F.R. Duplantier reporting Behind The Headlines
Week of:
March 19, 2000
Clinton and Gore: Security Experts?

F.R. Duplantier

by: F.R. Duplantier

The Clinton-Gore Administration can't keep secrets from seeping out of the White House, but it wants to take charge of protecting the entire Internet!

"The recent binge of attacks by computer hackers on America's favorite websites has prompted former and current FBI officials to complain that the bureau has been hamstrung in its efforts to battle computer crime," reports Ivan Eland of the Cato Institute. He notes that FBI Director Louis Freeh is "pressuring Congress to make the country's telephone and computer networks more compatible with wiretaps. The proposed increase in wiretaps should raise a red flag about the erosion of constitutional liberties," says Eland, "and the question of whether the federal government should be the first line of defense against computer hackers." He concludes that computer defenses developed in the private sector "will do much more to deter and discourage hackers than increased wiretaps, which have the potential to under mine the constitutional liberties of the wider society."

The Clinton Administration, moreover, is not exactly noted for its prowess in matters of security. "Recent revelations about former Director of Central Intelligence John Deutch's mishandling of highly classified information suggest that potentially grave damage could have resulted," warns the Center for Security Policy. "Unfortunately," the Center emphasizes, "the failure by the head of the CIA to adhere to the most basic principles of intelligence is not an isolated incident. Rather, it is symptomatic of the cavalier if not actually contemptuous disregard exhibited by the Clinton-Gore Administration over the past seven years. . . ."

In a recent posting on its website (located on the worldwide web at security-policy.org), the Center for Security Policy offers several additional examples of this brazen neglect of basic security considerations. "From the earliest days of the Clinton-Gore Administration," the Center charges, "standard operating procedures for clearing individuals for access to sensitive information have been flouted. Incredibly, personnel who could not ordinarily get clearances . . . were nonetheless given temporary and, in some cases, per manent White House passes."

The Center for Security Policy criticizes "the Administration's relaxation of guidelines governing 'no-escort' access" of foreigners to Los Alamos National Laboratory, the State Department, and "other highly sensitive facilities." While conceding that "physical access procedures have recently been improved in many if not all such government- and contractor-owned sites" following revelations of espionage, the Center remains concerned that "the barn door was open for a long time."

The Center for Security Policy is especially critical of "the Administration's purposeful, comprehensive, and ongoing effort to 'share' classified information with dubious foreign nationals, governments, and multinational organizations." The Center warns that "the Clinton-Gore attitude of noblesse oblige with respect to such sharing has profound and deleterious implications for typically perishable U.S. 'sources and methods' of collecting intelligence."

The Center for Security Policy is troubled by "the dangerous impression such sharing has encouraged within the government and elsewhere that the United States no longer has enemies." It warns that the ultimate cost of "the Clinton-Gore Administration's insouciant attitude towards basic security tradecraft" is likely to be paid "in blood and national treasure."

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