washingtonpost.com  > Politics > Bush Administration
Correction to This Article
A Dec. 8 article on Bernard B. Kerik's nomination as secretary of homeland security misstated the reason he has not commented on allegations about him. Custom, rather than formal rules, prevents him from making such statements before his confirmation hearings. Also, a Dec. 4 article incorrectly described Kerik's bachelor's degree from Empire State College as "mail-order." He earned the degree by taking correspondence courses.
Page 2 of 2  < Back  

Kerik's Surveillance Activity in Saudi Arabia Is Disputed

"As he noted in the book, there was a power struggle among two politically connected figures, and as a result there were rumors about surveillance," the official said. "He didn't participate in those activities, and didn't see anything in his direct experience that would have substantiated the rumors. . . . Part of his job was ensuring Westerners at the hospital understood and obeyed Saudi laws."

Feteih could not be located to comment. The Saudi Embassy declined to comment, but a source familiar with the government probe said officials concluded that Feteih and the security staff were abusive toward staff members and that "management of the hospital was horrendous."

"It was challenging, negotiating such a closed, rigid system and trying to find justice in laws that, to an American, were unjust," Bernard B. Kerik wrote of his time in Saudi Arabia, where he helped command a security staff. (Manish Swarup -- AP)

Separation of the Sexes

The turmoil at the huge, lushly landscaped King Faisal hospital -- separated from the rest of Riyadh by high walls and with fountains in front -- began when Feteih took over in the early 1980s, the former employees said. Previously, the administrators at the Saudi government-owned facility allowed men and women on the mostly Western staff to date and drink alcohol if they were discreet.

But when Feteih took over, he had the security staff strictly enforce separation of the sexes when it came to some women, according to the medical personnel who worked there. In addition to Jones, Bailey and Queen, the events concerning Kerik and the security staff were corroborated by these former hospital employees: Dan Mackey, a doctor who now lives in Georgia; John Froude, who practices medicine in Upstate New York; former hospital employee Dennis Daughters, who lives in Florida; William Larkworthy, a doctor, and his wife, nurse Maria Larkworthy, who live in Europe; former medical technician Peter Rodenburgh in Canada, and two former hospital employees who did not want to be identified.

Much of the security staff's attention was trained on a number of women whom Feteih knew well and men who came into contact with them, these people said. "They weren't there to provide security as much as to be a spy network for Feteih," William Larkworthy said.

"Bernie Kerik was an enforcer" for the head of the security office and for hospital administrator Feteih, Mackey said. "It was sinister."

Froude recalled that in one encounter with Kerik, "he summoned me to his office and slid a piece of paper toward me and said, 'I want you to tell me what is incorrect in this,' " Froude said. "It was an account of how I'd dated some women. I said, 'Besides the spelling errors, it's correct.' He got out of his chair and said, 'Don't get fresh with me, doc.' " He also recalled Kerik surveilling him from a security car when he left a woman's apartment late one night.

The controversies came to a head in November 1983, when Larkworthy got into an argument with a nurse the morning after he had people over at his home to play bridge and drink homemade wine, said several of those interviewed. Several ex-employees said Feteih intensely disliked the Larkworthys and ordered the security staff to investigate the doctor's behavior that day.

Feteih sent security men to question William Larkworthy, according to hospital documents obtained by The Washington Post. They declared him drunk -- an assertion Larkworthy denies -- and searched his home, finding beer and wine. The security staff handed him over to Saudi security, a move the former employees said was unique in their experience. Within days, the Larkworthys were deported.

Kerik was a lead investigator on the case, according to the hospital documents. The Larkworthys, Mackey and other former employees said the case was trumped up because of Feteih's dislike of them.

The incident prompted doctors to complain about Feteih and the security staff to Ghazi Gosaibi, the minister of health, who began an investigation. Kerik and his defenders say the allegations against the security team stemmed from a power struggle between Feteih and Gosaibi.

Within weeks, Michael Kingston, one doctor who complained, was jailed overnight by police in what the former employees called an attempt to silence the whistleblowers. Feteih and the security staff searched for weeks for another whistleblower, a physician, and told employees they intended to place him in a mental hospital, said Bailey, Mackey and two other hospital employees.

The physician was forced to hide before flying back to England, said Bailey, Mackey and other employees. Bailey said that while the physician was under serious stress and was acting odd, "he did not need to be institutionalized" -- a view echoed by other former employees. The ex-employees cannot recall Kerik's specific activities during those weeks but say he was part of the effort.

Saudi secret police and a royal panel investigated Feteih and the security staff for months on allegations that included not only improper surveillance, but also wiretapping. While they released no report, Saudi officials said then that they concluded that many complaints of Feteih's alleged mismanagement had merit, and he was fired and assigned to attend to a sick princess, the ex-employees said.

When the Saudi secret police questioned Kerik, he wrote in his book, they took him to a nondescript building, and armed guards surrounded him.

They "asked me about what security services I provided for Dr. Feteih. Were we tapping phones? Doing surveillance? The allegations were cryptic, and at the same time ludicrous, but even as I tried to ignore them the scandal grew, and intrigue and treachery multiplied everywhere around us. It was nearly impossible to figure out the angles and who might be playing which side."

He recalled denying the allegations of wiretapping and snooping for Feteih. When a Saudi lieutenant said his wife could be in jeopardy if he lied, he grabbed the man and threatened to kill him, prompting the guards to point their guns at him, Kerik wrote.

"Several stressful minutes later, they were driving me back to my villa. 'You will leave the country,' one of the secret police said to me. To this day, I still can't say . . . where I fit in the various struggles."

< Back  1 2

© 2004 The Washington Post Company