Sunday, September 25, 2005

Richardson: Wen Ho Lee Was 'Mistreated'

The Associated Press
Sunday, September 25, 2005; 2:40 PM

SANTA FE, N.M. -- A former Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist who was held in solitary confinement for nine months was "badly treated," Gov. Bill Richardson acknowledges in his new autobiography.

Richardson was former President Clinton's energy secretary when Wen Ho Lee was indicted in 1999 on 59 counts alleging he mishandled nuclear information.

Lee was released in September 2000 after pleading guilty to a single felony count and received an apology from the judge who released him.

"As for Lee, he committed a crime, but he also was badly treated," Richardson wrote in "Between Worlds: The Making of an American Life," due out Nov. 3.


Full Story

Richardson: Wen Ho Lee Was 'Mistreated'

The rest of the story:

"Here was the government putting this skinny 60-year-old guy into solitary confinement for nearly a year. I have come to realize that it was wrong and I should have spoken out more, although I did try to influence the Justice Department on their incarceration of Lee."

The Taiwanese-born Lee acknowledged downloading data to computer tape but said he made copies to protect data from being erased. Lee, a U.S. citizen, was never charged with espionage and said he never passed any sensitive or classified material to anyone.

© 2005 The Associated Press

-Thanks, Bill. You've "redeemed" yourself in everyone's eyes, I'm sure. I'm sure your "book" is full of gems of "wisdom" and "truth." Like your interview on 60 Minutes with Mike Wallace, lo these many years ago.
Bill Richardson said Wen Ho Lee was mistreated?! The same Bill Richardson that leaked the name to NYT (according to "A Convenient Spy")? Brad, you are too kind to both Richardson and WHL.

Let's not forget: Wen Ho Lee got away with murder. He then went around not only admitting that he stole stuff but also justifying his theft by calling the stuff "crown junk". Judge Parker is one stupid bigmouth for that apology that's not his to give.

Bill Richardson is trying to save his a**, just in case he's in the running for VP-ship. Hilary & Obama, don't call him! He's a real weasel.

In that infamous 60 Minutes interview, Bill Richardson played the spycatcher/enforcer, and WHL played the race card. Both are shameless liars.

Richardson is a politician. Now that is unavoidably obvious that UC has a demonstrated history of mistreating its employees it should be no surprise that "Slick Willy" Richardson has jumped, albeit a bit late, on that bandwagon. What is interesting about this, though, is the between-the-lines message that UC has lost political support, even from the Democrats.
Whoa finknottle - the story is about Richardson, and nothing about UC or LANL. The "mistreatment" was at the hands of the FBI (but really the confinement was a slap on the wrist for a thief and liar). The stretch you make to mean it was UC's fault is large. But that is a small leap compared to your conclusion that Democrats no longer support LANL/UC.

I am guessing that your comments speak volumes about your preferences. Richardson's book has nothing to do with UC and political support.

WHL did NOT get away with murder. He got away with bending the security rules into spaghetti (like the Legacy Spaghetti Codes, you might say), but he did not murder anyone or anything (except the security rules--let's not allow ourselves to get carried away). For those violations, he was duly nailed, far more than Our Dear CIA Director John Deutsch was for his far more egregious security violations, where some really, truly serious stuff was put at risk.

But it's best that we not get into that too deeply without being behind The Fence. Suffice it to say (trust Harold Agnew, if you don't trust me) that the Crown Jewels of the nuclear weapons program are not those legacy codes, but the bomb designers who make those codes do amazing things. Pity the former hack LANL manager who said otherwise; if there is a Warm Place in the afterlife, then a special radioactive seat is reserved for him there.
The nice thing about this country is that we are free to disagree on this one, 08:04:22 PM.

It is my (oh, so humble) opinion that UC, LANL management, and the FBI all deserve equal shares of blame for how the entire Wen Ho Lee business was mishandled.

On whether or not UC has lost political favor, I suggest that we revisit this one on December 1st. $5 says UC will be out.
I'm with Karen. WHL was a damn spy and the fact that he's walking free makes me sick. There is a lot more to this than we can ever discuss here without being thrown in jail ourselves.

