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Attorney General Janet Reno and FBI Director Louis Freeh shouldn’t be apologizing to Sen. Fred Thompson for their latest gaffes in overlooking key evidence of China’s attempted sabotage of the U.S. elections. They should be apologizing to the American people — with resignations in hand.

Last Friday, the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward, of Watergate fame, reported that the FBI had acknowledged a failure to investigate and turn over intelligence information gathered as far back as 1991 showing the Chinese government’s efforts to buy political influence in the United States.

Reno, reported Woodward, learned of the new evidence on the evening of Nov. 5 and was, once again, said to be “livid” at the foul-up. Both she and Freeh apologized to Thompson whose Senate Governmental Affairs Committee hearings into this very topic petered out two weeks ago.

The newly discovered files show that Maria Hsia, a Taiwanese-American immigrant and Democratic Party fund-raiser, was “doing the bidding” of Beijing as a Chinese agent. Hsia is involved with James Riady, an Indonesian whose Lippo Group funneled large amounts of cash to the Democratic National Committee and President Clinton’s re-election campaign, and John Huang, a DNC fund-raiser and former Commerce Department employee.

The trio’s Pacific Leadership Council, formed in 1988, gave more money to then-Sen. Al Gore, than any other candidate in the 1990 election cycle. Hsia was co-chairman of the April 1996 luncheon attended by Gore at the Hsi Lai Buddhist Temple in California where about $140,000 was raised for the DNC.

The FBI also turned up reliable reports that Huang, while serving in the Commerce Department, passed a classified document on to the Chinese government, and that Beijing planned to use joint business ventures with U.S. companies and others to raise money for future U.S. political campaigns. In addition, it now appears obvious China planned to spend far more than the $3 million previously reported to influence U.S. elections. Some of the reports suggest the Chinese wanted to funnel money directly to the Clinton-Gore campaign.

Are the American people supposed to believe that Reno and Freeh are merely incompetents? Are we to believe Thompson, who was humiliated in the conduct of his hearings, is now going to roll over, accept their apologies and let bygones be bygones? Are we to accept that the timing of this latest “discovery” by Justice just happened to coincide with the close of the hearings and the international crisis in Iraq? Or is it more likely, as Judicial Watch’s Larry Klayman has charged, that the Thompson hearings were a sideshow — nothing more than a bi-partisan cover-up of illegal, even treasonous, campaign financing violations?

“Having spent the last several months on ‘side issues,’ like coffees and telephone calls from the White House, and virtually ignoring the sale of services, goods and influence to foreign powers, such as China, it was clear from the start that both political parties find the campaign finance hearings too hot to handle,” charged Klayman earlier this month. “Indeed most of the members of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee have fund-raising skeletons of their own. It is no wonder that Republicans — when confronted with threats of ‘mutual assured destruction’ — cut and ran.”

Now more than ever, the Clinton administration’s decision to sell U.S. nuclear technology to China smacks of a hideous, almost-unthinkable, treacherous quid pro quo. As liberal commentator Michael Kelly wrote recently, the idea of selling nuclear technology to a potential global enemy is “so bad it isn’t even interesting.”

At this point, anyone who doesn’t at least look at the possibility that both Clinton and Gore are “Manchurian candidates” simply isn’t paying attention. Gore’s been on the take from Beijing since 1990, according to the latest revelations. Is he so dumb he didn’t know he was bought and paid for? Clinton, meanwhile, has given China everything it wants with the possible exception of the silver platter.

For his part, Clinton can’t understand what all the fuss is about: “When I asked President Jiang about that, you know, the question about was the Chinese government involved, which was a question that was raised, he emphatically denied to me personally that their government had tried to do anything to influence the outcome of this election,” he told Tim Russert on “Meet the Press” Nov. 9. Well, I guess that settles the matter, huh? He asked Jiang and he denied it. What more can be done?

Interestingly, though, Clinton and Gore weren’t the only ones celebrating the end of the Thompson committee hearings earlier this month. Their sponsors in Beijing, officials of the Ministry of State Security, or China’s equivalent of the Central Intelligence Agency, were, according to FBI intelligence intercepts, taking credit for “thwarting” the congressional inquiry.

Are Americans going to stand by and watch as their leaders and their national security interests are willfully compromised by intelligence agents from a hostile foreign power? Or is this latest escalation of the scandal simply going to be obscured by Saddam Hussein’s conveniently timed high jinks in the Persian Gulf?

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