On the first day of President Clinton?s Senate trial, Washington Post columnist Jim Hoagland dropped a bombshell which, if pursued, could result in Clinton?s conviction and removal from office. He urged the Senate to examine “one corner” of the Lewinsky scandal that hasn?t gotten much media attention.
He wrote, “Clinton recognized in a telephone conversation with his young paramour that foreign intelligence organizations could, without much trouble, be listening in on their phone sex and other musings, according to Lewinsky?s detailed and unchallenged testimony.” In his January 14th column, Hoagland went on to say, “What then did the president do to protect himself, and national security, from blackmail and damage, other than propose an absurd cover story to Monica?”
Does this sound like something that might come close to a high crime and misdemeanor? You bet. This Hoagland column gave Senate Republicans a softball they should hit out of the park. With the national security angle factored in, they can now argue for conviction on the ground that the Clinton conspiracy to conceal his relationship with Lewinsky was actually an effort to prevent the Congress and the public from discovering how a foreign intelligence service may have penetrated the White House. A vote to convict the president then becomes a vote for protecting the national security of the U.S.
This line of attack has the potential to turn the charge of “sexual McCarthyism” on its head. It will demonstrate to the American people that sexual perversion, of the kind practiced by the president, must be considered when it involves people with access to our most sensitive secrets. Clinton can be exposed before the American people as someone who put his own sexual appetite before the national security of the U.S. This shows he is callous toward the “people?s business” he claims to be so busy on.
The big questions are: which foreign intelligence agency or agencies monitored the affair? And what did they do with this blackmail material? Was Clinton blackmailed? And how did Lewinsky get a top secret clearance in the Pentagon anyway? Hoagland?s attention to this matter is welcome, but it is actually an old story. Independent counsel Kenneth Starr had reported that, according to Lewinsky, the president had “told her that he suspected that a foreign embassy (he did not specify which one) was tapping his telephones, and he proposed cover stories. If ever questioned, she should say that the two of them were just friends. If anyone ever asked about their phone sex, she should say that they knew their calls were being monitored all along, and the phone sex was just a put-on.”
At the time, we commented on this aspect on the scandal. John Fund of the Wall Street Journal also mentioned it. In general, however, the major media ignored it, almost as if they recognized that it had the potential to expose Clinton as a traitor himself and shake the very foundations of our government. It turns out that Clinton?s relationship with Lewinsky put him in violation of his own executive orders and presidential directive regulating access to classified information. He was a security risk to his own government.