CIA Chief Testifies in Deutch Probe
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Former CIA Director John Deutch’s storing of national security secrets on a home computer was a serious lapse in security but not comparable to allegations against a former Los Alamos scientist, CIA Director George Tenet insisted today.
An internal CIA report that Deutch stored some of the nation’s most sensitive national security secrets on a computer that also was used to access pornographic Internet sites and to receive and send e-mail has generated alarm among congressional intelligence overseers and throughout the intelligence community.
Tenet, who stripped Deutch of his security clearances last August over the dispute, found himself defending the CIA’s handling of the case for a second day on Capitol Hill.
During today’s session of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., asked why Deutch was being treated differently from Wen Ho Lee since ``both of them made similar mistakes in the fact that they both had information that was very important to this country on unsecured computers.″
Lee has been indicted for mishandling nuclear-weapons secrets, is being held without bond and could face life in prison if he is convicted.
``In one instance, there is an intent to do harm to the United States. That’s a legal judgment that’s been made. In the other instance, a similar legal judgment was not made,″ Tenet said.
The CIA referred the Deutch matter to the Justice Department, but Justice decided not to prosecute.
``I don’t think the cases are similar. That’s not to say that this case involving the former director is not serious. If it was not serious, I would not have taken the action″ in revoking Deutch’s security clearances, Tenet said.
Tenet also said that Lee has been accused of transferring classified computer files to other computers, while Deutch for the most part created the sensitive files himself while working from home.
Tenet declined to discuss new revelations that an e-mail from a Russian scientist was found on the hard drive of one of Deutch’s CIA-issued home computers, and that someone in the Deutch household had used the computers to access ``high risk″ sites on the Internet, including pornography sites.
``I can’t and I won’t,″ Tenet told the Armed Services panel.
He said the material should have remained confidential, and that Senate and House intelligence committees were pursuing the matter. ``Let the matter rest there,″ he said.
Committee Chairman John Warner, R-Va., called the reports of Deutch’s computer behavior ``very disturbing.″
In testimony a day earlier to the Senate Intelligence Committee, Tenet said there was no evidence that Deutch’s unsecured home computer had been hacked into by foreign adversaries. But neither was there any sure way to tell that it hadn’t been, given that the technology exists for such intrusions, he said.
``There was enormously sensitive material on this computer, at the highest levels of classification,″ Tenet said.
Congressional and intelligence community sources familiar with the investigation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said among the e-mail messages sent to Deutch was one from Europe from an individual who identified himself as former Russian scientist.
As to the e-mail supposedly from a former Russian scientist, investigators determined that the e-mail was incoming, and not solicited or answered by Deutch, the sources said.
CIA investigators studied data on the hard drive of the home computer used by Deutch and were able to identify various pieces of e-mail and Internet addresses that had been accessed by Deutch and members of his household though an America Online account, the sources said.
The sources said there was no evidence that Deutch himself had visited any of the pornographic sites, and that some of the times that had been logged did not match up with times when Deutch was at home.
Tenet was among those delivering the sharpest criticism of his predecessor.
``He was sloppy in what he did. He worked around the clock. He didn’t think about what he was doing,″ Tenet told the Senate committee.
Tenet stripped Deutch of his security clearances in August 1999, even though the CIA investigation into his alleged mishandling of classified materials began in December 1996, the month Tenet became acting director.
Tenet had been Deutch’s deputy. Tenet was sworn in as CIA director in July 1997 after serving as acting director during the transition.
An internal report by the CIA’s inspector general faults Tenet and other senior CIA officials for waiting too long before notifying the Justice Department or congressional intelligence oversight committees of the case.
But Tenet denied he deliberately delayed an investigation into Deutch’s computer practices. However, he conceded, ``The internal investigation took too long. The process was not perfect.″
The Justice Department’s criminal division investigated Deutch’s computer use and declined last spring to prosecute, referring the case to the CIA inspector general for administrative discipline, according to Justice officials who requested anonymity. The division found the lapses were sloppy rather than nefarious.
Justice lawyers will take a look at the CIA inspector general’s report, but, based on information now available, there are no plans to reopen the Deutsch investigation, a Justice official said today.