- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 6, 2002

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Former FBI and CIA chief William Webster, whose appointment as the head of a new accounting-oversight board has ignited debate, is considering whether to step down, according to published reports yesterday.
He told the New York Times and USA Today he will step aside if he decides he can't be effective heading the board, which plans to meet for the first time Nov. 13.
"I'm not the only one that can do this job," Mr. Webster told the Times. "If I conclude my ability to serve impedes on the ability of the board to function, I will step aside.
"I'm watching very carefully to see if all this activity is impeding my ability to act effectively," he told USA Today. "When I reach a conclusion as to whether that effectiveness would be impaired, I'll act."
Mr. Webster did not return calls from AP.
In a related development, BDO Seidman the accounting firm fired by Mr. Webster as head of the audit committee of the U.S. Technologies board of directors filed a federal lawsuit against U.S. Technologies claiming that Mr. Webster had made "false and misleading statements" last week about how much he knew about the company's financial problems.
Mr. Webster's statements "create the false impression" that BDO Seidman did not notify U.S. Technologies "of its financial and accounting weaknesses" in a timely way, the accounting firm said in the suit. The firm said U.S. Technologies failed to correct Mr. Webster's statements.
Mr. Webster has denied the accusation.
The debate about Mr. Webster's appointment has created new problems for Harvey Pitt, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. He is in trouble with the White House and is facing investigations into whether he concealed from his fellow commissioners information about Mr. Webster's watchdog role at U.S. Technologies before they named him to head the new board.
White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, traveling with the president on Air Force One, declined to comment further on Mr. Pitt and how the growing controversy about Mr. Webster reflects on his leadership of the SEC.


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