If China ever does attack the U.S. then WHL will most definitely gotten away with murder. If you think that scenario is far fetched then read the unclassified CIA assessment on Chinese military strength and ambitions.
Brad, I am quite familiar with the WHL case. Was the information he stole the crown jewels? NO way. However, he was not guilty of just downloading information because he wanted to *save* it. He engaged in activity that require the willful circunventing of rules, engineered barriers, and then lied about it. He clearly lied and took actions to hide his activities. Don't make him less than he was -- A SPY. The oath we take when we are granted a Q clearance is sacred. WHL betrayed his nation.
People, get real! Richardson was interviewed about WHL just
last week:


Governor Richardson Says He "Stands By Everything He Said and Did"
in the Case of Accused Los Alamos Scientist Wen Ho Lee.

(BILL RICHARDSON): Well, on that, Juan, because of the pending
litigation, there's hardly anything I can say. I would tell you
if I did. But I stand behind everything that I said, and I did
before in that case....

(BILL): ...Now, the judgment of the judge, I believe, is speculative.
But I stand beind the very strong actions that I took to protect
our nuclear secrets...

(BILL): ...I believe that we acted properly in safeguarding our
nuclear secrets. He was convicted on several counts. There were
some mistakes in that case. It involved the entire federal
government, and I stand behind everything that I did...


THIS CASE. Is that clear enough? This man doesn't do "repentance"!

Richardson is a politcal whore of the very worst kind. He would gladly
kill his own grandmother if it would help benefit his politcal career.
God help us if this man every makes it near the Whitehouse. Brad, if
you now find him redeemed because of his latest drivel, then you are
truly a bigger fool than I thought. The only thing Richardson is
concerned about is that he may soon be charged as the one who released
WHL's name to the New York Times, in clear violation of Federal statues.
Richardson is running scared.

And as far as WHL being a spy? Even the FBI never charged him with
espionage. The "spy" term has been used throughout history as a
incinderary charge. Think Joe McCarty...think Hitler...think Stalin.
It is a word that has a very clear meaning. Spies are those who
would sell-out the security of the citizens of their own country
to our enemies for their private benefit. And for these people,
Federal law prescribes the highest of fines -- death.

People who keep throwing out the "spy" word are in interesting company.
And those who imply they are "in the know" should stop issuing the old
"if you only knew what I knew (but can't tell you)" crap. If the
Feds had such evidence, they would have Wen Ho Lee under house arrest,
at the very least. After all, the man apparently knows something
about the inner workings of a nuclear bomb.

What Wen Ho Lee did was wrong and stupid, but it certainly did not rise
to the level of espionage, and those who continue to throw this charge
around, willy-nilly, should be ashamed of themselves. John Deutsch
was head of the CIA and took highly classified information home to his
porno-infested, AOL-networked, home computer. Was Deutsch, likewise,
a spy? I think not. Stupid, sloppy, and arrogrant maybe, but not a spy.
Same goes for Sandy Berger, the top National Security Adviser in the
Whitehouse, who was found to have secretly stuff TS/SCI papers into his
trousers, took them home, unsecured, and then lost some of these same
stolen papers. Anyone care to charge Sandy Berger as also being
a "spy"?

I hope those who keep spouting this "spy" charge from their addled
brains are treated to the same witch-calling treatment someday. They
should try walking a few miles in another man's shoes. In fact, I
suggest you prove to me you are not a witch, else it's "to the fire
with you!".
As the poster of the 10:40 post, I unfortunately missed the sarcasm in
Brad's initial post. Sorry, Brad, I'm a scientist, so I sometimes miss
blantantly obvious sarcasm. It's clear to me you don't buy into
Richardson's latest remarks.
10:40:52- Invoking the names of Hitler and Stalin is incendiary as well. But you would have a much harder time convincing someone I was a Nazi than I would convincing someone WHL was a SPY. YES, I SAID SPY!! There was no reason for him to copy that information and remove it from a secure area unless he was going to deliver it to someone else. It is adle minded to think he wasn't up to something sinister.

Sandy Berger is just another ignorant, corrupt, bureaucrat covering his own ass like our own Nanofool did. The two are not directly comparable.

