Summarized by Rosemary Pollock
LDS Bishop At Hub Of CIA
Deseret News 30Mar00 P2
By Lee Davidson: Deseret News Washington correspondent
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- LDS bishop Robert Walpole is often called upon to
answer important questions about U.S. spies, nuclear missiles and the
effects of nerve gas on Persian War veterans. Walpole is one of 12
national security officers who form the National Intelligence
Council. He often briefs President Clinton's national security
advisor, Sandy Berger, on strategic arms issues.
Walpole graduated from Brigham Young University in 1978 and was
immediately recruited by the CIA, partly because he learned to speak Finnish
while serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"I even missed graduation because I was here writing a report for the CIA,"
he said. In 1984, Walpole was transferred to the State Department's
intelligence operations division and specialized in arms control. "I was
involved in nine arms control negotiations," he said. "It was the heyday of
arms control...and was sort of the run-up to the fall of communism."
From 1989 to 1992, Walpole was a deputy assistant secretary of state for
arms control. "So I was the customer of intelligence and not the producer.
That has given me a different perspective." In 1996, Walpole was on
temporary rotation from the State Department to the CIA when he bumped into
George Tenet, the current CIA director. He recruited Walpole to return to
the CIA and become a national intelligence officer. In addition, Walpole is
currently serving as a Bishop for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Walpole bases his information for his work on data from American spying
and research. He warns that the results may be unsettling. "The chance of
a missile being used against the United States is higher today than it was
during most of the Cold War," he told the Deseret News in an interview at
CIA headquarters. "It's a factor of how many countries there are with
missiles." "The threat of someone using at least one missile against us for
political or other gain is higher," Walpole said.
In addition to his regular duties, Walpole heads a task force to determine
how many U.S. soldiers have been exposed to nerve gas when troops
unwittingly blew up a cache of Iraqi chemical arms in the Persian Gulf War.
This assignment has led Walpole to arrange tests at Utah's Dugway Proving
Ground. The gas is suspected to be a contributing cause of gulf-war
syndrome. "Dugway was the only place we could do that because of its size
and remoteness," he added.
In response to investigators merely drawing a circle around Khamisiyah,
that represented a maximum distance of exposure, Walpole chose to be more
precise. "I said we can do better than that with today's technology." "We
even obtained the same sorts of foreign missiles that were blown up," he
said. "We even used the same type of wood and crates that Iraq used." "We
discovered that the (possible) plume was huge." "Some were upset at how big
it was, but I said,'Hey, at least it's not as large as the circle (others
Walpole's truthfulness offers information that he hopes will build trust
in the government. "Some of the attitude that no news is good news...That
would mean that any news is bad news, " Walpole said. "We don't want that."