Career Civil Servant Gets Control of Security: Office Revamped over File Searches

Article excerpt

The White House yesterday put a career executive-branch investigator in charge of all of its security operations to quell the furor over two aides' improper search of FBI background files on 408 officials of the Reagan and Bush administrations.

White House Chief of Staff Leon E. Panetta announced the appointment of Charles C. Easley as head of the new Executive Office of the President security office, just before congressional hearings on the file search began.

The White House personnel security office, which was led by Craig Livingstone, will be folded into the new office.

Mr. Livingstone is on administrative leave, drawing his salary of $57,500 per year. White House sources said they do not expect him to return.

Before yesterday's action, the White House had three personnel security offices. Mr. Easley, who for nine years has run the security detail of the Executive Office of the President, will be in charge of all security operations, including background checks of White House workers.

"The restructuring recommended by the White House counsel, when combined with the reforms already put in place by the White House counsel and the FBI, will ensure that these essential security procedures are carried out efficiently, by career professionals, in a manner that protects the individual privacy," Mr. Panetta said. Past administrations had career employees in charge of personnel security, a pattern President Clinton broke by appointing Mr. Livingstone, a Democratic political worker.

The FBI is investigating charges that Mr. Livingstone and civilian Army investigator Anthony Marceca improperly sought the files to develop an enemies list.

The FBI has determined that the files should not have been sent to the White House.

Mr. Livingstone and the White House have described the affair as a "snafu" prompted when the Secret Service delivered inaccurate lists of White House pass holders, leading the White House to conduct its own search of those on the list.

The Secret Service has rejected that account of the incident, and a former aide to Mr. Livingstone said in a House Government Reform and Oversight Committee hearing yesterday that the Secret Service list she left with Mr. …