Deutch Gives Up Pentagon Clearances
WASHINGTON (AP) _ John Deutch, the former CIA director who lost his access to agency secrets last summer for violating security rules, volunteered Tuesday to give up his Defense Department industrial security clearances.
Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon said the clearances would be withdrawn in line with Deutch’s wish.
On Monday, Defense Secretary William Cohen said the Pentagon was considering pulling Deutch’s clearances but believed it needed to weigh legal considerations before taking any action against him.
The actions are highly unusual and result from the CIA’s discovery last summer that Deutch had downloaded classified documents into his unsecured home computer, in violation of security rules, while he was head of the agency.
Deutch previously had been deputy secretary of defense. He spent 38 years in public service before leaving the CIA in December 1996. He has not been accused of compromising Pentagon or CIA secrets.
Deutch said in a letter to Deputy Defense Secretary John Hamre that he has no need for access to Pentagon classified information and therefore prefers that his three remaining Pentagon clearances be discontinued. His industrial security clearances gave him access to classified information about defense technologies; such clearances commonly are granted to people working on Defense Department contracts.
Deutch’s letter was transmitted to Hamre today by his attorney at the Washington law office of Williams & Connolly.
``It has been Mr. Deutch’s practice since his CIA clearance was suspended by Director Tenet last August to avoid access to any classified information, including classified documents, meetings and conversations,″ the letter states.
``Therefore, there is no need to continue these industrial security clearances at this time and he asks that they be discontinued.″
At the time CIA Director George Tenet suspended Deutch’s security clearance at the agency, the Pentagon cut off Deutch’s access to Defense Intelligence Agency information. But the Pentagon allowed Deutch to keep his industrial security clearances, which allowed him to have access to some classified information.
When he acted against Deutch, Tenet said the CIA had found no evidence that national security information was lost due to Deutch’s security lapses, but ``potential for damage to U.S. security existed.″
Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Tuesday it was hard for him to conceive of any other outcome than for Deutch to lose all security clearances.
Shelby called the fact that Deutch still had Pentagon clearances, six months after his CIA clearances were revoked, ``mind boggling.″
Shelby’s committee met behind closed doors with CIA Inspector General L. Britt Snider and was hoping that Deutch would accept its invitation to also appear to discuss his security violations. Shelby said committee lawyers were in contact with Deutch and his lawyers to try to work out an arrangement for such an appearance.
A Deutch associate, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he expected Deutch to comply with the committee’s wish. The associate said Deutch was traveling Tuesday and not available for direct comment.
If Deutch does not come voluntarily, the committee will consider issuing a subpoena to compel his appearance, Shelby said.
``I think it is important that he come to the committee and let him explain his version of events and his side of the story,″ Shelby said.
Before becoming CIA director, Deutch served as deputy secretary of defense from 1994 to 1995. He now is a professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and acts as a consultant for several organizations with defense contracts.
After weekend news reports about Deutch’s continued access to classified defense information, the Pentagon’s inspector general asked the CIA for its evidence on Deutch’s security breaches, Defense Secretary William Cohen told reporters. ``I think it should have been done sooner, but it was not,″ he said.
The industrial clearance allows Deutch to serve as a paid consultant on defense contracts with the MIT, SAIC Corp. and Raytheon Corp., Pentagon officials said.