- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 15, 2000

The White House hid thousands of e-mails containing information on Filegate, Chinagate, campaign finance abuses and Monica Lewinsky, all of which were under subpoena by a federal grand jury and three congressional committees, a former White House computer manager says.
Sheryl L. Hall, chief of White House computer operations who has since moved to a similar position at the Treasury Department, said administration officials covered up the fact that electronic messages from August 1996 to November 1998 had not been surrendered, as required by law, deciding instead to label them as "classified" documents. She said the cover-up was part of a bid to delay the investigations into 2001.
"Contractors working at the White House discovered the glitch showing that 100,000 White House e-mails involving nearly 500 computer users had not been located during the document search," said Mrs. Hall. "When the contractors told the White House about the problem, they were threatened, warned not to discuss it. They were told the documents were classified.
"In fact, a White House official told one of the contractors they had a jail cell with his name on it if he discussed the matter," she said.
At least 4,000 of the e-mails involved or related to Miss Lewinsky, the former White House intern with whom President Clinton has admitted having a sexual relationship, she said.
The veteran computer manager, who left the White House after being demoted for questioning the propriety of the administration's use of a database system for political purposes, has since become a critic of the White House.
She has accused first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and nine White House political appointees in a pending lawsuit of job harassment and reprisals for her complaints. The suit has been filed in U.S. District Court in Washington by Judicial Watch, a public interest law firm.
In addition to the Lewinsky messages, she said hundreds of other e-mails included references to the White House's receiving secret FBI files on former Reagan and Bush administration officials; information on the selection of corporate executives for overseas trade trips; and messages concerning campaign finance activities in the 1996 election.
She said the glitch was first discovered in May 1998, when the contractors traced a programming error on one of four White House servers back to August 1996. The error involved e-mails to and from 464 White House computer users and the problem was not fixed until November 1998.
The White House e-mails had been sought under subpoena by a federal grand jury, the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee and the House Government Reform Committee.
They also were sought by Judicial Watch in separate pending suits involving Filegate and Chinagate.
Mrs. Hall, who was assigned to the White House in October 1992 from the Naval Sea Systems Command, said the missing e-mails were discovered when the contractor, Northrop Grumman Corp., found that one of the four White House Lotus Notes e-mail servers handling the mail for about 500 computer users had been mislabeled and that a White House search of electronic messages under the subpoenas was incomplete.
She said e-mails from that server were not properly managed for a two-year period meaning they were not collected by the mainframe computer during the subpoena record search.
Mrs. Hall said White House project directors, Mark Lindsay and Laura Crabtree, were told by Northrop Grumman of the glitch but chose not to make the problem public.
"There's no doubt they knew the search had not been complete, and the missing records included those involving Miss Lewinsky and other matters of concern," she said. "They could have retrieved the documents, and they should have done it forthrightly."
Mr. Lindsay, head of the White House Office of Management and Administration, did not return calls seeking comment.
Miss Crabtree, customer support branch chief at the White House who has since moved to the Labor Department, was unavailable for comment.
White House spokesman James Kennedy said administration officials made "a good faith effort to respond in a timely fashion to all requests for information" sought under subpoena, but declined to elaborate.
"We generally do not discuss the details of particular requests," he said.
Mr. Kennedy would not address Mrs. Hall's accusation that 100,000 electronic messages were not turned over, saying he was "not going to get into the specifics of any allegation."
Northrup Grumman spokesman Larry Hamilton, who said he was unfamiliar with the White House contract and would check with others at Northrup Grumman to determine what might have happened, did not call back.
In her pending lawsuit against Mrs. Clinton, Mrs. Hall said the first lady oversaw the political misuse of the White House Office Database (WHODB).
Her lawsuit says she was abused at Mrs. Clinton's behest after voicing objections to using career White House employees and the WHODB system for illegal political activities.
The political activities are not detailed in the suit, but Mrs. Hall's complaint quotes from an October 1998 report by the House Government Reform Committee saying senior White House officials used the $1.7 million WHODB system to "advance the campaign fund-raising objectives of the Democratic National Committee."
After she voiced her concerns, Mrs. Hall was replaced by Miss Crabtree.
In her suit, she said Michelle Peterson of the White House Counsel's Office told her administration strategy about subpoenas was to "stall because we had just a couple of more years to go."
Miss Peterson has denied the accusation. The White House called the charges "baseless."
But, Mrs. Hall said, the decision to hide the e-mails from the grand jury and the committees was part of a "continuing campaign by the White House to delay and impede" the investigations.

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