BRIAN LAMB, HOST: Bill Gertz, author of "Betrayal: How the Clinton Administration
Undermined American Security," the last sentence in your book is,
`It's time America had a serious commander in chief.' What'd you mean
Mr. BILL GERTZ, AUTHOR, "BETRAYAL": Well, based on the reporting in
the book, I saw that things have been done during this administration
that, bottom line, have left America weaker and America's enemies
stronger, and that's the bottom line. I tried to lay that out as
factually as possible. The last chapter is kind of the--the effort to
try and make some recommendations. You know, I'm--I'm just a
newspaper reporter, I don't have all the answers, but I presented some
perspectives there on what kinds of things that we need, specifically
LAMB: You wrote in the beginning that, `The president has yet to
admit, possibly even to himself, that he is guilty of a far more
devastating cover-up: his administration's willful failure to provide
for the common defense as the Constitution demands.' Why is it willful
Mr. GERTZ: Well, I think that if you read the book, you'll see that
the policies I outline--and by no means do I have them all, but I
present a pretty interesting case that these policies have left i--if
you look at the military, for instance, the US military is going
hollow. I mean, even the Joint Chiefs have recognized that there's a
problem. Congress is trying to fund it more. And this is the result
of--o--of six years of policies where billions of defense dollars have
been diverted to other things. At the same time, the US military has
been asked to do more and more non-traditional missions and
LAMB: On the back of your book, Mark Thompson, who's a defense
correspondent for Time magazine, says, `Bill Gertz, at the top of a
story, gets the hearts of America's national security pooh-bahs
pumping faster and their brows beaded with sweat more quickly than a
sheaf of papers emblazoned "top secret." Read "Betrayal" and found
out--find out why.' Why aren't more people getting these secret
documents like you?
Mr. GERTZ: Well, you know, in Washington, we have a saying that
you're only as good as your sources, as far as newspaper reporters go,
and I've been very fortunate to work hard over the years to develop
sources within the government. And I think that the information that
I've provided--and we have an extensive appendix of some classified
and unclassified documents which really bolster the case that I make
in the book. Again, talking about sources and--and motivations for
sources is always difficult, but I--I can say that I've been very
fortunate and I've worked hard to develop these sources over the
LAMB: I counted in the book about 22--maybe 22, 23 different
documents, and there's this page right here--you've got six pages like
this. What's the point of this in the back?
Mr. GERTZ: Well, as you know, in the--in the United States,
newspaper reporters have almost unlimited freedom, and my own
perspective on that is that there's a certain responsibility that
comes with that. I had a lot of sensitive material and I felt a
responsibility to check that with the government, so I gave them a
list of documents that I had planned to publish in this book and let
them think about it, if they had some objections to raise. They
obviously weren't very happy about it, but the only thing that they
really objected to were about six pages of NSA intercepts. And my
view on that was that I've quoted from the meat of those intercepts in
the chapter on Russia transferring missile technology to Iran. And it
was a decision that--that the publisher made and I had no problem with
LAMB: Why then so many top-secret documents that they don't seem to
Mr. GERTZ: Well, it could be--I don't know the answer to that,
honestly. But this document in particular was a real revelation.
It's a Pentagon document from the Joint Staff, and it exposed a
incident in the Pacific Northwest in April of 1997 where a US Navy
lieutenant was lased as he photographed a Russian merchant ship from a
helicopter. The incident was kept secret. No--it di--was not
disclosed. This information leaked out to me and we reported it. In
the book, I go into great detail, the--the story there, and it's a
real interesting story.
LAMB: How much of what's in this book ended up first in The
Mr. GERTZ: There is--there is--quite a bit has been reported in The
Times, but a newspaper story, if you're lucky, you get maybe 1,000,
1,500 words, and this was an opportunity for me to really go into more
detail in--on these things. So this was--and, of course, space is a
real premium for newspapers today. The emphasis is on shorter
stories, easier-to-read stories. So this was an opportunity to really
lay out the whole case through a number of different topics that I--I
LAMB: Ru--Russian freighter, Canadian helicopter, United States Navy
involvement. Tell the story about the laser damage.
Mr. GERTZ: Yeah, this is a good story. This was back in April of
'97. This Navy intelligence officer named Lieutenant Jack Daley was
working with the Canadian military forces in Vancouver, and he was
checking on how the Russians were sp--using their merchant ships to
spy on US nuclear missile submarines based in Washington. And he
had--was assigned the mission to go up and photograph this one ship
called the Capitan Man. The helicopter made several passes over it.
He had a digital camera, took a number of pictures. When he returned
to base several hours later, both Lieutenant Daley and the Canadian
officer, Pat Barnes, Captain Pat Barnes, came down with eye
symptoms--eyestrain, severe headaches, symptoms that were associated
with a laser exposure to the eyes. And one of the Navy personnel
involved in developing photos was familiar with these kind of symptoms
and said, `You better get checked. It looks like you've been lased.'
And that set off a series of events in the Pentagon, in the Canadian
military. They cabled back to the Pentagon and a decision was made to
search the ship, detain it in--as it reached the port of Tacoma,
Washington. But before the search could be undertaken, the State
Department notified the Russian Embassy that they were going to
conduct the search, that the Navy and Coast Guard were gonna conduct
the search. And as I report in the book, the NSA at this point later
was able to intercept a communication from the embassy here in
Washington to the Russian consulate in Seattle, alerting them that,
`Hey, you'd better get rid of this laser,' or there was some
communication regarding a laser. And when the Navy and Coast Guard
people went on board, there was no laser. Obviously, they had been
tipped off. The search was limited and the incident was covered up.
