3 June 1997
Thanks to JR.
The Washington Times, June 3, 1997
By Jerry Seper
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
House committee probing campaign-finance abuses involving President Clinton and the Democratic Party has asked the Commerce Department for all records on the transfer last year of classified intelligence documents from Commerce to a safe at the Small Business Administration.
. . . . The records, including classified CIA reports, were taken by Ira Sockowitz, an aide to Commerce General Counsel Ginger Ehn Lew, after he and Miss Lew moved in June 1996 to the SBA.
. . . . They have never been publicly described, but intelligence experts said the documents could have included data on energy projects, gas and oil matters, international trade efforts and secret political and economic assessments of several countries.
. . . . Miss Lew, now deputy administrator at the SBA, has been identified as a confidante of John Huang's, former Commerce official, Lippo Group executive and Democratic National Committee fund-raiser at the center of campaign-finance investigations by a Justice Department-FBI task force and two congressional committees.
. . . . The House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, in a request last week, wants all records identifying the documents. In addition, it wants all requests by Mr. Huang or the Lippo Group to the Commerce Department for documents concerning encryption "before, during or after the employment of Huang by DOC" and all telephone calls made or received by Mr. Sockowitz and Miss Lew.
. . . . Also, the panel requests information on any requisition of a safe by Mr. Sockowitz or the changing of the combination, an explanation of his transfer to the SBA and his personnel files.
. . . . Mr. Sockowitz, who left the SBA in October to form his own consulting business in Washington, has acknowledged taking the records but denied any wrongdoing. His attorney, Jed Babbin, said his client "never disclosed" the records outside of government.
. . . . "The papers were moved from one government agency to another and kept in a locked safe," Mr. Babbin said. "He was using them at the SBA because they were of continued value to him."
. . . . Mr. Babbin said in February he talked with House investigators, who requested a meeting with Mr. Sockowitz, but that he has not received "any further inquiries" since.
. . . . Miss Lew has testified she knew of no reason why Mr. Sockowitz would have taken the papers. In a deposition by Judicial Watch, a public interest law firm that sued the Commerce Department last year for records on its use of trade missions for fund raising, she also said she was unaware they had been removed and they would have been of no value to anyone at the SBA.
. . . . House investigators want to know what papers were included, why they were taken, and how they were used.
. . . . The contents of the documents are not clear, although a Commerce Department inventory said -- without elaboration -- they included a classified CIA report on Russian economic development, classified Commerce Department and National Security Council documents, a National Security Agency study of computer software with encryption and memos, notes and file folders from Commerce and the NSC on encryption or decoding software, exports and policy options.
. . . . The records, according to the inventory, also included file folders on China, Russia, Bosnia, Croatia, India and Turkey; classified Commerce memos on a communications satellite project and a classified report by the General Accounting Office on China.
. . . . The Commerce Department inventory lists 136 documents, including classified reports, memos and file folders from the CIA, the NSA, the NSC, Commerce, the Council on Foreign Relations and the Executive Office of the President. The 136 documents contained 2,819 pages of information.
. . . . Of concern to investigators, sources close to the congressional probes said, is Mr. Sockowitz's removal of the NSA software study, titled "A Study of the International Market for Computer Software With Encryption."
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