So, while I disagree with you on these points I completely agree with your assessment of Richardson.
The thought of him getting back to Washington is terrifying.
I think a quote from the blog's past is in order:

"In fact, Nanos reminds me of a former High Official of the
Laboratory (Steve Younger) who testified at Wen Ho Lee's trial
that Wen Ho had compromised "the Crown Jewels" of Los Alamos,
namely, the "Legacy Codes" (Fortran II spaghetti codes). What
Younger failed to understand, and Nanos REALLY DOESN'T UNDERSTAND,
is that the REAL crown jewels of the Laboratory are its bomb
designers--the human side of the equation. These are the vanishing
breed of people who have designed tests in Nevada and are the
ones who have made the spaghetti codes run, that is, who know
what the "knobs" really do."

Brad Lee Holian
3/06/2005 06:32:24 PM

Steve Younger left LANL after his disgraceful performance
during the WHL incident to go work for DTRA (sound familar?).
Of course, he's now back at LANL, once again. Perhaps if
UC wins the contract, we'll even see our beloved Admiral
return to LANL someday. As for the seasoned bomb designers
that Brad talks of, they will likely all be gone for good
given the events of the last year and the upcoming new
contract. Our adversaries seem to treat their prize
bomb designers much, much nicer.
To Poster 12:08 -

I take highly classified information out of LANL every day --
in my head. Does that, too, make me a spy? Simply taking the
weapon codes out on tape does not make WHL a spy. To be a spy,
you must prove intent. So, if you insist on continuing on the
tract of calling WHL a "spy", where is your evidence of intent?
I'm open minded. Make a logical case for your argument. The
Feds clearly didn't care to go down this path. Even after 911,
WHL is still a free man.
Gov. Richardson's autobiography?

I'm sure that will be a bestseller.
12:45 - I take classified information around with me too, in my head, for an agency for which I no longer work and for which my clearance has expired. No, this does not make me a spy or even make me irresponsible. The second that I write that information down on my networked home computer, however, I do become a spy - inadvertent as that may be. It's not that WHL had classified information with him, it's that he had to make a conscious effort to bypass engineered security safeguards to get classified information onto his home computer - and that that information went well beyond notes for a report or a couple briefings. Whether or not WHL was judged guilty, his actions present a huge red flag.
Well, my friends, it's clear that I've gotta be a bit more careful about my use of sarcasm. Just in case there's any doubt, have any of you been in a room where Bill Richardson enters with his entourage? The oil slick laps up into every corner.
"The second that I write that information down on my networked
home computer, however, I do become a spy - inadvertent as that
may be." - Poster 8:02 am

Well then, 8:02 am, by your definition both John Deutsch and
Sandy Berger are clearly both spies. And you used to work in
the classified arena? Yikes! Glad to see you've retired (or
maybe you were fired?). And I certainly hope you never worked
with the FBI or in any area of counter-intelligence.
To those who believe WHL was a spy: Have you read his book 'My Country vs Me'?

It's well written and convincing. His explanations are clear and believable.

If you look at big spy cases historically they usually have a political context which plays large part in setting and outcome. I think WHL was innocent victim in context of right wing pressure to militarize. Richardson and Dems were weak and desperate to appease the right wing assaults .... WHL was easy scapegoat. Why did the case against WHL effectively collapse? Because it had no foundation.
Rick Sterling is dead wrong.
And WHL was definitely a spy.
And Iraq definitely had WMD.

There is no evidence but we know it anyway??
WHL definitely committed a deliberate, preplanned set of actions designed to circumvent security measures for the express purpose of downloading, and removing from a security area, classified information.

Iraq definitely employed WMD on its own population.
I went to school with Mr Lee's kids, met him a couple of times, and wanted to believe he was innocent. What convinced me of his guilt were his own words, in "My Country Versus Me." His pathetic attempts to excuse his blatant criminal behavior was more damning than anything else I have read, including the Cox report, etc etc etc.
Sorry Mr. Sterling, anyone who has ever worked at LANL could see through his lies easily. (Like his explanation why he had to transfer classified codes outside the red network to copy them) His explanations are anything but believable. He claims the codes were so valuable that he had to bypass security rules to preserve them, and then calls them "crown junk??" This is just one small part of his totally unbelievable story.
And another thing. Nobody working on the W88 has any business whatsoever travelling to China to help them with their design codes. Even though WHL was reportedly one of the worst coders at LANL, he has plenty of shapes, dimensions, materials, etc in his head to help the Chinese with their minituarization efforts.
And according to knowledgeable people in X, it is NOT common practice to copy classified codes outside the fence, and nobody else came close to committing the violations that WHL did.
BTW, Mr. Sterling, I am a registered Democrat, and don't believe there were WMDs in Iraq. But I do believe there are WMDs in China.
K. Boland at 9/26/2005 06:01:28 PM has it right! WHL is, at minimum, guilty of willfull violation of security rules. WHL is an idiot and a liar and probably a lot of worse things.

