Wen Ho Lee Debate
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IN 1978 Wen Ho Lee STARTED WORK at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
IN 1982 Lee calls A scientist suspected of stealing neutron bomb secrets from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and discusses ongoing federal investigation of that case. The FBI eavesdrops on the call, but does not launch investigation of Lee.
But one high-ranking U.S. official said in an interview that Lee did not know the Livermore scientist was an espionage suspect. During the intercepted call, Lee expressed condolences after hearing rumors that the Livermore scientist was facing disciplinary action for delivering a scientific paper in Taiwan, the official said. Both Lee and the Livermore scientist came to the United States from Taiwan. After the FBI confronted Lee about the call, he cooperated with the agency and later passed a polygraph examination in which he denied involvement in any espionage activity, the official said. The call to the Livermore scientist "wasn't in the context of espionage," the official said. Another source familiar with the 1982 call said Lee later tried to set up a meeting with the Livermore scientist at the request of FBI agents to help them gain more information, but the meeting never took place.
IN THE Early 80s Lee develops a relationship with the FBI, AND provides "useful information" to THE bureau in at least one case.
IN THE 80'S FBI agents had been brought in for SECURITY help but left in the early 1990s “because of resistance within DOE to implementing the measures the FBI staff believed necessary to improve security,”
IN 1983 Lee transfers nuclear bomb data from a classified computer system to an unclassified network open to outsiders.
In 1984, Lee was told to take a polygraph test and “showed deception on seven questions” that should have alerted security officials. the data became buried and was never passed on to lab managers. When the Energy Department office in Albuquerque, N.M., five years later raised some questions about the 1984 polygraph tests, the file disappeared when sent to Washington. Three years later the regional office had to hire a contractor to reconstruct Lee’s personnel file.
IN 1987 Lee's wife, Sylvia, a secretary at Los Alamos, becomes an informant for the FBI, providing information on visiting Chinese delegations.
IN 1995 Scientists at Los Alamos tell Energy Department intelligence officials that they suspect China has stolen the designs of the W-88, America's most advanced nuclear warhead. Later, the CIA obtains a 1988 Chinese document with specific references to W-88 technology. Energy Department and FBI officials begin searching for a mole.
IN 1995 Lee makes the last of the known unauthorized transfers of classified computer files.
in July 1995 Evidence that China may have stolen nuclear secrets first came to the attention of the White House during a meeting, White House Chief of Staff, Leon Panetta, was informed of the problem by Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary. She added that Energy Department officials had also been told that the C.I.A. had gathered intelligence about the possible theft. Panetta then called the C.I.A. Director, John Deutch, to find out what the agency was doing about the case, Panetta said. Deutch, who had also just received a call about the same matter from Deputy Energy Secretary Charles Curtis, told Panetta he would investigate. Panetta then told Deutch to work with the National Security Council at the White House on the case. Upset that he had not heard about the case first from officials in his own agency, Deutch called Panetta back a day or two later and told him what the C.I.A. knew about the spy case. President Clinton was not told of the evidence , according to the National Security Council spokesman, David C. Leavy.
As early as 1996, managers at Los Alamos National Laboratory wanted to examine the LEE'S computer. But they were warned away by Justice Department lawyers who feared the search would taint information for use in court.
in April 1996, Energy officials brief the deputy national security adviser, Sandy Berger, and the FBI opens a criminal inquiry. Berger did not tell President Clinton about the case following This briefing. Berger did take some action after This briefing, including directing that Congress be secretly informed.
DID Congress DO ANYTHING WITH THIS INFORMATION, AND WHAT CONGRESSMEN WERE TOLD.
on May 30, 1996, the F.B.I. opened its criminal investigation. But in late June or July 1996, theY dropped THE investigation. The C.I.A. had just re-issued the W-88 document with a warning that the agency now believed that the source of the document was a double agent. ThIS led the F.B.I. to suspend its investigation for about six weeks. It resumed after the Energy Department assured the F.B.I. that even if the source was a double agent, the document nonetheless contained accurate, classified data about the W-88 warhead. But while the F.B.I. re-started its investigation, it remained a low priority, F.B.I. officials now concede. Only one or two agents were assigned to the investigation in 1996, officials say. By 1997, when the Justice Department denied the F.B.I.'s request to seek court authorization to wiretap and electronically monitor Lee, the F.B.I. still had only three or four agents on the case. Today, in the midst of a public furor over Chinese espionage, the F.B.I. has assigned 40 agents to the investigation.
in July 1997 Berger, now the national security adviser, after receiving a second, more specific briefing tells Clinton about security problems at the nuclear weapons laboratories.
