WASHINGTON — In what looks like a classic case of the fox guarding
the hen house, some of the same White House officials who allegedly
“dragged their feet” in restoring missing West Wing e-mail are now
working for a firm hired last week by the White House to restore the
same subpoenaed e-mail for Congress.
One was a special aide to President Clinton. Another official just
two months ago headed the White House technology office that was
supposed to be finding ways to restore the back-up tapes of the
unrecorded e-mail all along.
Both officials are known by White House insiders to have “worked
closely” with Mark Lindsay, Clinton’s assistant for management and
administration, as well as Lindsay’s predecessor, Virginia “Ginny”
Lindsay is a central figure in the mushrooming e-mail scandal known
as Project X.
Six Northrop Grumman computer contractors, including the program
manager, have testified that Lindsay ordered the contractors to keep
quiet about Project X. Four of the six said they felt threatened.
White House Counsel Beth Nolan last week assured the House Government
Reform Committee that the administration would find missing e-mail under
subpoena within six months.
She testified that the White House Office of Administration had
“contracted with a private entity” to “restore the backup tapes” of
unrecorded e-mail so that they can be searched for compliance with
subpoenas in several ongoing investigations of the White House.
During the hearing, White House Counsel’s Office spokesman Jim
Kennedy told WorldNetDaily that there are actually two private
contractors — ECS Technologies and Systems Research and Applications
Corp. (or SRA International), both based in Virginia.
The two former White House officials — Dorothy “Dotty” Cleal and John
Dankowski — are now both employed by SRA, which is the subcontractor
for the $3 million job.
Cleal was associate director of the Office of Administration’s
Information Systems and Technology (IST) division. That office manages
the White House computer systems, including its e-mail operations.
Cleal left her job in January, according to Christa Moyle, aide to
new IST director Leanna Terrel. It was in February that the government
watchdog group Judicial Watch filed
affidavits in U.S. District Court that made public for the first time
the Project X scandal. News broke shortly after.
Dankowski left his White House job in September, the White House
says. He was special assistant to the president and director of White
House operations, an office that is under Lindsay’s Office of Management
A former White House official says both Cleal and Dankowski “dragged
their feet” on plans to recapture more than two years worth of White
House e-mail that was found missing by Northrop Grumman contractors in
Top White House officials knew about the problem as early as January
1998, when the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke. But they never informed
Congress, independent counsels or Judicial Watch of the gap in potential
Asked to comment on the apparent conflict of the White House hiring a
firm employing former White House officials, a spokesman for the House
Government Reform Committee said the panel’s staff attorneys will look
into the development.
“It raises questions as to the manner in which the White House is
seeking to fix this problem,” said spokesman Mark Corallo. “Here’s a
case where the White House has gone to the revolving door method” to
possibly delay turning over the subpoenaed records.
“It’s impossible to give the White House the benefit of the doubt
anymore,” Corallo added. “Just saying they have someone to fix the
problem doesn’t satisfy anyone.”
ECS, the general contractor on the e-mail restoration job, hired SRA.
It’s not clear if ECS has ever done business with Fairfax, Va.-based SRA
before, or if the White House merely suggested SRA to help on the job.
No one answers ECS’ main phone number during business hours. Callers
hear only a generic phone message that leaves out even the company’s
According to sources, ECS is a young, minority-owned small business.
As a so-called “8A vendor,” it did not have to bid for the White House
contract — which is how the White House was able to hire a contractor
so soon after the scandal broke in the press.
It’s also not clear if Springfield, Va.-based ECS has any
computer-forensics experience, particularly in reconstructing and
restoring back-up tapes. Nor is it clear if it employs any contractors
with White House security clearance, which usually takes months to
“They’re not small business,” said a former White House official who
dealt with computer contractors. “They’re smaller than small.”
SRA spokeswoman Laura Luke told WorldNetDaily she cannot talk about
the company’s e-mail contract with the White House.