Furthermore, Sterling is a fool and probably a liberal. Working at LBL, he has no knowledge of security and ought to keeps his comments to areas where he has credibility.
"There is no evidence but we know it anyway??
# posted by rick sterling : 9/26/2005 12:44:32 PM"

Rick you are dead wrong. There is lots of evidence, but because the FBI and DOJ so badly botched the case, he will never be held accountable.

Have you had the classified computer WHL forensics briefing?

Did you work in X?

Have you even been to Los Alamos?

WHL deliberately, meticulously, painstakingly circumvented computer security over the course of months and months to move hundreds of files from the secure to the open network.

He also went to great lengths to cover his tracks.

He had gobs of very suspicious printed matter in his office.

The only question that remains are his motives, which we may never know.

Mishandling classified information is illegal, he knew it, and had taken an oath to handle it appropriately.

He clearly violated that oath numerous times, and was indeed convicted of the felony that goes with it. The fact that he was only convicted of one count is another travesty.

That the Government botched the enforcement of the case does not constitute evidence of his lack of guilt. As an engineer, you should have enough of a grasp of logic and reason to understand that.

You don't have the credibility, background or credentials to be an effective apologist for WHL.
To Rick 9/26 12:14 pm:

You and others want to see an end to the "I know but I can't tell you" response. Unfortunately, for those of us who obey the rules, this response is necessary. Indeed, there is a classified briefing, given to many LANL employees, that is to say the least, eye-opening. As for your comment "Why did the case against WHL effectively collapse? Because it had no foundation," the reality is much different. Simply, there was just too much classified information required to obtain an open-court conviction to make it worth it to national security. A rational decision by the Justice Dept. and other agencies, in my opinion. Unfortunately that gave Lee an opportunity - which he and his lawyers promptly took, to make the government look foolish, a tactic that was fully and completely analyzed and expected by the government before the decision not to proceed was made.
Got to side with Holian and Sterling on this one. Lee was not proved to spy for anyone... in fact the prosecution kept changing who they suspected he spied for, and could not come up with any credible answer. It was country "to be supplied later".
Also missing from all this name calling is that John Richter, the top primary designer at LANL for many years, testifed for Lee; and said that the content of the tapes did not endanger the country, and was of little use. In this he agreed with Harold Agnew, the former Director of LANL.
We used to joke at LANL that giving the codes to the Chinese would set them back 20 years. The codes were very old, some dating back to the 60s, and not very good at prediction. As Brad indicates, and Agnew, the trick was knowing how to get something useful out of the bad answers. This was not in the codes.
Lee got screwed. There was no way he belonged in solitary confinement. He had not been tried or convicted of anything, and he was not a flight risk. It was simply turning the screws on him, and the prosecution was led by Pete Domeinici's son-in-law, who is a real bastard.
Lee was screwed because he was Chinese, and the Cox Committee needed a Chinese spy. The W-88 drawing that was a central issue was of the warhead, not the physics package, so it is unlikely that it came from LANL, which does not make warheads, but physics packages.
Where UC comes in, and LANL management, is that they fired Lee in violation of his rights to due process before termination. They had no regard for UCs own policies. This should serve as warning to all UC employees; they have no respect for your rights or their own damned policies.
Lee got screwed, because he was Chinese. Others at LANL have had worse security infractions, including actual compromise of information and gotten wrist slaps. The system is totally corrupt.
A few commenters apparently don't like contrary opinions and try to silence others by hurling abuse and making veiled threats. Sorry but my beliefs are at least as strong as yours.

