Thursday, May 25, 2000 - 1:30 p.m. EDT
Rear Adm. Quigley: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I have several announcements today to start off with. The secretary will be traveling the next few days, beginning tomorrow with a trip to Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey, where he will tour the facility and observe technology demonstrations of some of the work there. That visit will be followed by a stop in Bath, New York, where he will deliver remarks at the first anniversary ceremony for the Allison Henry Dormann Library. And then on Sunday, May 28th, the secretary will join some 350,000 racing enthusiasts at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the 84th running of the Indy 500, where he will deliver remarks at the opening ceremony.
Monday at 11:00 Secretary Cohen will join President Clinton for a presidential wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery. And additionally, the secretary has directed that the president's "National Moment of Remembrance" be included in all Department of Defense-sponsored Memorial Day activities around the world.
And finally, on Wednesday, the 31st, Secretary Cohen will host the first annual Military Family Forum here at the Pentagon. The one-day forum will bring together 100 service members and their spouses selected by each service from bases and installations around the world. The forum will provide another opportunity for Secretary Cohen and his wife, Janet, to meet with military families and hear their views about quality-of-life initiatives and best practices. Portions of the forum will be open to the press and we will issue a press advisory with more details next Tuesday.
Next, Deputy Secretary of Defense Rudy de Leon will travel to California this Memorial Day weekend to give the keynote speech at the Green Hills Memorial Cemetery's Memorial Day activities at Rancho Palos Verdes. This event is open to the media. And also during his trip out West, he will visit the Palmdale Airfield on Tuesday, the 30th, for a brief tour of Boeing's X-32 Joint Strike Fighter prototype, and Lockheed-Martin's X-35 Joint Strike Fighter prototype. And we are still trying to work out details where we're trying to put together an opportunity for the media to meet with Secretary de Leon following his visit to both of those prototypes.
Next, the secretary has announced the president's nominations for promotion to Navy rear admiral, lower half, and copies of the Blue Top are available following the briefing with the list of those names.
And finally, I'd like to welcome a special guest today who has been visiting with us in Public Affairs yesterday and today, Mr. John Pitt-Brooke, who many of you may already know, as he is Mr. Bacon's counterpart for the United Kingdom military forces. Officially, he is the director-general of Corporate Communication in the U.K. Ministry of Defense. Actually, he's the very first director in this new position, and he is responsible for all elements of the Ministry of Defense and armed forces communication. He's been with us getting a first-hand look at how we in DoD conduct public affairs programs and has been meeting with all the service chiefs of information.
So now you know who you'll be talking to, you might look for information in some of the U.K. MoD programs.
John, welcome. Again, good to have you with us.
With that, ladies and gentlemen, I'll take your questions. Charlie.
Q: Admiral, is the Pentagon going to make any security changes after the GAO came in, GAO agents came in here? Are you going to continue to let ersatz FBI agents and cops in the building, I guess --
Rear Adm. Quigley: Well, we have made -- as a direct result of the GAO's draft findings we have made two changes effective immediately today. First, law enforcement personnel from other federal agencies will no longer be able to enter the Pentagon without an escort. That's first. And second, law enforcement personnel who carry weapons will surrender their weapons to the Pentagon's Defense Protective Service upon arrival at the Pentagon. They will keep those weapons under lock and key for the duration of the law enforcement agent's visit. Exceptions to this will be extended for personnel on official personal security detail for certain officials visiting the Pentagon. And these are the folks that basically never leave that official's side without their weapons. But those are the two most immediate.
But I would also mention that we have taken several actions within the past several months or year or so to upgrade security at the Pentagon, many of which have been visible to all of us. There was a time not too long ago when it really wasn't very strictly enforced that access badges be worn visibly on your clothing, and that is now, indeed, the case. The remote delivery facility outside the mall entrance, all of us can see that under construction: that will be completed this fall and I think operating there shortly thereafter. And then all vehicles making deliveries to the Pentagon will do them there, whether they're delivering mail or food or parts or what have you. Vehicle security barriers, canine patrols, entrance turnstiles, swiping the access cards.
So quite a few upgrades have been put in place. This is very much an ongoing process. It's never done. It is always something that you take a look at and try your best to improve while at the same time trying to make it a usable office building for people to come and go and actually get business done, and those that have a need to be here.
