In an unusually candid and angry statement, CIA Director George Tenet last week testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee that the agency is searching for moles in the executive branch – leakers who are disregarding national security.
“The executive branch leaks like a sieve,” he said. “I’m here to tell you that right now. There’s guilt everywhere, but the executive branch – and everybody sitting behind me knows it all too well and it’s a major frustration – there are people all over this executive branch who have violated a trust.”
Tenet said CIA and FBI counterintelligence specialists are actively investigating security breaches.
“We have men and women all over the world who are putting their lives at risk every night to try and collect information,” he said. “All of those capabilities are put at risk when people, really without regard for the consequences, throw real secrets out into the public domain and jeopardize our nation’s interest. They shut down our ability to do the job. They make it impossible to protect Americans.”
Tenet added: “We’re doing the best we can with the FBI to find the people who are doing this, and when we do, we will fire them.”
But what happens if the CIA finds out those leaks in the executive branch begin right in the Oval Office? Would the CIA recommend firing the president?
This is not just a hypothetical question. The issue is real and must be confronted. All of the security issues raised by former FBI agent Gary Aldrich, author of “Unlimited Access,” have been revisited in the Tailgate affair. It’s clear the White House doesn’t give a darn about national security – only its own political security.
Terry Giles, the attorney for Andy Blieler, Monica Lewinsky’s former teacher and lover, inadvertently raised the latest example of the dangers posed by Bill Clinton’s sexual recklessness. Giles turned over to Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr the contents of a safety deposit box – documents received by Blieler from Lewinsky during the period in which she was reportedly carrying on a sexual relationship with Blieler and a “high White House official.”
Giles reports that the documents do not include any pictures or anything directly concerning sexual encounters in the White House. There are, however, White House documents copied by Lewinsky and sent to her former teacher.
“These documents could only be obtained at the highest levels of government,” said Giles, inferring they might have national security implications. Giles added that he believed Lewinsky could be indicted for copying and distributing the documents.
Could this be why Starr is not interested in an immunity deal with Lewinsky? Is he pursuing the security breach in the White House? Or will this evidence be deep-sixed by his office like so many other smoking guns during the past three years?
The American public, which, according to the polls, has rallied behind Bill Clinton since the Tailgate scandal broke, doesn’t understand the security significance of presidential sexual temptations and indiscretions. The president doesn’t have a private life. You give that up as part of the job. You have to. If you don’t like the idea, then you don’t run for the office.
Interestingly, during the Senate Intelligence Committee hearings last week, presidential apologist Sen. John Glenn, D-OH, tried to put the best face on the leaks coming out of the executive branch. It was a variation on his standard “everybody does it” defense.
“We ought to tighten up our own operation here on the Hill,” he explained.
But Tenet, a presidential appointee, wasn’t buying it. He emphasized again that the problem lies with the executive branch.
Could some of those leaks be due to the profound disregard for security protocols in the White House? How many other Monica Lewinskys are there? If the CIA and FBI really want to get to the bottom of the leaks, they would be well advised to consult with Aldrich and other FBI agents who have left the White House in disgust over security breaches.
After all, why should anyone expect the rest of the executive branch to behave properly and with discretion when they have such a poor example at the very top?