Security Clearances Pulled in E-Mail Leak

Security clearances were taken away from two federal anti-terrorism employees as investigators look into allegations they warned family and friends about the threat against the New York City subway system three days ahead of the official announcement.

The workers were identified after government security officials began looking into the source for e-mails alluding to the threat that began circulating before New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg went public Oct. 6. Security in the transit network was ramped up based on an overseas informant's claim there was a plot to bomb the system.

The e-mails apparently started with a relative of one worker and a friend of another, who passed on information warning against using the subway system, according to two federal officials familiar with the Homeland Security Department investigation.

The officials, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because the probe is ongoing, said the two federal employees who lost their security clearances were one employee of the Coast Guard and a former Coast Guard captain who now works for the Transportation Security Administration.

A spokesman for Homeland Security, which oversees the Coast Guard and TSA, declined to comment.

Meantime, lawmakers are looking into why New York officials decided to take action while federal authorities discounted the credibility of the informant's information.

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., and about a dozen members of the House Homeland Security committee met privately Tuesday with New York Police Department officials to discuss the conflicting signals.

"What purpose could have been served by publicly questioning the decision of a local police department, especially one which has an outstanding track record?" King asked.

"It raises very real questions as to why (Homeland Security) is discounting something at the same time some are sending out private e-mails warning people, and the fact that DHS was still not really a major player in the process."

Lawmakers plan to question DHS intelligence officials on Wednesday.

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