Advanced Search
Bill Gertz
Bill Gertz
Betrayal: How the Clinton Administration Undermined American Security
ISBN: 0895261960
Betrayal: How the Clinton Administration Undermined American Security
Bill Gertz, who covers national security for the Washington Times, lays out a chilling argument against Bill Clinton's foreign policy in Betrayal. In his view, Clinton's "naive" strategies of "appeasement" with China and Russia have resulted in a betrayal of American interests, leaving "the United States weaker militarily as its enemies grow stronger and the world becomes more dangerous." According to Gertz, Clinton's policies have compromised national security: Clinton opposed development of a missile defense system that would derail arms control agreements with the Russians—even though they are believed to be developing such a system themselves. Gertz also maintains that the Russians are using U.S. aid targeted for decommissioning nuclear weapons to develop new weapons of mass destruction and to continue to develop new nuclear weapons.

Gertz also makes the case that the Clinton administration's sale of sophisticated computer and satellite technology to China was influenced by campaign contributions to the Democrats from Chinese and American executives. "The small but growing force of Chinese strategic nuclear missiles has become more reliable—thanks to American high technology," writes Gertz. He further charges that the Clinton administration has attempted to downplay the Chinese threat to U.S. security even though "China has undertaken a steady military buildup that is directly aimed at fighting a future war with the United States."

Betrayal asserts that the "most important legacy" of Bill Clinton's presidency may be "his dead serious disarmament of the United States and his self-serving appeasement of powerful and determined foreign enemies . . . . The administration's policies have endangered not only the United States," Gertz concludes, "but the peace and security of the entire world."
—from the publisher's website

Betrayal: How the Clinton Administration Undermined American Security
Program Air Date: May 30, 1999

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 by that?
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 leadership.
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 failure?
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 deployments overseas.
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 years.
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 it.
LAMB: Why then so many top-secret documents that they don't seem to care about?
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 Washington Times?
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 focused on.
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...
LAMB: Canadian.
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 this?
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 right?
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 the military?
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 it.
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 underground facility.
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 that.
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 Korea?
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 come out.
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 this?
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 complaints.
LAMB: On another issue, you say, `Chinese strategic nuclear missiles have become more reliable through American technology.' Some call that treason.
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 perspective.
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 policies.
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 material?
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 from?
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 than others?
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 the government.
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 cover closely.
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 publishing there.
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 long time.
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 national desk.
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 stories.
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 experience.
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 that's--that's accurate?
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 East?
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 foreign governments.

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 hurt you?
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 stories.
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 publisher did...
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 this?
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 the book.
LAMB: `Missile technology transfers from Russia to Iran represent one of the most egregious cases of the failed foreign policies of Bill Clinton.' Why?
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 stack be?
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 right?
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 departure.
LAMB: What do you think of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Shelton?
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 doing it.
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.

Copyright National Cable Satellite Corporation 2004. Personal, noncommercial use of this transcript is permitted. No commercial, political or other use may be made of this transcript without the express permission of National Cable Satellite Corporation.