W A S H I N G T O N, June 4, 2001 -- Four months after Republicans first accused outgoing Clinton staffers of vandalizing government offices, the White House has provided photos of messy offices as proof.
Still locked in a spin-control battle with Clinton staffers over what happened in the final hours of the former president's term, the Bush White House has handed out photos taken shortly after the handover.
The photo at left, of an office in the White House counsel's suite at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, also known as the Old Executive Office Building, where many White House staffers work. It clearly shows disarray, with boxes, books, office supplies and papers piled about haphazardly. There does not, however, appear to be evidence in the photo of outright vandalism.
Former Clinton White House staffers staged a media event last week outside the office building, which is adjacent to the White House, to deliver a letter addressed to President Bush requesting an apology for "the false allegations ... concerning damage done to the White House during the transition period."
Last month, a review by the General Services Administration determined, "The condition of the real property was consistent with what we would expect to encounter when tenants vacate office space after an extended occupancy."
Nude Photos, Sliced Phone Lines?
But the White House has confirmed a report that first appeared in The Washington Post this weekend that catalogued what Bush officials consider real vandalism found in offices: pornographic messages left on phone lines, copier paper replaced with nude photos, sliced phone lines and computer keyboards missing the letter "W" — President Bush's middle initial. The White House did not, however, provide evidence of these allegations.
Most of the damage, the White House says, was found in the Old Executive Office Building.
But Clinton aides cite the GSA report, which the Post reported found "no wholesale slashing of cords to computers, copiers, and telephones, no evidence of lewd graffiti or pornographic images, no vandalism at the White House."
The General Accounting Office also has said there is no documented evidence of vandalism at the White House.
But White House spokesman Ari Fleischer told reporters last week: "No apology is merited."
White House officials claim the GSA only documented damage to "real property" and to the offices themselves. The study therefore would not include the sort of damage the Bush administration claims to have encountered. The GAO, they say, did not even investigate the allegations.