Oct 18, 2007

As old news I would normally not have posted this story, but with Governor Richardson in the news, little else to report today, and so many new blog readers recently... well, here it is.

What Wen Ho Lee case tells us about China's future

Jack Cashill - WorldNetDaily

With the People's Republic of China rattling sabers over the visit of the Dalai Lama, it might pay to re-read the tea leaves of the Wen Ho Lee case and see what they portend for America's future.

A native of Taiwan, Wen Ho Lee had gotten his American citizenship in part, as he himself admits, because it allowed him to seek employment at a national lab. Still, for the 20 years he worked at Los Alamos, Wen Ho Lee seemed very much the "model minority."

He and his Taiwanese wife worked hard, obeyed the law and raised two good kids. In 1999, however, Lee's American idyll came to an indecorous end. The FBI shocked Lee's friends and colleagues when they arrested him on suspicion of espionage.

Notra Trulock, the Department of Energy intelligence chief who helped bring the Lee case to light, admits that even he does not know whether Lee had actually betrayed his country.

"I do know," Trulock elaborates in his fair-minded book, "Code Name Kindred Spirit," "that he was a walking security nightmare who violated every security rule in existence at Los Alamos National Laboratory."

It is possible that Lee was, in fact, a bumbling innocent. Left to his own devices, he might never have dreamed of playing the race card. The Lee that I will be talking about, however, is the politicized Lee that the reader meets in his memoir, "My Country Versus Me."

Given the limitations of Lee's English, co-author Helen Zia almost assuredly drove the content of the book, which oozes anti-American agitprop. This second-generation Chinese-American and first-generation radical feminist lesbian has been at play in the fields of the left since she quit medical school to work as a labor organizer in Detroit.

If Zia's goal were to undercut America and to cause her fellow Asian Americans to question their national identity, she succeeded marvelously.

In fact, Lee first fell afoul of the authorities in 1982 after he called a Taiwanese scientist at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory near San Francisco. Lee had never before talked to this guy. In his book, Lee claims that he called to learn if Livermore had terminated the scientist's employment as he had read and, if so, why.

Lee was unaware that the scientist was under court-ordered FBI surveillance for passing nuclear secrets to Beijing. When the FBI questioned Lee about the call, he denied making it. Later, he would deny the denial. Says Lee obliquely, "I don't agree with the FBI version of the story."

This was the first of perhaps six flaming red flags in Lee's career. What he takes away from this misadventure is this typical bit of ethnic posturing: "I didn't know that the FBI monitored Chinese-American scientists." In truth, the FBI did not profile Chinese, despite the fact that it made sense to do so. The People's Republic was conspicuously targeting Chinese-Americans scientists.

In 1988, a year before the Tiananmen Square massacre, Lee visited Bejing with his wife. While she just happened to be out shopping, two Chinese scientists visited Lee in his hotel room and asked some pointed questions about nuclear warheads. Lee knew that he had an absolute obligation to report such contacts. He did not.

Says Lee unconvincingly, "I was afraid that if I reported their visit, I would be subjected to the kind of FBI questioning I'd received before."

By the late 1990s, senior scientists at Los Alamos had become convinced that the Chinese had acquired – "probably by espionage" – vital data on the W-88 nuclear warhead, the most modern in the U.S. arsenal.

As one might expect – hope, actually – authorities moved to plug the presumed leak at Los Alamos. On an initial list of a dozen possible suspects, six were Chinese in origin, including Wen Ho Lee.

When the FBI asked Lee during a polygraph exam if he had worked on the W-88, he denied it. "With what I now understood," writes Lee later, "my answer might have been 'yes,' but I wondered if it was really a 'yes,' since I didn't know I was working on the W-88."

Young readers should be aware that, in the age of Clinton, answers like this made more sense than they do today.

Whether guilty or not of espionage, Lee clearly deserved the FBI's scrutiny. To be sure, its agents botched the case. Lee ended up in prison, without bail, and was indeed treated badly.

