Remember When Top Secret Files Were Paper?

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"It was not something the director felt good about doing," an intelligence official said of CIA chief George Tenet's decision to strip his predecessor, John Deutch, of his security clearance. "This is someone he worked for, who is a friend and a mentor." But, he adds, "what transpired was a fairly serious breach of the rules regarding handling classified information." Deutch had allowed highly classified material to course through his unsecured home computer — a big no-no.

Immediate comparisons were made to the case of nuclear weapons scientist Wen Ho Lee, a suspect in China's apparent theft of data on the W-88 warhead. Lee downloaded sensitive nuclear "legacy codes" to his personal computer. The intelligence official, however, said there is an important difference. Deutch's fault, he said, was composing classified documents on an unsecured terminal. No downloading was involved.