White House 'ignored security breaches'

White House 'ignored security breaches'
White House 'ignored security breaches' 

By Stephanie Kirchgaessner in Washington
April 24 2007 

The White House was yesterday accused by a senior Democratic congressman 
of systematically ignoring security breaches and violations involving 
classified material, including leaving "sensitive" classified 
information unattended in a hotel room.

Henry Waxman, chairman of the House oversight committee, said interviews 
with current and former White House security personnel raised questions 
about alleged failures by the Bush administration to investigate 
security violations.

In a letter to Andrew Card, former White House chief of staff, Mr Waxman 
asked him to testify voluntarily before the House committee for 
government reform.

Mr Waxman's inquiry into White House security policies followed a 
hearing last month in which James Knodell, chief security officer at the 
White House, said his office had never conducted an internal 
investigation to identify who leaked the name of Valerie Plame,a former 
covert CIA agent, to several reporters.

The matter was investigated by a special prosecutor at the Justice 
Department, Patrick Fitzgerald, who oversaw the conviction of Lewis 
"Scooter" Libby, a former aide to vice-president Dick Cheney, on 
obstruction and perjury charges.

Mr Waxman said security officers told the House committee they were 
prohibited from conducting unannounced inspections of the White House's 
West Wing. The unnamed officials told Mr Waxman that, while security 
specialists had access to the West Wing during the Clinton 
administration, access was revoked by the Bush administration.

In one case, an unnamed senior White House official instructed the 
security office to block inspection of the West Wing by officers of the 
Information Security Oversight office, which has authority to conduct 
inspections of all executive offices.

Officials who spoke to Mr Waxman criticised Mr Knod-ell and his deputy, 
Ken Greeson, as "poor managers . . loath to inconvenience or embarrass 
White House officials". "I have to give Representative Waxman credit for 
persistence, if not creativity. We haven't arrived at any new policies 
to make Senior White House officials available to testify to Congress 
since Representative Waxman's previous letter. And I don't expect a new 
policy when we receive tomorrow's letter," the White House security 

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007

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