The State Department also, as the document that you pointed to earlier
shows, stepped in and took over the investigation. And it appears to
me that they were trying to preserve their diplomatic relations with
Russia by not publicizing this incident, which didn't become public
until several weeks later, when we reported it in The Washington
Times. Then the Pentagon announced that they would do a thorough
investigation, but basically they came up with the conclusion, which I
think is somewhat incredible, that, `A laser was fired, but we don't
know the origin of the laser.' So, again, there was a second level of
a--of a cover-up on this.
LAMB: Where is US Navy Lieutenant Jack Daley today?
Mr. GERTZ: Jack Daley's an active-duty intelligence officer based in
San Diego. He's come under some political fire within the Navy for
being outspoken. Last summer--or, actually, earlier this year, he
testified on Capitol Hill--didn't get much attention, but he was--was
talking about this experience. He feels pretty bitter about it. And
he was exte--interviewed extensively in the book--for the book.
LAMB: Is he still feeling damage?
Mr. GERTZ: Yeah, he says he feel--feels headaches and eyestrain all
the time. And the Navy--he's been passed over for promotion and
his--his career is uncertain at this point. As for Pat Barnes, his
career was ended as a result of these injuries, although...
Mr. GERTZ: Yeah--although the Canadian military hasn't compensated
him for that. So e--essentially, what you have here is a--is a
hostile action, kind of a--a--an outgrowth of the cat-and-mouse spy
games of the Cold War. It's kind of similar that it was still going
on, surprising that it's still happening today when Russia was
supposed to be a--a friend or--or a more friendlier country.
LAMB: You say in the beginning again, Chapter 1, `His,' meaning
President Clinton's, `wrongheaded policies affecting our nation's
security and his cavalier cover-up of this misconduct amount to
betrayal, a betrayal that has left the United States weaker militarily
as its enemies grow stronger and the world becomes more dangerous.'
Let me read just another sentence. `He has squandered the Cold War
victory that he inherited from his predecessors, presidents who
understood the realities of global power politics that are apparently
beyond Clinton's grasp or that he has no interest in learning.'
Was there ever a time when you were sitting there writing this that
you worried that this is not the reporter's job, to pass judgment like
Mr. GERTZ: Well, this is a journalistic book, but it's also a--a
good story, and I wanted to tell that story, and that's kind of the
way I approached it. You know, some critics will say, `Well, you
know, this is an anti-Clinton book.' Well, I look at it as a
pro-America book. And the question is: I--if the Reagan
administration had done this or the Bush administration had done this,
I still would've written this book.
LAMB: Well, what makes the Clinton administration wr--wrong and you
Mr. GERTZ: Well, I'm not saying that I'm right. I'm saying, `Here
are the facts as I see them,' and I present these in a series of
chapters which I think is a real expose. I think it's a real
eye-opener for people to look closely at a lot of these things. It's
no--it--it's--it's clear that this administration has made spin one of
the dominant features of its--of its policies, and I think that
they've misled a lot of the American people about what these policies
are. They're very good at telling you that a glass is half-full when,
in fact, it's half-empty.
LAMB: Has this administration done anything right when it comes to
Mr. GERTZ: I can't really think of too many things. Like I say,
the--because of the problems that the military is facing now, I think
that--and, I would add, the intelligence community as well, I'd point
out that--you know, that intelligence budgets were cut. They're only
beginning now to recognize that these have had long-term negative
effects on--on our national security and they're--they're tr--starting
to look at trying to turn it around.
LAMB: What do you think of William Cohen?
Mr. GERTZ: He's a--the--the only Republican in the Clinton
administration. He had a tough act to follow in Bill Perry. I think
his job so far has been fair. I don't know how he has handled the
internal power struggles, but say, for instance, in the issue of the
Balkans conflict, the story that I'm told from Pentagon officials is
that the driving factors in this military operation were Madeleine
Albright, the secretary of State, and the president. And it's not
clear to me what role Bill Cohen, the Defense secretary, and General
Shelton, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, had in it. They seem to
try to be supportive, but we've seen--all seen the stories about
whether or not they fully support that. And I think also if you
listen to some of the statements by the military spokesmen these days,
you can sense that the military is trying to distance itself from this
operation, which is successful for what it's doing in terms of aerial
bombardment, but politically in terms of achieving the political
objectives, which seem to be the dominant features, it--it hasn't done
LAMB: Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think you accuse Nicholas Burns,
former spokesman of the State Department, of lying, and the same thing
might be true for the secretary of State, Madeleine Albright.
Mr. GERTZ: Those were based on interviews--well, in the case of
Nicholas Burns, I think if you read the--the chapter on that and how
he handled these issues...
LAMB: What were the issues?
Mr. GERTZ: Well, if you'd bring a specific one, I can't recall
exactly what it was, but as for Madeleine Albright, it was her
testimony to Congress regarding the underground construction in
Kumchang-ri, the--the secret nuclear facility--and I have a chapter on
the North Korean nuclear program. And according to the officials I
interviewed for the book, she gave misleading testimony, and these
officials told me that they considered her as having known about this
facility, and yet, having had lied to Congress about it.
LAMB: Why would she do that?
Mr. GERTZ: This is an administration that has made arms control
diplomacy the key feature of its national security policy. The North
Korean nuclear agreement was touted as one of its resounding
diplomatic arms control successes; that is, the agreed framework that
was reached in 1994 which was supposed to have frozen the North Korean
nuclear program. This was in an agreement that was signed with a
Communist regime that still considers itself at war with the United
States. And the administration quickly concluded this agreement and
then declared victory and, lo and behold, several years later, the US
intelligence community discovered this facility, which they're
convinced is the beginnings of a--of an--of a new underground nuclear
facility. There's even concerns that the--the supposedly frozen
program--equipment from that program may be transferred to the new
LAMB: The paragraph is, quote, "In the spring of 1997, senior Clinton
administration policy-makers were alerted that the North Korean
nuclear weapons program was not frozen, said a government official who
was angered by the fact that Congress had been kept in the dark,"
quote, "and Madeleine Albright lied to the Senate about it," unquote.
