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Deutch Took Consulting Post To Retain Classified Computers

By Walter Pincus

Shortly before his December 1996 retirement, then-CIA Director John M. Deutch negotiated for himself a no-fee consultant contract that enabled him to keep at his homes three agency computers on which he had stored highly classified information, according to officials familiar with a report by the CIA’s inspector general.

The contract was signed eight days after Deutch asked the CIA’s administrative chief to find a way that he could keep a laptop and two desktop computers. The computers were unsecured and attached to the Internet. But during his 20 months as the nation’s top intelligence official, Deutch had composed on them highly classified documents, including memos to President Clinton and reports on trips to CIA stations abroad that mentioned secret operations.

Richard Calder, then CIA deputy director for administration, told Deutch on Dec. 5, 1996, that the only legal way for him to keep government computers after retirement would be under a contract. Deutch began contract negotiations with attorneys in the agency’s general counsel’s office, but never told them -- or apparently anyone else at the CIA -- that the computers held top-secret information.

Some lawyers in the general counsel’s office opposed the contract and initially suggested Deutch buy a computer and return those supplied by the CIA, according to the IG report.

But Deutch insisted and, with support from then-CIA General Counsel Michael O’Neill, changed the contract proposed by the attorneys. Instead of being allowed one computer for six months, he was permitted to keep the three computers for one year, the report says. The contract restricted their use to unclassified government business, a senior intelligence official said.

The contract took effect on Dec. 16, the day after Deutch’s resignation. A day later, a CIA technician reported that he found classified information on a computer he was working on at Deutch’s Bethesda, Md., home.