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An 'Absolute Intention' To Cooperate

CIA nominee Lake pledges to keep Congress informed


WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, March 12) -- CIA director-designate Anthony Lake held up under a day of hostile GOP questioning and assured the Senate Intelligence Committee that it was his "absolute intention" to work with Congress, especially its intelligence panels.

"It is my absolute intention to work with you, to go beyond legal requirements, to bend over backwards to provide all information to this committee," Lake said. "And I am a man of my word, period. It cannot be firmer than that."

Lake has been under fire from Republican senators who want to know why he kept secret from Congress the administration's policy of allowing Iran to ship arms to Bosnia. Lake again apologized for his decision to do so. "I have said that was a mistake. We should have informed the Congress," he said.

Senators also wanted to know why Lake didn't know more about the briefing that FBI agents gave National Security Council staff regarding possible attempts by China to give money to congressional campaigns. "Wouldn't that have been something that the president (and) you should have known? ... Where was the failure?" Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) the committee chairman, asked Lake.

Lake replied that he thought that NSC staff had kept the information from him and President Bill Clinton to avoid the appearance of getting in the middle of an FBI political investigation.


Lake also assured the panel that he would deliver swift punishment to CIA agents caught breaking the law. "There must be discipline. There will be discipline," he said.

He will support his colleagues, Lake said, "but when they do wrong, there will be consequences." The director has extraordinary power to fire people, Lake said, and that power "will be exercised if appropriate.... People should get fired."

The Bosnian military was "not in danger of imminent collapse" when the Clinton Administration decided to allow Iran to ship arms to it, Lake told the committee this morning.

"But it certainly was heading that way," Lake told the senators in his second day of confirmation hearings. In the end, the Iranian arms didn't make the difference; an alliance between Bosnia and Croatia did, Lake said.

White House spokesman Mike McCurry said Clinton thought Lake was off to a "very good start" and expected to see him confirmed.

"The president has a very challenging foreign policy schedule coming up, and it's very important to have strong leadership in the intelligence community," McCurry said.

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