- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 11, 2000

Martin Indyk, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, has had his security clearance reinstated, allowing him to rejoin U.S. peacemaking efforts in the Middle East.

Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright took the action for "compelling national security interests" even while an investigation of security violations continues, State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said last night.

The action means Mr. Indyk, who returned to Tel Aviv 10 days ago, again will have access to classified information, the spokesman said.

The suspected violations of tightened security measures were never disclosed, except that administration officials said no espionage was involved.

There was no word when the investigation might be concluded, but Mr. Reeker said the hope was that it would be as soon as possible.

Mrs. Albright had authorized suspending Mr. Indyk's clearance three weeks ago, a move that closed a critical channel to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak in the midst of difficult negotiations.

The situation has worsened since then, with violence gripping the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Apparently the first American ambassador stripped of his security clearances, Mr. Indyk was denied access to classified documents and even discussions with Mr. Barak and other Middle East figures. By their nature, such conversations are considered classified.

President Clinton endorsed the State Department's handling of the case. His spokesman at the time, Joe Lockhart, said the president did not think the Indyk situation would affect the U.S. peace efforts.

But Mrs. Albright's move was framed in terms of its being in the interest of U.S. national security to have the clearance restored.

In Israel, working without security clearance, Mr. Indyk continued as ambassador and fulfilled some aspects of that role. Mrs. Albright made her move in consultation with the department's bureau of diplomatic security, Mr. Reeker said.

The security violation of which Mr. Indyk is accused involved the use of an unclassified, government-owned laptop computer to prepare while-in-transit memorandums about discussions with foreign leaders, said a source outside the State Department who was familiar with the investigation.

Once entered into the State Department system, the documents were classified. The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Mr. Indyk also was accused of removing classified briefing books to his office to prepare for meetings.

When the suspension was announced, Mr. Indyk, a two-time ambassador to Tel Aviv, issued a statement saying: "I regret that my trying to do the best possible job under very difficult conditions has led to the temporary suspension of my security clearances."

"Jeopardizing the national security interests of the U.S. is absolutely abhorrent to me, and I would never do anything to compromise those interests," he said.

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