It is pathetic to keep repeating that there was loads of evidence but that the FBI 'blew' it. Excuse me, but the problem was that they could not find any real evidence. Sorry but adamant assertions don't count. Did FBI need to just wait a while longer? They had only been watching him for years and years. If there was hard evidence Lee would have been convicted. Instead he received an apology from the judge and even Richardson is now changing his tune (depending on the day of week).

Other commenters say very calmly that government would have had conviction except they could not jeopardize the classified information required as evidence. Sorry but I cannot buy this. If that was true they could have shown it to the judge and if they had, he never would have said what he did.

It is much more likely that WHL was an innocent victim. He paid a heavy price for someone else's mistake or devious plan. It is fairly obvious that there are elements in our society for whom the WORST thing would be the outbreak of peace and genuine cooperation. Do you think these elements don't know where there interests are ... or that they are too timid to act on them?

The bigger issue is: Why has LANL been under the microscope? Why did missing CREM disks receive so much overblown publicity? Why was there the Am-241 scandal when everyone already has a couple of these sources in their house? What is the real power play behind all this?
It's always frustrating when something so true is stated so inaccurately. sterling has made a very important point in this last post, namely that the bigger issue to be aware of is that LANL is under a microscope as the result of the indifferent or hostile agendas of other actors in DOE, Congress, the State of New Mexico, and NGOs like POGO. To them, LANL represents a misallocation of funds, an entity without a purpose, or an ideological bogeyman. These agendas and competing interests have been in existence for a long time, but missteps at LANL since WHL and through the “CREM incident” have opened a window for them to coordinate their attacks and reframe the debate over LANL in their terms.
Unfortunately, LANL has done a pathetic job at countering these assaults – we have nowhere near the political and press savvy that our opponents do. The fact that these groups are able to frame the way in which otherwise uninformed congressmen and citizens see LANL, and use that power to paint us as thieves, whiners, and incompetents is one of the critical things that LANL must address under UC or LM if it is to survive in its present form at all.
It is unfortunate, however, that this fundamental truth is buried under all that garbage about WHL. It would be one thing if he went too far in a briefing to foreign nationals, or wrote an article or letter that revealed too much. Circumventing the safeguards that prevent the downloading and transfer of classified material and storing significant amounts of highly technical classified code on a home computer is a substantial security breach and carries penalties with it. It also carries with it reasonable speculation on and investigation of ulterior motives, whether personal, domestic, or foreign. And while I got a little carried away this morning, 10:47, I think that anyone who mishandles classified information for any reason (ego, convenience, or profit) should be nailed to the wall. Hard. No matter how little Berger, Deutsch, or WHL may have thought their actions through (although the evidence is that WHL at least gave his some significant premeditation, instead of just stuffing something in his pants), there should still be consequences for exposing the U.S. to harm in that way. An inadvertent spy is just as harmful as a paid one. (Oh, and a quick biographical note, 10:47 – I left my prior work in 2004 for greener pastures out here. The jury’s still out as to whether that was a good idea.)
We come back to some central points:

Wen Ho Lee was not the suspected LANL spy for Red China.

He bent security rules all to hell, probably as much as anyone ever has, except for Klaus Fuchs and Aldridge Ames, of course.

Others have done more damage to our national security, but they were in positions of higher authority, and they were not punished. (Let's not even revisit the shutdown and its deleterious effects on national security.)

Wen Ho Lee was held in solitary confinement for nine months, so he most certainly was punished.

Now, for mishandling classified information, which he most certainly did, does anyone care to sign his or her name to the suggestion that Wen Ho Lee should actually have been electrocuted, like the hapless Rosenbergs?
Heck no - I just can't stand the "all he did was copy something to his home computer, no big deal" approach to national security. He shouldn't burn - same with the Rosenbergs - but some recognition of the severity of his actions (and the difficulty of addressing the underlying realities of what he did in an unclassified forum) is in order. Someone who could burn without me batting an eye would be Richardson, but that's just the personal dislike talking.
BTW - O.J. was also not proven guilty.
I have always wondered how WHL could have been accused of stealing secrets for Red China when he was born in Taiwan. I agree he was wrong to write classified information to tapes and remove them from LANL, but spy for Red China? That's just not believable.
poster 7:01 is the most ridiculous statement I have ever seen. Nearly 40 of Taiwan wants reunification, and there is a hard core sense of "sino" primacy that is shared between Beijing and Taipei. Even WHL admits to talking with PRC designers on hard problems.

