Agency Chief Outlines Efforts to Rein in Agents Doing Double Duty as Lobbyists

Article excerpt

STUNG BY DISCLOSURES that CIA agents lobbied the White House on behalf of a businessman with a shady reputation, the nation's spy agency is drafting regulations to curtail such practices.

The proposals by CIA Director George Tenet come in the wake of testimony to a Senate committee investigating campaign finance irregularities. Not clear from the testimony is whether Tenet or other CIA higher-ups knew about the in-house lobbying.

Witnesses depicted CIA agents lobbying the White House for Roger Tamr az, a Lebanese-American oil man and banker who helped the CIA for years but also faced embezzlement charges in Lebanon. They told of two agents who retired into lucrative consulting contracts with Tamraz, and they detailed how the Democratic Party chief, Don Fowler, elicited a favorable CIA report on Tamraz. "If it's true that an outside person, such as Fowler, can call and talk to a control person at CIA and get information, that's a serious fact which shows we've got a counterintelligence vulnerability," said Bob Kerrey, D-Neb., the Senate Intelligence Committee's vice chairman. Kerrey and committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said Tenet told them he is seeking to restrict CIA agents' responses to political requests, tighten rules requiring agents to tell superiors of attempts at improper influence and limit the hiring of CIA retirees by former contacts. When CIA agents responded favorably to Democratic National Committee Chairman Fowler in the fall of 1995, they already had been lobbying for months on Tamraz's behalf with officials at the White House, the Department of Energy and other agencies. The Key Questions Sen. Robert Torricelli, D-N.J., told Tamraz, "You have succeeded in getting a degree of cooperation from the Central Intelligence Agency that would make most members of the United States Senate jealous." Lawmakers are examining these questions, among others: * Were any rules violated when Tamraz hired former CIA agents Ed Pechous and William Lofgren as consultants? Pechous, who retired from the CIA in 1995, called White House and other officials for Tamraz. Lofgren, a senior official in the CIA's clandestine Directorate of Operations, signed a report in late 1995 that omitted unflattering information about Tamraz, and apparently helped him gain invitations to meet President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore at private events. In the summer of 1996, Lofgren earned $15,000 in three months as a consultant for Tamraz. * Did higher-ups at the CIA know about its agents' efforts on behalf of Tamraz? …