President Barack Obama will give the Presidential Medal of Freedom (“PMF”) to former President Bill Clinton, a man who was found by a federal judge to have lied to her face while under oath, at the same time his job description required him to take care that the laws be faithfully executed. The judge found Clinton in contempt of court.
Obama now has the same job as Clinton did, so Obama must know something about the importance of national security. Yet Obama is giving the PMF to a man who endangered national security for his personal gain. During the investigation into Clinton’s lying under oath and alleged obstruction of justice regarding the sexual harassment lawsuit against him by an Arkansas state employee named Paula Jones, for conduct that occurred while he was governor of that state, Clinton, as president, allowed a national security threat to get security clearance and work in the Pentagon.
The national security threat was a young White House intern named Monica Lewinsky. Clinton was having extramarital sexual relations with her in the Oval Office and other places while he was president. Clinton’s lying about his relationship with Lewinsky was the basis of the federal judge’s order of contempt of court.
While Clinton was president, one of his senior advisers, Sidney Blumenthal, testified to the grand jury investigating Clinton. Blumenthal testified that Clinton told him that Lewinsky “made a sexual demand on” and “threatened” Clinton. Here is what the Starr Report, a report by Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel who was leading the investigation, states about this on pages 123-124:
Later that day, the President summoned Sidney Blumenthal to the Oval Office. They spoke for about 30 minutes. The President said to Mr. Blumenthal, ”I haven’t done anything wrong.” Mr. Blumenthal testified that the President told him, ”Monica Lewinsky came on to me and made a sexual demand on me.” The President said that he ”rebuffed her.” The President also told Mr. Blumenthal that Ms. Lewinsky had ”threatened him. She said that she would tell people they’d had an affair, that she was known as the stalker among her peers, and that she hated it and if she had an affair or said she had an affair then she wouldn’t be the stalker any more.” Mr. Blumenthal then asked the President whether he and Ms. Lewinsky were alone when she threatened him. The President responded, ”Well, I was within eyesight or earshot of someone.”
Lewinsky was sent to work at the Pentagon on by the Clinton White House. According to page 49 of the Starr Report: “On April 16, 1996, Ms. Lewinsky began working at the Pentagon as Confidential Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs.” She was given a Sensitive Compartmented Information security clearance that involves or derives from sensitive intelligence sources and methods. Here is what the Starr Report states about this on page 49, footnote 348:
V006-DC-00002289 (email noting departures of White House employees); Lewinsky 8/6/98
GJ at 65. According to the job description for the position:
The incumbent of this Schedule C position will have access to highly confidential, sensitive and frequently politically controversial information and must be a person in whom the [Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs] has complete trust and confidence.
833-DC-00002880. Ms. Lewinsky held clearance for Sensitive Compartmented Information. Lewinsky 8/24/98 Int. at 3. According to a regulation:
Sensitive Compartmented Information is information that not only is classified for national security reasons as Top Secret, Secret, or Confidential, but also is subject to special access and handling requirements because it involves or derives from particularly sensitive intelligence sources and methods.
28 C.F.R. §17.18(a) (1998).
Many questions were never asked or answered at the time. Who performed the background investigation on Lewinsky? Who communicated with that person about how to do that investigation and how to compile the report? Who was interviewed in connection with any such investigation, especially those in the White House, including Clinton, who knew or had reason to know that she was sexually involved with the Clinton and always trying to see him? What did these people say to any investigators? Isn’t it a violation of national security rules to put Lewinsky in a sensitive position when she has such potential to blackmail Clinton? Isn’t it a violation to put Lewinsky in such a position, given that she also wanted to hide the nature of the relationship from the Paula Jones attorneys and therefore made herself subject to blackmail? Didn’t Clinton know all of this? Also, assuming that Blumenthal did not lie to the grand jury (a big assumption), how could Clinton allow Lewinsky to go to the Pentagon, especially with that security clearance, when she had made sexual “demands” on him and “threatened” him?
This single ground of endangering national security made Clinton deserving of impeachment and conviction by the Senate, without regard for any perjury or other felonies. Clinton’s supporters, mostly Democrats, endangered national security by keeping him in office.
We have seen what Obama has done regarding national security during his presidency. Honoring Clinton with the PMF is consistent with that conduct.
Now I have to figure out how to explain this to my eleven-year old daughter.
Allan J. Favish is an attorney in Los Angeles. His website is allanfavish.com. He has co-authored with James Fernald a book about what might happen if the government ran Disneyland entitled Fireworks! If the Government Ran the Fairest Kingdom of Them All (A Very Unauthorized Fantasy).