Fund-Raising Scandal Trickles Down To CIA
Agency's 1996 political activity pushes reform effort into gear
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Sep. 29) -- The Senate hearings investigating alleged campaign-finance abuses by the Clinton White House and the Democratic Party have trickled down to the CIA.
Embarrassing testimony by witnesses revealed CIA operatives lobbying on behalf of Roger Tamraz, a long-time agency source who donated at least $300,000 to the Democratic Party. Witnesses also described CIA retirees accepting high-paying consulting jobs with Tamraz, who is wanted on an embezzlement charge in Lebanon.
The revelations have prompted an internal review at the agency with CIA Director George Tenet reporting to the Senate Intelligence Committee on how to prevent such incidents in the future.
CIA Inspector General Frederick Hitz is examining the broader issue of just how deep inappropriate lobbying problems go at the CIA.
In March, Tenet focused on campaign-finance issues in response to allegations that CIA officers had responded to "improper contacts and inquiries" by then-Democratic National Committee Chairman Don Fowler.
Recent testimony has shown that agency employees were vouching for Tamraz months before any call came from Fowler. The employees contacted officials at the White House, the Department of Energy and other agencies on behalf of Tamraz, witnesses said.
As the questions of who, what, why and how much are tossed around, few things are clear. The Democratic Party's goal was contributions. Roger Tamraz' goal was a quiet nod from the U.S. or at least no opposition to his pipeline project. Both goals were achieved. How the CIA fits in is less than clear.
Republicans assert the agency caved into the Democratic Party in deference to the president. Democrats question the individual motivations of CIA employees and their desire to retire and then assume lofty, well-paid consulting positions with Tamraz.
Tamraz suggested the CIA was just showing gratitude for his help, according to portions of his sworn deposition obtained by The Associated Press. Tamraz said the CIA employees asked themselves, "'Can we give him anything back?'... So it's in this atmosphere that they tried to say, 'OK, if we can help, all right.'"
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Monday Sept. 29, 1997
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