Lewinsky Dress Test Results Are Washington's Biggest Secret
By Pierre Thomas/CNN
WASHINGTON (Aug. 13) -- Inside the FBI, Monica Lewinsky's dress is top secret. The FBI began testing the dress two weeks ago, in search of evidence of a sexual affair.
And despite the fact the results could impact the course of a
presidency, the silence from the bureau has been deafening.
One senior FBI official told CNN information on the dress "is being handled on a need-to-know basis."
Tests results are to be reported directly and only to Independent Counsel Ken Starr's office.
"The work is done and the reports on those exams are sent back to the contributor and they are the only ones who receive the reports," said Chris Ronay, a former FBI lab official.
CNN has learned bureau employees have been warned that should there be any leaks there could be lie detector tests.
"The penalties are heavy," said Ronay. "If you should leak something out or if something gets away from the official channels there are serious consequences to pay."
The DNA lab, on the third floor at FBI headquarters, got the dress on July 30.
Sources tell CNN the blue dress had a clearly visible stain on it. But it was unclear what that stain was.
But by now, experts say, the FBI lab should at least know what is on the dress. The more sophisticated test to match DNA takes weeks and lab officials would need a DNA sample from Clinton for comparison.
Sources say only a limited number of lab professionals know the results of the initial testing, perhaps a handful.
Why is the FBI so concerned? The case has immense political ramifications. And the Independent Counsel statute calls for such investigations to be separate from the Justice Department and the FBI leadership.
Equally important, the bureau does not want to be in a position to perceived as undermining Starr's investigation.
Some legal experts say Starr may not want Clinton to know anything about the dress prior to his grand jury testimony set for Monday.
And the FBI does not want to be accused of tipping off the president. But how long can the secret hold? This is Washington, a town known for leaks.