Q: Aside from demanding that someone who shows FBI credentials be escorted into the building, how are you going to know whether or not those escorts -- whether or not those credentials are legitimate?
Rear Adm. Quigley: Again, you're trying constantly to take a very close look at the identities, the identification cards and badges that individuals will show to you. I think the GAO report is going to make all of the federal agencies that were listed as part of its findings take a good, hard look at their procedures. I know we are. And we'll do the best job we can and take those recommendations to heart and try to improve the process in every way that we can.
Q: Could this happen again today?
Rear Adm. Quigley: I would never say never, Jamie. I mean, if a person has a concerted desire to somehow get into the Pentagon, they'll find a way. But there are levels of access within the Pentagon that we try to make it more difficult for individuals to gain access to.
Q: Well, let's just say that if someone shows up, as these congressional investigators did, with very authentic-looking law enforcement credentials, would they be able to gain access to the building today as they did a while back?
Rear Adm. Quigley: Well, again, if it's a law enforcement person, they're not going to have a no-escort-required badge. I'm on an authorized access list. I'll use me as an example. If I forget my building pass and I show my proper military identification, I'm authorized to wear a no-escort-required badge. The procedures that we have changed, as of today, are for those law-enforcement persons to be escorted at all times.
So if they are coming here without prior coordination, they need to go somewhere and visit somebody to do the work that they are entering the building in the first place, for. So whether they would call someone from DPS or another agency, that office now has to go down and provide an escort for that law-enforcement official before they can gain access to the building. And now I have got an "escort required" badge, and I need to be with someone who is a bona fide badge-holder. So again, that process was just put in place today.
Q: Do you have any details about what these GAO officials said their business was here and what access they actually obtained --
Rear Adm. Quigley: No, I don't.
Q: -- when they were in the building?
Rear Adm. Quigley: And I -- we --
Q: Because the GAO said that they had access to Secretary Cohen's office, about the case.
Rear Adm. Quigley: Yeah. I don't know the details or the particulars of what sort of conversations took place; what did they say to whomever, to gain access. I don't have that level of detail. We do have copies -- I am sure many of you do, as well -- of the draft GAO report. I can't say I have gone through it in great detail. But the parts that I have seen have not shown me that level of detail. I am not sure.
Q: But when they said they had access, or gained access, to the secretary's office, are they talking about his private office? Are they talking about saying hello to the receptionist? I mean, just --
Rear Adm. Quigley: Yeah. Again, good question; I had the same one. But I don't know the correct answer to the question. I don't have that level of detail.
Q: Craig, "law enforcement personnel" was one category that used to be able to obtain access to the building without a building pass, by showing their law-enforcement credentials. Are there other categories of people who can gain access to the building without escort requirements, without having a building pass; for instance, active-duty military people who aren't assigned to the Pentagon? And are there other areas where you could be vulnerable to somebody having a very good counterfeit identification card?
Rear Adm. Quigley: Well, we have had -- prior, as a matter of fact, to the GAO report going out, there has been a revision to the administrative instruction that governs access to the building and the issuance of certain categories of passes. Whether or not you're a full-time employee that works in the building or whether you're a contractor or a cleaning crew or a variety of categories.
All individuals who just simply show up at one of the turnstiles for access to the building, should have to provide a bona fide identification. Many of them are coming here to do business with a specific person in a specific office. And if they don't have access to the building authorized, they'll call that person; they'll come down. They'll say: "Yes, I am an authorized full-access holder of a badge. I will escort this person." They give him an escort-required [badge], and off they go to do their business.
But you can have other categories of people that are indeed on an access list. Example: If we're preparing for an exercise somewhere and -- let's say six people from one of the organizations that are planning the exercise are coming up into the Pentagon to attend a planning conference for that exercise.
If their names, Social Security numbers, organizational affiliation is sent to the Defense Protective Service in advance, and then that person pulls out an ID card of some sort that says I am indeed on your access list, then that is cross-checked; if it fits, then they're given the no-escort-required badge. But there's a lot of permutations and combinations to this.
