Clinton seeks to defuse files controversy
Thursday 20 June 1996
The move came as Congress opened new hearings into what has been dubbed "Filegate" - the mystery over how and why White House political operatives in 1993 and 1994 sought and obtained confidential FBI background files on more than 400 people, some of them prominent Republicans, purportedly to "update lists" of people with access to the White House.
The new security chief will be Charles Easley, a Reagan-era appointee picked to avoid the slightest hint of partisanship. As a further safeguard, the White House said, anyone whose file could be needed will henceforth have to give written consent before it can even be requested from the FBI.
But this latest exercise in damage control had little impact on Capitol Hill where a Republican-controlled House Committee began hearings into the incident, tailored to cause maximum election year discomfort for the Clinton camp.
"Was this part of a larger pattern to compromise the FBI," thundered the committee chairman, William Clinger of Pennsylvania, as he opened proceedings, "or part of an all-too-familiar pattern of incompetence and incredibly misman- aged record-keeping
The latter, insists President Bill Clinton, who has described the incident as a "straightforward bureaucratic snafu". However, subsequent revelations cast doubt on that assertion. Far from being a petty bureaucrat, Craig Livingstone, the official who sought the files, was a battle-hardened Clinton campaign operative. Anthony Marceca, the aide who actually obtained them, transpires to have been not a humble Pentagon clerk on temporary secondment - as the White House said initially - but also a lifelong Democratic Party worker.
To the intense relief of the White House, the fiasco will not be coming under the scrutiny of the Whitewater special counsel, Kenneth Starr, who told the Justice Department this week that he lacked jurisdiction to carry out the investigation.
Far more than raucous Republicans on Capitol Hill, or the continuing fuss over the sacking of the White House travel office in 1993, it is Mr Starr's relentless digging in Little Rock and Washington that poses the real threat to the Clintons: possible criminal charges against several of their close aides and, in the very worst case, indictment of the First Lady, Hillary Clinton, for perjury or obstruction of justice.
Only yesterday for instance, Bruce Lindsey, one of the President's closest advisers and treasurer of his 1990 gubernatorial campaign in Arkansas, was named an indicted co-conspirator in the case Mr Starr is bringing in Little Rock against two smalltown bankers charged with illegally channelling $13,000 into that campaign.
None the less, the files affair could prove more than just another campaign year flap. The intricacies of Whitewater proper may surpass most mortal understanding, but misuse of confidential FBI information is all too easy to understand, for generations of Americans summoning the ghosts of Richard Nixon, Watergate and "dirty tricks" past. Once again the spotlight has been turned on the "character" question.
Leading article, page 15
New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain
By performing as African Americans or Indians, white people get to play act a kind of 'imaginary liberation', writes Michael Mark Cohen
New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning
Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy
- 1 'Nasa Confirms Six Days of Darkness in December': No, they don't - it's a hoax
- 2 Canadian actor punched in face after 'Islamophobia' experiment goes wrong in wake of Ottawa shooting
- 3 Topshop at centre of row over body image as 'shocking' skinny mannequin photo goes viral
- 4 Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson criticised for beer tweet
- 5 The bubble bursts for Sodastream
'Nasa Confirms Six Days of Darkness in December': No, they don't - it's a hoax
Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson criticised for beer tweet
Halloween 2014: From the Screaming Man of Pluckley to the 'White Lady' of the Tower of London - Britain's 20 most haunted places
The bubble bursts for Sodastream
Russian politician says Apple CEO Tim Cook should be 'banned' from country after coming out as gay
Pope Francis declares evolution and Big Bang theory are real and God is not 'a magician with a magic wand'
Huge surge in Ukip support after EU funding row, according to new poll
Ukip ‘exploiting grooming scandal’ to secure party’s first police chief
Nigel Farage: 'There’s nothing wrong with white people blacking up'
Maureen Lipman says 'she can't vote Labour while Ed Miliband is leader'
Muslims, immigration and teenage pregnancy: British people are ignorant about almost everything
£40000 - £65000 per annum + bonus + benefits + OT: Ampersand Consulting LLP: M...
£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: The JobAt ...
£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Calling al...
£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: EYFS Teachers - East Essex...