- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 2, 2003

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Linda R. Tripp, her breast cancer arrested, said Monday she will marry her childhood sweetheart in the spring.

The Pentagon employee who went public with Monica Lewinsky’s secrets — and helped set into motion the scandal and impeachment trial over President Clinton’s relationship with the White House intern — described her first reaction when diagnosed as “sheer terror.”

Billed as her first interview since being diagnosed with breast cancer and settling her lawsuit against the Defense Department, Mrs. Tripp said on CNN’s “Larry King Live” that she had a lumpectomy and underwent chemotherapy. She said her hair fell out, her nails fell off her feet and hands and she had immeasurable muscle and bone pain, making it difficult to walk.

“I was the queen of denial,” said Mrs. Tripp, 52. “I took care of my children, and they had all their checkups. But in terms of doing what most women should do, missed mammograms and self-exam, I wasn’t doing it.”

Mrs. Tripp, who is divorced, and fiance Dieter Rousch met when they were 10 years old in 1961.

A beaming Mrs. Tripp said Mr. Rousch, an architect, had stayed in touch with Mrs. Tripp’s family over the years. He had lived next to her grandmother in Germany. They saw each other in summers and saved each other’s letters over the years.

They reunited three years ago in Germany. He has since moved to Middleburg, Va., where he owns a Christmas shop.

Mrs. Tripp called her lawsuit settlement with the Pentagon in November a “moral victory.”

“It was essentially a restitution,” she said, noting high legal bills. “But more than that, they conceded liability.”

Mrs. Tripp filed suit because a Pentagon official released confidential personal information about her to the New Yorker magazine.

Based on information supplied by Pentagon officials in 1998, the New Yorker reported Mrs. Tripp did not list an arrest on her security application for her job at the Defense Department. She had been charged with larceny as a teenager.

Mrs. Tripp, who secretly taped Miss Lewinsky’s conversations about her relationship with Mr. Clinton, sued the Defense Department two years ago, citing violations of the Privacy Act. She had worked for the department as a public affairs specialist.

The Privacy Act prohibits the government from releasing unauthorized personal information about individual Americans to nonfederal organizations.

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