Q: I don't think I'm making myself clear, or maybe I'm just over-thinking this, but basically there are three categories of people who can get access to the building. There are people who have building passes. There are people who are -- category two would be people who are either cleared in or escorted in in some fashion. And then there was this third category of people, of which law enforcement officials were one, who could show up without an appointment, without a building pass, and, by virtue of who they were, could gain access to the building. You've just said today that you've eliminated law enforcement from that category.
Rear Adm. Quigley: Yes.
Q: I'm asking, are there other people? For instance, can any active-duty military officer, whether they have a building pass or an appointment here or not, gain access to the Pentagon simply with their military ID? Because the vulnerability here seems to be the ID card that can be counterfeited. And I'm asking if there are other people in that category, such as active-duty military?
Rear Adm. Quigley: Active-duty military that present nothing more than their military ID card can indeed gain access to the building during what you would consider normal working hours. And I think -- I'll have to check the instruction. I think it's something like 6:00 in the morning to 6:00 at night, or I'd have to double-check that, Jamie. But it's normal working hours and no weekends and no holidays and things of that sort.
Q: That begs the question, then, isn't a military ID card, which is far more ubiquitous than law enforcement credentials, isn't that even a greater potential vulnerability? If somebody can dummy-up pretty good copies of law enforcement identification, it seems to me it wouldn't be that difficult to fake a military ID, and particularly since far more people have them. And isn't that an area that needs to be addressed?
Rear Adm. Quigley: Again, I'm sure that it is being addressed as part of the ongoing review that we're doing. But you have to always walk that fine line between security of the building and the need to actually come here to do work of some sort. And there are lots of people that work in this building; there are lots of visitors every day that have a bona fide need to be here to do something. And you've got to find a middle ground where the security of the building and the individuals that work here is maintained but that actual work can -- people can come and go to accomplish the job that they came here to do in the first place. And that's always a balance that you try to achieve.
Q: Let's say in the last year, have you any knowledge, have you researched to know how many times that the DPS has picked up somebody with a false ID, somebody that entered this place with a false ID that has been found out? Do you know of any instances?
Rear Adm. Quigley: I don't know off the top of my head, but let me take that question and we'll see if we have that in our records. [No. We do not maintain such statistics.]
Q: All right. Thank you.
Rear Adm. Quigley: Barbara?
Q: I just still don't understand a couple of points. If at a security point a DPS officer determines that a federal agent has legitimate actual ID, an FBI agent or a Secret Service agent is carrying accurate legal identification, why then do these agents have to surrender -- if they're entering the building legally with their ID, why do they have to surrender their weapons? What risk do they pose in this building?
Rear Adm. Quigley: Well, again, there would be an exception to the personal security --
Rear Adm. Quigley: -- but otherwise, they have no need for that weapon in this building. And our rules will be, as of today, that that law enforcement official needs to surrender that sidearm to conduct what other business they may be coming here to do.
Q: So is it strictly an oversight that until today you let these agents enter the building with their weapons?
Rear Adm. Quigley: No. I think that --
Q: Well, what changed?
Rear Adm. Quigley: I think that it is a constant evaluation of what is the prudent and appropriate thing to do. If this GAO draft report is a stimulus for the various agencies of the federal government to take a good, hard look at their own internal security procedures, I think that's healthy. In the judgment of our own building security force today, they thought that the steps that I described earlier were appropriate and an appropriate response, at least initially, to the draft GAO report's findings. There may be more to come, but there's -- they just thought about it, and said, this seems appropriate, and there should be no need for that law enforcement official to have their weapon, except for personal security folks, while they're in the Pentagon for an hour or two to attend a meeting or conduct liaison, or whatever it is they're here to do.
Q: So this is really pretty much simply a response to a GAO report?
Rear Adm. Quigley: It certainly caused us to take a good look at our own procedures and at least in these first two instances, we just felt those changes were the right thing to do.
Q: And what are the rules now, when you have foreign dignitaries in this building, aside from any personal protection provided to them by the U.S. Secret Service, what are the rules about either their own national personal protection agent or security personnel from these foreign countries carrying weapons in this building?
Rear Adm. Quigley: I'll check. I will check and see if the change we put in place today reflected that from -- a foreign government with their official visitors as well, a prime minister or minister of defense or something of that sort. [Weapons will be allowed for personal bodyguards, however they will be accompanied at all times by a DPS officer.]
