June 9, 1996 in Nation/World

Dole Calls Fbi Files Enemy List But The List Stops At G, White House Points Out

From Wire Reports
 

Sen. Bob Dole lashed out at the White House on Saturday for keeping “a Clinton enemies list” after learning the administration had gained access to the FBI files of more than 300 Republicans from the Reagan and Bush administrations during the early months of Clinton’s presidency.

“The group reads like a Clinton enemies list,” Dole told Republicans packed into a gymnasium here, alluding to a list maintained by the White House under President Nixon.

But Clinton deputy campaign manager Ann Lewis asked Dole to explain why “such a deliberate, chilling, all-out political effort would only go through the letter G,” referring to the fact an aide had gathered material only on people whose last names ran from A through G before leaving his White House assignment.

“The power of the presidency does not stop halfway through the alphabet,” she said, “and the fact that this search was abruptly halted at the letter G was proof that this was an overeager bureaucratic effort.”

Dole refused to accept that explanation, asking Clinton to apologize to each person on the list and to apologize to the nation “for this sad invasion of privacy.”

The files include those of such Reagan and Bush White House officials as former Secretary of State James Baker and Tony Blankley, now Gingrich’s spokesman.

White House officials said Friday that the records were obtained by the Army aide, identified as Anthony Marceca of the Army Criminal Investigation division, in 1993 and early 1994. But Marceca was working off an outdated Bush administration list of people who still were listed by the Secret Service as having access to the White House.

There is no evidence the information was ever used or that the files were even read, Lewis said.

The fact that Marceca had worked only through the letter G also shows, administration officials said, the White House had not gone out of its way to collect private information about Billy Dale, the former head of the White House travel office, who was fired.

The Washington Post quoted Marceca in today’s editions as saying he reviewed files for “derogatory information” about whether an individual presented a potential security problem. If he found information, he passed it on to Craig Livingstone, who was director of the White House personnel security office.

The New York Times reported, also today, that the FBI is saying it will change the way it makes sensitive information available to the White House, which has been able to simply requisition information.

Dole’s audience laughed when the Kansas senator told them the White House was explaining the situation as an innocent mistake. He suggested the “mistake” was not disclosed publicly until investigators examining the travel office firings “got too close to the truth.”

“I think it smells to high heaven,” Dole said. “To blame it on some innocent aide - you know, it’s always some innocent aide at the White House. … “But everything in this administration is always an innocent mistake,” he said, alluding to the Clinton’s Whitewater problems as well as the misplaced documents that keep turning up long after they had been sought by investigators.

Mimicking White House aides, Dole said: “‘We didn’t really do anything, it was just a mistake. Oh, we didn’t know it was there. Oh, we didn’t know whose fingerprints were on it.”’ Dole said the collection of Republican files could mean only one thing: that Clinton planned on waging a “very negative, dirty” campaign against him this year.

The White House explanation also didn’t wash with some of the people whose files were pulled.

“They better work on a better excuse,” said Rhett Dawson, who was President Reagan’s assistant for operations.

He said he was stunned that someone at the Clinton White House might have thought those people might still be working in the White House - for a Democrat. “Those are the kind of names you would know are not holdovers,” he said.

Elizabeth Board, who worked in Reagan’s press office, was more upset about the invasion of privacy. She said there was nothing special in her FBI file, but that doesn’t mean she wants people looking at it.

“Those FBI files, I thought, were supposed to be extremely confidential, and who knows who saw them in the Clinton administration,” she said.

The collection of FBI files is “a good case against tort reform,” quipped Reagan’s former chief speechwriter, Anthony Dolan. “I’m suddenly seeing the wisdom in large punitive damage awards.”

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