Magazine article Insight on the News

Snooping on Allies Embarrasses U.S

Magazine article Insight on the News

Snooping on Allies Embarrasses U.S

Article excerpt

The Clinton camp ducks alleged bugging of Seattle Insight discoveres State Department `pimp' account and foreign embassies express shock about FBI-led espionage caper.

Blackmail, lies and deceit may be the only fitting description of the 1993 Seattle Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, or APEC, summit where dignitaries from 17 countries are reported to have been placed under electronic surveillance by American agents. As Insight first reported last month, the Clinton administration is said by intelligence and security specialists -- who admitted being involved -- to have bugged the conclave and then provided classified secrets to the Democratic National Committee, or DNC (See "Sex, Spies and Videotape at Clinton's APEC Summit," Sept. 29). This in turn allegedly was used as bait to barter with potential big-buck donors for large contributions to the Democratic coffers, sources in and out of government claim.

This week the story continued to develop with new twists and turns. Former officials of the National Security Council, or NSC, and high-level economic advisers tell Insight they remain deeply concerned that classified information may have been leaked for political purposes. "That would make it blackmail," says a former senior-level Bush appointee who asked not to be identified because of an ongoing business relationship with the Clinton administration. "I find the story totally credible. I wouldn't put it past this administration."

Insight also detailed in earlier reports a series of alleged criminal activities, including the procuring of boys to engage in sexual activities with diplomats; FBI agents accepting thousands of dollars of kickbacks; and, the most serious offense, the White House providing top-secret trade information to two West Coast law firms working off the books for the DNC.

The covert mission was so large that the government purchased about $250,000 in electronic surveillance equipment, including Konica cameras, from at least three private suppliers, according to classified records reviewed by Insight. American spies then collected raw economic data on Asian businesses through agents of the FBI, the Customs Service, Naval Intelligence, the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, the NSC, and the National Security Agency, or NSA, sources say.

The FBI is believed to have bugged more than 300 locations, with electronic audio and video surveillance devices used to monitor 10,000 to 15,000 conversations -- much of it real-time data that was bounced from satellites to the NSA. The monitoring stations usually were placed near a Secret Service perimeter or Naval Intelligence facilities. And many of the targets concerned large contracts with Vietnam, sources say.

Larry Klayman, executive director of Judicial Watch, a private legal watchdog group suing the Commerce Department for trade records, suggests the bugging may be related to a possible surveillance operation on the late commerce secretary Ron Brown, suspected of taking bribes involving Vietnam contracts. But that alone doesn't explain how the DNC could have ended up with top-secret information.

Ironically, Clinton boasted that this summit was based on a new spirit of trust in U.S. relations with Canada, Australia, Brunei, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Mexico and Papua New Guinea. Little wonder that exposure by Insight of this covert mission has been met with outrage around the world.

"Is that what happened to our lumber deals?" asked George Rioux, a frustrated Canadian diplomat requesting copies of the story. Indonesian diplomat Hubudio Subardi says "Everybody who learns about it would be surprised to hear about it." Japanese Embassy spokesman Tsuyoshi Yamamoto tells Insight, "Our government has not issued any complaint," but notes Japan bitterly complained to the State Department about another publicized incident. …

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