I just want to ask you about that source, `a government official.' We
have n--can you tell us any more than that?
Mr. GERTZ: Unfortunately, as you know, reporters are very protective
of their sources and I'd prefer not to go into any more detail than
LAMB: But as you know, some of the people who like what you're doing
the most would be the most upset if this was coming from the other
side, `a government official,' without any more specifics than that.
Mr. GERTZ: Brian, it's just real difficult to talk about sources,
other than to say that they were interested in getting the story out.
LAMB: Later on in that chapter, Flash Point Korea, you talk about a
State Department ex-employee, Korea watcher Larry Robinson...
Mr. GERTZ: Mm-hmm.
LAMB: ...and you have back in the back the document, a long document,
that he submitted when he left Korea. Tell us about that. And how'd
you get the document?
Mr. GERTZ: It was leaked to me. It was a real eye-opener in the
sense that Larry Robinson was the North Korea watcher--or the Korea
watcher, I believe, at the US Embassy in Seoul, and this was his
end-of-tour recollection of North Korea. And he really paints a
very--extremely bleak picture of the situation there, of the
starvation estimates. He has one of the few government estimates of
two million to three million people who have died of starvation in
North Korea. At the same time, he presents a--a fascinating internal
close-up profile of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il, that's just
fascinating. It shows a--a person who is--and--and we don't know much
about him, so again, hi--his analysis was certainly eye-opening, a--a
reclusive leader who is running this Communist state in which, I might
add, while the people are starving there, they're continuing to
develop nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.
LAMB: And it's suggested right now as we're talking that William
Perry, the former Defense secretary, might go there, might go to North
Mr. GERTZ: I've seen those reports. Yeah, Bill Perry has been
appointed as a special envoy to deal with this issue, the--the renewal
of the North Korean nuclear program. It's not exactly clear when he's
going or--or whether he's actually going. I--I'm not sure of the
reports. But he's been trying to get there and wants to talk to the
North Koreans. Again, it's the--it's a similar approach. It's an
attempt to use diplomacy to put back in the bottle which has already
LAMB: This has a `secret' label on it, not a `top secret' label, and
it says things like, `Kim Jong Il remains one of the most
ignic--ig--e--enigmatic of national leaders. Like the Wizard of Oz,
he hides behind a screen and issues pronouncements through a
megaphone.' What do you think of the labels? There was--there used to
be a lot of complaining about the kind of documents that were labeled
`secret,' `top secret,' `no foreign nationals.'
Mr. GERTZ: Yeah, it's--it's--there--those are the levels of--of
classification and there are various levels. Obviously, the most
top-secret or the most secret are called `top secret' and code
word--they have various code words after them. It's--to me, it's
truly been extraordinary, I mean, as a newspaper reporter, to see this
kind of material. As for the motivation of people that do that, you
know, I--I really don't care. I mean, I'm looking at it as whether
it's accurate information and whether it's news, and that's--those are
the criteria that--that--how I deal with them.
LAMB: How do you approach your job as a reporter?
Mr. GERTZ: Well, I have a lot of fun doing my job. I've been a
reporter here in Washington for 14 years. I've got a great beat,
which is the defense and national security beat. It's evolved over
the years. I can remember back in the mid-'80s we were covering the
so-called year of the spy, which became the decade of the spy, and
there was--a lot of that Cold War coverage was--was real interesting.
And now things have changed. In the early '90s, weapons proliferation
became the big issue and I focused a lot of reporting efforts on the
issue of weapons proliferation and was able to break a lot of stories,
including some that I've elaborated on in the book.
LAMB: Let me read some more of what you write, the le--the Clinton
legacy, at the end, you say, `President Clinton's most important
legacy will not be his seriocomic sex scandals, but his dead-serious
disarmament of the United States and his self-serving
appeace--appeasement of powerful and determined foreign enemies. His
flower-child "Can't we just--all just get along?" approach to global
power politics has left the nation weakened and vulnerable in a
dangerous and--dangerous and hostile world.'
First question is, do you think you're gonna have trouble getting
anybody at the Pentagon to talk to you after you write stuff like
Mr. GERTZ: No, I don't think so. Like I said, this is an honest
assessment that I made in--in this book. You know, reporters maybe
aren't supposed to have opinions, but in this case, I felt strongly
enough to express my opinions. I don't do that in my news columns and
I think I can divorce them from my news columns.
LAMB: What do you think of Ken Bacon, the spokesman at the Pentagon
for Bill Cohen?
Mr. GERTZ: I've known Ken for quite a long while. He's--he was
there during the Perry administration. He's a--he's a--a--an
aggressive spokesman, very smooth-talking, very defensive and very
policy-oriented. He's done--he's done a pretty good job, I think.
LAMB: How does he deal with you?
Mr. GERTZ: He's dealt with me fairly honestly. You know, he--he
returns my phone calls, as most people do. And I--I have no
LAMB: On another issue, you say, `Chinese strategic nuclear missiles
have become more reliable through American technology.' Some call that
Mr. GERTZ: Well, some people do call that treason. I wouldn't go
that far, but clearly...
LAMB: How is it treason?
Mr. GERTZ: Well, I--I--I don't call it treason; I say...
LAMB: But--but those that think it's treason, how--explain.
Mr. GERTZ: Well, I think that there's a--a perspective of the
administration that they are purposefully trying to weaken the United
States. I think Jeane Kirkpatrick captured it when she described it
as the `blame America first' crowd. These are people, I think, who
philosophically think that the world will be a better place if the
United States is weaker and that other nations are around to balance
off American power.
