Accuracy in Media

We have commented that an underreported aspect of the Ken Starr report is the testimony that Clinton claimed that a foreign embassy was tapping his telephones, including his phone sex with Monica Lewinsky. Whether true or not, it raises the question of whether Clinton’s conduct made him a security risk and a potential target of blackmail. It is clear that the man has a personality disorder, is fascinated with sexual perversion, and may even have a sexual addiction. All of this makes it questionable whether he would be entitled to a security clearance under federal security guidelines. But the media seem reluctant to even raise the issue.

These guidelines can be found in the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 32, Chapter 1, Part 147. They are supposed to apply to all civilian and military personnel. They make it clear that the kind of conduct Clinton engaged in makes a person open to pressure and blackmail. Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists deals extensively with the issue of government security and secrecy. We asked what he thought about the reference in the Starr report to a foreign embassy monitoring Clinton’s phone conversations. He wasn’t aware of it. But upon reflection, he said he thought it might have been a pretext that Clinton used to try to keep Lewinsky quiet about the relationship. But what about the relationship itself? Didn’t its secret and bizarre nature make Clinton a security risk who should have been denied access to classified information?

Despite the fact that the security guidelines apply to all civilian and military personnel, Aftergood said that they don’t really apply to the president, “The president is cleared [in a security sense] by the voters,” he said. By electing him, he indicated, the voters have given him their trust and want him to have access to our most closely guarded national secrets. However, he acknowledged that an ordinary citizen might have problems in getting a security clearance if he or she had engaged in the same kind of behavior. The issue, he said, is not so much the morality of the conduct as it is the potential for blackmail.

So, for all practical purposes, the president is above the law. That seems to be what Aftergood is saying. But it really is an old story. Former FBI agent Gary Aldrich’s book Unlimited Access states, “The only people at the White House not required to have extensive background investigations conducted by the FBI are the president and vice president and their immediate families, and yet, perhaps under certain circumstances, they are the ones who need a proper vetting most of all.” His book documents how the Clintons dismantled the security system at the White House and refused to repair it. And all of it was written before the Lewinsky scandal broke.

Eventually, some in the media were forced to concede that there were security breeches when a number of shady characters got into White House coffees with the president as part of a Democratic Party fundraising effort. Now the shadiest character of them all has been exposed as the president himself.

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