WASHINGTON — A White House whistleblower scheduled to testify in
e-mail hearings found his office broken into last week — just days
before the hearings started, his lawyers told a federal judge yesterday.
Howard “Chip” Sparks, a career White House network specialist,
noticed signs of a break-in when he came to work last Thursday morning.
“They may have been looking for things, or seeking to intimidate
him,” said Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, which is
“It ought to be taken seriously,” he added. “It looks like someone
may be messing with a court witness.”
The incident, which Sparks reported to his superiors, comes just a
few weeks after he was forced to move his New Executive Office Building
office to the other end of the 5th floor wing — away from meetings on a
court-ordered e-mail search project.
U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth has ordered a new round of
hearings into charges the White House has been stalling the search for
missing e-mails under subpoena. Hearings began Monday.
In a June court affidavit, Sparks blew the whistle on, among other
things, the technical staffer known as the “Mad Deleter” hired by Vice
President Al Gore to manage his e-mail records.
None of Gore’s e-mails have been properly archived. And at least a
year’s worth are permanently lost.
Sparks saw a shoe print on the inside of his locked office door,
where he had posted his son’s hockey schedule. He found the schedule
lying on the floor.
He had used two pushpins at the top and bottom of the schedule to
secure it to the door. Now the piece of paper has four tack holes in it,
two of them ripped, indicating the intruder may have accidentally kicked
off the paper and tried to re-tack it.
Sparks’ new office is less secure than his old one. The door is
attached to a partition wall that doesn’t reach the ceiling.
“Someone climbed over the wall,” Fitton said, which would explain the
shoe print and torn-away paper.
The intrusion would have occurred sometime between the late afternoon
or early evening of July 26 and 7:30 a.m. July 27.
Sparks’ old office also was violated a few years ago, not long after
he bowed out of meetings on developing the White House Office Database,
or WHODB, something he viewed as illegal.
After being demoted from network branch chief, Sparks filed a
grievance and won.
His story is eerily similar to that of former White House computer
manager Sheryl Hall.
After she spoke out against WHODB, she also was demoted. And her
locked office was opened — twice — without her permission.
The first breach took place in late 1996, the second in early 1997.
In the first case, she says she came back to work after the weekend
and found that papers she’d stacked underneath a “wipe board” had been
Then on March 4, 1997, she approached her office and found her door
unlocked, her computer turned on and desk papers “messed up.” Also,
files were missing from a desk drawer.
She went to the Secret Service to report the intrusion, but was told
to talk to White House Security Officer Charles C. Easley.
“He came up to my office one of the times and wanted to know what
damage was done, and I had to repeat to him twice: ‘Chuck, someone has a
key. The door is not being broken into,’” Hall told WorldNetDaily. “I
told him files were missing. I could tell files were missing.”
She says Easley seemed unconcerned and did not follow up.
Easley told WorldNetDaily that Hall’s complaint “doesn’t ring a
Easley is now the custodian of the 3,400 back-up tapes holding the
unarchived West Wing e-mail. He’s also in charge of securing tapes
backing up e-mail from the vice president’s Old Executive Office