Fallout from the China Spy Case

August 1999


Materials presented in chronological order.

Wettering, Fred. "Chinese Espionage and the Department of Energy." Intelligencer 10, no. 2 (Aug. 1999): 1-4.

The author spent July 1995-July 1996 with DOE's Counterintelligence Office, on detail from the CIA Operations Directorate. He details numerous problems that hampered security efforts at the Department but believes that "the belated ... reforms enacted in 1998 have gone a long way towards addressing the problems described."

Pincus, Walter. "China Spy Probe Bungled, Panel Finds." Washington Post, 6 Aug. 1999, A1. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

A bipartisan report by the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, issued on 5 August 1999, says that "the FBI and the Energy Department bungled the investigation of a nuclear scientist suspected of giving China secret information about the design of the W-88 warhead.... The ... report ... says the investigators failed to look into other suspects, fought among themselves over a search warrant to a computer, and made other 'compound missteps.'" See also, Jeff Gerth, "China Espionage Inquiry Was Plagued by Many Mistakes, Senate Report Says," New York Times, 6 Aug. 1999.

Schmitt, Eric. "Congressional Pact Alters Energy Department to Protect Nuclear Secrets." New York Times, 6 Aug. 1999. [http://www.nytimes.com]

"House and Senate negotiators reached agreement on [5 August 1999] on a significant revamping of the Department of Energy, establishing a new agency within the department to oversee nuclear weapons programs in response to accusations of Chinese espionage."

Pincus, Walter. "Richardson May Urge Veto of Nuclear Agency." Washington Post, 7 Aug. 1999, A4. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

According to DOE director of public affairs Brooke Anderson, Secretary Bill Richardson has "a lot of problems" with a congressional plan to create a National Nuclear Security Administration as "a separately administered agency" inside the Energy Department.

U. S. Department of Energy. "Press Release -- Richardson Announces Results of Inquiries Related to Espionage Investigation." 12 Aug. 1999. [http://www.energy.gov]

On 12 August 1999, Energy Secretary Bill Richardson "announced the results of [three] inquiries into specific aspects of the espionage investigation" at the DOE's Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) by the independent Office of the Inspector General. The Secretary said, the report makes clear that DOE's "political and career management failed to give necessary attention to counterintelligence and security. That combined with the lack of accountability, unclear communication with other agencies and dysfunctional reporting relationships was fertile ground for the problems that occurred during the investigation. There was a total breakdown in the system."

Risen, James. "Nuclear Lab Should Punish 3 Colleagues, Official Says." New York Times, 13 Aug. 1999. [http://www.nytimes.com]

"Energy Secretary Bill Richardson has recommended disciplinary action against" Siegfried Hecker, director of Los Alamos from 1986 to 1997, Terry Craig, until recently a counterintelligence team leader at the lab, and Robert Vrooman, former chief of counterintelligence, "for failing to handle properly the espionage investigation" into allegations that China may have stolen nuclear secrets from the lab, officials stated on 12 August 1999. See also, Vernon Loeb, "Richardson Recommends Discipline for 3 in Los Alamos Case," Washington Post, 13 Aug. 1999, A9.

Risen, James. "Official Who Led Inquiry Into China's Reputed Theft of Nuclear Secrets Quits." New York Times, 24 Aug. 1999. [http://www.nytimes.com]

Notra Trulock, the DOE official who led the initial inquiry into China's suspected theft of U.S. nuclear secrets, resigned on 23 August 1999, "saying he was protesting roadblocks to his pursuit of the case by Clinton Administration policy makers and other Government officials." See also, Vernon Loeb and Walter Pincus, "Espionage Whistleblower Resigns: Energy's Trulock Cites Lack of Support as Debate About His Tactics Grows," Washington Post, 24 Aug. 1999, A1.

Loeb, Vernon, and Walter Pincus. "Allegations of Bias Hurt Case Against Spy Suspect." Washington Post, 26 Aug. 1999, A1. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

Inquiries "by Congress and the Clinton administration have revealed flaws in the reasoning that led Notra Trulock ... and the FBI to ignore other potential suspects and focus on [Wen Ho] Lee." Others involved in the investigation "have said ... that they believe Trulock lacked any hard evidence against Lee and singled him out as a suspect because of his ethnicity."

Washington Post. "[Editorial:] Mr. Trulock's Resignation." 27 Aug. 1999, A28. [http:// www.washingtonpost.com]

"[A]t least some of Mr. Trulock's concerns have considerable merit.... Chinese espionage does appear to have netted design information about American warheads. Far less clear, however, is how much design information really was compromised.... There is reason to wonder as well whether Mr. Trulock's confidence that the leak came from Los Alamos was reasonable or whether it led him to narrow his search for the spy and focus too quickly on former Los Alamos scientist Wen Ho Lee.... All of this makes it hard to take Mr. Trulock's as the last word in this affair.... At the same time, his contribution in insisting that lab security and Chinese nuclear spying were a problem requiring immediate attention cannot be dismissed."

Pincus, Walter, and Vernon Loeb. "Los Alamos Actions May Take Months: Lab Must Follow University's Procedures." Washington Post, 31 Aug. 1999, A4. [http://www. washingtonpost.com]

Although Energy Secretary Bill Richardson has recommended that Los Alamos National Laboratory discipline three employees involved in the Wen Ho Lee spy case, "[i]t may be weeks or even months" before the lab's director takes action against the employees, officials said on 30 August 1999. "[B]ecause the lab is managed by the University of California,... personnel actions must follow the university's procedures, which include a fact-finding process, rights of appeal and possible arbitration."

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