Suspect is vocal, with uneven job history

Woman alleges attacks, threats and surveillance after she defended Libya

March 12, 2004|By Johnathon E. Briggs | Johnathon E. Briggs,SUN STAFF

TAKOMA PARK - Her neighbors describe Susan P. Lindauer as a kind, quiet woman who could be seen most mornings walking her two dachshunds along leafy Manor Circle here.

"I don't know what a spy is, but I would never have pegged her as one," Kathleen Moore, who lives a few doors away, said yesterday afternoon. "She talked about wanting to teach and have children."

While Lindauer, 40, was in federal court yesterday facing Iraq-related charges, reporters and news vans trickled into this liberal Washington suburb, where her modest bungalow was silent except for her dogs, which could be heard barking inside.

An unplanted cherry tree, its roots wrapped in burlap, sat in the front yard.

News of her arrest was met with surprise. The anti-war activist and former Capitol Hill press secretary is charged with conspiring to act as a spy for the Iraqi Intelligence Service.

While she seemed quiet to Moore and others, Lindauer hasn't always been shy about expressing herself.

She once made public statements claiming she had information that Libya was not involved in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

She said then that she came forward because of "my sense of obligation to the cause of international peace and security."

Two years ago, she signed a petition to stop "the spread of the anti-terrorist war to Iraq." Her black Mazda 626 sports a "War is Not the Answer" bumper sticker.

Lindauer dabbled in journalism before going to work as an aide to Democrats on Capitol Hill, where she apparently darted from one office to the next without putting down roots with any one lawmaker.

Jenna Landry, a spokeswoman for Fortune, said Lindauer worked for the financial magazine for five months in 1986 as a part-time, temporary reporter associate.

In 1987, Lindauer worked as a temporary business reporter for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer for three months, managing editor David McCumber said.

By the fall of 1990, she was employed as a researcher with U.S. News & World Report, where she worked until August 1991.

For five months in 1993, she was press secretary for Democratic Rep. Peter A. DeFazio of Oregon before moving over to the office of Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, then a congressman, for about a year.

For a short period in 1996, Lindauer was press secretary for Carol Moseley Braun when she represented Illinois in the Senate.

Braun's current press secretary, Loretta Kane, confirmed that Lindauer did work in the former senator's press office, but she said Moseley Braun does not remember her.

By 1998, Lindauer was executive producer for political affairs at Channel 28 in Washington, which broadcast live feeds of federal news events.

Lindauer also had a brief stint - just eight weeks - as press secretary to California Rep. Zoe Lofgren in 2002. In a written statement yesterday, Lofgren said she was "shocked" at Lindauer's arrest.

"To my knowledge, this former employee had no access to sensitive information. Obviously, I had no reason to think that she was involved in this alleged activity," Lofgren said, adding that she has had "no further contact with" Lindauer since she left the office.

With her nomadic employment, Lindauer seems to have left little impression on the lawmakers who employed her. DeFazio "remembered she worked for him, but he didn't have any recollection of her," said Kristie Greco, the Oregonian's spokeswoman.

Lindauer did get noticed by the Middle East Intelligence Bulletin, an online newsletter about politics in the Arab world, which in 2000 reported on a deposition she gave for a 1998 trial connected with the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, for which Libya has since taken responsibility.

Then a resident of Silver Spring and press secretary for Wyden, she testified about her conversation with Richard Fuisz, a CIA operative in Syria, who she said told her in 1994 - six years after the bombing - that no Libyan national was involved in the attack.

Lindauer told the publication that after she meet with Libyan officials in 1995 to discuss the information, she endured surveillance, threats and attacks.

"Someone put acid on the steering wheel of my car on a day I was supposed to drive to [New York City] for a meeting at the Libya House," she was reported as saying.

"I scrubbed my hands with a toilet brush, but my face was burned. ... Also, my house was bugged with listening devices and cameras - little red laser lights in the shower vent. And I survived several assassination attempts."

Yesterday near Lindauer's home on Manor Circle, squirrels skipped across well-kept lawns next to driveways where minivans and Volvos were parked. Residents still couldn't get over the news of Lindauer's arrest.

Said Sue DeLettera, manager at the Takoma Park Silver Spring Co-Op, a natural foods grocery store:

"It's just like hearing that the guys who flew the planes on 9/11 lived in Florida. I'm surprised that [she] could be from around here."

Sun staff writers Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Lynn Anderson and staff researcher Paul McCardell contributed to this article.

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