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DoD News Briefing - Rear Adm. Craig R. Quigley, DASD PA

Presenters: Rear Adm. Craig R. Quigley, DASD PA
September 21, 2000 1:30 PM EDT

Quigley: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I have two or three announcements, and then we'll take your questions.

Secretary Cohen is currently in Tokyo, Japan, on the last stop of his Asian trip, leaving from South Korea. As mentioned at Tuesday's brief, he'll meet with senior government officials there and members of the Diet, and will return tomorrow evening to Andrews Air Force Base.

From the stop in South Korea, copies of the communiqué‚ from the security consultative meeting will be distributed, available. I think we're working on it right now, and if it's not quite done, we'll certainly have it available this afternoon.

Q: Is there news in it?

Quigley: I haven't read it yet, Bob. I -- the only copy we got on the fax machine we sent to get typed up real quickly, so we could make it available.

On the DoD support to the firefighting efforts in the Western United States, the last element of U.S. service personnel are being withdrawn. These are Marines stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. There's approximately 375 of them left, and all will be back home by Sunday, the 24th. And we're very proud of their contributions to this national effort to fight the fires out west. [Clarification: In addition, about 400 Army and Air Guardsmen in 11 states remain on state active duty performing fire fighting, law enforcement and support missions.]

Next, we're pleased to welcome to our briefing today a group of 10 journalists and editors from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. They are in the United States for three weeks, under the auspices of the Department of State International Visitor program, to participate in a projected entitled the Role of the Media in a Civil Society. In addition to Washington, they'll travel to Des Moines, Albuquerque, Atlanta, and New York, where they will meet with professional counterparts at various newspapers, television stations, and schools of journalism. Welcome to you all. Good to have you with us.

And that completes my announcements.

Let me start, if I could, before I take your questions, by correcting the record on something from Tuesday. It appears that we were indeed offered two investigators from the CIA -- offered to a DoD investigator in June of 1998 an opportunity to share the information that the CIA investigators had gathered to that date on -- they were gathering on Dr. Deutch. That -- I was wrong in my characterization of the time line on Tuesday.

That offer was declined by the DoD investigator and he did not surface the offer to higher levels of leadership within the Department of Defense. He did that because, in his professional judgment, there was no constructive purpose to be served by adding a duplicative investigative effort to the ongoing effort at CIA. The investigators there were people that he knew personally and professionally; had confidence in their professional skills, and felt that the appropriate action to take and the appropriate decision to take was to contribute to their investigative work, having confidence that ultimately the final product would be shared with DoD and then we would take the appropriate action from there.

But I left you the impression on Tuesday that all that didn't happen until well after that point, and that was incorrect.

With that, I'll take your questions.

Q: Was that the correct decision by the investigator?

Quigley: We're not going to second-guess him, Bob. We hire people to make decisions every day in the Department of Defense. And we're not going to look back more than two years ago and try to figure out if that was the right decision or wrong decision. We're just not going to -- not going to try to second-guess the investigator.

Q: Who was he -- or she?

Quigley: He is a person that is no longer in federal service at this point.

Q: I mean his name.

Quigley: He retired from federal government late in '98.

Q: Where did he go?

Quigley: I don't know.

Q: What's his name?

Quigley: I'm not sure that's relevant to the -- to the issue here. I'm reluctant to do that because he's no longer in federal service.

Q: Well, it is -- it is relevant, I think, because, depending on where he went to work next, if it had anything to do with Deutch or any of Deutch's compatriots, a connection could be drawn that maybe this was done as a favor -- whatever. And so I think it would only serve to clear his name if we could know where he went on to work.

Quigley: I can't answer the second part though, Pam. I don't know where he's working now.

Q: But if you could give us his name, we can find that out.

Quigley: I'm not sure -- that's an unwarranted invasion of his own personal life now that he's no longer a part of the government.

