James Woolsey Should Lose Security Clearance

Booz Allen Vice President R. James Woolsey, former Director of Central Intelligence during the Clinton administration, still has his security clearance.

Woolsey's advocacy of American Navy employee turned Israel spy Jonathan Pollard's release though raises questions about the propriety of his continuing to have access to the nation's secrets -- particularly those that cover activities in the Middle East.

Woolsey has been at the crossroads of conflicting intelligence loyalties in the past as well.

In 1998, James Woolsey served as the lawyer for a group of six detained Iraqi National Congress personnel detained by the Immigration and Naturalization Service in Guam and then subsequently in California.

I don't think that the INS has ever been given sufficient praise for having stopped these six Iraqi National Congress operatives -- one of whom was Aras Karim, Chalabi's intelligence chief who later defected to Iran. Woolsey had planned to read through the classified information that the U.S. was holding on these detainees and then to determine whether the U.S. position was legitimate or not. Woolsey alleged at the time that if the U.S. government did not allow him to do this, then the "government must be hiding something."

Woolsey helped enable Chalabi, his intel chief, the Iraqi National Congress operation, and the war against Saddam by being the first on national television on September 11, 2001 to allege a connection between the 9/11 terrorist attacks and Saddam Hussein. Woolsey failed to disclose on TV when making these comments that he was not only a pundit commentator on the attacks -- but was also Ahmed Chalabi's attorney.

I recently attended the annual dinner of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (where I was treated quite well and with great courtesy I should add) and saw Woolsey at the dinner at the Army-Navy Club. It was shortly before this dinner in early February that the CIA Director began changing his tune on Pollard.

Woolsey has a right to be a pundit, a commentator, a thinker, an organizer of forums and organizations committed to not only our current war against Iraq -- but the many other wars for which he is agitating.

But it is wrong for someone of Woolsey's background and abilities to simultaneously be raking in the dollars from private investments and business activities related to a war he is advocating while American men and women are dying on the front line.

It is also wrong for our former Director of Central Intelligence to be advocating the release of an individual who undermined our national interests and who gave America's most closely held secrets to another government. Woolsey's loyalties seem increasingly conflicted -- just as they were when he was serving as a consigliere for Ahmed Chalabi & Co.

Woolsey's security clearance should be suspended.

-- Steve Clemons publishes the popular political blog, The Washington Note