Waxman: 'Systematic' security failures in Bush White House
The head of the House Committee on Oversight and Governance Reform warned today of a "systematic failure" in basic security procedures as well as the safeguarding of classified information in the White House of President George W. Bush.
"Multiple current and former White House security personnel have informed my staff that White House practices have been dangerously inadequate with respect to investigating security violations, taking corrective action following breaches, and physically securing classified information," Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) wrote to former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card today.
Waxman sought Card's cooperation in his probe of a "systematic breakdown" in White House security procedures.
According to Waxman, the security personnel "described a systemic breakdown in security procedures at the White House," and he warned that they suggested "that the security lapses that characterized the White House response to the leak of [former covert CIA Agent Valerie Plame] Wilson's identity were not an isolated occurrence, but part of a pattern of
disregard for the basic requirements for protecting our national security secrets."
The Oversight Committee chairman listed consistent allegations presented to his committee. The White House, he reported in the letter, ignored security breaches, blocked West Wing security inspections, and condoned mismanagement of the White House Security Office.
Waxman's letter noted criticism of James Knodell, the Director of the White House Security Office, and Ken Greeson, the Deputy Director, for their inexperience and poor management.
"Security procedures prohibit bringing electronic communication devices into a sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF)," Waxman wrote.
But in fact, subjects interviewed by his committee reported that "Mr. Knodell and Mr. Greeson habitually violate this prohibition by bringing
Blackberry devices and cell phones into the SCIF...and allowed others, such as visiting White House personnel, to do the same. They said that this
practice continued even after security officers repeatedly informed Mr. Knodell and Mr. Greeson that the practice violates security rules and sets a poor example."
In another case, Waxman's letter did not name anyone, but referred to an alarming breach committed by Bush White House staff.
"A White House official left [Sensitive Compartmented Information] material behind in a hotel room during a foreign trip with the President. Although the CIA recovered the SCI material and reported the incident, the White House Security Office did not investigate, seek remedial action, or discipline the responsible official," he wrote.
The Oversight Committee's letter is up at its website.