IN 1997 The Justice Department rejects an FBI request to seek court approval for covert monitoring of Lee's phone conversations and his computer use. FBI officials, who had been afraid that suddenly transferring Lee might tip him off, now tell the Energy Department he can be moved out of his sensitive position. Energy and Los Alamos officials fail to act. The White House is briefed in greater detail.
FBI CASE 15.1
1.WE KNOW THAT SOMEBODY IS SPYING WITH THE 1988 CHINESE DOCUMENT with references to W-88 technology.
The still classified F.B.I. application cited
2. questions about Lee dating from the early 80's, when he contacted a scientist who had been ousted from a weapons lab in California after an inquiry into the theft of secrets about the neutron bomb.
3. Lee had failed to disclose the identities of all the scientists whom he contacted in China on visits in 1986 and 1988. The Energy Department had approved the trips and authorized his meetings. After the trips, Lee and his wife met American security officials and identified a number of Chinese scientists whom they had met. But counterintelligence officials suspected that Lee might have held back some pertinent information about his activities during vacations taken after each trip. On the vacations, the officials said, Lee had undisclosed contacts with scientists, including one identified as Side Hu, a top official at an institute of engineering physics involved in nuclear weapons research. Other officials said the omissions might have been inadvertent, in light of the numerous contacts that Lee did report.
4. Later, counterintelligence agents analyzed Lee's spending and found two charges on a credit card at a travel agency while Lee was in Hong Kong in 1994. One charge was for $100, the other for $700, enough to pay for what officials said might have been an airline ticket to China
Justice CASE 15.2
1.the Office of Intelligence Policy Review at the Justice Department found that the evidence was so nebulous and dated that it refused the F.B.I. request for electronic monitoring.
2.After a bureau official had questioned the decision, Attorney General Janet Reno ordered a second review by the Justice Department, which also found that the bureau had failed to produce enough evidence to justify the request.
3. There are no witnesses who saw Lee engage in espionage.
4. There is no evidence of a motive in the form of unexplained income or a change in his style of life.
5. Nor are there indications that Lee, a naturalized American who was born on Taiwan, was ideologically allied with Beijing.
6. Even the evidence that a theft occurred is circumstantial
TO THIS DAY THERE STILL ISN'T ANY PROOF THAT LEE DID ANY SPYING FOR
IN February 1998 President Clinton signs an order calling for tougher counterintelligence measures at national labs.
IN THE Summer OF 1998 FBI agents posing as Chinese spies to try to get him to admit his guilt. Lee rebuffs them.
IN November 1998 Counterintelligence experts send a report to senior national security officials warning that China is focused on the weapons and that the computer system is vulnerable.
IN February 1999 Lee fails a polygraph test when asked about his computer usage, and then quickly deletes more than 1,000 computer files containing secret data that he had moved to an unclassified system. Computer experts reconstructed the files.
WOULDN'T A SPY KNOW THAT JUST DELETING FILES DOES NOT MAKE THEM GO AWAY. THERE'S SOFTWARE AVAILABLY AT ALL COMPUTER STORES AND FREE ON THE INTERNET TO COMPLETELY DELETE ANY RECORD OF FILES FROM DISKS.
IN March 1999 Lee is interviewed by the FBI, and grants authorization for investigators to search his office computer. Officials then see evidence of the enormous number of deleted files. A reconstruction of the files reveals that he had downloaded the "legacy codes" and accompanying data, which jeopardizes the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Lee is fired from Los Alamos for security violations.
IN April 1999 After learning of Lee's huge computer transfers, Energy Secretary Bill Richardson orders all classified computer systems at Los Alamos and two other national weapons labs to be shut down for two weeks so that security can be improved.
Lee, who appeared to pass another lie detecter test, was fired on March 8,1999.
8-17-99 U.S. investigators lack a ``shred of evidence'' that Wen Ho Lee, a physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, leaked nuclear secrets to China and targeted him largely because he is Chinese American, a former chief of counterintelligence at the lab said in remarks published Tuesday. Robert Vrooman also told the Washington Post he does not believe China obtained top-secret information about U.S. nuclear warheads from Los Alamos or any other laboratory belonging to the U.S. Energy Department. Any such stolen data, he said, could have come from documents distributed to ``hundreds of locations throughout the U.S. government'' as well as to private contractors. Vrooman said he had personally counted 13 Caucasians at Los Alamos who were ``left out of the investigation'' although like Lee, they had visited China and met officials at a physics institute there.