His skilled legal and PR teams quickly turned the imprisonment to his advantage. To arouse public indignation, they portrayed Lee as an "American Dreyfus," a dedicated patriot persecuted only because of his race. This strategy may have frayed the bond between the nation and its citizens of Asian origin, but from Lee's perspective, it worked beautifully.

"Asian American – Arrest me too," read a fairly typical sign, carried in this case by a young woman at a pro-Lee rally. The pressure built as planned. No one likes to be called a racist.

After nine months in prison, Lee was allowed to cop a plea to just one of the 59 counts against him and walk away a martyr, his halo dimmed only by the fact that this all happened on a Democrat watch. Major book deals and lawsuits followed.

The book is dishonest from front cover to back. Lee, for instance, often compares himself to Caucasians who had run afoul of the authorities on security breaches.

"They were all excused," he writes, "because they were assumed to be good Americans." Contemporaries like Aldrich Ames, John Hanssen and Jonathan Pollard might take exception. Dying in prison on spy charges is probably not their idea of being "excused."

Then too, Lee's case is more worrisome than the rest. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the People's Republic looms as America's most serious potential enemy, and its leaders are not afraid to say so.

In 1996, a Chinese military officer had warned American ambassador Chas Freeman, "If you hit us now, we can hit back. So you will not make those threats [about Taiwan]." The officer then proffered the following not so cryptic caveat, "In the end, you care more about Los Angeles than you do about Taipei."

Stay tuned.

Jack Cashill is an Emmy-award winning independent writer and producer with a Ph.D. in American Studies from Purdue.

41 comments:

Anonymous said...

The whole Wen Ho Lee affair was a clusterfuck from start to finish. For a good read on it, see

Only In America?

Here's an excerpt:

"Only in America can one find a book so critical of the government and its institutions, including the departments of energy, defense, justice, and commerce, the White House, Congress, the CIA and the FBI. Unfortunately for all Americans, the criticisms appear justified. Having worked for thirty years in intelligence, and heading the intelligence program for DOE from 1995 to his departure from federal service in 1999, Trulock brings to life the stumbling, bumbling, and often counterproductive efforts of DOE and the FBI to investigate the loss to the PRC of classified nuclear data from the U.S. nuclear laboratories. Added to this "keystone cop" portrayal of events, Trulock describes the obstruction he encountered from political appointees as well as from the lab employees themselves when he attempted to put into place counterintelligence measures that would prevent the future loss of classified nuclear data."

Anonymous said...

Only in America

I lived in Los Alamos during the Wen Ho Lee case. We were and still are friends of the Lee Family. What a horrible situation for that family. Talk about a case where a family was crucified!! Los alaomos Lab should be asahamed! But then that's Los Alamos Lab. This article is in itself a shame!

Anonymous said...

"Given the limitations of Lee's English, co-author Helen Zia almost assuredly drove the content of the book, which oozes anti-American agitprop."

That observation is pure tripe! Anybody who's read the book would know it. This sentence alone would be cause to stop reading this idiot's apparent attempt at revealing something worthy of contemplation. What a miserable example of academic feedom. But I suppose we have to take the good with the bad and hope our brain cells can distinguish between the two.

Anonymous said...

To me, this guy discribes the Lab I've grown to know and love. Granted, his characterization of Wen Ho Lee and his author is a little far out, but truth be told, the Lab is a disfunctional place, and the DOE is the daddy of disfunction, while UC is the grand daddy. I'm the only sane person left in the joint.

Anonymous said...

LANL - Putting the 'fun' back in dysfunctional.

Anonymous said...

Why would newspapes pay a huge sum of money to a person they libeled? And why would Los Alamos Diretors lie to a Court? Look at the the information which is available to all of you about the Lee case. Shame on Directors from Los Alamos nad from Sandia. And the FBI lied and said so. Check it out.

