Czech It Out

By Stein, Jonathan | The Nation, February 7, 1994 | Go to article overview

Czech It Out


Stein, Jonathan, The Nation


Remember Passportgate, the scandal that arose after Bush allies like Representative Robert Dornan started slinging mud about student Bill Clinton's 1969 visit to Eastern Europe? The improper use of Bill Clinton's State Department file by the 1992 Bush campaign is the subject of a report by independent counsel Joseph DiGenova, due to be released in the next several weeks. Here's hoping someone on DiGenova's staff speaks Czech. New evidene in Prague suggests that the scandal, far from being limited to unauthorized viewing of a passport file, involves the Bush campaign's illegal recruitment of a foreign intelligence service to do its dirty work--and the possible collusion of U.S. State Department officials in Europe.

According to recent reports in the Czech press as well as interviews, with officials, the Bush campaign, apparently working through State Department employees in the U.S. Embassy in Prague, solicited and received direct assistance from the Czechoslovak intelligence agency, the Federal Security and Information Service (F.B.I.S.), in the weeks immediately preceding the election. Jarozlav Basta, former deputy director of the F.B.I.S., now says the agency investigted Clinton's Prague contacts at the behest of the Bush campaign. The Czechs reportedly supplied the Bush team with detailed information concerning young Clinton's hosts and were the source of Representative Dornan's hysterical accusation that the K.G.B. had given Clinton a lift into Prague from the airport.

It's hard to find a more credible source than Basta, chairman of the opposition Social Democrats' Commission on Security. An archeologist by training, he was jailed in the early 1970s after organizing protest strikes against Soviet occupation and went on the become an original Charter 77 signatory. In May 1990, joining a wave of former dissidents entering government ministries, he went to work for the post-Velvet Revolution intelligence service. He was forced out of the F.B.I.S. in 1991 after complaining to President Vaclav Havel of politicization of the F. …

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