I remember Frank Wisner, when--the Pentagon official and ambassador,
he gave a speech once and he said--he says, `The balance of power is a
very complex thing.' And I thought to myself: That may have been true
a decade ago, but today, there really is no balance of power. The
United States is the sole superpower and the other nations are--are
trying to grapple with that, specifically China.
LAMB: You deal with C. Michael Armstrong, now head of AT&T, formerly
of Hughes, and Bernard Schwartz of Loral. How do those two gentlemen
fit into this story?
Mr. GERTZ: Well, this is an unfolding story that has been continuing
to dominate the headlines. It has to do with the issue of: Did
American satellite technology and rocket technology improve the
reliability of Chinese strategic missiles? And I think we're gonna
find out very soon and we do--and I cover it in the book--that it did,
in fact, do that. How did this happen? Where--what's the role of
these people? Bernard Schwartz was a major contributor to the
Democratic Party in 1996 and was lobbying heavily for relaxation of
controls on high-tech exports, specifically the satellites that Loral
makes, because they wanted to be able to launch these satellites on
Chinese rocket boosters. Mike Armstrong was actually a big supporter
of the president, and I have a document in the back that goes into his
letters to the president, shows that he was actually somewhat
negotiating with the Chinese about US sanctions that had been imposed
on China for its sales of missiles and technology to Pakistan.
And basically they were--and--and I--you know, this is the--the `Why?'
question that was one of the most difficult to answer in the book, was
why did the administration adopt these policies? And it's clear from
looking at this that they've chosen to make business and international
trade more important than national security, in--in per--my
LAMB: Well, you actually write, `In the Clinton administration, all
national security policies are subordinated to business interests.'
Mr. GERTZ: Well, I think that's--that's fairly accurate. I think
you have a situation where it's almost a--a--a kind of mercantilism.
You have this very close relationship between the administration and
government. I--I think in--in Republican administrations, they had a
much more hands-off approach to--to business affairs, but in this
case, they seemed to have adopted a much closer relationship.
LAMB: How much proof do you have of that?
Mr. GERTZ: Well, like I say, I think the--the case of Loral and
Hughes is--is illustrative of that.
LAMB: Does that mean--that's just one case. Is that--I mean, where
are--what are other examples of...
Mr. GERTZ: Well, then there's the supercomputers, there's--and--and
we're gonna learn more about this when we finally see the report by
Representative Chris Cox that there was efforts by the business
community to win favor with the administration in order to get a
relaxation of controls on--on sensitive exports. The problem with
that is that you have exports that are ostensibly commercial
technology, but that they do have military applications. And the
Clinton administration approach to that has been to kind of downplay
the threat of that technology. And--and in the case of the Chinese
rockets, I think we have a--as close to a smoking gun as--as--as--as
could be found that technology sold--commercial technology sold
actually helped their--to improve their ballistic missiles.
Now why is that important? I point out in the book that the CIA last
year did a report--a classified report that said 13 of the 18
long-range Chinese missiles, which are designated CSS-4s, are actually
targeted at US cities. And I thought--when I broke that story, I
thought, `This is a great story. What are the cities? Where are the
others targeted?' Didn't have a lot of details, but I confirmed that
much about it. And that was interesting to me because the president,
one of his most outspoken statements was always, `There are no nuclear
missiles pointed at the children of America,' and he had kind of taken
credit for that as part of his--the arms control portion of his
LAMB: I want to go back to the people who are praising your book, on
the back, and again, they were all in military--they're civilians
in--in, you know, military organizations with classified material, and
they're all praising your book, which is full of classified material.
One of them's Cap Weinberger. He says, `Mr. Gertz has performed a
signal service by writing this thorough, frightening and sad chronicle
of how we fell from our ability to provide leadership in the quest for
peace without appeasement.'
Would--if he'd been secretary of Defense and all this stuff flowed out
of there, what would he have been saying?
Mr. GERTZ: Well, I don't think leaks of classified information
are--have been limited to the Clinton administration. I mean, just
ask T--Seymour Hersh or--or Bob Woodward. So I--I don't know. I
mean, I--he--he read the book, obviously saw what it was, and that's
his--his comment about it.
LAMB: Now are you surprised, I guess--a--and I must say I reacted
when I saw all this classified material coming from military people.
They were the ones that were the most upset in the past when things
like the Pentagon Papers were published.
Mr. GERTZ: Well, it--it's...
LAMB: Well, it--I mean, is it--whose ox is being gored? Do you find
that that's the--that's when people get upset about classified
Mr. GERTZ: Yeah, it could be, you know. I've--I've noticed some
comments about that recently, specifically The Washington Post had an
article which suggested that people were leaking to somehow embarrass
the president. But I--I never remember The Post raising that issue
back when they were publishing embarrassing leaks on other presidents.
LAMB: How does--tell us how it works for you. Where do you operate
Mr. GERTZ: I work at The Washington Times. Our building is out on
New York Avenue Northeast. And I move around town a lot. I've been
spending a lot of time at our desk at the Pentagon. We have a desk
there in--with the defense reporters on the E-ring. Reason for that
has been, obviously, the Balkans conflict. Any time you have a
deployment of US forces in a conflict, it requires a focusing of a lot
of resources. I share the defense duties with Rowan Scarborough, my
partner at the paper. And, in fact, we've even started a--a weekly
column called Inside the Ring, which is short pieces on inside
information, things that might not warrant a full story but are--are
kind of nuggets of information about the goings-on inside this huge
building over across the river.
LAMB: Now I know you don't want to name names. I'm not going to ask
you to, but let's say I'm inside, I'm a military person or a CIA
person and I want Bill Gertz to get a document. How do I get the
document to you without anybody catching me?