Q: And I guess I would also like to try what I think is Jamie's question one more time, which is, you've tightened the rules on federal law enforcement agents, which, albeit is a very small group of people; every day you have very large numbers of U.S. military retired enter this building. Why are you not tightening the rules for them?
Rear Adm. Quigley: I'm not saying we won't. I'm saying that as of this afternoon, we haven't. We've taken a look at the initial findings of the GAO report as well as our own ongoing review, which pre-dated this, and said these two are the right thing to do initially. But I'm sure not promising there will be no further changes. We just have to weigh that decision very carefully.
Q: Are you concerned that veterans' groups and military retiree groups will voice very loud opposition to having retirees restricted from Pentagon access?
Rear Adm. Quigley: No, that won't be the motivation. The motivation will be, what's the right thing to do.
Q: I'd like to follow on to the previous question, maybe by rephrasing it just a little bit, because I think it was a very --
Rear Adm. Quigley: The third try at Jamie's question.
Q: Well, it isn't quite the same. Unless the Pentagon wants to assert that these federal officers, who did their work in the building, the fact that they were armed presented a security risk, I think that one could be forgiven for assuming that this is just a high-profile, CYA-kind of response to get the heat off of a problem that never existed.
Rear Adm. Quigley: Well, I would turn that around, and I would look at it as, unless you can justify to me who control this building why you need to have a weapon on you as you're here to conduct other business, then I'll take your weapon and I'll keep it safe for you until you exit the building.
Q: It seems to me that turning it around really is not -- in light of the fact that there never has been a problem, that federal law enforcement officials carry their weapons all the time, why, in the absence of any new information that such possession of weapons caused a security problem, should this -- why should this new action not be seen to be just a very high-profile way of showing some kind of response that is really essentially meaningless?
Rear Adm. Quigley: Well, you repeated your question, and I'll repeat my answer. I guess we see it from different perspectives. Unless there is a good reason to have a side arm or some sort of a weapon with you to conduct your business in the building, we're taking the position that we will take custody of that while you're here conducting your other business.
Q: Well, Craig, I guess you would say -- I mean, you would say, though, that by having the official check their weapon at the door, it does provide an additional measure of security to protect you against somebody who isn't really a law enforcement official.
Rear Adm. Quigley: Yes.
Q: But assuming that they are able to get through with fraudulent credentials, at least they weren't able to bring their weapon into the building.
Rear Adm. Quigley: And there is one less weapon that's walking around inside the Pentagon, that really doesn't have a need to be here.
Q: Give this man a job.
Rear Adm. Quigley: Yes, go ahead.
Q: In Jamie's hypothetical third category of "active-duty military," as well as retirees that can just show their military ID --
Rear Adm. Quigley: Right.
Q: -- and be able to come in, have access, does that also include dependents with their ID? Do they have instant access?
Rear Adm. Quigley: Well, I will speak from my personal experience. I should do a little bit more thorough answer to your question. But when my wife comes here, I go down, and I check her into the building with an escort-required badge. But I need to be more thorough than that. Let me take that question, and I'll find out. [Military dependents with proper identification are issued no-escort-required building passes valid from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. only.]
Q: There are other agencies that conduct business in this building every day that, as I understand it, also have reciprocal agreements and can get into the building with their identification, such as intelligence people, CIA, Department of Energy, various other agencies and as such.
Rear Adm. Quigley: Attaches.
Q: Is there any change regarding their ability to get into the building if they're --
Rear Adm. Quigley: Well, not yet, Chris. But it's one -- with these two exceptions, the existing rules are what we are operating under today. But we are in fact reviewing those procedures. We anticipate having a revised instruction out, in the not-too-distant future, that will address all categories of access to the building and the issuance of badges for access.
I know there is an issue of reciprocity with other nations' attaches. For instance, if they allow access into their Ministry of Defense or whatever their defense headquarters structure is called, or if they do not, that influences our decision. So there is a variety of categories.
This instruction will be quite detailed; the existing instruction is quite detailed. But this, if nothing more, has been an increased stimulus for us to take a harder look and speed up the process.
Q: So this -- I am sorry -- so this applies strictly then to federal law-enforcement agencies, this change in regulation?