Q: But if he made a decision two years ago --

Quigley: But, let me --

Q: -- that could have affected national security, it's --

Quigley: Let me talk to our lawyers about that --

Q: -- we should drill down to find out --

Quigley: -- and I'll see what I can do.

Q: Thank you.

Quigley: George?

Q: Continuing our colloquy. (Laughter.)

Quigley: Yes.

Q: I have here in my hand an internal menu [sic] from your inspector general of June 17, 1998, and it says, "Review of the records by the CIA IG discloses the presence of top secret -- from top secret compartment as well as DoD special access program information on his computers.

Mr. Deutch kept very thorough journals, which includes significant quantities of DoD classified and other sensitive information."

Another memo, July 20th, 1998, which goes from the Acting Inspector General Don Mancuso to the secretary of Defense, says a number of things, including, "The CIA believes it may be necessary for DoD to conduct an assessment of any possible security compromises identified in their investigation." And then he says, "Although this office is not conducting an independent investigation, we have agreed to assist the CIA." I'll stop there, saying why, given this input of very serious compromise, possibly, of DoD special information, that the IG did not conduct a formal investigation? And inasmuch as this memo went to the secretary of Defense and the deputy secretary of Defense, how can you maintain you knew nothing about this until February of 2000?

Quigley: Well, I've already told you that that was incorrect, okay? We did know, in the sense that an offer was made to share the information in June of 1998. So let's start with the 17 June memo that you have. That memo went to a lower-level supervisor of the investigator that received the offer from the CIA investigators, and that was then followed by the July 20th memo that you hold that does not indicate, in my interpretation, certainly, that there was knowledge by the deputy inspector general of the offer being made. And it goes back to what I said before, in the judgment of the investigator that received the offer in the first place, he didn't think it was necessary, didn't think it would be productive, and made the call at his level.

Now, you didn't finish reading a sentence I think is important, from the July 20th memo, that talks about -- that believes -- I'm paraphrasing a little here, but it's, believes that a "DoD damage assessment," we might want to consider doing one of those when something of the words of a "final report is in hand" or -- read that sentence, George.

Q: It says, "Secondly, the CIA believes it may be necessary for DoD to conduct an assessment of any possible security compromises identified in their investigation."

Quigley: Right. Right. That's --

Q: And if they briefed you on the investigation, why didn't you immediately launch a damage assessment probe?

Quigley: Well --

Q: Because they briefed you on his log.

Quigley: No, the offer was made to brief us on the log. A clear offer was made, investigator to investigator. We declined the offer.

The investigator also warned, as the memo indicates, that we may want to do a damage assessment, but when the final product is available. And therein starts the misunderstanding, I think. At that point, the memo implies that we're going to wait until the CIA investigation is complete. At that point, we may wish to do a DoD damage assessment.

Now in fact, that's what we actually did in February of this year, but the problem lies in that we were offered the opportunity to learn that information at a much earlier date, in June of 1998, and we declined.

Q: But you're also stuck with the statement by Secretary Cohen saying in February was the first time he learned about it, and this memo says he got this memo on July 20th, 1998.

Quigley: Well, the first -- what Secretary --

Q: Maybe it got lost in the "in" basket. I don't know, but --

Quigley: Yeah, but I mean, if you -- in all fairness to the investigators from the CIA, they made an offer to the Department of Defense, and that was their counterpart in the investigative side of the house over here, at DoD. That offer was declined, and the offer was -- it was not communicated to higher levels of leadership within DoD that the offer was ever made.

Q: I know what you're saying --

Quigley: So when -- in February of 2000, when Secretary Cohen indicated that this was the first time that we'd had an opportunity to take a look at the investigative products from the CIA, we all believed that was a true statement. But now we know that that was not correct.

Q: But the flag was waved at him -- a flag was waved at him, through this memo, that you had problem. In other words, you had a fire in your house, but you didn't bother calling the fire department.