Mr. GERTZ: Ooh, Brian, you're getting--you're getting close to
the--the issue of sources. It's always difficult to talk about that.
LAMB: But I--I get--let's make--let's make it instructive for
somebody that does want to leak to you. I mean, how do they get it to
you and not get touched on the whole thing?
Mr. GERTZ: OK. Well, you know, the address is thir--3600 New York
Avenue. If they'd want, they can--they can use the US Mail.
LAMB: And do they?
Mr. GERTZ: Oh, it--it might have happened once in a while.
LAMB: I mean, something comes in, all--you open it up and, bingo,
there's a top secret document.
Mr. GERTZ: It's happened on occasion. I remember a story we did on
the--the so-called bottom-up review that was done early in this
administration, and it was a--an early set of viewing slides that
exposed how, instead of being real strategically driven or need
driven, it was actually budget driven; that they were trying to
fashion a--a military force that would fit the budget.
LAMB: OK. Let's say they want to talk to you on the phone. Do you
worry that your phones are tapped?
Mr. GERTZ: Sure. You--you always have to worry about that. I mean,
y--again, I think it's difficult for administrations to go after
reporters. It's--it's politically difficult for anyone, including--I
mean, if you look at some of the people that were in this
administration--Anthony Lake, for instance, had his phone tapped when
he was working in the Nixon administration, I believe, trying to find
leaks. I'm under no illusions that there aren't task forces out there
who read the paper every day and try to figure out where the leaks are
coming. And I try to take appropriate steps to protect my sources.
LAMB: Well, I mean, say I wanted to talk to you and I said, `Look,
I--I--I can't--we can't be seen together, and this phone thing makes
me nervous.' How do you talk on the phone? I mean, you go to pay
phones or something like that and--so you can't trace it?
Mr. GERTZ: Well, like I said, with all these task forces out there,
I think that's something I'd just rather not go into great detail on.
LAMB: Do you find that some of your sources are more clever at it
Mr. GERTZ: Well, I--I...
LAMB: I mean, how many of them stumble, say, `Hey, Mr. Gertz, I
don't know you, but I'm--you know, this is serious stuff, and I want
you to have it'?
Mr. GERTZ: Yeah. Well, the way it really works is, in a lot of
cases, you'll get one piece of information. And then we take that
i--piece of information and try to develop a story, the--the so-called
mosaic pattern. You try to put all the pieces together into one good
story. Especially when you're dealing with inside information, it's
always very difficult to try and put the pieces together.
LAMB: Are people afraid to leave you voice-mails?
Mr. GERTZ: Well, I guess I get plenty of voice-mail, yeah. I've had
people tell me that they think my phone is tapped but, you know, I
just--I just don't do a lot of business on the phone.
LAMB: Has anybody ever been hurt by a pu--a story you've published?
Has the source ever been hurt?
Mr. GERTZ: Well, I don't know that, and I can tell you that, you
know, we try to be responsible. As--as journalists, we try to be
responsible. We may not always be responsible. The criteria for us
in publishing information is, we're not going to--we're not going to
do anything that's going to risk someone's life. And we have
ways--there are officials, former officials, current officials, who
can clue us in on--on these matters. And I can tell you there--there
have been cases where we have withheld information at the request of
LAMB: The name of the book is "Betrayal." Who named it?
Mr. GERTZ: I did.
LAMB: Where did you get the idea?
Mr. GERTZ: Well, I think the lead chapter--really, the lead chapter
is--the chapter on Jack Daley was kind of the scene-setter for the
book, this Navy lieutenant that was really hung out to dry. And I
think that kind of set the--the stage for the other issues that we
LAMB: Which rocket is on the cover of this book?
Mr. GERTZ: That's a THAAD Interceptor, the Theater High Altitude
Area Defense missile. We juxtaposed that with the Chinese because the
book is not just limited to the Clinton administration's dealings with
China. It has a--a--a real important chapter on missile defense. And
the THAAD was one of those systems--in fact, it's the first dedicated
anti-missile system--regional anti-missile system under development.
It has a lot of problems, but once it gets going, it's going to be
a--a great missile killer.
LAMB: Do you think we need an anti-missile system?
Mr. GERTZ: I do. I think this is a--this is one of the issues that
I've really focused on a lot in my reporting as well as in the book.
You know, President Clinton has been very flexible on most political
issues, except one, and that's missile defense. I mean, as I say, on
his watch, I don't think there will--will be any, and that includes
both theater missile defenses, which are the--the most urgent need. I
mean, we saw the largest single number of casualties in the Persian
Gulf War was from an Iraqi Scud missile in Saudi Arabia. And at that
point, the administration decided, `This is going to be a crash
program. We're going to switch from strategic missile defense or
defense against long-range missiles into building defenses against
these short-range threats which are here and now.'
During the Clinton administration, there has not been a single theater
missile defense system fielded. And we have the Patriot, which has
been upgraded, but it's really--that was designed to sh--to shoot down
aircraft. And so you have to begin to wonder, `What's the problem?
Why wasn't this a major priority?'
The other side of the equation on that is that the threat from
missiles is increasing exponentially, and I don't think that's an
exaggeration. We've seen the--the North Korean tested an ICBM missile
last August. The Pakistanis developed a derivative of the North
Korean no-dong missile, which is medium range. Iran is developing two
medium-range missiles. And the nations behind those, Russia and
China, are--are providing a lot of technology and support. And that's
why I point out it--it kind of fits in. We need a missile defense,
and at the same time, the threat from missiles is increasing.
LAMB: How often do you get leaked material from businesses that would
benefit by having, say, an anti-missile system?
Mr. GERTZ: I'd say almost never. Businesses are probably more
strict in controlling their information than the government.