This thread is sort of amazing....anyone at LANL knows the great lengths WHL went to circumvent safeguards and security systems. Why? He was stealing.
Brad, at 9:26 11:22 you made some fine points. I have two questions that I hope someone could answer.

Who controlled the fact that WHL was in solitary? I seem to remember hearing reports that his isolation was really the choice of the Santa Fe authorities. Or did his isolation come from an order from the the FBI or the Justice Department?

The other question is what do you mean by 'hapless' with regards to the Rosenbergs. Even if you choose to ignore the espionage at Los Alamos, the Rosenberg ring passed secret military information to the Soviets. I am not in a position to judge them worthy of death but don't get too free with pronouncing them guiltless when the Soviet archives clearly show what the ring did accomplish.
The most definitive source about Wen Ho Lee is Dan Stober and Ian Hoffman's book "A Convenient Spy." If my memory serves me, the ultimate source of the orders to put WHL into solitary, for the obvious purpose of making him "sing," had to be the Clinton Justice Department (i.e., Atty. Gen. Janet Reno). Richardson reputedly has said in his book that he tried to intervene with the DoJ and soften the punishment, but I don't believe that for a moment. Just like I don't believe Richardson for a moment when Mike Wallace asked him, "Secretary Richardson: Are you telling me you REALLY tried to protect Wen Ho Lee's name and reputation?" And Richardson averted his eyes, hid a smirk, and turned back to the camera with a sober look on his face, and said "Of course." [Disclaimer: I have not read Richardson's book, and will not pay the $29.95 now, nor will I even pick up a copy at a "free" table in six months. I suspect that he might even claim in his new book not to be overly fond of polygraphy as a means of controlling LANL scientists in their "campus-like atmosphere," but I wouldn't believe him on that score, either.]

With regard to the Rosenbergs, I chose the word "hapless," rather than "guiltless," because they were the sensational McCarthy Era communist "catches," not the ultimate "perps" worthy of death. By referring to them as "hapless," I meant to delineate very sharply the levels of crime and punishment that differentiated them from Klaus Fuchs. And I'm interested to see that you (9/27/2005 10:42:19 PM) agree with me and do not necessarily deem them "worthy of death." So, how about Wen Ho Lee?
"This thread is sort of amazing....anyone at LANL knows the great lengths
WHL went to circumvent safeguards and security systems.
Why? He was stealing. " - Poster 8:05 pm

Wen Ho is a bit of a pack-rat type who was scared that he might be laid
off, as almost happened to him during the '96 RIF. I'm guessing this was the
primary driver for his "pack-ratting" of the design codes. He probably
felt they could be useful, in some manner, if he ever needed to look for
a job elsewhere. They might serve as a mental reference for later work he
might attempt to perform for another employer, such as LLNL.

Thus, it was most likely job insecurity that lead WHL to move these ancient
Fortan codes from the secure to the un-secured networks. That doesn't make
it right, but it could help explain his actions. Job insecurity can make
people do some mighty strange things.
Regarding Holian's comment at 9/27/2005 11:30:38 PM: what Fuchs got or didn't get is unrelated to the justification of the death penalty for the Rosenbergs. Suggesting that they should not have been executed because Fuchs was not is comparable to saying that I should't have to pay a fine for speeding because the cops did not catch all of the speeders.
So, 9/28/2005 06:15:00 AM, you DO believe that Wen Ho Lee should have been executed!

Looks like we are finally getting somewhere with this miserable little thread.

-But you didn't sign your name.
For those who continue to say, without proof, that WHL is a spy, answer
me this: After 911, this government became scared to death over a lose
nuke going off in one of our cities. We even fought a costly war in Iraq
over this fear. That being the case, why would a man like WHL, who obviously
has quite a bit of knowledge about nukes, be allowed to walk the streets
of this country as a free man? We've suspended habeas corpus for some US
citizens due to the terrorist threat, and yet, WHL is still free. Seems
to me that the US government believes that he's not much of a threat, much
less, a spy.

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?