Withdrawal Remarks Criticized, Inman Reveals Data Some Say is Sensitive
Sun Sentinel - January 20, 1994
Washington - President Clinton's ill-fated choice to be defense secretary, Bobby Ray Inman, may have revealed sensitive information about a U.S. Israeli dispute when he explained why he was withdrawing, government sources said on Wednesday.
Inman's rambling hour-long news conference on Tuesday, with its charges of a plot against him by a New York Times columnist, drew almost universally negative comments.
Democrats and Republican called it "wild" and "bizarre" and said the president was lucky Inman decided to withdraw his name.
Experts on Israeli-U.S. relations and government sources said that during his news conference, Inman disclosed previously undisclosed details of military aid the United States gave Israel in the 1980s and of a U.S. effort to curtail the sharing of satellite photos with Israel.
Inman said on Tuesday that when he was deputy director of the CIA in 1981, he banned Israel from receiving some satellite pictures because the Jewish state had used such photos in bombing an Iraqi nuclear plant. He said he wanted to stop Israel from doing so again.
At the time, the United States denied that it had aided Israel the attack and condemned it.
Inman said his first reaction to the bombing was to wonder "where and how they got the targeting material "and he later discovered it came from the United States. He said Israel also had received photos of Libya and Pakistan.
He said he ordered that Israel not be given satellite photos of countries more than 250 miles from its border and said this provoked New York Times columnist William Safire to start a vendetta against him.
He said Safire, a strong supporter of Israel, went to then-CIA Director William Casey to get him to rescind the order because it had infuriated the Israelis. Casey agreed and, Inman said, he had to go over his boss' head to then-Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger to make sure the prohibition stood.
One expert in U.S.-Israeli relations said he was shocked that Inman revealed so much. A U.S. government source said, "As far as I can tell, what [Inman] mentioned had never been made public before."
The source did not know if the information was classified, but others inside and outside the government said they suspected it was. The Central Intelligence Agency and the Defense Department had no comment.
Justice4JP Note: Given the purportedly sensitive nature of the information Admiral Inman revealed during the course of his news conference, why wasn't he indicted or at the very least, investigated for having compromised "sources and methods"? Is Inman above the law? Or do classification restrictions only apply to individuals like Jonathan Pollard, who are not part of the old boy network?