White House turns over documents but requires extraordinary secrecy
WASHINGTON, D.C. — White House Counsel Lloyd Cutler turned over documents detailing early contacts between the White House and the Treasury Department regarding the Whitewater affair to the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee under a secret agreement that the Washington Post called “extraordinary.”
The Post reported in mid-July that in a letter to the committee Cutler turned over the documents “with the understanding that, until the time of the Senate Banking hearing, the documents will be treated as if they are classified material.”
Ordinarily records are classified only in order to protect national security or foreign policy.
Cutler’s letter to the Senate committee requires that access be limited to committee members and one or two staff persons; confidentiality agreements signed by any staff member with access; maintenance of the records in a safe; and no photocopies or printouts.
Cutler also told the Post that the records would not be available to the House Banking Committee until staff personnel signed confidentiality agreements.
Although the house committee chairman Henry Gonzales (D-Tex.) has in the past refused to allow his staff to sign confidentiality agreements, according to the Post, committee staff refused in late July to say whether they would sign the agreements.