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For week ended April 02, 2000 Posted 24 Feb 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 05Apr00

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 Saints.

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 had proposed.)'"

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."


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