Pentagon Can't Find Deutch Disks


Tuesday, October 10th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


WASHINGTON (AP) — Ex-CIA chief John Deutch's awkward assembling of a private journal with classified information began during his earlier job at the Pentagon, and investigators have been unable to locate the computer diskettes where he stored the information, officials say.

Deutch has refused to let Defense Department criminal investigators interview him about the whereabouts of the disks created during his mid-1990s stint as deputy defense secretary, officials said.

``There's no way to tell what their ultimate disposition might have been without talking to Dr. Deutch, and he has declined requests for our investigators to talk with him on this or other topics,'' Rear Adm. Craig Quigley, a Pentagon spokesman, said.

The missing diskettes are likely to focus new attention on the government's ability to protect its most important secrets, which has received extensive scrutiny after the Wen Ho Lee case at an Energy Department nuclear weapons lab.

Pentagon investigators who looked into Deutch's activities found problems with computer security inside the military.

They noted that some computers Deutch used were donated to schools with hard drives intact. Investigators located the computers and were able to recover Pentagon information on at least one.

None of the information was classified, but the investigators warned that such lax security could result in ``the improper release and use of classified or sensitive information.

``Current policy on what is required to dispose of these types of hard drives is not clear. We recommend that the department implement policy that requires the destruction of all computer hard drives, classified and unclassified, before the computer is disposed of outside the DOD,'' the investigators wrote in a draft report obtained by The Associated Press.

CIA officials already concluded that Deutch improperly recorded government secrets in his private journal about his experiences as chief of the spy agency. He stored the journal on electronic storage cards while he was CIA director.

While the storage cards he used at CIA have been recovered, the Pentagon was unable to locate the diskettes Deutch created during his Defense Department days, when he began the journal, officials said Monday.

The Pentagon has been conducting a damage assessment to determine if his action endangered national security. The Justice Department also is investigating whether criminal charges are warranted.

Deutch's lawyer would not comment Monday, citing the investigations. Deutch cooperated with the CIA probe, and earlier this year apologized for sloppy handling of classified information.

At the CIA's urging, Pentagon criminal investigators began an inquiry in February into Deutch's handling of classified information as the No. 2 defense official from 1993 to 1995.

They concluded he began compiling the journal at the Pentagon and stored it on diskettes.

``Dr. Deutch was known to transport these floppy disks in his shirt pocket,'' the investigators wrote in their draft report.

The investigators also found Deutch began to experience technical problems with the disks at the end of his tenure at the Pentagon, prompting him to change to higher-capacity storage cards at CIA.

The electronic cards can store hundreds of times more information than a single floppy disk.

According to the final draft report, Pentagon investigators also found Deutch ``declined departmental requests that he allow security systems to be installed in his residence,'' where he sometimes worked on classified documents. His home computers were sometimes used to access the Internet.

The government has not charged Deutch with any wrongdoing.

Lee, the Los Alamos scientist fired during an investigation into missing tapes at the weapons laboratory, was accused of downloading 10 computer tapes of nuclear weapons design secrets.

Unable to locate seven tapes, the government charged Lee with 59 felonies and kept him in solitary confinement for nine months while trying to build a case against him.

The government eventually reached a plea bargain in which Lee pleaded guilty to a single count of mishandling nuclear secrets. He also agreed to tell what he did with the information he admits he downloaded onto tapes and unsecure computers.

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