Friend of the Lee Family.

Pinky and The Brain said...

Wen Ho Lee Reporters Held in Contempt

So who was their source?

Anonymous said...

Could it have been our own Mr. Bill?

Pinky and The Brain said...

Ohh Nooo!!!

Anonymous said...

To Pinky,

The Lee Family has been trying for years to live a good life. Ask their neighbours about the FBI works at the time Wen Ho was being surveilled. It was horrid for them an for the neighbourhood,

Los Asamos Lab was not a good friend to any of those involved at htat time.

Take care people.

Brad Lee Holian said...

As much as everyone LOVES to hate Los Alamos National Lab, it was people in our own X-Division that discovered the REAL source of the W-88 leak to Red China, and it WASN'T anyone from Los Alamos, including the hapless Wen Ho Lee. Surely, Wen Ho deserves some kind of "award" for attempted, and blunderingly "successful" security infractions under duress, caused by his bungling line management in those days that was so dysfunctional, it's almost laughable. (Except, of course, that NOW, one decade later, under privatized, for-profit corporate management, the bungling's EVEN WORSE THAN UC EVER WAS!)

Back to the story: It turns out that the REAL culprit in the W88 leak to Red China was NOT, as I had been led to believe by Stober and Hoffman's book, a Navy contractor (e.g., LockMart or Sandia), but rather, ANOTHER branch of the DOE nuclear weapons complex, who shall remain nameless.

So, Trulock was a fool, as was Republican Congressman Chris Cox of California, who was merely doing former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich's dirty work (nailing Clinton to the wall with some kind of -- ANY kind of -- Red Chinese connection). It's a dirty game, this political assassination business, but Los Alamos has been in the cross-hairs by the short hairs ever since.

WHL was only a pawn in their nasty little game.

Anonymous said...

True, Brad. Wen Ho Lee was most certainly not spying for Communist China. However, thanks to the Keystone Kops (DOE, including Notra Trulock, the FBI, LANL/UC, the CIA, the White House, Congress, etc.) we will never know if he was spying for his homeland, Taiwan.

Also, I'm really tired of people whining about how badly WHL was treated. At the very least, the son of a bitch is guilty of purposefully circumventing LANL security to download his classified codes to tape. Not to mention that he conveniently "can't remember" where the 7 copies he made got off to.

But not Red China. For classified reasons that you are well aware of, Brad, we know that they did not go to Red China.

Anonymous said...

5:08 pm: Bravo. Lee suffered at the hands of a bungling bureaucracy, but he DID illegally download lots of classified stuff, which subsequently disappeared. His office was full of unsecured classifed paper stuff with the classification markings purposely removed. Even the heavily redacted public version of the Bellows Report makes that clear. He also was not forthcoming to prove his own innocence. Only the stupidity and short-sightedness of the FBI and Justice Dept. kept him from life in prison, or worse. It is clear that Lee led a secret life, even from his friends and neighbors, which will never be illuminated. Yeah, the story is sad, but not becuase Lee was mistreated or mischarged.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it time for this blog (as an extension of the previous two LANL blogs) to give the WHL thing a rest? What relevance to today's issues, and today's LANL, makes it worth posting? All you do is bring out of the woodwork the entrenched sides that will never (either of them) see reality. Please delete this unnecessary thread.

Pinky and The Brain said...

The story ran on WorldNetDaily today, which makes it today's news. Millions of people no doubt read it there. Ignoring it here doesn't make it go away.

Anonymous said...

WHL debacle--I have to ask this. Does anyone remember a news report saying that WHL gave his daughter who was going to college in Calif. the code to the LANL computer so she could play computer games. I know I saw this item in a Newsweek article and also in the Albuquerque Journal but everyone else seems to have missed it. Doesn't this sound really odd if he did give his kid the code? I mean if anyone else had done this, what would have happened? Did anyone else remember seeing this????????

