WASHINGTON — The vandalism done to computer and telecommunications equipment in the White House is more extensive than first thought, and is concentrated in Vice President Al Gore’s former offices in the Old Executive Office Building, according to several White House employees who have been tasked to repair damages caused by departing Clinton administration staffers.
Based on a preliminary survey, an estimated 50 to 60 computer keyboards were actually destroyed, and not just temporarily disabled as originally believed, after outgoing aides removed the plastic key with the letter “W” — President Bush’s now-famous middle initial.
“We’ll actually have to replace the whole keyboards, because they also gouged out the contacts underneath (the plastic keys),” said a White House computer technician in an exclusive interview with WorldNetDaily.
“So even if you replace the “W” key, the electronics of it is not going to be there,” he said on the condition he not be identified. “They made a concerted effort to damage the keyboards so they would never work properly again.”
The average price of a new keyboard is less than $50.
Technicians so far have discovered an additional 10 computers that have been sabotaged in other ways.
“We could boot those computers up, but we couldn’t access them via the keyboard. We couldn’t use the keyboard at all, no matter what keyboard we put on the system,” the White House computer worker said. “It indicated that somehow they had disabled the keyboard port on the motherboard of the computer.”
Career workers — who have been ordered by Bush officials not to talk to the press about the vandalism, as part of their effort to “raise the tone in Washington” — found most of the vandalism in the vice president’s offices in the Old Executive Office Building, adjacent to the White House.
“What we’re seeing is that there are certain offices that did this stuff,” the computer worker added. “A lot of it is in the vice president’s office on the second floor of the OEOB.”
“The vice president’s people weren’t very happy,” he offered.
Former White House aides also cut telephone lines throughout the White House compound.
“There was a lot of them (severed lines) — all over, including the West Wing,” said another White House employee who surveyed the phone damage.
The price of the new phone lines aren’t the only costs involved in the repair, he says.
“You’ve also got to pay for the time of the contractors who will have to go out to all the offices and replace them. You’ve got to pay their rate,” he said. “It’s not just government employees going around repairing all this stuff.”
AT&T manages the White House phone switch.
WorldNetDaily has learned of other vandalism, too:
Outgoing staffers pried several official U.S. emblems, about the size of 50-cent coins, from doors in the Old Executive Office Building, according to a General Services Administration worker involved in the maintenance of White House offices.
And staffers trashed offices in OEOB, the GSA worker says. Some offices were littered with empty Coke containers and pizza boxes. Custodians even found old sweaters and sneakers with holes in them.
“Some of the people did not leave until the 20th at noon,” said the GSA worker, who also asked to go unnamed. “They stayed in their office until the last minute and had little parties. They left trash and did pranks.”
Some embittered staffers actually emptied the contents of Coke cans into desk drawers, he says.
“It’s juvenile,” the GSA worker said, adding that the Clinton and Gore staffers “made it extremely difficult for custodians.”
However, the worker said media reports of staffers writing anti-Bush graffiti on office walls have been “exaggerated.”
The only anti-Bush notes that custodians, painters and carpeting crews found were scribbled on pieces of paper left on desks and on title cards on office doors.
“But the keyboard and telecommunications damage is real,” the GSA worker asserted. “That was disgusting, and that’s going to cost the government a lot of money.”
Former aides to President Clinton have tried to downplay the events by pointing out that such malicious behavior is normal in transitions between administrations of opposing parties.
But career White House workers disagree.
“The spin doctors on the Clinton side are saying ‘Well, there were pranks played on them, too, such as phone receivers missing, when they came in,’ ” said the White House employee involved in assessing damage to phone equipment. “But that is not true. There was never anything like this.”
And repairs will come out of the taxpayer’s pocket, pointed out the White House computer technician.
“It’s expected in a regular transition to come in and do a little painting and carpeting,” he said. “But this is above and beyond that, and the money will come from taxpayers.”
The GSA employee says that, normally, crews are allowed to start fixing up White House offices months in advance of the inauguration.
But Clinton insisted that crews wait until the last two days to re-paint and re-carpet offices, he says.
With many of his aides staying in their offices until the last minute, some holding parties, it made it that much harder for crews to do their jobs, the GSA source says.
He says GSA’s budget for routine maintenance and repair of White House offices for the transition period is well under $500,000. That doesn’t cover costs incurred from the Clinton administration’s vandalism.
A White House building engineer contacted by WorldNetDaily says that he’s found no damage to the heating and air-conditioning systems serving the White House buildings.
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