- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 9, 2000

Officials at Northrop Grumman Corp. have confirmed that thousands of White House e-mails containing information on "Filegate," campaign finance abuses, "Chinagate" and Monica Lewinsky were never turned over to a federal grand jury or three congressional committees despite pending subpoenas.

House investigators said yesterday the confirmation came after extensive interviews with Northrop Grumman employees, who discovered a glitch in the White House computer system in 1998 showing that more than 100,000 White House e-mails involving 500 computer users had never been surrendered.

The Northrop Grumman employees, all of whom worked at the White House under a long-term computer contract, also confirmed that White House officials threatened them with "jail" if they spoke about the problem to their employer or their spouses.

They also said the glitch later was labeled "Project X" and the e-mails were listed as "classified" documents.

The House Government Reform Committee yesterday asked White House Counsel Beth Nolan for a meeting to discuss what the panel's chairman, Rep. Dan Burton, Indiana Republican, described in a letter as "profoundly disturbing" information about the e-mails. The committee also will issue subpoenas today for the documents.

"There is an appearance that White House lawyers have made a conscious decision to do nothing to solve the problem posed by so many documents being improperly managed," Mr. Burton wrote.

"I can only conclude you are personally content with what is, in effect, a purposeful effort to keep the documents from Congress, the Department of Justice and various independent counsels," he wrote.

In a separate letter to Attorney General Janet Reno, Mr. Burton questioned why no effort had been made to investigate the e-mail accusations which first surfaced last month and demanded an explanation on what the Justice Department intends to do about the matter.

White House spokesman James Kennedy said yesterday the administration had not yet seen the letter but would "respond in an appropriate fashion."

He previously has said the White House made "a good faith effort to respond in a timely fashion to all requests for information sought under subpoena."

But he has refused to address accusations that 100,000 electronic messages were not turned over, saying he was "not going to get into the specifics of any allegation."

Northrop Grumman officials have referred inquiries in the matter to the White House.

James Wilson, the House committee's chief counsel, said investigators determined that hundreds of thousands of e-mails sent to the White House were never reviewed and never made available under subpoena.

"There is great concern about what these documents might contain and, of course, why they were never turned over since the White House knew they existed," he said, noting that hundreds could contain pertinent information about several ongoing investigations.

The House inquiry began after Sheryl L. Hall, chief of White House computer operations who has since moved to a similar position at the Treasury Department, told The Washington Times that administration officials covered up the fact that e-mails from August 1996 to November 1998 had not been surrendered, as required by law, deciding instead to label them as "classified" documents.

Mrs. Hall said the cover-up was part of a bid to delay the investigations into 2001, after President Clinton leaves office.

She said at least 4,000 of the e-mails involved were related to Miss Lewinsky, the former White House intern with whom Mr. Clinton has admitted having a sexual relationship.

In addition to the Lewinsky messages, she said, hundreds of other e-mails included references to the White House's receipt of 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.

Mrs. Hall 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.

Tom Fitton, Judicial Watch president, said yesterday a second witness has come forward to corroborate Mrs. Hall's accusations and that the organization has asked a federal court to send U.S. marshals to the White House to collect the e-mails. That request is pending.

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 Northrop Grumman 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.

She said there was "no doubt" they knew the search had not been complete, but decided not to retrieve the documents "which they could and should have done forthrightly."

Mr. Lindsay, head of the Office of Management and Administration, and Miss Crabtree, customer support branch chief who has since moved to the Labor Department, have been unavailable for comment.

Asked last month about the accusations, Mr. Clinton denied any wrongdoing, saying he believed the administration had "complied with every request."

He said there had "never been an intentional effort" to stonewall subpoena requests and that he believed "we are in full compliance."

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