from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
November 27, 2000


A new report of the Department of Defense Inspector General (IG) finds that the conduct of former Deputy Secretary of Defense (and former Director of Central Intelligence) John M. Deutch with respect to the handling of classified information during and after his tenure at the Pentagon was "egregious."

The new IG report, dated August 28, follows a report on the Deutch matter from the CIA Inspector General that was issued last February. A parallel investigation was completed by the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board in May. And yet another inquiry was initiated by the Department of Justice which is still pending.

The new DOD IG report was first reported by Tony Capaccio of Bloomberg News and Defense Week.

The report focuses on the disposition of the various computers that were used by Deutch while he served at the Pentagon. Pentagon investigators criss-crossed the country looking for discarded computers that Deutch might have used, arriving at one point at a Mennonite School in Ephrata, Pennsylvania, where five computers and six loose hard drives were retrieved. (Only one of the hard drives at the school turned out to have DOD-related information on it but it was unclassified and, in any case, unattributable to Dr. Deutch.)

The inspector general report does not provide a damage assessment, but specifically criticizes Deutch’s storage of classified files on the computer used to access his AOL account. "Dr. Deutch’s practice of using computers in this manner was extremely risky in that a computer ‘hacker’ could have gained on-line access to Dr. Deutch’s computer and the information stored in temporary files on the hard drive."

The security violations committed by Deutch have frequently been compared to those committed by Wen Ho Lee to highlight the sharp discrepancy in the government’s handling of the two cases.

But in several respects, the Deutch case bears closer comparison to that of Dr. Glenn Seaborg, the esteemed Nobel laureate who chaired the Atomic Energy Commission from 1961 to 1971, and who was accused by the Department of Energy in the 1980s and early 1990s of improperly storing classified information at his home.

Both the Deutch and Seaborg cases involved agency heads. Both men kept a daily diary in which classified information was found. And both stored their diaries and related records in unsecure facilities at their homes. (Seaborg’s records were all hardcopy, however, and immune to hypothetical cyber-theft.)

The different outcomes of the two cases tell us something about the shift in the political climate that has taken place. The Seaborg case was handled with kid gloves. "Considerations of Dr. Seaborg’s stature precluded more aggressive action," said one senior security official quaintly. Third parties consistently sided with Seaborg in his dispute with the Energy Department. Senator Moynihan even introduced legislation that would have required DOE to declassify Dr. Seaborg’s journal and return it to him. In contrast, Dr. Deutch has been roundly vilified and investigated over and over again. Roughly speaking, the Seaborg case is to the Deutch case what the Deutch case is to the Wen Ho Lee case. There is, in other words, a shifting and somewhat arbitrary double standard at work.

A copy of the new DoD Inspector General report may be found here:


Several transcripts of Congressional hearings on secrecy, security or intelligence topics have been published lately and are available online as follows:

"The Public Interest Declassification Act," a hearing before the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, July 26, 2000:

"Safety and Security Oversight of the New National Nuclear Security Administration," a hearing before two subcommittees of the House Commerce Committee, March 14, 2000:

"Russian Threats to United States Security in the Post-Cold War Era," a hearing before the House Government Reform Committee, January 24, 2000. This is an eccentric spectacle on the potential for Russian sabotage directed at domestic U.S. targets:

"The National Intelligence Estimate on the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States," hearing before the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, February 9, 2000:


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