- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 27, 2000

Revoking the security clearance of America's ambassador to Israel was personally painful but necessary because of the severity of the potential security breach, Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright said yesterday.
In her first public comments on the latest embarrassing security lapse to hit her department, Mrs. Albright defended the handling of the case of Ambassador Martin Indyk, effectively sidelined from his post in Israel late last week amid charges he may have kept classified notes and data on unprotected personal computers.
"I did have the opportunity to overturn [the suspension], and it was very difficult," Mrs. Albright told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday.
"Ambassador Indyk is a good friend, and I respect his work highly," she said. "But I also believe that the governmentwide security procedures that we are following in the State Department need to be abided by."
She noted that Mr. Indyk, who retains his title and position as the probe proceeds, is cooperating fully with investigators, and that it is not believed that intelligence information was compromised because of the ambassador's actions.
But Sen. Rod Grams, Minnesota Republican and chairman of the Foreign Relations subcommittee on international operations, complained of being "caught by surprise," learning of the charges from an anonymous caller days before the story hit the newspapers.
"Understanding all the confidentiality surrounding this, I believe it would be better for the department to alert the committee to such sensitive, ongoing investigations," said Mr. Grams.
Mrs. Albright defended the handling of the investigation, saying her department planned a private briefing for lawmakers only after taking into account Mr. Indyk's privacy rights and national security concerns.
"There would have been a briefing when we believed we had all the facts in place," she said. "I believe the secretary of state has the right to look at the issues carefully and be able to make sure things are done right."
Mr. Indyk's troubles come as Middle East talks between Israel and the Palestinians are warming up again, with negotiators from the two sides in Washington this week for the latest round of talks seeking a final peace deal.
"Obviously, he will be missed within the peace process," Mrs. Albright said. " … What is already a difficult task has not been made any easier as a result of this."

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