he did not know that documents he handled relating to the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program were classified:
Gonzales said that he was unaware of the classification level and compartmented nature of the NSA program he referenced in the notes. Gonzales also stated he did not recall thinking that the notes themselves were classified.
Yet the report also says that an envelope containing the documents were marked “top secret” by Alberto Gonzales himself:
The envelope containing documents related to the NSA surveillance program bore the handwritten markings, “TOP SECRET – EYES ONLY – ARG” [the attorney general’s initials] followed by an abbreviation for the SCI codeword for the program.
House Judiciary Committee chairman John Conyers (D-MI) said it is “shocking” that Gonzales mishandled the documents, adding that the “department ought to explain clearly why it declined to pursue charges against Mr. Gonzales and what actions it intends to take in response to the report.”