CyberAlert -- 07/21/1998 -- Tripp's FBI File & Freeh's Condemnation of Reno Skipped

Tripp's FBI File & Freeh's Condemnation of Reno Skipped

1) FNC talked to Operation Tailwind participants and they prove CNN wrong; NBC explained how financiers plundered Northwest Airlines, but skipped over how one, Al Checchi, is a Democrat of note.

2) White House got Linda Tripp's FBI file, but the networks don't care. Other recent newspaper stories ignored: Clinton administration snafus allowed China to get high-tech info and the FBI Director condemned Reno for not naming an IC for fundraising abuses.


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) Nothing about any Clinton scandal or the impending Secret Service testimony on any of the five network evening shows Monday night. Monday's Washington Times featured a front page story on how Linda Tripp's file was among the 1,000 or so FBI files obtained by Craig Livingstone and the White House. (See item #2 for details.) But not a word about the revelation Monday morning or evening on the networks.

Instead of telling their viewers about the Clinton team's effort to get dirt on Tripp and how that may have led to a violation of her privacy rights when the Pentagon revealed her security clearance form, Monday night ABC and NBC ran full pieces about a Democratic report on what they dubbed "Air Tobacco," how tobacco companies have provided private jet services to Republicans. CBS Evening News viewers learned how El Nino caused Ohio farmers to grow big apples and grapes, CNN's The World Today viewers got a peek inside a computer programming summer camp for kids and NBC Nightly News watchers heard Mike Jensen explain the popularity of stocks for companies dealing with the Internet, as the stock price soared from $18 to $63 on Friday.

Every network led their East Coast feeds with live coverage of the cruise ship fire off Miami. Live coverage consumed the first 40 minutes of FNC's 7pm ET Fox Report. CBS and CNN delivered stories on the controversy over health care ID numbers for all Americans.

Also of note: With the Pentagon report on sarin gas use expected Tuesday, FNC's Gary Matsumoto provided a summary of how those on Operation Tailwind deny or contradict CNN's initial story line. NBC Nightly News ran an In Depth look at how the buyout of Northwest Airlines by some investors who then sold off assets has made the airline one of the worst, but while NBC named one of the investors who personally reaped a big profit before running for Governor of California, the network failed to mention to which party the money man belongs.

-- First, the FNC story. After running some clips from the CNN NewsStand story in which former Army members claimed seeing caucasians and that sarin nerve gas was used in the 1970 mission, Gary Matsumoto relayed the results of FNC's digging:
"Fox News Channel spoke to all 16 American green berets who fought behind enemy lines in Laos on Operation Tailwind. Fifteen of the 16 said there were no caucasians, but all of them said there were no defectors, no women and children and without exception they said they never confirmed to anyone the use of nerve gas."
Matsumoto continued: "The historical documents, some only recently declassified, are consistent between the Air Force, the Marine Corps and the Army. All of them refer to CBU-19 or 30, the ordinance numbers for CS gas...."
Back to the CNN story, Matsumoto showed clips of participants saying they inhaled gas which he countered with this soundbite from Jonathan Tucker, a chemical weapons specialist: "If in fact they inhaled large quantities of the agents as they have described, there's no way it could have been sarin nerve gas which would have killed them in a matter of minutes."

-- Second, NBC Nightly News took an In Depth look at increasing airline traffic and complaints. For the second story Fred Francis checked the troubles at Northwest Airlines, known as Northworst as it ranks ninth of ten carriers in baggage handling and on time performance. Francis asserted:
"Critics say the airline's problem began nine years ago with its takeover by a group of financiers who then buried it with $3 billion in debt. This man, Al Checchi, led the takeover, putting up just over $10 million as did others. Checchi resigned as the airlines Co-Chairman last year to run for California Governor. Today his investment is worth $450 million. To pay off the loans Checchi and his partners sold off planes, routes and gates...." But that was not enough, Francis explained, so the airline got $800 million each from Minnesota and the unions. Now Northwest is profitable, but the union is upset that the airline is not rewarding its members.

Who is this man without a party? Al Checchi was a Democratic candidate for Governor who lost the primary in June. How much do you want to bet that if he were a conservative Republican NBC would have made sure viewers knew the affiliation of a greedy investor who is shortchanging the working man.


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes)tripp721.jpg (20745 bytes) Monday's Washington Times disclosure about the FBI files is not the only newspaper scoop the networks have failed to pick up recently. Below is an excerpt of that story, plus of a Los Angeles Times investigation showing how Clinton Administration breakdowns led to the improper transfer of technology to China, another Washington Times report on how the White House failed to reveal a search for Tripp information, and a New York Times story on how the FBI Director long-ago urged Janet Reno to appoint an independent counsel to explore foreign donations to Democrats.

None of these stories has been touched in the morning or evening by the networks, according to my viewing and daily reviewing by the MRC news analyst team of Clay Waters, Geoffrey Dickens, Eric Darbe, Jessica Anderson and Mark Drake.

-- From the July 20 Washington Times:

Tripp Among Names on new 'Filegate' FBI List
By Bill Sammon

Linda R. Tripp is among nearly 1,000 people whose secret FBI background files were obtained by the Clinton administration, according to new "Filegate" documents obtained by The Washington Times.

