Details behind Deutch computer scandal emerge
- By Dan Verton
- Feb 28, 2000
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
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
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
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.