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US

CIA suspends former director's security clearance

August 21, 1999
Web posted at: 8:37 a.m. EDT (1237 GMT)

From staff and wire reports

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The CIA has suspended the security clearance of former director John Deutch because he kept classified files on an unsecured home computer.

CIA director John Tenet revoked Deutch's clearance after an internal agency investigation determined that Deutch kept classified materials on an unsecured government computer provided for his use at home. The sanctions mark the first time in recent history such an action has been taken against a former public official of Deutch's stature.

Deutch served as CIA chief from May to December 1996. During his 38 years of government work, he also served as a deputy defense secretary under Defense Secretary William Perry.

National Security Council spokesman David Leavy said the White House supports the sanctions, although President Clinton "feels John has served his country admirably for many years."

Deutch is now a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where the lectures on national security issues.

He issued a statement Friday saying that he accepted "responsibility" for his mistake. He said he "never considered the information to be at risk, or intended to violate security procedures. But good intentions simply aren't enough."

Parallels drawn to Lee case

Analysts also say the CIA may be trying to set an example within the intelligence community because of the case of nuclear scientist Wen Ho Lee, suspected of providing China with information about U.S. nuclear weapons research.

Lee, who worked at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, denies the accusations. He has not been charged with any crime, but he was dismissed from his job after investigators said he moved classified files to an unsecured computer.

"There was no way they could conceivably explain letting Deutch off the hook," according to John Pike, an intelligence specialist at the Federation of American Scientists.

Lee's attorneys have privately sought to draw parallels with Deutch's situation, and they argue that Lee should not be prosecuted because the former CIA director wasn't.

The Justice Department declined in April to prosecute Deutch, but it said the CIA should review his "continued suitability to hold high-level security clearances."

The CIA does not usually announce suspensions of security clearances, but did so this time because of prior news coverage about the case, officials said.

Reuters contributed to this report.



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