Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) wrote in his recent memoir that as the Senate debated war in Iraq in 2002 he was given a tip about security information by two joggers that ended up influencing his vote on the war.
Leahy’s claims, first published in his August 2022 memoir “The Road Taken,” were highlighted Friday by journalist and historian Garrett M. Graff, who said the senator’s claims provided “a rare glimpse into the shadowy way that the intel agencies interact with Members of Congress.”
The Vermont senator, who was skeptical of the move toward war in Iraq, said in his book that he was contacted by two runners who told him to check specific intelligence briefings while out on a walk with his wife Marcelle.
“Two joggers trailed behind us. They stopped and asked what I thought of the intelligence briefings I’d been getting. Marcelle realized this was a conversation she would normally not be involved in and kept on walking ahead,” Leahy wrote.
He said that he was told by the joggers to ask for “File Eight” and “File Twelve,” both files which related to intelligence on Iraq.
“Quickly thereafter, I arranged to see File Eight and it contradicted much of what I had heard from the Bush administration,” Leahy claimed. The Democrat would go on to be on of 21 senators to vote against the authorization of war in Iraq.
He called the alleged encounter with the joggers the most “eerie” experience he had in Washington, D.C.
“It was the eeriest conversation I’d ever experienced in Washington. I felt like a sensational version of of Bob Woodward meeting Deep Throat — only in broad daylight,” he wrote.
Leahy, the third longest-serving U.S. senator of all time, was briefly hospitalized on Thursday after feeling unwell. The 82-year-old was discharged the following day after an overnight stay in the hospital for observation.
As Senate president pro tempore, Leahy is third in the line of presidential succession, after Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). He was first elected in 1975, but has been facing health problems in recent years.
Leahy is not seeking re-election, having announced in 2021 that he would retire from the Senate in 2023.
His retirement announcement opened up a Senate seat that has stayed Democrat since the Vietnam War, although Democrat Peter Welch was up 35 points over the Republican candidate during the last RealClearPolitics poll, which was taken in April. Democratic-socialist Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is the other senator from Vermont.
Eric Quintanar contributed to this report.