- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 14, 2001

The attorney for Rep. Gary A. Condit yesterday said the congressman had passed a lie-detector test that included "critically important questions" in the disappearance of intern Chandra Levy, but authorities said the results of the test — which Mr. Condit paid for — are not credible or meaningful.
In a passionate, podium-thumping defense of his client in a televised press conference, attorney Abbe Lowell said a former FBI agent with "unassailable credentials" administered the lie-detector test and asked Mr. Condit whether he had anything to do with Miss Levy's disappearance, whether he harmed her or caused her to be harmed, and whether he knew her location. Mr. Condit answered each question with a negative response, he said.
"The congressman was not deceptive in any way," Mr. Lowell said at the 20-minute news conference, adding that the test's raw data and the tester's report will be given to the authorities.
Neither the FBI nor Metropolitan Police Department knew Mr. Condit had hired a private tester to administer the exam. "We wanted the FBI to do that," said Executive Assistant Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer, adding that they will examine the results but not count them as credible.
Chief Gainer, the department's No. 2 official, said he was "bamboozled" by Mr. Lowell, who set up the test without notifying authorities, and called the tactic "self-serving." The chief had been negotiating with Mr. Lowell over the test this week.
Mr. Lowell's press conference caught law-enforcement officials off guard and set a new tone for weekend news coverage, which the lawyer said had focused too much on Mr. Condit and not enough on Miss Levy.
"Those people who are really concerned about the disappearance of Ms. Levy will realize that Congressman Condit has exhausted the information that he can provide and the spotlight on him should be turned elsewhere," Mr. Lowell said.
Mr. Condit has been interviewed by police three times, allowed his Adams Morgan apartment to be searched, given a DNA sample, provided telephone records, made his staff available for police interviews and has submitted to a lie-detector test, Mr. Lowell said, pointing to a chart listing his client's actions.
Appearing livid as he read prepared remarks, Mr. Lowell chastised the media for its intense coverage of Mr. Condit, who had denied having an affair with Miss Levy for weeks before admitting the relationship to investigators last week.
"The more time you spend on Congressman Condit, his family, his life and his past, the more you are diverting attention and resources from the one thing that really matters here — finding Chandra Levy," he said.
Mr. Lowell also said Mr. Condit allowed forensic officers who searched the California Democrat's apartment to "take whatever they wanted from his home."
But Mr. Lowell did not mention how he himself frequently challenged the search team and refused to let them take a pair of pants that had a red stain, as a law enforcement source told The Washington Times.
The officers took a sample of the stain and left the pants, the source said.
Mr. Lowell also became angry when one technician — in an episode caught by news cameras — cut a piece of the Venetian blinds because of specks that appeared to be blood, the source said.
Evidence from Mr. Condit's apartment continues to be analyzed at the FBI lab in Quantico, Va.
Mr. Lowell stressed that the lie-detector test was administered by Barry Colvert, an FBI agent for 35 years who taught polygraph techniques and worked on high-profile cases. Several reporters asked whether Mr. Condit had taken any practice tests, but Mr. Lowell's answers were not clear.
Asked about Miss Levy's parents, who have prodded much of the media attention in the case, Mr. Lowell said Mr. Condit understands and appreciates their concerns and motives for keeping their daughter's disappearance in the news. The Levys, who live in Mr. Condit's district in Modesto, Calif., first called on the congressman to take a lie-detector test.
Mr. Lowell did not address the broadening federal probe, reported Wednesday by The Times, into whether Mr. Condit tampered with witnesses or suborned perjury.
Authorities have now added Mr. Condit's staffers to the list of persons they want to interview in the federal investigation, a law-enforcement official familiar with the investigation told The Times. The official also said the obstruction-of-justice case is now independent of the critical missing-persons case.
"These have now become parallel investigations," the law-enforcement official said. "One is separate from the other."
Authorities want to talk to Condit staffers about the statements they have given throughout the investigation and ask them whether they knowingly lied or were duped by their boss, the official said.
Mr. Condit, 53, has not been charged with a crime, and police have said he is not a suspect in Miss Levy's disappearance, which is being investigated as a noncriminal, missing-persons case.
Detectives on both coasts already are re-interviewing at least half a dozen women who say they have had affairs with Mr. Condit and are seeking other women who were involved with the married congressman, law-enforcement officials have told The Times.
Those women are being sought because authorities want to find out whether Mr. Condit told them not to cooperate with, or even lie to, authorities conducted the missing-persons case, law-enforcement officials told The Times.
That probe was sparked by charges from a San Francisco flight attendant who said Mr. Condit and his emissaries pressured her to sign a false affidavit denying a 10-month affair.
Anne Marie Smith, 39, and her attorney spent most of Wednesday and Thursday talking to FBI agents and prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District.
A spokesman for that office declined to comment to The Times yesterday.
D.C. police officers and academy recruits yesterday continued to scour wooded areas, vacant lots and abandoned buildings for clues or Miss Levy's remains.
Miss Levy, 24, was a former intern at the Bureau of Prisons and was last seen April 30.
Jim Keary contributed to this report.

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