DEFENDING AMERICA
David H. Hackworth
17 March 98

LOOSE LIPS, SINK SHIPS..

While at the Pentagon, Monica Lewinsky traveled with Defense Secretary William Cohen, sat in on briefings where the highest secrets were discussed and routinely handled highly classified documents ­ top-secret documents, which, if they fell in the wrong hands, could put America at high risk and cost the lives of our warriors.

But no sweat. Lewinsky had all the appropriate clearances, right?

No doubt her background had been thoroughly checked out by investigators. Or perhaps she'd been given a top-secret clearance in a hurry on order of a high White House official, thus expediting her transfer from the White House firing line to safer turf in the five sided puzzle palace.

Bet on the second scenario and you've got a winner.

A Pentagon source says that Lewinsky was given an instant top-secret clearance, that "they rushed her clearances through and she didn't get the normal fine-toothed security combing."

Another Pentagon security source reports the White House is "spy heaven."

He says "Bill Clinton delegates clearance approval to White House flunkies who waive all sorts of criteria. A standard background investigation would have picked up Monica's promiscuity and devious nature in a heartbeat."

Normally, a security background investigation takes months. Investigators dig into every corner of your life. Did you cheat at marbles when you were 10? Were you a straight arrow in high school? Did you drink too much beer while at college? Were your mother and father stable and all-the-way-with-the-U.S.A.?

Yet, Lewinsky received her top-secret clearance in days. All her dirty laundry was left in the basket. Nothing came out about her college affair with a married teacher who says she "stalked" him using "emotional blackmail" to trap him into continuing their romance or her mailing him White House documents that could have national security implications or her being accused of being a "scheming truth-mangler."

Lewinsky was awarded one of the Pentagon's highest security clearances even though she was considered by White House insiders to be a flake with poor work habits.

And now the same White House gang that got her a quickie top-secret clearance is whispering she's an "unstable air head."

Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., providing the overworked White House Spin team with fire support, said "The poor child has serious emotional problems." He went on to say that she lives in fantasyland. "And I haven't heard she plays with a full deck."

Those in power should have checked out her background and where her head was at rather than where her body had been prior to hiding her in the Pentagon to shuffle through secrets of state like they were pages in her date book.

A former CIA agent says "The Clinton administration has played fast and loose with the rules. Given their politicized approach to intelligence and security matters, it wouldn't surprise me if a lot of people at the White House besides Monica Lewinsky had not been properly vetted for security clearances."

CIA Director George Tenet recently said "The executive branch leaks like a sieve." He told a Senate committee that "there are people all over this executive branch who have violated a trust."

According to former CIA and FBI agents, there are hundreds of security political appointee timebombs inside the Beltway. Take John Huang, formerly of the Commerce Department and now inches away from the slammer. He also had a top secret clearance. During an 18 month period, Huang received 37 personal briefings from the CIA and eyeballed thousands of secret documents. Frequently after a briefing, he was quickly on the phone to Indonesian, the land of his birth. When he was reassigned to the Democratic National Committee to raise money, he set a new record: the only Commerce Department employee ever to retain his top secret clearance after departing.

With such a loose security program, it's no wonder that an Iraqi spy recently passed information from the Pentagon to a senior intelligence official in Baghdad about the planned February U.S. air attack on Iraq or that a well dressed dude popped into an office near Madeline Albright and carted off a briefcase full of secret documents.

Congress should give Sexgate a miss. The real issue should be Securitygate. Right now it's wide open and our secrets are taking a walk.

THE END