Rear Adm. Quigley: The two changes today? Yeah. I would also make a distinction. I think it was Barbara who made a point about federal, as opposed to state or city or something like that; they have never had access to the Pentagon without being escorted by someone, if they were here to conduct some sort of business; Fairfax --
Q: And what about employees of the GAO? (Laughter.)
Rear Adm. Quigley: -- County or --
Q: Will employees of the GAO ever be allowed in the building? (Laughter.)
Rear Adm. Quigley: Dale?
Q: Is this review that's being done confined to the Pentagon, or is DoD looking at access by law-enforcement officials or others to other military bases?
Is that still a matter for the base commander, or is there some new direction that's coming from this building?
Rear Adm. Quigley: No. What your -- what I have been referring to here really does govern the access to the Pentagon. We still look to the local installation commanders to be in far better position than we to ascertain what their local threat level is, what are the procedures that make most sense, whether they're Hampton Roads or San Diego or Minot or somewhere. So that is very much delegated to the local commander as the person to make the best call.
Q: Can you just tell us, though, how did you -- did you or how did you inform several law enforcement agencies this morning of this change? Do you have any reaction from them? And has there been any reciprocity withdrawn against any DoD or military personnel by federal law enforcement agencies?
Rear Adm. Quigley: Well, the notification was done -- I'm not sure that it's complete, but I know that it started this morning -- by the Defense Protective Service to the other agencies that had typically had their law enforcement officials -- DEA, FBI, what have you -- access to the building to inform them of the change effective immediately. I'm not sure that it's complete. And I am not aware of any reaction from any of the agencies yet that will certainly cause an adjustment to their procedures, although -- I mean, if they're already coming here to conduct business with someone in some office, it will require them to make an additional phone call. Instead of just showing up at that person's desk and say "I'm here" it will require them to place an additional phone call that says "I'm leaving, I'm taking the Metro, I should be at the Metro stop in 15 minutes, would you meet me?" And so there's an additional phone call required. Then the escort from the office being visited would go down and badge them, and off they'd go.
Q: Does the Pentagon have any problem with the way the investigation was conducted? Does the GAO have the authority to conduct an investigation using false IDs and that sort of thing?
Rear Adm. Quigley: I don't know the answer to the second one.
Again, I think I mentioned before that we don't have the particulars on a lot of the details of how this was all done and how this was accomplished. So I -- and again, I'm -- that would be my answer to that one, too.
I'm not sure on the authority. I don't know the answer to that question.
Q: Change of subject?
Rear Adm. Quigley: Mick?
Q: Yeah, new subject?
Q: Different topic? New topic?
Rear Adm. Quigley: Yes.
Q: What can you tell us about the inspector general's findings into charges that Ken Bacon and Cliff Bernath had violated the Privacy Act and Linda Tripp's privacy, and Secretary Cohen's subsequent course of action?
Rear Adm. Quigley: Let me go back a couple of months. Since July of 1998 the Justice Department had been reviewing the circumstances surrounding this case, and in March of this year, just a couple of months ago, responded back to the DoD inspector general that they find -- found no grounds for a criminal prosecution of either Mr. Bacon or Mr. Bernath.
Immediately after that, the inspector general issued what is called tentative findings, and that was a kind of a situation report saying, "Okay, this is where we are at the moment." The tentative findings were provided to both Mr. Bacon and Mr. Bernath. They were then given two weeks to respond back to the inspector general with any additional information, any mitigating circumstances that they felt were relevant and germane to those tentative findings which the inspector general provided to them.
They did. Both provided a response to the inspector general's invitation. When they were received by the inspector general, they were incorporated in his final report. And a couple weeks ago the final report was forwarded to Secretary Cohen.
As of today Secretary Cohen has issued letters to both Mr. Bacon and Mr. Bernath, expressing his disappointment in the carrying out of their assignments in this case.
And again, to go back a little bit further, the issue here is one of Privacy Act. In early 1998 a reporter asked -- called Mr. Bacon and asked to confirm some information that was on Linda Tripp's security form. There is a box on that form that you check "yes" or "no" as to whether or not you had ever been arrested. This information was taken in the normal course of a day and processed accordingly.
But at that point in time, due to the visibility, there was a special process in place, whereas general counsel was to always be consulted before any information was released, because of the high level of interest and the extreme high profile of the case.
