The Filegate Investigation

Article excerpt

Now that Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth Starr has determined he lacks jurisdiction to investigate White House abuse of FBI background files on more than 400 Reagan and Bush appointees, Attorney General Janet Reno is planning to turn over the investigation to the FBI itself. That is less than a satisfactory solution - to put it mildly.

This unprecedented and "egregious" - as FBI Director Louis Freeh describes it - violation of the Privacy Act could not, after all, have happened without FBI cooperation. And this is not the first time that that agency has overstepped the bounds of propriety, if not legality, in its willingness to cooperate with the Clinton White House. Senior FBI officials allowed themselves to be browbeaten by White House staffers into getting involved in constructing the Clintons' cover story for the summary firing of seven travel office employees in May, 1993. And now it turns out that for months afterwards, without batting an eye, they were merrily handing over hundreds of confidential files the White House had no business getting its hands on.

The White House responded to the initial revelations of these privacy violations with typical disingenuousness. While acknowledging it should never have happened, Clinton spokesmen laid it all at the feet of a low-level clerk, who had no idea who did or did not still need White House access and was using an outdated Secret Service list - and an order form stamped with then-White House Counsel Bernard Nussbaum's name. The Secret Service quickly jumped into the fray with the news that their lists of employees are constantly updated, and that active and inactive passholders are very clearly designated - in short, that there is no such thing as an outdated Secret Service list.

That hardly mattered in any case, once it also became known that the clerk, civilian Army investigator Anthony Marceca, was actually a longtime Democratic hack, who'd been brought on board by and was working under the direction of another veteran Democratic operative, Craig Livingstone, who worked for then-Associate Counsel, Rose Law Firm partner and Clinton crony William H. Kennedy III. …