White House Denounces New Book As Fabrication
Aide calls it a pre-election 'smear campaign'
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Critics are chipping away at the sensational allegations contained in a new book by a former FBI agent who worked in the Clinton White House.
Author Gary Aldrich, who retired from the FBI in 1994 after 30 years as an agent, said he would swear under oath to anything in "Unlimited Access: An FBI Agent Inside the Clinton White House."
He said he would be willing to go before Congress to reveal his sources and back up his insider tales of sloppy White House security and alleged former drug use by some officials, including a senior staffer.
But critics charge the book is politically motivated and full of falsehoods.
Among its allegations: that President Clinton sneaks away from the White House for secret late-night romantic trysts.
Newsweek Correspondent Michael Isikoff said he found the only source for the allegation was conservative journalist David Brock, who had told Aldrich it was only a rumor.
"This conforms to no standards of journalistic sourcing whatsoever. It is simply a recycled and garbled rumor," Isikoff said.
Conservative columnist George Will, who quizzed Aldrich on ABC's "This Week With David Brinkley," said Brock told him he was "appalled" to see the unverified rumor published.
"I never knew I would be used as a source," Brock, a writer for the American Spectator, told Newsweek. He said he had traded "wild speculation" about such alleged presidential outings with Aldrich and didn't know he would put it in his book.
Aldrich said he only included the story as an allegation to be further investigated, and he wouldn't confirm or deny that Brock was the source.
"Can't someone say that in fact your book is a raw file and that you have gone into print with the kind of evidence that no prosecutor would ever go into court with?" Will asked Aldrich.
"This is not a case presented to a grand jury," Aldrich replied, saying he had relied on his observations and untaped interviews for his book.
Clinton adviser George Stephanopoulos called Aldrich a "pathological liar" on Sunday TV talk shows.
"His story couldn't get past the fact checker at the National Enquirer," Stephanopoulos complained.
He blamed the book on Republican dirty politics, citing as an example the fact that Aldrich's public relations is handled by Craig Shirley, a man the White House calls a Dole campaign adviser. (119K WAV sound)
"This is a coordinated effort, a Republican smear campaign 18 weeks away from an election," Stephanopoulos said.
"If Senator Dole doesn't want to be associated with this, be complicit in this character assassination campaign, he can denounce the book, he can denounce Gary Aldrich, he can denounce Craig Shirley."
Dole bites back
The Dole camp responded to Stephanopoulos with an angry statement issued Sunday.
"If Bill Clinton's top aides are confused about who is on the Dole payroll, they must be reading the wrong FBI files," said the statement which identified Shirley as a volunteer for the campaign.
"I did some volunteer work for the Dole campaign months ago," Shirley said. "But the fact is, this is the classic White House bait and switch. They won't deal with the facts of Gary Aldrich's book."
Given the stir the book has created since its release, it's likely that lots of people will be dealing with the information, at least until November.
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