The CIA has asked the Justice Department to investigate allegations that the White House broke federal laws by revealing the identity of one of its undercover employees in retaliation against the woman's husband, a former ambassador who publicly criticized President Bush's since-discredited claim that Iraq had sought weapons-grade uranium from Africa.
The way this works is that the CIA does its own investigation to determine whether there is reason to believe laws were broken. But the CIA has no law enforcement powers itself. So it makes a referral to the Justice Department, which obviously does have law enforcement powers. If the folks at Justice concur in the Agency's determination that there is reason to believe that laws were broken, they then task the FBI with mounting a formal criminal investigation. [...]
On it's face, this news tonight almost certainly means that the CIA's internal investigation concluded that laws were broken or that there was sufficient evidence of wrong-doing for a criminal investigation to be undertaken. The decision on whether to task the FBI with investigating the White House is now in hands of John Ashcroft.