Mrs. Tripp and hundreds of other Bush and Reagan administration appointees -- including top CIA, Pentagon and National Security Agency officials -- were recently named for the first time by the FBI as people whose dossiers were turned over to former White House employees D. Craig Livingstone and Anthony B. Marceca. The new Filegate list, which contains more than twice as many names as were previously disclosed, also includes former FBI agent Gary Aldrich, whose book, Unlimited Access, savaged lax security practices in the Clinton White House....

Filegate victims are represented by Judicial Watch, a legal foundation that recently obtained the new, FBI-generated list through the discovery process in a $90 million lawsuit against the administration.

The most eye-catching new name on the list is Mrs. Tripp, the star witness in independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr's sex-and-lies investigation of President Clinton. The revelation that the White House obtained her secret FBI background file raises new questions about efforts by Clinton-friendly forces to discredit Mrs. Tripp in the Starr probe....

-- From the July 19 Los Angeles Times:

Lax Security in Satellite Exports Points to Risks: High-tech transfers show lapses. Critics say White House eased controls too far in trying to spur commerce.
By Paul Richter

Repeated snafus and breakdowns have marred the Clinton administration's system for safeguarding some of America's most sensitive technological secrets in the export of U.S. satellites to China, according to government officials and documents.

Government rules call for close and continued oversight when companies ship high-tech products that might give a foreign power new military capabilities. But the recent history of satellite exports to China shows regular slip-ups in a system that the administration has defended as fully adequate to protect national security.

Specifically, the government failed to require Pentagon export-security monitors at seven of the 12 launches that occurred during President Clinton's watch -- including one as recently as May -- although officials said they believe that a monitor should be present for each event.

And in five of the launches, the monitors now required by government regulations were not on hand for prelaunch planning meetings between U.S. and Chinese teams, though some experts consider these meetings even more critical to protecting secrets than the launches themselves....

-- From the July 17 Washington Times:

White House Combed Tripp File as Scandal Was Breaking
By Bill Sammon

White House officials searched their files for "anything and everything" on Linda R. Tripp after the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke, but President Clinton refused to reveal that search to Congress, The Washington Times has learned.

Thursday, the Chairman of the House Rules Committee referred "this potential obstruction of a congressional investigation" to independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr. Rep. Gerald B.H. Solomon suspects the White House, after searching its files on Mrs. Tripp, tipped off the New Yorker magazine to damaging information in Mrs. Tripp's personnel file at the Pentagon.

"In the Linda Tripp matter, we may be previewing the extent of damage the president's political team is capable of, and apparently intent upon, inflicting," Mr. Solomon wrote to Mr. Starr, adding that it amounted to "intimidation of a federal witness."

Days after the New Yorker published sensitive information from Mrs. Tripp's security clearance form in March, Mr. Solomon -- in an attempt to determine if the Tripp leak violated federal law -- asked Mr. Clinton in a letter whether anyone had pulled Mrs. Tripp's White House file....

"Because of the seriousness of this unfortunate and illegal occurrence, I look forward to the courtesy of a rapid response," the New York Republican wrote in the letter, dated March 18. According to a Solomon spokesman, Mr. Clinton did not respond.

But the answer was revealed June 30 by Terry W. Good, director of White House records management. In a deposition to Judicial Watch, a legal foundation that is suing the Clinton administration for improperly gathering FBI files on Reagan and Bush administration officials, Mr. Good said the White House counsel's office asked him to pull "anything and everything that we might have in our files relating to Linda Tripp." The request was made after the scandal broke in January....

-- From the July 16 New York Times:

Freeh Says Reno Clearly Misread Prosecutor Law: He Tells Her 'It Is Difficult to Imagine a More Compelling Situation' for a Counsel
By Neil A. Lewis

FBI Director Louis Freeh forcefully warned Attorney General Janet Reno that she was misreading the law by not seeking an independent counsel to investigate campaign fund raising by the Clinton administration, Sen. Fred Thompson told a Senate committee on Wednesday.

"It is difficult to imagine a more compelling situation for appointing an independent counsel," Freeh wrote in a memorandum, Thompson said. The Republican Tennessee senator said he was briefed on the memo in June by a senior FBI official.

With Reno appearing as a witness before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, Thompson and others used the disagreement between her and Freeh to press again for an outside investigation of campaign finance practices involving White House officials.

Although Freeh's rift with Reno over the appointment of a special prosecutor had been publicly disclosed last winter, Thompson angered Reno on Wednesday by confronting her with specific language and details from Freeh's memo that had not been publicly released. The Justice Department had repeatedly rebuffed requests by Congress to release Freeh's memo, even going so far as to defy a subpoena issued by a House committee investigating campaign finance.

Freeh's 22-page memorandum was written in November 1997. Thompson, who was Chairman of the Senate panel that had investigated campaign finance abuses, characterized Freeh's memo as a broad-based and unforgiving critique of the Attorney General's interpretation of the independent counsel law....

Freeh, the Senator said, "pointed out that their investigation, the FBI's investigation, had led them to the highest levels of the White House, including the vice president and the President, and therefore the Department of Justice must look at the Independent Counsel Statute."

He added that FBI officials told him that Freeh's memo also described Reno's decision not to seek an independent counsel as starkly inconsistent with her actions in seeking to have independent counsels named in other investigations....


As noted in the July 16 CyberAlert, several networks Wednesday night showed clips from the hearing of Senator Hatch and Reno disagreeing about whether she was employing delaying tactics by appealing the Secret Service rulings. But none uttered a word about Thompson raising the Freeh menu. And the top of the front page lead in the New York Times failed to generate any network interest. -- Brent Baker

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