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Top Secret Intelligence Given To DNC?
Washington Post reports the White House passed along security information
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, April 8) -- The White House improperly distributed top-secret intelligence to the Democratic National Committee to block the invitation of a Latvian businessman with alleged Russian organized crime connections to a fund-raising dinner with President Bill Clinton, The Washington Post reported today.
If true, then one White House source says that would be a serious breach of national security -- and a crime. The source says the case is causing "major heartburn" for the president's aides who scrambled late into the night to figure out what happened.
Answering reporters' questions Tuesday, Clinton said that inquiries made so far into the charges give "no basis to believe it was done," but that further investigation of this "serious allegation" would take place.
The businessman, Grigori Loutchansky, had been formally invited to a 1995 $25,000-a person dinner at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., but the offer was quickly rescinded after the DNC received the information from political operatives at the White House, according to the Post.
Loutchansky's Austria-based oil exporting firm, Nordex, is suspected of being involved with nuclear arms smuggling to North Korea and Iran, drug smuggling and money laundering.
Following its 1995 request to the White House for a background check on Loutchansky, the DNC was told by the White House's political affairs office that the National Security Agency was monitoring Loutchansky's international calls, as reported by the Post.
The classified information on Loutchansky was passed along to the political affairs office by a senior National Security Council official who had, in turn, been briefed on the NSA monitoring program.
The intelligence was classified "sensitive compartmented information," meaning it was restricted to those with the highest government security clearance. But according to the Post, Loutchansky's data was distributed to several people along the NSA-NSC-White House-DNC path who did not possess high enough clearance.
The Clinton White House has been accused repeatedly of breaking down the walls between intelligence and politics in its rush to raise money last year.
But White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry said White House Counsel Charles Ruff has talked to a number of individuals in the administration and that he has "no reason to believe that top-secret intelligence information was transmitted by the White House to the DNC."
Clinton later confirmed the account: "This morning the counsel's office held a series of conversations which at the present time do not reveal any basis for believing that any sensitive information was improperly transmitted to the DNC," the president said. (298K WAV)
"But because it is none the less a serious allegation, I met with my counsel this morning and I asked him to give me some advice about what next step should be taken to look into it further. But based on conversations so far, we have no basis to believe it was done," Clinton concluded.
McCurry said that officials recalled there were procedures in place to prevent giving out intelligence. McCurry did confirm Loutchansky was disinvited from the fund-raiser as a result of a warning from the White House. "I think the White House indicated it would be preferable if he not attend," McCurry said.
Loutchansky's attorney, Thomas Spencer Jr., told the Post that reports of his client's mafia connections were "an outrageous, false allegation." Now living in Israel, Loutchansky has been barred from entering the U.S., Great Britain and Canada.
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