Testimony 'risk for presidents'

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The Independent Online
A GROUP of former American secret service agents has told a United States appeals court that a president's security could be jeopardised to the point where he risks assassination if members of Bill Clinton's security detail are required to testify.

The view of the 12 agents, all of whom once guarded presidents, was contained in a document submitted to the appeal judge last week, but made public only yesterday.

The agents, quoted by their lawyers, said that it was their unanimous view that obliging agents to testify would "lead inexorably to the successful assassination of another American president in our lifetime". It would threaten "the safety of all future as well as living former presidents". Their argument is that a President would be reluctant to give secret service agents the access and proximity they need to guard him effectively, if he thought that they might be potential witnesses against him. The same point was made recently by former President Bush.

The appeals court is considering whether agents should be forced to testify before a grand jury in the Monica Lewinsky case. Ms Lewinsky is alleged to have had an affair with President Clinton when a White House trainee, and to have lied about it under oath.