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Did Tripp lie on Pentagon security question?

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The Pentagon plans to look into allegations that Linda Tripp lied on her Pentagon security clearance form by failing to disclose that she had been arrested on theft charges nearly three decades ago.

"I'm sure that it will be the subject of some inquiry," Defense Secretary William Cohen said Saturday. "If it's true it's a very serious matter.""There is an item that's to be checked - Have you ever been either charged or arrested for a crime? - and if the answer was no, then that's not simply a matter of fully disclosing, it's a contradiction of the truth," Cohen said on CNN's "Late Edition."

Tripp's lawyer confirmed his client has been arrested but said the charges against her were dropped because she was innocent.

The New Yorker magazine reports in its edition on newsstands Monday that Tripp, the Pentagon staffer who recorded conversations with Monica Lewinsky about an alleged affair with President Clinton, was arrested on a grand larceny charge May 12, 1969, in Greenwood Lake, N.Y., and subsequently pleaded not guilty.

Tripp went by her maiden name Carotenuto at the time. The magazine said Tripp filled out a 1987 Defense Department security clearance form without mentioning the arrest.

Tripp's lawyer, James Moody, told The Washington Post Tripp and a group of friends were stopped by police after a night of partying. "A bunch of kids were drinking," Moody told the paper. Police detained Tripp after finding $263 and a missing $600 watch in her purse.

Moody told the Post that after her arrest, Tripp appeared in court for an arraignment, but the charges were dropped.

"Linda was told by the judge she was unconditionally discharged and this would never appear on her record," Moody told the paper.

Lt. Cmdr. James Graybeal, a Pentagon spokesman, said he did not know how long an investigation would take.

"It's a very detailed process, gaining a security clearance," Graybeal said. "I would assume going ahead and reverifying the information will take time. We owe it to Linda Tripp to give her due process and fully investigate it."

In its editions on newsstands Monday, U.S. News & World Report reports police records show that Tripp asked the police to investigate petty misfortunes - a missing car phone antenna, a damaged screen door.

The magazine said police records include 38 incident reports since 1992 involving some member of Tripp's family as witness, victim, reporting party or suspect. At least 11 cite Tripp's son, four her ex-husband, two her daughter and seven Tripp herself. The rest list the address of either Tripp or her husband's house.