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Not so fast, Wen Ho Lee

Wen Ho Lee may have been able to avoid more serious charges of injuring the U.S. and
aiding a foreign nation by pleading
guilty to one felony count of mishandling classified nuclear data, but
the former Los Alamos scientist still has a lot of explaining to do,
says the former Energy Department counterintelligence chief who
originally put Lee on a list of spy suspects.

Lee was caught downloading codes covering the entire history of the
U.S. nuclear weapons program — including valuable testing data — from
a secret lab network, and copying them onto 10 portable computer tapes.
Seven of them are still missing.

The plea deal, struck yesterday, removed the more serious charges
against Lee, now free from jail, accusing him of stealing secret nuclear
data with the intent of harming the U.S.

In exchange, Lee must now, finally, tell U.S. prosecutors and FBI
national security agents why he copied such highly sensitive
information, and what he’s done with the missing tapes.

Lee’s supporters cheered the plea bargain as vindication for the
ethnic-Chinese computer scientist. They claim it’s proof the FBI never
really had a case against him and targeted him only because of his race.

But Notra Trulock, the former head of Energy counterspying, insists
the government in fact did have a strong case — but bungled it.

“This case went to the FBI in 1996. It has been their case since that
time. They simply did not pursue it with any real vigor or conviction,”
Trulock told WorldNetDaily. “So it’s no surprise” that the Lee case fell
apart.

Chinese army intelligence stole design secrets to every nuclear
warhead deployed in the U.S. arsenal, including the prized W-88
mini-warhead developed at Los Alamos. Much of the espionage, in fact,
occurred at Los Alamos.

The U.S. intelligence community first discovered the devastating
espionage in 1995. Much of it took place at the U.S. weapons labs over
the past three decades, but mostly during the ’90s.

Trulock says it’s a “complete travesty” that, after five years on the
case, the Clinton administration has still not been able to get to the
bottom of the spying.

As for Lee, Trulock says he was not investigated just because of his
race, but because of his “track record.”

“I don’t know if Lee is guilty or not; that was for a jury to
decide,” he said. “He was on our original list (of a dozen suspects). To
not put him on (the list) would have been negligent, given his track
record.”

The national media have never fully reported the FBI’s case for
probable cause, when in 1997 it asked the Justice Department for a
warrant to electronically monitor Lee and search his computer. In an
extremely rare refusal, Attorney General Janet Reno turned the
FBI down cold — not once but twice.

As a result, Lee not only stayed on the job, but was promoted and
given access to even more secret data, allowing him the time and
opportunity to download and remove from the lab the equivalent of
400,000 pages of data.

In the FBI’s original request, Lee’s “track record” is exposed.
Agents suspected Lee had ample opportunity to leak secrets about U.S.
nuclear warheads, including the W-88, during numerous contacts that he
and his China-born wife, Sylvia, had with key Chinese officials.

The information compiled by the FBI in support of its warrant
application and presented to Reno included the following (according to a
1999 report released jointly by Sens. Fred Thompson and Joe Lieberman):

Lee’s release has also given critics of the bipartisan Cox
Commission, which investigated and exposed the Chinese espionage, more
ammunition. They reason that if the case against the allegedly lead
Chinese spy crumbled, then maybe there’s not much to the reports of
Chinese spying, either.

But Trulock isn’t swayed, arguing that it wasn’t just the Cox report
that came to such conclusions.

“Remember that the 1999 Intelligence Community Damage Assessment
declared that the Chinese had acquired nuclear weapons design
information,” he said. “Maybe these critics know something the IC
doesn’t.”

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