United States SenateHonorable Bill Richardson
Committee on the Judiciary
Washington, DC 20510-6275
February 29, 2000
Secretary of Energy
1000 Independence Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20585
Dear Secretary Richardson:
I am writing in response to the February 17, 2000 letter that I received from a member of your staff, Mr. Joseph Mahaley, regarding the interim report of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts. Mr. Mahaley's letter indicates that the Department of Energy objects to the public release of certain information in the interim report which has already been cleared for public release by the Attorney General's office on two separate occasions. Moreover, in both instances, the Department of Justice coordinated the public release of this information with the Department of Energy. In a February 28, 2000 meeting between Senate staff and members of your staff, Dr. Roger Heusser was provided a copy of a fax cover memo in which the Department of Justice indicated that such coordination had been made. It should also be noted that much of the information in question was included in a press package issued by the White House last year. My staff is preparing an annex describing where the information to which the Department of Energy is now objecting has been cleared by the Attorney General and the White House. The annex will be forwarded through appropriate channels under separate cover.
Since the information in question is unclassified, as demonstrated by the fact that it has twice been cleared for public release by the Attorney General and has been included in a White House press package, I intend to take this matter before the full Senate under the procedures described in Rule 29 of the Standing Rules of the Senate. These procedures permit the Senate to release information publicly under these circumstances.
I also intend to conduct an inquiry into the manner in which this matter has been coordinated between the Department of Justice and the Department of Energy. It is incomprehensible that the Department of Justice sought and received Department of Energy concurrence on the public release of this information in two prior instances, yet the Department of Energy now has questions about some of the same material. Moreover, it is inconceivable that the Department of Energy would permit the White House to release this information, not merely as a part of a general statement, but with emphasis added in certain cases. Either Department of Energy personnel were grossly incompetent in the prior reviews -- to an indefensible extent -- or Mr. Mahaley's letter is indefensible. I intend to find out which, and to demand accountability.
In the interim, I am requesting that the Department of Energy take the necessary steps to grant Q clearances to all Senate subcommittee staff who presently hold TS/SCI clearances. Under the reciprocity procedures that currently exist within the Executive Branch, this should be easily and quickly accomplished. This step is necessary so that the subcommittee may continue its review of documents in the Wen Ho Lee case, many of which were provided either directly or indirectly by the Department of Energy but are not properly marked. Until all of these materials can be properly controlled, it will be necessary to restrict access to them to individuals with the proper clearances. Such restrictions pose an unacceptable delay of the subcommittee's investigation, especially in view of the fact that the delay has been caused by improper classification markings by both the Department of Energy and the Department of Justice, including the FBI.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.