NEW YORK, Oct. 10,99 /PRNewswire/ -- Federal Bureau of Investigation officials failed to tell Congress or FBI Director Louis Freeh of persistent misgivings by their own investigators in the case against suspected Los Alamos spy Wen Ho Lee, Newsweek reports in the current issue. As far back as December 1998, the FBI's field office in Albuquerque, N.M., raised concerns that the investigation was superficial and failed to look at other suspects outside of Los Alamos.
The Washington Post 11-5-99 quoted senior administration officials as saying that the government has decided not to prosecute Lee for espionage, since there is no evidence that he deliberately turned over nuclear secrets to China. However, the U.S. attorney in Albuquerque, John J. Kelly, may seek an indictment for gross negligence in handling classified information, the Post said.
FACT 26 11-19-99
The FBI has found new evidence suggesting that China may have stolen information about the most advanced U.S. nuclear warhead from one of the weapon's assemblers, widening an investigation once focused almost exclusively on Los Alamos National Laboratory and one of its staff scientists, Wen Ho Lee. The evidence emerged after weapons scientists at Los Alamos noted errors in a Chinese intelligence document that sparked the initial FBI and congressional investigations into Los Alamos and Lee. The telltale errors, contained in a description of the miniaturized W-88 warhead, were traced to one of the contractors and defense installations that assemble nuclear weapons, government sources said. While the new evidence does not completely eliminate Los Alamos or Lee, the sources said, it indicates that the most likely origin of the information is one of the weapons "integrators." These include Sandia National Laboratories, which puts together prototypes of some warheads; Lockheed Martin Corp., which attaches warheads to missiles; and the Navy, which supervises the process.
FACT 27 12-10-99
Wen Ho Lee was arrested and charged with removing nuclear secrets from highly secure computers at the Los Alamos weapons lab. There was still no proof that he passed information to China or any other country, officials said. The 59-count indictment charges that Lee violated the federal Espionage Act by the "unlawful gathering and retention of national defense" secrets and violated the Atomic Energy Act by removing secret weapons files from the Los Alamos computers. If convicted, he could face up to life in prison and a $250,000 fine for conviction of any of the counts, officials said. Lee, who has rarely spoken publicly in the past nine months, acknowledged the code transfers but maintained that he had put the codes into his office computer as a backup to safeguard against a computer crash. Los Alamos officials have scoffed at that explanation. More recently, according to the government officials, it was determined that Lee also copied some of the computer codes onto tapes and had taken them from the lab.
FACT 28 12-10-99Facing flaws in their evidence, FBI officials began to doubt more than a year ago that Los Alamos laboratory scientist Wen Ho Lee had given China one of America's most prized nuclear secrets as originally feared, according to government officials and documents. The agents wrote a memo alerting FBI Director Louis Freeh to their suspicions, officials told The Associated Press. But the pursuit of Lee continued for months - along with a barrage of news leaks implying he was a Chinese spy. Agents eventually built a lesser case against Lee alleging he removed a wide array of nuclear secrets from secured computers of the government weapons lab where he worked for two decades. He was indicted Friday, but the government offered no evidence that he passed secrets to China or any other country. (AP)
When a congressional committee chaired by Rep. Christopher Cox, R-Calif., issued a report on China espionage earlier this year, it pointed to that document as evidence of the extent of China's spying at U.S. nuclear labs. But a more recent assessment by U.S. intelligence agencies has concluded a large portion of the information in that document most likely came from publicly available documents, some of which contained misinformation about American weapons, officials told The Associated Press. In the case of the W-88, intelligence officials now believe the 1988-dated Chinese document, which U.S. officials obtained in 1995, contains only a couple of pieces of classified information that could only have been stolen from secure facilities.
FACT 30 12-14-99
WASHINGTON (AP) - FBI Director Louis Freeh is pleading with Congress not to hold hearings that could divulge government dissension and doubts in the China espionage investigation, fearing they might help the defense of former nuclear weapons lab scientist Wen Ho Lee, documents show.
Freeh wrote senators on Friday asking them not to proceed with planned hearings on the espionage case, and followed up with a personal appeal in a closed-door meeting Tuesday. "In my view, the potential that your hearings could inadvertently interfere with the prosecution is substantial," Freeh wrote. "Subcommittee hearings at this time risk impacting upon the government's ability to successfully prosecute Mr. Lee by creating issues that may not presently exist."
AP reported on Sunday that internal FBI documents showed the Albuquerque FBI office, which investigated Lee, began to doubt as early as November 1998 that he had passed secrets to China.
