DEFENDING AMERICA
BY DAVID H. HACKWORTH
16 May 2000

CLINTON'S SPYGATE

The Cold War isn't over, it's at halftime. We'll face the Russian Bear again, along with a host of others hankering to thump America around the head and shoulders with something meaner than a club. Try China, India and Iran for openers -- or the elusive Osama bin Laden and his deadly terrorist gang.

Bet on it. Within a decade, we'll be in a serious hot or cold brew with one or all of the above.

When it comes to national security, the first line of defense is to keep careful tabs on our enemies and not let them know anything about what we've got going down. Of all the elements of war, intelligence is the key factor.

During World War II, when the saying "Loose Lips Sink Ships" was more popular than "Drink Coca-Cola," our intell folks were worth a hundred divisions. They did incredible stuff like breaking the enemy's communications codes so that our generals could read their mail even before it was delivered. And we were so buttoned up, they seldom had a clue.

Just two examples -- from hundreds -- of how this inside info helped us win:

* At the Battle of Midway -- the most important U.S. battle of the war -- our fleet waxed the Japanese.

* Our Army zapped the Germans before they could checkmate our forces breaking out of the Normandy beachhead.

Today, America's security isn't tight and right. It's blowing in the wind like confetti. It's so bad that I doubt we have many secrets left.

During last year's war with Serbia, for example, the Serb high command knew NATO's -- read the U.S.A.'s -- flight plans and targets before our aircrews did. Our flyers were placed in body-bag danger, and we were the ones without a clue.

President Clinton's Washington has become answered prayers for spies. There are more hostile spooks inside the beltway today than cherry trees. And because of laxness, slackness and carelessness on the part of the hired help, the real-life 007s don't have to work very hard at stealing our secrets. Foreign spies have infiltrated every national-security area -- including the White House. But the State Department especially has become a spy heaven. It has more holes through which our secrets have poured than the USS Arizona after Pearl Harbor, when it and most of the rest of Pacific fleet went to the bottom.

Since 1993, there've been about four security breaches a day. In 1998 alone, there were almost 1,700 security violations. Spies have walked into the place, helped themselves to classified documents and slipped out. They've bugged a conference room, then stood outside and taped highly classified meetings. Laptop computers have gone south with top-secret information, and classified documents have been plucked off desks by spies who roam through the place posing as accredited State Department reporters.

Neither is the CIA without sin. Former director John Deutch's computer -- crammed full of national secrets -- was compromised. And then there's Aldrich H. Ames, who out-and-out vacuumed the CIA files and sold the stuff to the Soviets by the crate, causing a lot of undercover agents' deaths and compromising scores of covert operations.


Now the FBI suspects the White House switchboard's bugged. Imagine the national security matters discussed on the supposedly secure line from the Oval Office to places like the Pentagon, State, the CIA and FBI. Or before the world knew they were an item, imagine the value to a foreign power of a tape of the president's 3 a.m. telephone sex with Monica. And don't forget that Bill himself -- in his infinite wisdom -- saw fit to grant his girl-toy a "Top Secret" clearance!
Since 1993, matters of security have been looked upon by Clinton & Gang as boooring. Even back then, many of the Clinton Kids without security clearances handled top-secret documents as if they were last week's pizza. Congressman Porter Goss, a former CIA agent, says the problem is "arrogance and disdain for security."

One day soon there'll be a terrible price to be paid for this almost eight-year indifference to basic security matters. Will our children and grandchild pay dues because we looked the other way while the markets were high and our wallets full?

The End