US Response to Embassy Spy Reports Called 'Total Chaos'
Feb. 12, 1988
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The ''total chaos'' in the way government agencies handle possible security violations at embassies abroad could lead Congress to call for new rules and procedures, a House panel chairman says.
Rep. Dan Mica, D-Fla., said Thursday that he was amazed at some of the preliminary findings of a General Accounting Office investigation triggered by allegations of spying by Marine guards at the American Embassy in Moscow.
Mica, as chairman of a House subcommittee on foreign operations, and Rep. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, asked the GAO, a congressional watchdog agency, to look into the situation last June.
Mica said one of the GAO's ''most startling'' findings to date is that the State Department filed - without further action - more than 500 reports of possible infractions by Marine guards at embassies in Asia, Eastern Europe and Western countries.
The reports, which dealt with black market activities or fraternization with Soviets, are supposed to be turned over to the Naval Investigative Service for further investigation.
''What I am being told is that there was a procedure in place, the procedure provided that A, B and C happen, and that in more than 500 cases, only A and B happened,'' Mica said.
Mica's staff said the 587 cases were finally turned over to the NIS last November, after the Moscow embassy scandal focused attention on the issue.
There was ''total chaos in the way the inter-agencies handled security violation problems,'' Mica said, referring to the State Department, the NIS, the FBI and others.
''This may result in congressional hearings or new working rules so we don't have this again,'' he said.
Mica said the KGB, the Soviet spy agency, often tries to lure people into cooperating by initially encouraging prohibited behavior. He speculated ''there may have been a KGB worldwide effort to recruit Marines'' at U.S. embassies for the last decade.
Phyllis Oakley, a State Department spokeswoman, said she had no immediate comment on Mica's statements. The NIS declined to comment because of its ongoing investigation.
Naval officers familiar with the investigation confirmed Mica's account and said even in November the cases only came over piecemeal. The naval officers declined to be identified by name.
So far, Mica said, GAO has so far uncovered no ''major irregularities'' in the way the NIS handled the investigation of Sgt. Clayton Lonetree, a Marine Guard convicted last August of espionage and other violations while he was assigned to Moscow.
Charges against Cpl. Arnold Bracy, another guard, were withdrawn for lack of evidence. One of their superiors, Sgt. Robert Stufflebeam, was convicted on minor counts of dereliction of duty.
Defense attorneys claim that the NIS used heavy-handed techniques in extracting false information from Bracy and others. The Pentagon has denied that allegation and defended the conduct of the investigation.
Meanwhile, Naval officers said the NIS task force which began giving polygraphs to Marine guards around the world after the Moscow charges surfaced was still under way. As of last month, it had interviewed 482 Marine guards and 1,261 past guards and others in 35 countries.
The officers said that effort generated 134 investigations which found four cases in which guards admitted espionage, including Lonetree and Bracy. Bracy later recanted his confession.
Another eight cases remain open because of deceptive answers to polygraph questions about espionage, the officers added.