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Army secretary breaks Enron silence


From Mike Mount
CNN Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Secretary of the Army Thomas E. White, a former Enron Corp. executive, said Wednesday he had no plans to step down despite criticism of his ties to the failed energy giant.

In an on-the-record briefing at the Pentagon, White said he had never done anything during his tenure as secretary that could be construed as favorable to Enron. He also discussed his sales of Enron stock, which critics said he executed after word from insiders that the stock price was tanking in October of last year.

"I never, ever based that selling of shares on anything, any information that was provided to me about the financial state of the company and any contact I had from anyone who was an employee or not an employee of Enron, period," White said.

White said he has had several meetings with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld since Enron's financial collapse made headlines last year. Asked whether he has been pressed to resign, White said the topic had not been brought up.

"I've been very clear with the secretary that if I ever get to the point as secretary where the Enron business gets to be a major distraction, or if the president or secretary of defense expresses to me that they don't have any confidence in my ability to do my job, or if I was to sense when I travel around the Army that what you said was true, then I wouldn't stay," White told reporters.

Enron bankruptcy documents get own Web site 

Rumsfeld has backed White publicly.

White has been silent on this issue for months. He said Wednesday he had been focused on issues such as the war against terrorism.

A Justice Department task force has been set up to investigate the Enron collapse and has asked the Department of Defense to hold all records relating to the issue. White has been asked by Justice for some of those files as well as personal records.

"The things asked of me personally have been turned in. ... We have complied with data requests of the DOJ Task Force. The Department of Defense is complying with all the official materials and that process is being handled at a DOD level and that is going on right now," White said.

White also admitted that he has filed a court claim to his retirement benefits from the bankrupt company.

"I am an Enron retiree, just like I'm an Army retiree. I, like thousands of other Enron retirees, have made claims to the bankruptcy court for our our retiree benefits and we are standing in line," White said.




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