The FBI recently refocused its investigation on other labs, facilities and suspects.
FACT 31 12-20-99
Wen Ho Lee is suing the FBI and the Justice and Energy departments, alleging they violated his privacy and wrongly portrayed him as a spy for China. The suit will allege that the three agencies violated the Privacy Act by making unauthorized disclosures of private information about Lee, and contend that much of the information used to suggest he was a spy was false or unsubstantiated. Brian Sun, a California attorney representing Lee said, ``It is troubling to any American, much less the Lees, to have a system where government officials can systematically leak for their own purposes and ends and not be held accountable. This may be how government officials in Washington operate, but the law does not allow it and such conduct should not be condoned.''
A federal judge on Monday will reconsider a ruling holding scientist Wen Ho Lee without bail until his trial - likely more than a year away. Kelly and First Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Gorence, argued that the 60-year-old Taiwan-born computer expert is a risk to flee the United States with stolen secrets if released on bail. ``Lee stole America's nuclear secrets sufficient to build a functional thermonuclear weapon. Lee absconded with that information on computer tapes, seven of which are still missing. Those missing tapes, in the hands of an unauthorized possessor, pose a mortal danger to every American,'' they wrote. Although Lee's attorneys contend the tapes were destroyed, prosecutors said there is no evidence to prove it. Other Los Alamos scientists and Alan Dershowitz, a Harvard law professor, have said Lee's actions are comparable to what other researchers and government officials do - transfer classified material from one work station to another, not always mindful of security. ``We know of no one (else) who was ever charged with committing a crime for that,'' lab computer specialist Betty Gunther told The Albuquerque Tribune. In the Tribune article Thursday, Los Alamos astrophysicist Stirling Colgate described the prosecution of Lee as ``a real American tragedy.''
FACT 33 12-27-99
A Los Alamos National Laboratory official testified that Lee had clearly breached security regulations by moving secret data to an unclassified computer system. Wampler said Lee's actions would have made the top-secret data accessible to computer hackers but added there was no evidence that hackers had actually obtained the information. In his cross-examination of Wampler, defense attorney John Cline said that if Lee had intended to steal secret information, he would have tried to cover his tracks, but that in fact the copied files could easily be traced to Lee.
FACT 34 12-28-99
Wen Ho Lee after failing a FBI lie-detector test told a supervisor he ``may have accidentally'' passed information to a foreign county, a lab official testified Tuesday. Richard Krajcik, deputy director of Los Alamos National Laboratory's nuclear weapons division, testified that Wen Ho Lee visited him in his office after taking the FBI polygraph test in February. ``He indicated that he did not intentionally pass on information to a foreign country,'' Krajcik said. ``He said he may have accidentally passed on information to a foreign country.'' Krajcik didn't say whether Lee had identified which country got the information. He said the two questions Lee failed were whether he had passed information to a foreign country and whether he had passed classified codes to a foreign country. Krajcik also said that he was present when Lee was interviewed by the FBI on March 5 and that he appeared ``deceptive and evasive.'' On cross-examination, Lee attorney Mark Holscher asked Krajcik whether it was possible that when Lee said he may have passed on information he was referring to articles he had written that had been reviewed and approved by the lab. ``That did not appear to me to be the issue,'' Krajcik replied. ``We did not talk about publications or publication records.'' Holscher also introduced into evidence a December 1998 lie-detector test with questions that were similar to those asked during the February polygraph. Holscher said it was examined by three experts and received ``one of the highest scores you can get on a polygraph test.''
U.S. District Judge James Parker rejected Wen Ho Lee's request Wednesday, referring to missing computer tapes containing classified material and citing the potential for ``enormous harm'' to the nation. A trial may be a year away. In upholding an earlier ruling, Parker said he would likely reconsider Lee's request depending on the results of another lie-detector test.
Wen Ho Lee was misled by federal investigators who told him he'd failed a Department of Energy lie-detector test, The Washington Post reported today. During a long interrogation, FBI agents pressed Lee to confess passing nuclear weapons secrets to China. Lee, however, denied that, insisted he was telling the truth and was never told by his interrogators that DOE polygraph operators had in fact given him a very high score for honesty. "I don't know why I fail," Lee told the FBI. "But I do know I have not done anything. ... I never give any classified information to Chinese people." The Post obtained a transcript of the March 7 interrogation, which was recorded by the FBI. The newspaper said the questioning by the federal agents was highly adversarial and ended only after Lee asked repeatedly to leave.