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Defense Dept. Settles With Linda Tripp

November 3, 2003 GMT

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Linda Tripp will get more than $595,000 from the Defense Department to settle a lawsuit over the release of confidential personal information about her to a magazine, her lawyers said Monday.

Based on information supplied by Pentagon officials in 1998, The New Yorker reported Tripp did not admit an arrest on her security application for her job at the Defense Department. She had been arrested for grand larceny when she was a teenager.

Tripp, whose secret tapes of conversations with Monica Lewinsky helped lead to President Clinton’s impeachment trial, sued the Defense Department two years ago, alleging violations of the Privacy Act. She had worked for the department as a public affairs specialist.

The 1974 Privacy Act prohibits the government from releasing unauthorized personal information about individual Americans to nonfederal organizations.

Tripp claimed administration officials retaliated for her role in triggering the impeachment proceedings. Tripp provided Independent Counsel Ken Starr with tape-recorded conversations in which Lewinsky confided an intimate relationship with the president.

``This government should never be permitted to use Privacy Act- protected information to discredit a political opponent,″ Tripp said in a statement.

As part of the settlement, Tripp gets a one-time payment of $595,000, a retroactive promotion and retroactive pay at a higher salary level for 1998, 1999 and 2000.

The Justice and Defense departments declined to comment, and her lawyers did not disclose the total value of the agreement.

Stephen Kohn, one of Tripp’s lawyers, declined to say whether Tripp is currently working, but said that under the settlement, she can reapply to any government branch.

Tripp lost her job at the Pentagon in January 2001 after she refused to resign like other political appointees on the last day of Clinton’s term.

She earned nearly $100,000 a year when she was a public affairs specialist for the Defense Department. She held a civil service job in the White House under former President Bush before getting a political appointment and new job at the Pentagon in 1994.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan has yet to approve the agreement.