WASHINGTON — A top aide to Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), cleared of allegations that he leaked intelligence secrets to the right-wing government of Chile, charged Friday that Administration officials "cloaked in anonymity" may themselves have publicly disclosed classified and potentially damaging security information.
A Justice Department investigation, made public last week, found no substance to charges made in mid-1986 that Helms or an aide, Christopher Manion, revealed classified information on a U.S. intelligence operation aimed at the Chilean government of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, whom Helms supports.
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But Manion said in a telephone interview that he was appalled to see newspaper reports last year on the Helms investigation--attributed to unnamed State Department officials--that gave specific details about the very operations that the senator's office was alleged to have leaked. State Department officials would not comment Friday on Manion's contentions.
Manion charged that State Department officials "ought to be concerned" that their own people are "breaking the laws and rules" on classified information. Moreover, he said, "if they haven't found out themselves who's doing this" an official inquiry might be in order.