Clinton's choice for top CIA job quits over Filipino

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The Independent Online
PRESIDENT Bill Clinton's choice as CIA director has withdrawn his nomination after the FBI discovered he had flouted immigration and labour laws when he brought the nephew of his Filipino housekeeper into the United States in the Eighties.

Michael Carns, a retired US Air Force general, thus joined an illustrious list of White House nominees felled by a misdeed dubbed "Nannygate" by the American press.

General Carns told US newspapers that the nephew, Elbino Runas, was not asked to perform any work and had not done so. He said Mr Runas became "hostile and very unpleasant" when he was informed that his visa could not be extended. He later made "personal allegations" about the Carns family. General Carns said in a statement that he withdrew in part because "an allegation that I failed to properly compensate a young Filipino who legally accompanied us to the United States appears substantially correct." He said he was not aware of the error until he reviewed a copy of the contract signed by his wife last week. "I believe these innocent errors may not be properly understood and will be exploited to question my competency and suitability," he wrote, adding that the principal reason he withdrew was that unspecified and unwarranted "venomous and abusive accusations" were being put forward against his wife and children.

Mr Clinton's first two choices for the post of Attorney General, Zoe Baird and Kimba Wood, were both forced to pull out after it emerged that they had failed to pay social security taxes for their housekeepers. A judge whom Mr Clinton wished to appoint to a vacant seat in the Supreme Court was passed over for the same reason, as also was a senior official at the Justice Department who was a front-runner for the post of assistant Attorney General.

More spectacularly, Mr Clinton's nominee to head the Defence Department, retired admiral Bobby Ray Inman, announced his withdrawal in January last year for similar reasons, explaining at a press conference that he had been sickened by a spate of "rush-to-judgment distortions of my record, my character and my reputation".

General Carns spoke in similar vein to the Washington Post, which quoted him as saying: "I was told in my discussions with the White House that . . . this would have been a protracted, miserable, ugly and drawn-out procedure. I said, `Hey, wait a minute, it's time to stop'."

Anticipating a sordid public exposition of his peccadilloes at the Senate hearings to scrutinise his qualifications for the CIA job he judged it wiser to cut and run.

FBI investigations had shown that in the late Eighties, at the completion of his tour as commander of the USAF base in the Philippines, he had brought Mr Rubias to live with him in the US. He had allegedly turned a blind eye when Mr Rubias, who lived on his premises, obtained a job packing groceries at an air force supermarket.

What particularly alarmed him, the Post said, was information that Mr Rubias planned to bring before the Senate "groundless" accusations of a personal nature against his family.

The White House, moving quickly to allay fresh accusations of incompetence, announced on Friday night that John Deutch, the Deputy Defence Secretary, would be Mr Clinton's new nominee for the CIA job. Mr Deutch will be the country's first foreign-born intelligence chief if his nomination is confirmed. Born in Belgium in 1938, he became a naturalised US citizen in 1946 after his family fled to France, then the US.