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White House Drug Arrests Show Need for Testing, Reagan Says

July 01, 1988|PAUL HOUSTON | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — President Reagan contended Thursday that alleged cocaine use by three Secret Service agents and two National Security Council secretaries proves the need for drug testing by all employers, even though the White House arrests resulted from a tip instead of a test.

The President said that the evidence of illegal drug use at the highest security levels of the government, disclosed Wednesday night, also demonstrates that "no one is exempt. This problem crosses all kinds of lines."

In the wake of the arrests, the White House announced that long-planned random testing of White House employees for illegal drugs will begin in two months. Drug testing of all applicants for jobs at the Secret Service will begin July 13.

Saw No Personal Danger

Reagan, who was advised of the internal drug investigation several months ago, told reporters that he did not think he was ever in personal danger because of the alleged use of cocaine by three uniformed Secret Service agents.

The agents, recently placed on administrative leave with pay pending further review, manned guard posts around the White House and at presidential events on the road. Several other uniformed agents are still under scrutiny, officials said, but no plainclothes agents--who serve as the President's bodyguards--are involved in the inquiry.

Two secretaries at the NSC, which is lodged in the White House and nearby office buildings, resigned last winter after admitting drug use, White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said. He added that the cases of the secretaries and agents "were all related in some way, but I don't know exactly how that was."

Agent Provided Tip

A tip from a uniformed agent triggered the investigation, he said.

"We have been advised that the investigation so far shows that drugs were not used or sold on the White House premises and that there was no breach of security," Fitzwater said.

Reagan was asked before the start of a meeting with Republican House members what should be done to the agents if they are proven to have used drugs.

"Well, if it's just a case of using them, I would like to see us do our best to get them into a drug treatment organization--and that they will agree to accepting a cure," he said.

"This is another indication of why compulsory drug testing is not bad," he continued. "It is, I think, one of the principal answers. But let the people know that we'll do our best to salvage anyone who has been addicted."

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