Quigley: Well, again, I think the memo in its totality indicates that there is an ongoing CIA investigation under way. We've been asked to facilitate access to some of the DoD records that would contribute to the knowledge of the CIA investigators. And we may want to do a damage assessment when the report is in hand.

That's what that memo to the secretary says.

Q: That's not the way I read it. At any rate, the Mark Spaulding memo, which we just were talking about, was followed by another Mark Spaulding memo, which says, quote: "My belief is that our bosses do not want the Defense Criminal Investigation Service" -- of the Pentagon -- "to participate in the CIA investigation." Is that a true statement?

Quigley: Read that one again? I -- I don't know that one.

Q: Captured enemy document? "My belief is that our bosses do not want DCIS to participate in the CIA investigation." In other words --

Quigley: I won't quibble with its authenticity, George, but I don't agree with its characterization.


Q: There's -- there's other, kind of devastating, material here about how careless Deutch was, even to putting Top Secret Pentagon information on his home computer, which was hooked up to the AOL, which any hacker could invade. And that's in these memos.

Quigley: I'm sure that's stuff that we'll probably learn about when we discuss the findings of our investigation as well as the one of the CIA.

Q: That doesn't explain on or about that date DoD received for the first time certain material from the CIA. This is the Cohen statement of February 9th.

Quigley: Well, received it, yes. Could we have gotten it earlier than that? Yes, we could have. About a year and a half earlier.

Q: Another memo here says that you were concerned about Deutch's having top secret information on a home computer which his family used. It wasn't a DoD compartmentalized secure computer, and that your people offered to give him a computer which was protected, and he refused to have it put in his home, and also, when he got over at the CIA, continued to have a link into your Secret information. So the problem was not just CIA's worry, it continued to be your worry, it would seem to me, after he got to CIA. And yet nothing happened.

Quigley: Right. And that was the request -- that was the origin of the request from the CIA investigators to gain access to the servers over here through which he had sent e-mails. And that was what was discussed in the June and July of 1998 memos.

And I'm not going to comment on -- we'd rather do it in a one total package. As I said, the investigation on our side is still a work in progress. And rather than do it piecemeal, we'll wait for the whole thing to be completed.


Q: Craig, is it still your position that you expressed on Tuesday, that it would not have been useful to do a DoD investigation earlier than you did?

Quigley: Yes, that part remains true. I'm not sure that there would be any new ground to cover, or that we would somehow do it better than the CIA investigators. We had and have confidence in their professional skills, and felt that facilitating their effort, their investigative effort, was just an intelligent, effective, efficient way to go.

Q: So even if this information that was provided in June and July had gone up to higher channels, higher levels of the department, you're saying the decision would have been --

Quigley: I still -- still can't --

Q: -- it would not have made sense for anyone to say let's go ahead with our own investigation?

Quigley: I still can't promise that, Bob. I just can't go back over more than two years and try to recreate all elements that would have gone into the decision. Now here we are, in September of 2000, looking back, you might come to a different conclusion then. But I'm just not sure what we would have done differently at the time, it's just -- I can't do that. It does not replicate the circumstances in place at the time.


Q: Were any measures taken in 1998, knowing that the DoD computer system had potentially been compromised, to shut off routes --

Quigley: Let me stop you. That wasn't the concern. This was concern against one person who was --

Q: Right. But if you'd -- well, just what little I know about computers is that if you can get into a network through a backdoor, you can just run through that network unchained, as a hacker. So if John Deutch opened up the network to that sort of vulnerability, did anyone think: We better check and make sure that -- or shut this down or see if there's somebody in here that --

Quigley: I don't know. So far, I have not come across any records that discuss that issue.

Q: Well, there is very detailed discussion. They had to chase the Pentagon computers to junk yards. They found one in the University of Florida that was used by Deutch.

Quigley: I think that's a different issue than what Pam's referring to, though.