In this particular case, that was not done. You always do a balancing act between the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act. You do a balancing test, I should say. And in this case, the inspector general's report -- and we have copies of that for you all, if you wish, following the brief -- the inspector general's report found that the Privacy Act was violated in this case and recommended to the secretary that he take appropriate action to Mr. Bernath and Mr. Bacon.
The secretary, like I say, for the last couple of weeks has had the inspector general's report and has been considering his options. And this letter expresses his disappointment in their judgment and calls out specifically that they should have consulted with counsel, should not have been as hasty before responding to the reporter.
But on the other hand, it also points out that there was no criminal intent. It found no criminal intent or intent to harm Ms. Tripp; that there was no influence of any outside party in their decision to release the information.
Both Mr. Bacon and Mr. Bernath, in their responses to the inspector general, again, which I will provide copies of to you after the brief, disagreed, basically, with the finding that this was a violation of the Privacy Act. And I'll let you read their words for yourself, but I'm trying to kind of sum up here. And this was simply not convincing to the inspector general, and their arguments notwithstanding, he found that the Privacy Act had been violated.
The secretary's letter to both Mr. Bernath and Mr. Bacon clearly says that in releasing this, that this was hasty, and I think the word is "ill-considered." They have -- should have concluded (sic) with General Counsel, and they did not weigh the public and private interests involved fully before releasing that information.
So the letters were given to both men today. And like I said, I have a variety of documents for you following the brief, including the inspector general investigation, both letters to Mr. Bernath and Mr. Bacon, their responses to the inspector general's tentative findings, and other things.
Now since -- (cross talk) -- let me finish.
Rear Adm. Quigley: One more thought, please. Then since this issue was all about the Privacy Act, Secretary Cohen directed one more thing to be done. There was a third letter that goes to the director of the building -- director of the privacy office here within the Pentagon. And he has directed that person to take a good, hard look at the Privacy Act training and to reemphasize the importance of the Privacy Act training to all employees in the Department of Defense and particular emphasis on those in the DoD Office of Public Affairs, so that they can receive clear-cut instruction on what the Privacy Act demands of an individual before they release information either to a private person or a member of the news media.
Those were the -- that's a quick a summary of the actions today.
Go ahead. Go ahead.
Q: I just -- if I could follow up, you said that it was found that there was no criminal intent.
Rear Adm. Quigley: Correct.
Q: Was that the IG's finding, or was that Secretary Cohen?
Rear Adm. Quigley: Justice.
Q: Oh, it was --
Rear Adm. Quigley: That was the Justice --
Q: Okay, but what did the IG determine in terms of criminal intent or attempt -- any attempt to harm Linda Tripp? Or did the IG address that?
Rear Adm. Quigley: The same thing. If you go back to the finding of the Justice Department that was provided in March of this year, they declined to prosecute on the criminal side. The DoD inspector general report finds much the same thing and also finds that there was no intent to harm Ms. Tripp, nor was there any evidence of any outside influence at all.
Q: And it will be --
Q: And if I could, if I could, if -- since the IG did find that there was a violation of the Privacy Act, why did Secretary Cohen feel that simple letters of reprimand were sufficient punishment or retribution or whatever you want to call it against both Bacon and Bernath?
Rear Adm. Quigley: Well, I wouldn't consider that an official letter expressing his disappointment in a very senior official's judgment to be a small matter. It is not.
But there are other circumstances here. This was clearly done -- and if you -- you will see this when you review the inspector general report -- that it was not intentional, it was not -- it was intentional in the sense that they knew what they were doing, but it was not intended to harm Mrs. Tripp.
It was not done surreptitiously. It was done very clearly and above board, as so many other issues. A reporter will call with a question or a request for data of some sort, and it's provided as best we can.
Mr. Bacon and Mr. Bernath, in their responses to the IG, both made a strong case that in the balancing test, they think they did the right thing. But there were procedures that were in place that were not followed, and that's specifically checking with counsel, pause for a second, because this was a very, very busy time, and make sure we're doing the right thing before information is released.
Q: Beyond these letters of censure -- whatever you want to call them -- there will be no punishment whatsoever; this is it?
Rear Adm. Quigley: No. The secretary thought about this carefully, and with the delivery of these letters to both men today, he considers the matter closed.
