FILE ID:97031816.LAR

(Explains his decision to withdraw from nomination to CIA post) (1130)

WASHINGTON -- Following is the text of the letter Anthony Lake sent to
President Clinton on Monday, in which he withdrew his name from
nomination to be director of central intelligence:

(begin text)

                                                17 March 1997

The President
The White House
Washington, D.C.

Dear Mr. President:

I am writing to ask that you withdraw my nomination to be Director of
Central Intelligence.

I do so not because of concern that the nomination would be defeated
if it ever came to a vote. In fact, there are sufficient votes for
confirmation -- in both the Select Committee and the Senate.

And not because of concern about further personal attacks. That
gauntlet has been run. Every question has been answered.

I do so because I have regretfully concluded that it is the right
thing to do.

While we have made great progress in the nomination process over the
past month and during last week's hearings, I have learned over the
weekend that the process is once again faced by endless delay. It is a
political football in a game with constantly moving goal posts.

After more than three months, I have finally lost patience, and the
endless delays are hurting the CIA and NSC staff in ways I can no
longer tolerate.

I am told that the Chairman of the committee, having now reviewed the
positive FBI materials underlying the report on my background
investigation, may want other members of the committee to read them. I
had doubts about the precedent we have already set in allowing him and
the Vice Chairman such access. To bend principle further would even
more discourage future nominees to this or other senior positions from
entering public service.

I am also told that his committee staff will again insist that NSC
staff meet with the committee on terms that White House Counsel will
find unacceptable, leading to a further stalemate on that issue as

In addition, the story today about the activities of Mr. Roger Tamraz
is likely to lead to further delay as an investigation proceeds.

All of this means a nomination process that has no end in sight. We
have been proceeding on the assumption that there would be a vote this
week. It now seems certain the committee deliberations will extend
past the recess until after Easter, and probably longer. In addition,
even after the nomination receives a vote in committee, whenever that
might be, there is no prospect for a near-term vote on the floor and
every chance it will be extended as long as your political opponents
can do so.

I have gone through the past three months and more with patience and,
I hope, dignity. But I have lost the former and could lose the latter
as this political circus continues indefinitely. As Sen. Richard
Lugar, perhaps the most respected member of the Senate, has said with
regard to my nomination and its treatment, "The whole confirmation
process has become more and more outrageous." It is nasty and brutish
without being short.

If this were a game, I would persist until we won. My colleagues tell
me to stay the course, lest I be perceived the loser or scared of a
further fight. I'm not.

But this is not a game. And this process is not primarily about me. It
is about the future of the Central Intelligence Agency. The Agency,
once again, is becoming politicized. The longer this goes on, the
worse the damage. The controversy and its effects could linger on
after my confirmation. The men and women of the CIA deserve better
than this.

The process is also impugning, through a new form of guilt by
association, the names of NSC staff members who have done nothing
wrong. So long as my nomination is mired in partisan politics, their
reputations will be, as well. It is ironic that the staff, which in
every case took the right positions in keeping national security
decisions and domestic politics separate, as I had encouraged them to
do, is now the staff bearing the brunt of criticism because it didn't
go beyond its own responsibilities to manage others' business as well.
This is a staff that was doing its job properly. There was never any
disguise of wrongdoing; they were consistently doing right in the
advice they offered, while concentrating on the large daily agenda of
important national security issues before us. I am very proud of our
work on these issues and very proud of our staff members.

In unprecedented fashion the nomination is also politicizing the
Senate committee.

And I have noticed that, in numerous ways, it is poisoning the
attitude of members of the Agency toward the committee.

Most of all, the way this process has been conducted would make it
difficult for me to work with the committee in the ways that a
Director of Central Intelligence must do -- and as I had hoped to do.

I am deeply grateful to you for your strong support, for your
encouragement over these difficult months, and -- most of all -- for
the opportunity to serve over the past four years. I am very proud of
your foreign policy record and of whatever contributions I made to it.

I have greatly appreciated the support of Sens. McCain, Lugar,
Lieberman, Kerrey, Kerry, Kennedy, and many others, like John Deutch.
I have been moved by the principled position of a large number of
Republicans like John McCain, Warren Rudman, Richard Lugar, Robert
Gates and Peter King. And I am especially grateful to the volunteers
from the NSC who have put so much into this, as well as officials of
the CIA. I am sorry that their efforts were not better rewarded.

I have believed all my life in public service. I still do. But
Washington has gone haywire.

I hope that, sooner rather than later, people of all political views
beyond our city limits will demand that Washington give priority to
policy over partisanship, to governing over "gotcha." It is time that
senior officials have more time to concentrate on dealing with very
real foreign challenges rather than with the domestic wounds that
Washington is inflicting on itself.

This is a very difficult decision. I was excited about this new
opportunity to serve. I had developed firm ideas on how to bring
further reform to the Agency and had no doubt about my capacity to
implement them. I was ready to devote four years to a tough new
challenge. I truly regret that I will not have the opportunity to
seize it.

Anthony Lake

(end text)