Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Lies and the Lying Liars

Dana Perino edition.

Dear Mr. Fielding:

Last week, I wrote the Vice President about evidence that he violated Executive Order 12958 by blocking the National Archives from conducting security inspections in his office. In response, White House spokesperson Dana Perino said: “The president and the vice president are complying with all the rules and regulations regarding the handling of classified material and making sure that it is safeguarded and protected.” She asserted that the only part of Executive Order 12958 that was not being followed by the White House and the Vice President’s office was the “small portion” giving oversight responsibilities to the Information Security Oversight Office of the National Archives.

I have received information that casts doubt on these assertions. There is evidence that both the White House and the Office of the Vice President have flaunted multiple requirements for protecting classified information, not just the section related to the responsibilities of the Information Security Oversight Office. According to current and former White House security personnel who have contacted my staff, White House practices have been dangerously inadequate with respect to investigating security violations, taking corrective action following breaches, and physically securing classified information.

I have received information that:

• White House security officials have been blocked from inspecting West Wing offices for compliance with procedures for handling classified information. The White House has its own security office that functions independently of the Information Security Oversight Office in the National Archives. According to several security officials who have worked in this White House office, the Bush White House blocked the White House security officers from conducting unannounced inspections of the West Wing. This is a departure from the practices of the prior administration, which allowed these inspections.

• The White House regularly ignored security breaches. The security officers described repeated instances in which security breaches were reported to the White House Security Office by Secret Service or CIA agents, but were never investigated. In one case, the White House Security Office took no action after receiving a report that a White House official left classified materials unattended in a hotel room. In numerous instances, reports that White House officials left classified information on their desks went uninvestigated.

• The President’s top political advisor received a renewal of his security clearance despite presidential directives calling for the denial of security clearances for officials who misrepresent their involvement in security leaks. Under guidelines issued by President Bush, security clearances should not be renewed for individuals who deny their role in the release of classified information, regardless of whether the disclosure was intentional or negligent. Contrary to this guidance, the White House Security Office renewed the security clearance for Karl Rove in late 2006.

• The White House has condoned widespread mismanagement at the White House Security Office. According to the White House security officers, the White House allowed the White House Security Office to be run by managers who ignored basic security procedures and allowed other White House officials to do so also.

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