Q: Does it have any real --
Rear Adm. Quigley: Now it does not have an impact, Charlie, I will say, on Ms. Tripp's lawsuit against the department. That is a matter for the courts to decide, and specifically, the secretary's letters today nor the inspector general's findings have no direct bearing on that.
Q: Was any apology recommended in the secretary's letter, to Mrs. Tripp?
Rear Adm. Quigley: No.
Q: What is the reaction of the department to Mrs. Tripp's no longer being under prosecution in Maryland?
Rear Adm. Quigley: Well, kind of a separate issue, Bill. I mean, we're all very much aware of it. But it's not the issue before Secretary Cohen.
Q: (Off mike) -- okay. Then I would -- what was I was going to ask? What is her connection currently to the department?
Rear Adm. Quigley: She still is a DOD employee.
Q: (Off mike.)
Rear Adm. Quigley: Yes, working public affairs issues and projects for the Defense Manpower Data Center here in Washington, D.C.
Q: What practical or punitive impact does such a letter have on, separately, Mr. Bacon and separately Mr. Bernath, because they were in different classifications --
Rear Adm. Quigley: Well, you have a letter clearly expressing the displeasure and disappointment of the secretary of Defense in their judgment and in carrying out their duties at a very, very critical time. You need the best judgment from your key people in times of -- when it's really busy and it's really crunch time. And in this particular case, I think you'll see the language used by Secretary Cohen in the letters very clearly expresses his disappointment in their judgment and considers it --"hasty" and "ill-advised" are the words that --
Q: Does that affect Mr. Bernath's chances for promotion or salary increases?
Rear Adm. Quigley: No. Now, the two men are in different categories, with Mr. Bacon being a political appointee, Mr. Bernath a career civil servant. In Mr. Bernath's case, this will not become a permanent part of his file, of his personnel file.
Q: It will not?
Rear Adm. Quigley: It will not.
Q: Why not?
Rear Adm. Quigley: Because that is not the nature of the letter.
Q: What is the nature of the letter? This is not a letter of reprimand?
Rear Adm. Quigley: It is a personal -- it is a personal letter to both Mr. Bernath and Mr. Bacon --
Q: (Off mike.)
Rear Adm. Quigley: Well, I'll let the wording of the letter speak for itself, but you'll -- I think you'll see.
Q: It's not an official letter?
Rear Adm. Quigley: It is an official letter. It does not become an official part of his service -- or, of his personnel record. I'm sorry.
Q: So it's not a letter of reprimand?
Rear Adm. Quigley: No. That's not a correct --
Q: Well, what would you all it, then?
Q: Well, what would you call it?
Q: What is it called?
Rear Adm. Quigley: It's an official letter expressing the secretary's disappointment in judgment by both men.
Q: But you wouldn't say he's reprimanding them for doing what they did?
Rear Adm. Quigley: I would let the wording of Secretary Cohen's letter stand for itself.
Q: Can you answer the question about why it doesn't go in the permanent file?
Rear Adm. Quigley: Because it is -- there is a particular process that must be followed for a career civil servant to have such a letter included in their personnel record, and that process was not chosen in this particular case by the secretary.
Q: Why? Why?
Rear Adm. Quigley: Because he did not want to choose that route. I mean, he thought about this for a couple of weeks, he thinks this is the appropriate vehicle to express his displeasure.
Q: So that would have been a more severe action and he's chosen a less severe action.
Rear Adm. Quigley: He also weighed it against the circumstances going on at the time and their excellent performance in -- of long standing --
(Phone rings. Laughter.)
Rear Adm. Quigley: I can't accuse that of being a beeper!
(Cross talk, laughter.)
Rear Adm. Quigley: Jim?
Q: That's how you solved the cell phone problem!
Q: And just to be --
Q: The finding that there was no outside influence, by that I take it you mean there was no influence from the White House in that --
Rear Adm. Quigley: That is specifically included in the inspector general's finding, but he goes one step further as well and finds that there was no outside influence by any person or organization anywhere. I mean, you remember at the time, there were many accusations that this was somehow being manipulated by an outside third party, and the inspector general found no evidence of that at all.
Q: The secretary has regular dealings with these gentlemen, particularly Mr. Bacon. I guess he sees him on almost a daily basis. Has he called either of them into his office and had a heart-to-heart, taken them to the woodshed, if you will, or is the letter the whole thing?
