Details behind Deutch computer scandal emerge

Details on covert intelligence operations, top secret communications intelligence

and the budget of the National Reconnaissance Program may have been compromised

as a result of former CIA director John Deutch's inappropriate use of unclassified

information.

The CIA's inspector general investigation into allegations that Deutch stored

highly classified intelligence information on home computers vulnerable

to hackers and foreign intelligence agents via an open Internet connection

paints an unflattering picture of the top intelligence officer's adherence

to widely known security policies.

But the unclassified version of the report, made public last week, concludes

that the biggest threat to the thousands of pages of highly classified information

stored on four separate computers, including a laptop and eight removable

PC cards, came not from online hackers but from professional spies who may

have physically broken into Deutch's homes in Maryland and Boston and copied

the information.

CIA technical experts and investigators determined that "the likelihood

of compromise was actually greater via a hostile entry operation into one

of Mr. Deutch's two homes (Bethesda, Md. and Boston, Mass.) to 'image' the

contents of the affected hard drives," according to the IG report. Such

an operation could have been carried out "in [a short amount of time],"

the report stated.

Deutch, who became CIA director on May 10, 1995, refused the customary posting

of in-house security personnel at his private residence out of concern for

his family's personal privacy. As a result, CIA security officers made periodic

drive-by checks on his home. Although Deutch approved the installation of

a residential alarm system, including an alarm on a study closet containing

a safe that was to be used to store the removable computer disks, the IG

report states that a resident alien domestic worker had access to the alarm's

deactivation code when the Deutch family was away.

"CIA security database records do not reflect any security clearances being

issued to the alien," the report states.

According to the report, Deutch informed investigators that although he

thought his residences were secure, "in hindsight, he said that belief was

not well-founded."

Strangely, paragraph 208 of the 48-page unclassified report is marked "C"

for confidential. Steven Aftergood, an intelligence specialist with the

Federation of American Scientists, said he is not sure if it is simply an

erroneous marking or if Congress had unwittingly facilitated the disclosure

of classified information.

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