LAMB: From what you know about the leaks coming out of the
government, does it worry you that there are more leakers than there
should be in the Defense Department and the CIA?
Mr. GERTZ: Not really. I mean, it's--like I say, I'm a newspaper
man. This is a--if--if it's news, we'll use it.
LAMB: How'd you get into this business?
Mr. GERTZ: I was hired at the paper by Arnold DeBorcroft, the
Newsweek foreign correspondent who was--had come over for our paper
there and is now at UPI. He picked me up. I'd known Arnold when he
was at the CSIS, the Center for Security--Center for Strategic and
International Studies. And he basically gave me my break, and--and
I've been covering these issues on and off for 14 years.
LAMB: What were you doing before he hired you?
Mr. GERTZ: I was working in New York--in Washington for the New York
City Tribune, which was a sister paper of The Washington Times.
LAMB: And how long had you worked there?
Mr. GERTZ: Probably about a year. And then before that, I worked at
a--a kind of a think tank called the Washington Institute for Values
and Public Policy, and I did some of their monograph and book
LAMB: Where were you before that?
Mr. GERTZ: That's pretty much--covers most of my career in
Washington--which has been in Washington.
LAMB: Where were you born?
Mr. GERTZ: I was born in Glen Cove, New York, on Long Island; grew
up in Huntington further out on the island.
LAMB: Where'd you go to school?
Mr. GERTZ: I attended school at Washington College, on the Eastern
Shore, studied English literature there. And then I also studied
journalism here at George Washington University.
LAMB: What year did you get your journalism degree?
Mr. GERTZ: I didn't--didn't get a degree.
LAMB: What year would it have been? What year did you leave?
Mr. GERTZ: It would have been--it would have been 1974 or '5.
LAMB: Why do you want to be in this business?
Mr. GERTZ: I like the news business because it's fun. Being in
Washington is an exciting place to be. It's interesting work. I've
traveled all over the world. I've been to banquets with the secretary
of Defense in Kazakhstan, traveled to Germany, all over the world.
And I like writing stories. I think it's a--it's a good business to
be in. You know, there's always questions about what's the f--future
of the news business. I think newspapers are going to be around for a
LAMB: How many stories would you guess you write a year?
Mr. GERTZ: Well, I would say I probably average one a ye--one a day,
which is a lot...
LAMB: Three hundred and sixty--356--365 a year?
Mr. GERTZ: Yeah. I mean, we have a--we're--we're a pretty lean
staff at The Times. We're outgunned. It's even been said that
the--the Washington bureau of The New York Times is larger than our
LAMB: All right. If you write 365 stories a year, one a day, how
many of those are exclusive to Bill Gertz?
Mr. GERTZ: Well, we have--basically, we have two types of reporting.
One is the breaking news or spot news, and those are the stories that
everyone covers: Secretary of Defense testifies, has a press
conference; some event happens; war in the Balkans. And the other is
what we call enterprise reporting, and at The Times, we focus a lot of
our energy on doing that. It's--those are stories that no one else
has, exclusives, investigative reporting, if you will. I'd say
roughly I'd probably--on a--on a good week, I'll get one good
exclusive, maybe one--one every two weeks.
These are stories that can easily be turned around but that require a
lot of digging, a lot of checking information. And at our paper, you
know, we have--we have a saying. You know, `Get it first, but get it
right.' So we try to err on the side of caution on--on a lot of these
LAMB: In the acknowledgements, you say, `I'd like to thank The
Washington Times for its assistance in both time and resources,
especially The Times founders, the Reverend and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon,
who created a great newspaper, and my editors, Wesley Prudent, Bill
Jowells,' da, da. Why did you have to thank the Moons?
Mr. GERTZ: Well, I--I felt they deserved it. They're the ones that
founded the paper, and I think they've gone a--done a great service,
not just to Washington, but the United States by doing that.
LAMB: Why do you think they do it?
Mr. GERTZ: I honestly believe that they are--believe that America
has an important role to play in the world and that a two-newspaper
town in--in--in America's capital is an important voice for people to
get both sides of the story.
LAMB: Let me ask you another question along those lines. What do you
think would happen--or what wouldn't the world know if The Washington
Times wasn't in Washington?
Mr. GERTZ: Well, I think we focus on stories that the--The
Washington Post either isn't interested in or is not going to cover.
And I--you know, I--I can say that from ex--from 14 years of
experience. The Post is a giant newspaper, and they have a view
that--I wouldn't say it's completely a view, but they--they have a
sense that, `Unless we report it, it's not news.' And I think that
kind of--it's--it's almost a kind of arrogance.
The Times, on the other hand, you'll find different news and you'll
find it played differently. Stories that may be on the front of The
Washington Times may be a brief inside The Post. But it's--like I
say, it's--it's a real important voice to get both sides of the story.
LAMB: You also thanked--thanked somebody by the name of Steve Gertz.
Any relation to you?
Mr. GERTZ: He's my brother. Yeah.
LAMB: What's he do?
Mr. GERTZ: He's a financier out in the Bay area, California.
LAMB: What did your mother and father do?
Mr. GERTZ: Actually, my father, Art Gertz, was an engineer with
Sperry. He was a--a former military man; was in the Army Air Corps,
worked in Wright-Patterson field in Ohio. And he actually designed
gun cameras for aircraft during World War II.
LAMB: Did you ever spend any time in the service?
Mr. GERTZ: No, I didn't. I didn't. But I've certainly learned a
lot about it. I guess the most I've spent was back in 1995. I went
to Bosnia with US troops and actually lived for about a month with a
military unit. It was a--it was a great experience, really great
LAMB: Chapter Nine's Bombs Away, about Scott Ritter. What is it?