Rear Adm. Quigley: The letter is the vehicle by which he expresses his disappointment in their judgment.
Q: Just to be clear, because you said this wouldn't go into Bernath's record, is that also the case with Ken Bacon?
Rear Adm. Quigley: Correct.
Q: And where is Ken today, and why isn't he here to tell us his reaction to this himself?
Rear Adm. Quigley: Well, there's a lot of this that he is just -- it's just untenable for him to answer questions on the findings of the inspector general's effort. And I volunteered. I said "Let me do this." And --
Q: Is Ken in the building today?
Rear Adm. Quigley: He was earlier. I don't know if he still is. I know he's about to leave for a vacation over the weekend.
Q: But he won't be commenting on this.
Rear Adm. Quigley: I also have a written statement from both Mr. Bacon and Mr. Bernath that will be available to you as well.
Q: Did either Mr. Bacon or Mr. Bernath offer officially or unofficially to resign?
Rear Adm. Quigley: No.
Q: Isn't this sort of a non-action?
Rear Adm. Quigley: No, I -- such letters that you're about to read here are very rare. And I know the secretary did not consider them to be a minor action at all. It is considered to be just what I've described, an official letter expressing his displeasure in their lack of judgment, in not following the rules, not being knowledgeable enough of this balancing test to come down on the right side in the inspector general's view, and to not consult with the general counsel before releasing information.
Q: But, in fact, what they did is a violation of the Privacy Act, and therefore a violation of law and a misdemeanor and punishable by law and a $5,000 fine. And you've got a career civil servant who's getting a letter that doesn't even go in his permanent file. That's sort of a non-action.
Rear Adm. Quigley: Well, the entire first part of your question goes way beyond the findings of the inspector general's report, nor of the content of the letter from Secretary Cohen to both men. The inspector general's report calls -- it says that there is a violation of the Privacy Act. But there's two issues involved here. Secretary Cohen's letter specifically states that the -- whether or not the Privacy Act was violated is a matter for the courts to decide. Ms. Tripp has already filed that lawsuit against the department, and that needs to proceed at its own pace. And his letters specifically do not address that. This needs to be addressed separately as part of the ongoing litigation.
Q: You've said several times here now that the secretary has expressed his disappointment in the lack of judgment by two senior officials, one of them being his spokesman. Is there any disconnect that you see between maintaining a spokesman in that job and the secretary of Defense having a disappointment in the lack of judgment on the part of that person? Is that not a disconnect?
Rear Adm. Quigley: Clearly, I don't think so because part of the secretary's judgment, before issuing the letters to both men, were to also weigh their otherwise outstanding service over a period of many years. So I think that very much was an element of his thinking.
Q: Did the IG report not find that there was a violation of the Privacy Act?
Rear Adm. Quigley: Yes, it did. Yes, it did.
Q: Is that not, in and of itself, a violation of law?
Rear Adm. Quigley: That is an issue for the courts to decide, Chris.
Q: So you can --
Rear Adm. Quigley: Tammy?
Q: -- violate the Privacy Act without violating the law?
Rear Adm. Quigley: The inspector general does an investigation, at the request of the secretary; provides the results and recommendations to the secretary for then, the secretary to take that information and factor it into his decision as to what he will do next. And specifically, in this particular case, the secretary found that the letters that he has now issued to both men were the vehicle that he wanted to express his displeasure with their performance but that the issue of violation of the Privacy Act was one before the courts and needed to proceed in that venue.
Q: I was just going to ask: Have members of Congress been briefed on this? And there have been some on the Hill who have been quite critical of Mr. Bacon and Mr. Bernath. And I am just wondering what their reaction to this was when they were briefed?
Rear Adm. Quigley: Well, the answer to the first part of the question is yes, but I don't know what their reaction has been.
Q: Thank you.
Rear Adm. Quigley: Mm-hmm. (In acknowledgment.)
Q: Do you got all that stuff?
Q: Do you got all that stuff?
Staff: In Bryan's office.
Rear Adm. Quigley: In Bryan Whitman's office, there is the various pieces of paperwork that I referred to during the brief.
Q: Including the letter from Cohen?
Rear Adm. Quigley: Yes, sir.
Q: You quite rightly ruled me -
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