Q: Well, this more has to do with networks. I don't know, I guess it would depend on how well scrubbed those computers were as to what kind of access they would have provided.

Quigley: This is what our IG is in the process of doing, and that is tracking down the hardware, the floppy drives, the computers themselves, to try to ascertain what information was on them -- us and the CIA investigators as well.

I think Pam's question was more "access to other elements" within a network, and I, like I say, I have not come across anything that relates any discussion of that aspect of it from that time frame.

Q: And another thing, can you explain why you're not willing to condemn the decision two years ago by that sole investigator not to push forward with this? It seems like this is a really serious issue and the Pentagon should be willing to say he did a bad thing.

Quigley: Because I can't go back and replicate the conditions in place at the time. And if we would be in the business of going back and questioning decisions made by people within DoD more than two years ago on other topics, I think that would be a chilling message to send, for anybody who we expect to make decisions on a daily basis on a variety of topics around the world. So we're not going to go back and second-guess that person's decision from June of '98.

Q: This is the last excerpt that I'll bother you with, but it's important to me because it seemed to me, in response to my question on Tuesday, that you did not see a double standard here between the way the government treated Mr. Lee -- namely, locking him up on suspicion of mishandling secret documents -- and Mr. Deutch's performance. Now, here is another memo about Mr. Deutch's performance which makes me contest your allegation that there was no double standard. Quote: "We find his" -- meaning Mr. Deutch -- "his conduct in this regard particularly egregious in light of existing DoD policy directives addressing the safeguarding of classified information. This situation was exasperated [sic] because Dr. Deutch, while serving as deputy secretary of Defense, declined departmental requests that he allow security systems to be installed in his residence. Dr. Deutch, the second highest-ranking individual in the department, personally addressed the need to properly safeguard information in a memorandum he signed in February, 1995. In part, the memorandum states that "only," quote, "'properly/property reviewed and cleared,'" unquote, "information be placed on electronic systems accessible to the public. The evidence we obtained clearly established that Dr. Deutch failed to follow even the most basic security precautions," unquote.

Now, if that's not mishandling security information the same way Mr. Lee was allegedly mishandling security information, I don't understand English, and it seemed to me that the double standard is undeniable.

Quigley: I don't think that changes my answer to you on Tuesday one bit. The allegations -- let me repeat it, just for clarity here -- the allegations against Wen Ho Lee were that he made a conscious decision to compromise classified material to a foreign power. The allegations against Dr. Deutch were that he had lax security practices.

Nobody has ever made an allegation against Dr. Deutch that he was making a conscious decision to compromise classified to anybody or any organization. And I think there is a big differences between the two. I'm not defending his safeguarding of the classified material that he had possession of, George. Not at all. And indeed, Dr. Deutch has not. He has acknowledged his lax practices in that regard. But I still don't equate the circumstances and the allegations against the two men.

Q: Of course, the case against Mr. Lee has not been proved.

Quigley: Right. I don't understand your point.

Q: Well, the point is that he was locked up on a situation that was "troubling," quote-unquote, to your commander in chief because the evidence, according to Judge Parker, wasn't sufficient to put him in solitary confinement and to lock him in irons, and then we have the example of Dr. Deutch, wittingly or unwittingly, never even getting investigated by the Department of Defense, far less locked up. So that, to me, spells double standard. I don't know.

Quigley: Well, we've had an investigation ongoing for some time now, and the CIA before us, into Dr. Deutch's treatment of classified information.

Q: Your IG in a memo says --

Quigley: But I still don't equate the circumstances surrounding the classified between the two men.

Q: Your IG says in his own memo he did not conduct a formal investigation of Dr. Deutch.

Quigley: That's correct, and that's a memo of July 1998. And starting in February of 2000, you know that that's not the case.

Q: I still don't understand the 18-month lapse.

Quigley: Any other questions? (Pause.) Other topics? (Pause.) Okay.

Q: It's the only topic today.

Quigley: Thank you.