10/5/01: Bush Pulls Security Clearances From 92 Senators

“We can’t have leaks of classified information. It’s not in our nation’s interest.” — President George W. Bush, 10/9/01

President Bush’s defiant statement came in the immediate weeks following 9/11, as the administration clamped down on the information it provided to Congress. President Bush issued an order limiting access to classified intelligence only to 8 members of Congress — the Speaker of the House, House Minority Leader, Senate Majority Leader, Senate Minority Leader, and chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate intelligence committees.

What precipitated this course of action?

Gannett News Service reported on 10/1/01 that Bush was restricting information because, “The Washington Post reported last week that various lawmakers had been told there would be more terrorist attacks if the United States retaliated.”


Here’s what the Washington Post reported:

Asked whether more terrorist attacks are inevitable if the United States retaliates, [Sen. Richard] Shelby said, “You can bet on that.” U.S. intelligence officials have told members of Congress there is a high probability that terrorists associated with Osama bin Laden will try to launch another major attack on U.S. targets here or abroad. [Washington Post, 10/6/01]

So at this slightest whiff of evidence that information was being leaked, President Bush pulled classified intelligence access for 92 senators. There was no ongoing criminal investigation nor was there evidence that all the members who had their access limited had leaked information. And now he refuses to hold Karl Rove and Scooter Libby to anywhere near the same standard, despite confirmation of their involvement in the leak of an undercover CIA agent’s identity.

Bush’s intel order