Louis Freeh, the director of the FBI, has ordered new restrictions on sharing confidential information with the White House after the disclosure that the Clinton White House had improperly obtained the files of several prominent Republicans.
Freeh's order was in a letter to Rep. William Clinger Jr., R-Pa., who spoke to him on Friday about possible abuses by the White House in obtaining confidential files. Clinger released the letter on Saturday.Freeh said he would seek to modify the procedures that allow the White House to simply requisition confidential information.
"While many of the requests are simple name checks, others involve sensitive personal information from background in-ves-ti-ga-tions," he said.
The White House said on Friday that it had sought and received files on several Republicans from the FBI.
On Tuesday, after investigating the dismissal of seven employees of the White House travel office, Clinger said he had discovered that the White House obtained the FBI file on Billy Dale, seven months after Dale was dismissed as the office director in May 1993.
The reason listed on the request form sent to the FBI was that Dale was being checked for a security clearance for the White House.
Clinger asserted that the real reason might have been to learn damaging information about Dale to discredit him. On Friday, White House officials said his file was sought with as many as 340 others as part of a broader but innocent bureaucratic mistake.
Mark Fabiani, a special White House counsel, said a civilian employee of the Army detailed to help the White House security office had mistakenly used an old list. Fabiani said the employee had been assigned to update security clearances of Republican holdovers working in the Clinton administration.
Among the Republicans whose files were obtained in 1993 and 1994 were James Baker III, former secretary of state; A.B. Culvahouse, former White House counsel, and Kenneth Duberstein, former White House chief of staff and now an adviser to Colin Powell.
Rep. Dick Armey of Texas, the House Republican leader, promised on Saturday that there would be an inquiry. Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel investigating Whitewater-related matters, has also begun an investigation.
The Army employee, Anthony Marceca, said he had been assigned to help clear up a backlog on security clearances.