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Let’s put the Cox Committee’s report in perspective. Last year Russia
and China officially announced a “strategic partnership.” In the words
of the Chinese government, this partnership was founded to challenge the
“perceived global dominance of the United States.” Did our vaunted CIA
anticipate this new alliance between Russia and China? Probably they
were caught napping, like the time Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in
1990, or when India conducted a number of surprise nuclear tests in May
Judging from U.S. foreign policy, there has been no official reaction
to the new Moscow-Beijing axis. From all external appearances, the U.S.
intelligence community has not yet recognized that the “former”
Communist Bloc is reappearing under a new guise. And yet, we were warned
of this impending Russian-Chinese partnership as far back as 1984, by a
Russian KGB defector named Golitsyn. We were told of a secret strategy
of Russian-Chinese collusion. We were told that America was still the
“main enemy” of the Chinese, and that one day Russia would unite with
China into “one clenched fist.” But few believed these warnings, because
assumed that the FBI and CIA would have long ago discovered any
Sino-Soviet collusion, and American policy would have been adjusted to
meet this challenge.
Unfortunately, America’s intelligence and counterintelligence
functions are tertiary, and will never be allowed to interfere with the
making of money, which is primary. As President Coolidge once said: “The
business of America is business.” And as it happens, American business
has become deeply involved in China.
Therefore, the bad news about Russia and China has been ignored.
Espionage has been tolerated. Human rights abuses have been excused. But
the intelligence failure goes deeper than the sociology of the market
and our desire to make money from cheap Chinese labor. America’s
inability to protect vital secrets also stems from national laxness,
hedonism, and a desire for convenience.
America’s prosperity has led it away from the call to arms of
President Kennedy, who asked Americans “to pay any price, to bear any
burden” in the struggle against totalitarianism. After Kennedy’s
assassination we began a long retreat, first in Southeast Asia, then in
Africa. Under Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan and Bush we snuggled up to the
Chinese Communists, the world’s foremost butchers and murderers. Clinton
has followed this example, with his own special twist. Now we’re in a
strategic mess, and it’s entirely our own fault. Every time we buy that
cheap item that says “Made in China,” we’re adding to the problem.
In this context, the FBI and CIA do not exist in a vacuum. These
agencies cannot avoid sharing in the faults and failings of the American
people. And so, as the American people softened, the FBI and CIA
softened too. America’s failure to cope with Communist subversion and
penetration in the 1940s and 50s was a small failure. Small at first.
The atomic bomb spies, Julius and Ethel Rosenburg, were caught and
convicted. They fried in the electric chair on June 19, 1953. The
chemist, Harry Gold, was sentenced to 30 years for giving away atomic
secrets gleaned from Klaus Fuchs. Morton Sobell, a friend and classmate
of Julius Rosenberg, also got a 30-year sentence. But American vigilance
lost its edge. The espionage situation gradually worsened in the 1960s
and ’70s. By the 1980s we had a virtual explosion of traitors and spies.
If you track the espionage cases in this country from 1953 to 1999,
you will see direct evidence of the increasing decay and rottenness of
the intelligence side of our security establishment. Seventeen major
espionage cases were brought into the limelight between 1984 and ’85
alone. Consequently, the year 1985 became “the Year of the Spy.”
Among the more spectacular cases of the 1980s: 1) Edward Lee Howard,
a CIA employee, fled to the Soviet Union after his espionage was
discovered; 2) The infamous Walker spy ring consisted of Navy Warrant
Officer John Walker, his brother Arthur Walker (a retired naval
officer), and Jerry Whitworth (Navy radioman). The Walker spy ring went
undetected for 17 years; 3) Glenn Souther, a Navy satellite photography
expert, is believed to have stolen the Navy’s nuclear war plan. He
successfully escaped to the Soviet Union in 1986 where he was given the
rank of major in the KGB. Souther was an ideological convert to
Communism. Souther’s wife suspected him after their divorce, and
contacted the Office of Naval Intelligence, who sent someone out to
interview her. But naval intelligence did not follow through.
There is no doubt the United States was seriously penetrated by
Soviet agents in the 1940s and 50s. A top-level U.S. official named
Alger Hiss was — indisputably — a Soviet agent. But do we imagine it
ended with him?
In December of 1984, then-FBI Director William H. Webster stated, “We
have more people charged with espionage right now than ever before in
our history. …”
The spies we caught in the 1980s were military and intelligence
personnel. At the time, nobody was looking at the American business
community, or at our politicians. We know that politicians around the
world have been recruited and blackmailed by the Chinese and Russian
services. Can we honestly assume that our country has been immune to
this sort of penetration?
In 1985, Sen. Malcolm Wallop reacted to the espionage problem in
America, saying: “There are far too many in the intelligence community
who either do not understand counterintelligence or who, understanding
its concepts, have climbed to the top of their career ladders by
Some might say that espionage against the United States isn’t a
serious problem. After all, America is an invincible superpower. Our
enemies have always been weak and pathetic. But the former Director of
Naval Intelligence, Rear Admiral William Studeman, says that the
espionage of the 1980s had “powerful war-winning implications for the
The same must be said about the espionage of the 1990s.
Could it be that the FBI and CIA are clueless, that they have failed
miserably at the intelligence game, that the United States has been
tricked and outmaneuvered by its adversaries time and time again?
Overall, there is nothing that should surprise us in the Cox
Committee’s report. The Chinese stole secrets from every major U.S.
weapons project for the past 20 years. What else could we have expected,
given our laxness?
Los Alamos, Sandia, and Lawrence Livermore were penetrated by Chinese
agents. Why not? Who would have stopped them, other than the New York
Times? Secrets from seven U.S. nuclear warheads were compromised.
(Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were there first.)
Electromagnetic weapons technology has also been taken. These could
be used to bring down satellites or sink our submarines. Are we getting
to the powerful, war-winning implications yet?
The citizens of this country need to harden themselves, to harden
their thinking on these issues. The fight against treason and espionage
depends on zero tolerance. Now that we are facing a combined
Chinese-Russian threat, it’s time to get serious.