Anonymous said...

Would a spy be so stupid as to give his daughter the passwords to his LANL accounts? WHL was grossly incompetent. He was not a spy!

And, least we forget, remember that the judge, the representative of our American judicial system, profusely apologized to Lee for his shabby treatment.

Now, at this point, we can count on some LANL low-life to chime in "well, I can't tell you about the classified story I know, but if you only knew what I knew...".

Stalin and his secret police would be so proud of some of you.

Anonymous said...

So what are the rules? If you know the story because you've read it on the internet, not in a vault, but it's still "classified" can you talk about it?

Anonymous said...

12:43am - No

Anonymous said...

Well, there you go, 12:15 AM. Unless you want to be a "LANL low-life" that "Stalin and his secret police would be so proud" of, don't go google for what really happened.

Gussie Fink-Nottle said...

12:43,

Any version of the Wen Ho Lee business that you can "read on the internet" is not going to contain the classified details of his actual activities. Those of us who have attended the classified briefings of this affair have been given information that has not been released to the general public.

-Gus

Anonymous said...

I concur with Gussie. Every Q cleared employee who's still on the fence about WHL should ask their line managers for a showing of the new S/RD video from the counterintelligence office. No, I don't think WHL committed actual espionage ("yet"), but he certainly took a magic marker and drew a big fat target on his own forehead.

The real crime here is that the flagrant abuse of the Q clearance by the likes of WHL and JQ is a mere misdemeanor.

And yes, this story is utterly relevant to our situation today. You can draw a straight line from WHL's deliberate and willful actions through every subsequent "security issue" real or otherwise that's occurred since, to yesterday's shutdown of half the lab by CTN's idiotic knee-jerk effort to cut yellow net users off from having administrative priviledges on their own machines. Half a day's productivity lost for at least 20% of the Lab.

Anonymous said...

What security rule did he not violate? How in the fuck as an honest intelligent person can you say he is innocent.

Move your head a little to the left - is your colon ok>?

Anonymous said...

lee belongs in jail.

Anonymous said...

Lee is innocent comes from the liberal cesspool of shit body of knowledge.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it time for this blog (as an extension of the previous two LANL blogs) to give the WHL thing a rest? What relevance to today's issues, and today's LANL, makes it worth posting? All you do is bring out of the woodwork the entrenched sides that will never (either of them) see reality. Please delete this unnecessary thread.

it was a bold representation of incompetence. Never under a republican president. At a minimum he needs to be in jail and every cent from his books deals should be paid back to the goverment for the cost. He was a flagrant asshole.

Anonymous said...

The Congressional Research Service has documented in an unclassified report to Congress that the source of the original leak was either Lockheed Martin Corporate, Sandia National Laboratories, or the Naval Weapons Research Lab. Not WHL.

Why is this important? Because every time Congress holds a hearing on Los Alamos'purported Classified Security bungling they continue to hold this incident up as another example of Los Alamos' extensive security problems. While WHL's mishandling of classified material is beyond dispute, it was NOTHING compared to the breach of security that led to the WHL investigation.

Time that Congress came to realize that classified material security is a problem throughout the whole DOE complex and, in fact, the whole Federal Government. They shouldn't think that if they fix Los Alamos (by allowing LANS to run it into the ground) that they have fixed classified security.

Anonymous said...

The message sent by the whole Wen Ho Lee case is

1)commit any crime you want
2)Cry
3) Play the minority card

Anonymous said...

So what about the SRD briefings on the WHL case. Perhaps it has been carefully crafted so that certain people don't have egg on their face.

Just because it's an SRD briefing doesn't necessarily mean it it completely truthful or that it is not badly slanted so that the viewers of the briefing come away with a desired viewpoint.

There are people at LANL with blood on their hands for the way they acted during the whole WHL fiasco. Some of them are still trying to find ways to wipe it off on others.

