Frank Gaffney distorted Clinton's domestic security recordJuly 22, 2004 6:29 PM EDT ››› AVI ZOLLMAN
Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., founder and president of the conservative Center for Security Policy, included factual errors and misleading information in his July 22 column, "The Bad Old Days," which appeared on the center's website and on David Horowitz's right-wing FrontPageMagazine.com.
Responding to reports that former President Bill Clinton's national security adviser, Samuel Berger, had allegedly removed classified documents from the National Archives, Gaffney suggested that the Clinton administration and its employees had repeatedly engaged in "this insidious and predictably dangerous" behavior, and provided examples that he suggested were proof of such a pattern.
Among his examples, Gaffney included the claim that Professor John M. Deutch, Clinton's second director of central intelligence, was "forced to resign" for having improperly kept classified material at his Bethesda, Maryland residence. But Gaffney's chronology is wrong. The security breach was not discovered until Deutch had concluded his tenure as CIA director, according to a report issued by the agency's inspector general. Deutch left his position on December 13; the classified information was discovered at his residence on December 17.
Gaffney also included as an example the "wall" designed to restrict information sharing between intelligence agencies and law enforcement operations, holding Jamie Gorelick (9-11 commissioner and former deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration) partially responsible and naming it as a failing of the Clinton administration to adequately ensure national security. According to Gaffney, the "serious failures" that led to the September 11 terrorist attacks were in part a result of Gorelick's "insistence ... that the 'wall' ... be maintained in an even more exacting way than was otherwise required." Yet, as Media Matters for America noted on May 20, this "wall" was built before Gorelick became deputy attorney general and was retained by Attorney General John Ashcroft's own deputy, Larry Thompson.
Furthermore, Gaffney incorrectly described a Clinton-era policy designed to prevent intelligence abuses of the sort that happened in Latin America in the 1980s. Gaffney asserted, "[A]t the instigation of a close Clinton associate, then-Senator Bob Torricelli [D-NJ], the CIA was barred from using spies who had unsavory records." In fact, the policy only required that senior personnel approve the use of prospective informants with questionable backgrounds, as necessary for national security. The policy was enacted after then-U.S. Representative Torricelli (D-NJ) revealed that the CIA was complicit in illegal conduct in Guatemala, as The Washington Post reported on March 2, 1997:
Under a policy [John] Deutch established early last year, the CIA's officers for the first time must submit annual reports assessing the quality of their informants and generally are prohibited from recruiting new sources implicated in human rights abuses or criminal behavior. Senior CIA managers can approve recruiting such persons, but only for national security reasons.
Gaffney served under President Ronald Reagan as assistant secretary of defense for international security policy and was deputy assistant secretary to Richard Perle. He is also a columnist for The Washington Times and the Heritage Foundation's website, Townhall.com, and is a contributing editor to the conservative National Review Online.