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Congressional Democrats seek investigation into White House credentialing

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    News Media Update         WASHINGTON, D.C.         Newsgathering         Feb. 11, 2005    

Congressional Democrats seek investigation into White House credentialing

  • Several Democrats wonder how James D. Guckert, the controversial former correspondent for a conservative Web site, obtained White House press credentials after being turned down for congressional press credentials.

Feb. 11, 2005 — At least three Democrats in Congress are calling on the White House and the Secret Service to release details about how a controversial former correspondent for the conservative TalonNews.com received White House credentials.

In a Thursday letter to Ralph Basham, director of the Secret Service, Reps. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) and Louise M. Slaughter (D-N.Y.) asked for details on how day passes for the White House briefing room were issued to James D. Guckert, who resigned Tuesday after working for two years under the pseudonym Jeff Gannon.

National Public Radio reported earlier this week that when “Gannon” was turned down for congressional credentials, he used the name James Guckert. Among the many questions Conyers and Slaughter want answered are what the standards are for access to the president and the White House, and how many times and on what days was Guckert cleared by the Secret Service into the White House. The measures used to allow Guckert into the White House “appear to deviate significantly” from normal, they wrote.

“This is a guy who could not get credentialed by the House or the Senate press galleries, and yet managed to get into the White House and question the president,” Karl Frish, Slaughter’s spokesman told The New York Times. “To imply he has no connection to the White House is just not credible.”

Conyers and Slaughter also want to know how Guckert had access to classified information that named Valerie Plame as a CIA operative. The pair also wrote U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor who is investigating who leaked Plame’s name to the press, asking for further investigation.

The Washington Post reported last year that Gannon’s name was on a list of reporters Fitzgerald targeted for questioning in the case, which has resulted in contempt-of-court convictions for Judith Miller of The New York Times and Matt Cooper of Time magazine.

Conyers’ and Slaughter’s letter came after letters sent earlier in the week, including one from Sen. Frank Lautenberg, to White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan asked for all documents relating to Guckert’s credentialing. McClellan told reporters Thursday that Bush did not know who Guckert was.

KM


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