What WHL did was wrong. But just take a minute to study the case of Sandy Berger and what he did. In case you have forgotten, he stoled TS/SCI docs out of the National Archives by stuffing them in his pants. He then got scared, hide them in a construction tube outside the building, and they were subsequently lost. Yet, Sandy Berger did not spend one single day in jail for his actions, much less in chains and in 24 hr solitary confinement!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, yeah, yeah 2:08. And John Deutch also got off scott free, so what's your point: Lee should be given a pass because the others did?

Anonymous said...

5;08PM sounds like a pompous ass. A man's life is trashed, he's placed in isolation for nine months, accused falsely of being a spy and 5:08PM is tired of hearing people "whine" about how badly the man was treated? If I were sitting across the table when you said this 5:08PM you'd be gumming your food my fiend. Trust me you f**king jerk!

Anonymous said...

Whenever a minority comes up in this blog folks become rabid in their commentaries. Says volumes about how disfunctioal Los Alamos really is as a community.

Anonymous said...

No, I think the moral to the WHL fiasco is white guys get slapped on th wrist with a wet noodle for doing the same thing WHL did, or worse. Oh, so you all have already forgotten about the John Mitchel incident? OK bozos, and what about the more recent highly classified open partition email sent to several LANS board members? No problem right? Just a bunch of good ol boys doing what they do best--making us all look like fools. Hey, they're doing it on the world scene, so why the hell not at the "crown jewel" facility of the DOE complex? Only the "best and brightst" don't you know. Gee, you good ol boys are just too good for words. Excuse me now while I go puke while ya'al just keep on dumping on the little Chinaman. Where's kung fu Kane when you need him?

Anonymous said...

Well, I guess that's one way to look at it, 4:23. Poor, victimized little Wen Ho Lee. I suppose it's possible that somebody forced him at gunpoint to circumvent security, download the classified material into the open, copy it to tapes, and then 'forget' where he laid them down.

But I don't think so.

BTW, how about if you take your butch act over to the high school. Maybe the pubescent boys & girls over there will be impressed, but I'm not.

Anonymous said...

10/19/07 7:34 AM said: "I concur with Gussie. Every Q cleared employee who's still on the fence about WHL should ask their line managers for a showing of the new S/RD video from the counterintelligence office."

Oooh! Counter intelligence has the inside scoop? Wow! And to think we even doubted their "intelligence" regarding the millions of WMDs Sadam was hiding under the Iraqi sand. By all means, let's trust they got it right this time. And then of course we all know the Lab never lies, right?
Bwaaaaahaa...

Anonymous said...

You have an (almost) valid point, 5:16. If you change it to "the upper managers get slapped with a wet noodle and the little guy gets the shit kicked out of him" I think you'll be closer to the truth.

As far as Mitchell, the LANS board members, and Wen Ho Lee, I believe they all deserved to have the shit kicked out of them. It really pissed me off when Mitchell and the LANS board member skated.

Anonymous said...

4:23 pm: "If I were sitting across the table when you said this 5:08PM you'd be gumming your food my fiend. Trust me you f**king jerk!"

You know, we are really lucky in this country that U.S. liberals don't believe in guns. Because they are really nasty people. In many other countries, they'd be coming for our throats. Hope they never realize the source of their lack of power...

Anonymous said...

"The Congressional Research Service has documented in an unclassified report to Congress that the source of the original leak was either Lockheed Martin Corporate, Sandia National Laboratories, or the Naval Weapons Research Lab. Not WHL."

What if the source of the original W88 leak was actually none other than NNSA's favorite national lab, Livermore? (Time out for recalibration...)

Anonymous said...

4;23.

You should spend more time on a VISA in the US. Beijing is no place to practice English.

Anonymous said...

10;40

Your English is better the 4;23's. You should wander across the politburo to help him.

Anonymous said...

LIVERMORE ... LEAK ...

(Any reporters listening, watching, ...?)