Mr. GERTZ: This is the Scott Ritter story. He had a--he was a--a
gung-ho Marine, ex-Marine--retired Marine, I guess as the Marines like
to say. And he was assigned the task of going after Saddam Hussein's
weapons of mass destruction programs and missiles. The--when he came
in, he was an inspector for the United Nations--wasn't the top
inspector, but was one of their real guys in the field. And he
devised the plan which he called Shake The Tree, which was a--a
unique, almost an intelligence covert action operation, which the--the
purpose of which was to force the Iraqis into revealing how they were
hiding these weapons that the UN was trying to ban.
And he was frustrated in that effort, trying to get that done, partly
because he was working for the UN and partly because, in his words,
the Clinton administration blocked his efforts.
LAMB: You throw a little "Wag the Dog" in there. Do you think
Mr. GERTZ: I certainly--I mean, I think it's going to take another
decade or so before some of the in--inside people in the Clinton
administration give us the real motivation for what--what motivated
the president, if we ever know at all. But I think you have to be a
little suspicious about that when you look at the timing on that and
you look at how the events unfolded. The president was about to be
impeached, and there had been several times when the US was
threatening to go to war with Iraq, again to achieve political
objectives, not military objectives--political objectives; that was to
get Iraq to abide by the UN weapons dismantling program.
They had threatened in February before that, and it wasn't until
December when they actually went to war. And then you have to
wonder--look at the result. They didn't achieve--they--they achieved
just the opposite of the political result they wanted. There haven't
been weapons inspections in Iraq for almost six months, and we know
that the CIA director has testified in Congress that it would only
take Iraq six months with no inspections to develop a nuclear weapon.
LAMB: Of what help are the Israelis to us in intelligence gathering
and in any of the relationships, especially over there in the Middle
Mr. GERTZ: The Israelis are very close intelligence. From my
experience, the Pollard case notwithstanding, there's a very symbiotic
relationship between US and--and Israeli intelligence. The Israelis
are very good at what they call HUMINT or human intelligence
gathering. That is, getting people, agents, inside organizations,
trying to learn their intentions, their--their goals, the--the things
that you can't learn from spy satellites. On the other hand, the US
is extremely good at electronic and high-technology spying. There
is--it--it is an unrivaled capability.
In m--in my experience, I've seen information about how US satellites
can be maneuvered over parts of the world to intercept the cell phone
conversations of drug dealers or arms dealers. The photographic
capability is extraordinary, and it includes not only digital still
images but actual video. We've all seen the Tom Clancy movies. So I
think that there's a--an important sharing, especially in the Middle
East, one of the most volatile regions of the world. The US helps the
Israelis with a lot of these high-tech spying, and there's a
trade-off. In exchange, the Israelis will help with what they know
from their agents that are burrowed inside terrorist organizations or
And--and I've got to say, I know that the Israelis are not limited to
other Middle Eastern countries. I mean, they ha--obviously have a
real national security interest, but they're everywhere, including
China and Russia.
LAMB: Th--the only time you've appeared on C-SPAN before, on our
call-in show, I remember you saying something to the effect you don't
like to do television because you don't really want people to know
what you look like.
Mr. GERTZ: Well, it--it's a factor. It--it could make it harder for
me to do my job. So I've--I've tried to keep a low profile, and
that's one reason.
LAMB: But now you're doing "The Gordon Liddy Show" and the "Rush
Limbaugh Show" and things like that. Are you worried that it could
Mr. GERTZ: Well, that's--that's radio. I mean, this is TV.
LAMB: Yeah, but it's still making a bigger name for you.
Mr. GERTZ: Yeah. Yeah.
LAMB: Is that going--could it help you?
Mr. GERTZ: Well, it certainly could. I mean, I think once you get a
reputation as a solid reporter and somebody that is--is kind of
what--a go-to guy, in other words, it could generate some--some news
LAMB: Go back to when--the very first moment somebody said, `Bill
Gertz, you ought to write a book.' Who was it?
Mr. GERTZ: It was a friend of mine out in the Hoover Institution in
Stanford, California, Arnold Bikeman, who is a--also a columnist for
The Times. Arnold's a great guy. He used to be a--a New York
newspaper man, solid guy.
LAMB: How did it work from there?
Mr. GERTZ: Well, I had to learn how to do it, and I guess the--the
most important part was developing a proposal, setting up a h--what
you wanted to say, how you were going to say it, what was going to be
your sources of information. And, really, once you get the proposal
out, I think that's, you know, kind of the outline. And then the rest
is just writing the book. It was--it was a big project. It was--it
was a lot of work, lot--lot more work than I thought it would be. But
it was--it was pretty rewarding. I mean, there were times when I
think--when I thought to myself, `This i--this may not work. I may
not be able to--to get this done the way I want it.'
LAMB: When did you start it?
Mr. GERTZ: I would guess it would probably have started in
early--late '97 or early '98, I got the idea.
LAMB: When'd you finish it?
Mr. GERTZ: And I finished it in D--December of last year. So the
LAMB: And who bought--who bought the book, which publisher, and why?
Mr. GERTZ: OK. Regnery bought the book and published it, and
they're--they're right around the corner from here. And I think they
did a pretty good job.
LAMB: As you know, you're already on the best-seller list and it's
not even really been out. How many books did they first print of
Mr. GERTZ: My understanding is that the first print run was 50,000,
and they've since added two additional printings since then.
LAMB: How much each? Do you know?
Mr. GERTZ: I'm not sure, but I know the most recent printing was
about 25,000. I think they're close to about 100,000.
LAMB: You write at the end of Chapter Seven, `But in Bill Clinton's
Washington, national security facts never get in the way of helping
corporate friends do business.' Is that special to Bill Clinton, or
did you find it in previous administrations?
