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For those of you watching with interest — perhaps with horror — the
Wen Ho Lee saga as it has been unfolding, there are several bits of
pertinent information that you may not have been given — until now.
- Chairman Chris Cox — of the Select Committee on U.S.
National Security and Military/Commercial Concerns with the People’s
Republic of China — wants to be Speaker of the House.
- DOE Secretary Bill Richardson — former representative for New
Mexico’s 3rd District (which includes Los Alamos) — wants to be
governor of New Mexico.
- The Board of Regents of the University of California operates —
and has operated from Day 1 — the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New
Mexico and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California for
the Department of Energy.
After completing most of its assigned work about People’s
Republic of China launches of U.S. satellites, almost as an
afterthought, the Cox Committee listened to some testimony from DOE
“counterspooks” about Clinton administration so-far successful attempts
to thwart their investigation and prosecution of PRC “moles” at Los
Alamos and Lawrence Livermore. Cox took all this testimony at the
eleventh hour from the aggrieved “counterspooks” — who were not experts
on nukes — and as Cox Committee Member John Spratt later wrote, “The
committee did not have time to call the senior statesmen of the nuclear
labs, like Harold Agnew (from Los Alamos) and Johnny Foster (from
Lawrence Livermore) for their perspective. Partly because of haste,
there are statements in the report that will not stand scrutiny.”
Indeed they would not. The “classified” version of the Cox Committee
report was filed on Jan. 3, 1999, and much of it was promptly leaked.
By the time the “redacted” version of the Cox Committee Report was made
available on March 25, 1999, much of the damage to the labs and lab
scientists had already been done.
Even though most of the Cox Report was about missile guidance systems
and satellite launches, the media frenzy that developed — after the
classified version was filed, but long before the “redacted” version was
made available to the public — was mostly about the charges in Chapter
II of the “decades long” penetration of the U.S. nuke labs by PRC moles.
The name of one suspected PRC mole — Los Alamos scientist Wen Ho Lee —
was almost immediately leaked. It was also leaked that the
counterspooks had evidence that Wen Ho had given the secret of the W-88
to the PRC back in 1985.
There were congressional demands that Wen Ho be fired, and two days
later Secretary Richardson announced that he had fired Wen Ho Lee. Of
course, he had not actually fired him. Wen Ho was an employee of the
University of California and Richardson — as Secretary of Energy had no
authority to fire him. But he could, and perhaps did, threaten to take
away the UC contract to manage Los Alamos if they didn’t fire him.
Which they did, instantly, without due process.
The Cox Committee Report charged that the PRC had infiltrated Los
Alamos and Lawrence Livermore “decades ago” and had, over a period of
time, stolen the “crown jewels” of the U.S. nuclear weapons research and
development programs. Nevertheless, Chairman Cox said we should not
blame the PRC for its spying, nor did Cox blame — much to Richardson’s
relief — the Clinton administration for allowing the spying to happen.
(In fact, just to show how little blame Cox attaches to President
Clinton and the PRC, Cox voted for Perpetual Normal Trading Relations
with the PRC, a vote that would appear to be anathema to the Cox
Report.) After all, most of the PRC spying, according to Cox and
Richardson, happened under previous Republican administrations.
So who did Chairman Cox and Secretary Richardson blame?
The UC Board of Regents, that’s who. After filing his report,
Chairman Cox publicly demanded — and other congressmen joined in the
chorus — that the contract to manage Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos
be taken away from the University of California. That was just fine with
governor-wannabe Richardson, who has long wanted to take the contract to
operate Los Alamos away from UC and give it to the University of New
So where does Wen Ho Lee fit into all this? Cox and Richardson were
beginning to look like fools for blaming UC, Los Alamos and Lawrence
Livermore. The Cox Report charges that Richardson et al. leaked about
moles and nukes, in general, and about Wen Ho Lee, in particular, had
turned out to be groundless.
But wouldn’t you know it, after Richardson had “fired” Wen Ho, the
countersnoops searched his office and his computer and all his local
area network transactions, and they discovered that Wen Ho had
apparently copied — they can’t find the copies — a huge number of
“legacy” files. None of these so-called legacy files were classified,
individually, but when taken in aggregate, the Richardson claim is that
they amount to a collection of the U.S. nuke “crown jewels.”
Now, all this alleged spying by Wen Ho took place on President
Clinton’s watch and there is good reason to blame Clinton nuke policies
towards the PRC for it. Nevertheless, governor-wannabe Richardson and
speaker-wannabe Cox will try to tell you the Wen Ho discovery proves
that they knew what they were talking about — when they were demanding
that the contracts to manage Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore be taken
away from the UC Regents — all along. But they didn’t.