Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

CIA Nominee Says He Wasn't Told of Fbi's China Inquiry `I Should Have Been Informed,' Lake Tells Panel

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

CIA Nominee Says He Wasn't Told of Fbi's China Inquiry `I Should Have Been Informed,' Lake Tells Panel

Article excerpt

Anthony Lake said Tuesday that as President Bill Clinton's national security adviser he was never told by subordinates about FBI suspicions that China was looking to influence U.S. congressional elections.

"On a matter of extraordinary importance such as that, I should have been informed and the president should have been informed," Lake said at the opening of long-delayed Senate hearings on his nomination by Clinton to head the CIA.

Testifying vigorously on his own behalf after months of Republican criticism, Lake told the Senate Intelligence Committee he would uphold the highest standards as CIA director and keep lawmakers informed. He acknowledged, though, that he should have told lawmakers about a 1994 policy change that secretly endorsed allowing Iranian arms to flow to Bosnia. On the allegations of Chinese forays into U.S. elections, Lake declined to condemn his two subordinates, who still work for the National Security Council under his successor in the White House, Sandy Berger. "They had to make a judgment based on the information and what they were told," Lake said. "I don't want to hang them out to dry here." White House officials are under general instructions that "we not deal with (the Justice Department) or FBI on matters that could be under investigation because it would look as if we were trying to bring inappropriate influence on them," Lake said. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., the committee chairman and Lake's chief protagonist, expressed surprise that Lake had done no investigating as to why his staff failed to pass on the FBI report. "Wouldn't that have been something that the president (and) you should have known? . . . Where was the failure?" Shelby asked. Shelby has not linked Lake directly with the fund-raising scandal, although the possible involvement of security council staff is an area that his committee's investigators say will be explored further. Clinton said Monday that if he had received such a warning, the aggressive fund-raising tactics used as part of his re-election campaign might have been conducted with more caution. …

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