Mr. GERTZ: I think it's--it's particularly special to Bill Clinton,
and we've--you know, I mean, they--you've seen the investigations that
are under way on th--on these issues. Congress has tried to--to make
the case that this happened, and I--I think it did. I mean, I think
that there--I mean, I point out that in the beginning of the Clinton
administration, they created an entity called the Economic Security
Council. It was specifically designed to be a parallel to the
National Security Council. And then we all know the slogan from the
Clinton administration was, `It's the economy, stupid.' And, clearly,
in my view, I think they--they have subordinated national security
interests to these economic interests, and--and I try to show that in
LAMB: `Missile technology transfers from Russia to Iran represent one
of the most egregious cases of the failed foreign policies of Bill
Mr. GERTZ: Well, here was a case--and this story emerged in January
of 1997, I believe. And the Israelis came to the US, and they had
uncovered some really solid information that there was a close
collaboration between Russia and Iran on--to develop two types of
medium-range missiles. And obviously, the--the Israelis were very
concerned about this, and they obviously wanted the United States to
use its status as a global superpower to try and prevent or slow the
development of these missiles. And so the United States was told
about it, but they--they acted slowly on it.
Again, they had a--a policy towards Russia which was designed to be
conciliatory. They were unwilling to put any pressure on the Russian
government to stop these sales. And I think the--the genesis of that
was in one of the documents that I disclose in there, which was a
confidential memorandum of conversation between Clinton and Yeltsin.
And this was at the Sharmel Shake summit in 1996. And in that, you
have the president telling Yeltsin, `Boris, you're running for
re-election. I'm running for re-election. Let's not do anything that
would upset relations between our two countries. And, oh, by the way,
your country is blocking imports of chicken, and 40 percent of those
chicken imports come from Arkansas.' And it was--it really captured
for me the political style of Bill Clinton, which was to use subtle
notice--not heavy-handed politicking, but very subtle politicking on
an issue. Here he was at a summit to talk about international
terrorism and he ends up politicking for his friends in Arkansas to
get a ban on chicken lifted. The ban was lifted a few weeks later.
LAMB: If you were to stack every secret document that you've been
given over the last 14 years on a table somewhere, how high would the
Mr. GERTZ: Boy, I don't know. I'd say probably not very high.
LAMB: So you've got 20-plus documents in here. There are not many
more than that?
Mr. GERTZ: I would say that this is pretty much it, yeah. What you
see is what you get in the--in the book, yeah.
LAMB: Are you surprised that you get these?
Mr. GERTZ: Yeah, I think it's extraordinary. I mean, you have to
wonder that--you know, I mean, it's--like I say, it's--it's--it's a
very risky thing, but I think it--it--it shows the level of
frustration within the government about certain policies and--and the
way things were handled. Take the case of Jack Daley. That story
never would have come out if I had not been lucky enough and fortunate
enough to find out about this information.
LAMB: You suggest that former Air S--Force Chief of Staff Fogelman
was the only military man that stood up to this president. Is that
Mr. GERTZ: Ron Fogelman was a--the Air Force chief of staff. He was
a good guy on missile defense issues. I don't think he really quit in
protest. I know that he quit with a difference over the secretary of
Defense about how a subordinate was disciplined. I was unable to
reach him for the book. I was trying to interview him for the book.
He's living out in Colorado now and has been pretty quiet about his
LAMB: What do you think of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
Mr. GERTZ: He's a--a warrior, a Special Forces expert. He's--I
don't think that he really has a good handle on Washington politics
and the way Washington works. I think that he's someone that is
trying the best he can to serve the president.
LAMB: What--describe what you hear behind the scenes from this
military establishment about this president.
Mr. GERTZ: There's a lot of dissatisfaction. As I mentioned, when I
went to Bosnia with US troops a couple of years ago, I was really
surprised at how much the military did not like the president.
LAMB: What do they say?
Mr. GERTZ: Well, I can remember one--one sergeant telling me that,
`When I found out that Bill Clinton had dodged the draft,' he said, `I
lost all respect for him.' And then I had a--I had a--actually had a
colonel tell me--and I was in Hungary, where the president was going
to visit. I had a colonel tell me that, `Bill Clinton doesn't have
the moral authority to come here.' Now I--I--like I say, I--you know,
I was really surprised at the--the vehemence. Now f--nobody wanted to
be quoted on that for my stories, but I can tell you that I think that
was fairly representative of the spectrum of feeling. I--I didn't
find anybody that really liked Clinton. I'm sure there are people in
the military that do, but I didn't come across them.
LAMB: How much longer do you want to do this?
Mr. GERTZ: I'm--I'm still having fun. I'm going to keep doing my
job. There's--there's tons of stories. I'm working on some--some
stories right now that are--are pretty good. I've--I'm working on
some stories about the Balkans, about Russian relations. So as long
as I--I can do a good job and--and keep after it, I'm going to keep
LAMB: Are you married?
Mr. GERTZ: Yes, I'm married. I have three children.
LAMB: How old are they?
Mr. GERTZ: My daughter turned 15 today, and I have a number-two
daughter, Alexandra, who is 14, and my son, Derek, is 10.
LAMB: Is there anything you're concerned about when you put all this
material out in one group like this, anything that worries you about
some kind of retaliation?
Mr. GERTZ: Like I said, you know, I--I gave the CIA a chance to
weigh in, so I really don't have any--any problems with it.
LAMB: What do you think of the whole experience so far?
Mr. GERTZ: It's been--it's been pretty exciting. It--it hasn't
really sunk in that the book appears to be off to a good start and
it--and it looks pretty successful.
LAMB: Here's what the book looks like. It's called "Betrayal," and
it's written by Bill Gertz of The Washington Times. We thank you very
much for joining us.
Mr. GERTZ: Thanks for having me, Brian.
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