- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 23, 2000

Foreign intelligence services could have broken into the homes of former CIA Director John Deutch and copied the 17,000 pages of highly classified intelligence documents stored improperly on his home computers, according to a CIA report made public yesterday.
The report by the CIA inspector general also said that "high-risk Internet sites" had placed "cookies" on the hard drive of Mr. Deutch's home computer software that lets remote computers obtain personal information from systems connected to the Internet.
However, CIA security investigators stated in a memorandum partially reproduced in the report that it would have been easier for spies to break into Mr. Deutch's homes and copy the data than to access it by remote computer.
Mr. Deutch had refused 24-hour CIA security guards at his homes because of "privacy concerns" and let a resident alien domestic servant with no security clearance enter the Bethesda, Md., residence when the Deutches were not home.
CIA investigators "determined the likelihood of compromise was actually greater via a hostile entry operation into one of Mr. Deutch's two homes [in Bethesda and Boston] to 'image' the contents of the affected hard drives," the memorandum said.
"Due to the paucity of physical security, it is stipulated that such an entry operation would not have posed a particularly difficult challenge, had a sophisticated operation been launched by opposition forces," the memo said.
A complete copy of the data on the hard drives could have been made in a short time, the memo said.
The report stated that there was no clear evidence the secrets were compromised, and that determining the loss might take months.
The inspector general report concluded that Mr. Deutch knew he was risking U.S. national security by placing highly sensitive information on the unclassified computers but did nothing to prevent it.
The report described the information as relating to "covert action, Top Secret communications intelligence and the National Reconnaissance Program budget."
The material also included memos to the president and top national security officials as well as "non-CIA compartmented" information a reference to extremely sensitive Pentagon programs.
U.S. officials told The Washington Times last week that besides CIA secrets, investigators found highly classified information on Mr. Deutch's home computers relating to Pentagon special access programs, known as "black programs," because of their secrecy.
Mr. Deutch, meanwhile, appeared before a closed session of the Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday to answer questions about how some 17,000 classified intelligence and defense documents were improperly stored on several computers used after he left the agency in December 1996.
Mr. Deutch told reporters after a two-hour appearance before the Senate committee yesterday that "I very much regret my error."
"At no time did I intend to violate security rules," Mr. Deutch said. "The director of Central Intelligence is not above the rules."
However, the inspector general report indicates that the former CIA chief deliberately deleted classified files on the computers after he was caught by security officials improperly storing the data on his computers on Dec. 17, 1995.
Some of the deleted files that were retrieved by investigators were dated Dec. 20, 1995 three days after the material was first discovered by a security official.
The report outlined a scheme by Mr. Deutch to keep the CIA-supplied computers by entering a contract with the agency that prohibited him from using them for personal use even though he said the reason he wanted to keep them was because the contained personal financial records.
Senior aides to Mr. Deutch at CIA, namely CIA Executive Director Nora Slatkin and Michael O'Neill, the agency's general counsel, also took steps described in the inspector general report as "anomalies" that appeared aimed at protecting Mr. Deutch.
CIA Director George Tenet also waited 18 months before notifying Congress of Mr. Deutch's improperly storing highly sensitive intelligence and defense documents improperly, the report said.
The report said the delay prevented the appointment of an independent counsel investigation because "the allegations of illegal behavior regarding … Deutch were received more than one year after Deutch left office."
Mr. Tenet must notify the oversight committees of any significant intelligence activities.
Sen. Richard C. Shelby, Alabama Republican and chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in an interview yesterday that the lapse was "troubling."
"I don't believe this was George Tenet and his staff's finest hour," Mr. Shelby said. "All of the delay, the lack of notification to the committees, the FBI, and so forth is troubling and inexplicable."
Asked if Mr. Tenet should resign, Mr. Shelby said, "We're doing our investigation right now."

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide