NOMINATION ON HOLD
FEBRUARY 27, 1997
President Clinton's nonimee for Director of Central Intelligence, Anthony Lake, has run into trouble. Some Republican senators have questioned Lake's ethics and his activities when he headed the National Security Council. After a background report, Elizabeth Farnsworth discusses the Lake nomination with Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), chair of the Senate Intelligence Commitee, and Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-NE), the Intelligence Committee's vice chair.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: In December, as part of an overhaul of his foreign policy team, President Clinton nominated national security adviser Anthony Lake to be CIA director. Lake would succeed John Deutch, becoming the agency's third director in five years. The President was optimistic about Lake's prospects for overseeing the national intelligence community, which spends more than $30 billion a year.
A RealAudio version of this NewsHour segment is available.
February 27, 1997:
Elizabeth Farnsworth discusses the Lake nomination with Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-NE).
January 29, 1997:
The Senate continues to consider President Clinton's appointees to the cabinet.
January 22, 1997:
Former Senator William Cohen breezes through the confirmation process.
January 8, 1997:
The Senate holds hearings to confirm Madeleine Albright to be the next Secretary of State.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: I can think of no more powerful proof of my commitment to carry on John Deutch's work of maintaining a strong, successful intelligence community than asking Tony Lake to take the helm as director of Central Intelligence.
ANTHONY LAKE: When the President and I discussed a few weeks ago the prospect of my becoming Director of Central Intelligence, I was, to put it mildly, very enthusiastic. Over the last four years I've launched my mornings and I've finished my evenings with the years I've launched my mornings and I've finished my evenings with the recent analyses of the intelligence community. I firmly believe that in the post Cold War world the role of the CIA is more important than ever.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: But within weeks congressional opposition delayed confirmation hearings twice.
SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R-AL): The committee will come to order.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Leading the opposition is Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, a Republican from Alabama. Shelby has raised a number of questions about Lake, which include his part in the administration's decision to tacitly endorse Iranian arms shipment to Bosnia in 1994, his role in Somalia policy at the time U.S. troops were killed there, his delay in selling some energy stocks, as demanded by the White House counsel when he joined the NSC, and what, if any, role the NSC and its staff played in the growing controversy over foreign contributions to President Clinton's re-election campaign.
Three weeks ago the Justice Department reported on two matters Republicans asked it to investigate. Lake had not lied to Congress on the Iran-Bosnia arms sale issue, the Justice Department found, and Lake had not intentionally delayed selling the energy stocks. Still, the Department recommended Lake settle the stock problem by paying a $5,000 fine. The next week President Clinton went out of his way at a news conference to urge the Senate to hold a hearing and a vote for his nominee.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: If someone has some reason to oppose it, let them oppose it in a hearing and then in a vote on the floor, but in view of his service not to me but to this country and the positive consequence of that service, whether it's Bosnia, Haiti, the agreements with Russia -- you name it -- he deserves his service to this country, deserves a hearing and a vote on the floor of the Senate, and I hope he will get it.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Then last week the White House released documents showing that presidential aides were warned by Lake's staff about Asian-American fund-raisers now under investigation, and in a letter to Sen. Shelby, Lake wrote he had not met with any of the fund-raisers under investigation. "I have fought to keep the NSC staff out of domestic and partisan politics, as I would in the intelligence community."
After his nomination, Lake won early support from prominent Republican Senator John McCain, and yesterday he picked up qualified endorsements from Republican Senators John Chafee and Dick Lugar, both members of Shelby's Intelligence Committee. But Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms opposes the appointment.
SEN. JESSE HELMS: I will vote no.
SPOKESMAN: What is your basis for that, sir?
SEN. JESSE HELMS: Well, I don't want to attack him, but there's just too many things that are too raw to me in his background. And I think a lot of Senators feel that way. I expect there will be a number of senators voting against him. Whether there will be enough to kill the nomination I don't know.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: While Lake is having trouble with controversies now on the front page, some decades-old issues are also in play. Some conservatives cited his resignation from Henry Kissinger's National Security Council staff in 1970 to protest the Nixon administration's bombing of Cambodia during the Vietnam War, and some Senators said they were disturbed by his statement, later retracted, that evidence against New Deal diplomat Alger Hiss, who was accused of spying and convicted of perjury, was inconclusive. The Senate hearings are now scheduled to begin March 11th.