Skip to comments.Wen Ho Lee Book Moves a Little Closer (Maybe)
Posted on 07/10/2002 11:31:32 AM PDT by GeneD
D.C. attorney Mark Zaid reports that the review process for Encounter's book by Wen Ho Lee whistleblower No Trulock could be coming to a close. All but one of the government agencies who've been gumming up publication--we mean reviewing the manuscript--have now finished, and will soon meet with the author. The representatives of the agencies and Trulock will try to agree on what needs to be changed or excised so that national security could be preserved (the government's argument) or the appropriate rear ends could be covered (Encounter's words, paraphrased). If they don't work it out, there's still the possibility of a lawsuit. If they do, Encounter could be free to release it--all with the speed it takes to unravel a ball of red tape.
Government Attempts to Smother Nuclear Secrets Book
As the former intelligence and counterintelligence head of the Department of Energy's nuclear facilities with a Top Secret clearance, Trulock had to give the government thirty days on all material to be published in compliance with a nondisclosure agreement. When he sent a copy of his manuscript Code Name KINDRED SPIRIT: Inside the Chinese Nuclear Espionage Scandal to the Department of Energy for review, he assumed that he would quickly get a green light for publication. But after the deadline passed, he was told that the DOE was sending the manuscript to the National Security Agency for another 30 day review, and the NSA, in turn, told Trulock that it had forwarded it to the FBI and the CIA, each of which also would have the right to hold up the manuscript. Now Code Name KINDRED SPIRIT is in bureaucratic limbo.
Notra Trulock was Director of Intelligence at the U.S. Department of Energy throughout the 1990s. In his manuscript he describes how he came to suspect that Chinese spies were compromising our security and how the trail he followed led to Wen Ho Lee. Trulock tried to warn the President and Congress. When he was ignored, he blew the whistle, creating a domestic crisis for the Clinton administration and forcing it finally to address the security breaches in our nation's nuclear weapons complex. Now in this book, he tells a story of one missed intelligence opportunity after another as our nuclear secrets were making their way to Beijing. It is a story of DOE incompetence and FBI and CIA carelessness and self protection that has an exact parallel in today's headlines about security lapses in handling early warnings of 9/11.
As Code Name KINDRED SPIRIT passed from the CIA to the National Security Agency, it was given a classified designation and has become caught in the tangle of bureaucracy and intelligence politics that can only draw comparisons with the intelligence community's current troubles involving Sept 11.
On June 6, 2002, FBI Director Robert Mueller sat before the Senate Judiciary Committee testifying about these security lapses. During his testimony, and in an ominous parallel to Notra Trulock's experiences, Sen. Patrick Leahy asked Mueller of Coleen Rowley, "Can you personally assure this committee unequivocally there will be no retaliation of any kind against either Coleen Rowley ... any FBI employee ... for whistle-blowing activity?"
Trulock too suffered the fate of the whistle-blower, although in his case it was more than having his warnings about the Chinese penetration of our nuclear labs ignored. He also has a case pending against the FBI for an incident from two years ago in which agents entered his home without a warrant and confiscated his computer. It was at this time that he'd begun to pass around his manuscript about the Wen Ho Lee debacle.
Wen Ho Lee was the Los Alamos scientist charged with handing over plans for the W-88 nuclear warhead to the Chinese. Trulock had been a key witness for the DOE, the FBI and the Justice Department in the case against Lee. After the Clinton administration allowed the case to fall apart, Trulock saw himself go from hero of the drama to its villain. Among other things, as Lee's attorney played the race card, Trulock found himself accused of having improperly targeted Lee because of Lee's ethnicity.
In Code Name: KINDRED SPIRIT Trulock confronts the use of the race-card against him, reexamines the entire subject of security at our nuclear labs and turns up new information on Wen Ho Lee as part of an effort to refocus attention on the botched investigation of this scandal under the Clinton Administration.
He insists he does not give away any classified information in the book, but that the government's actions are very likely motivated by a fear of embarrassment. "I think it's an outrageous prior restraint of free speech," Trulock says. "I don't feel I signed away my first amendment rights when I went to work for the intelligence community."
In response to government efforts to smother the book, Trulock and his publisher Encounter Books have hired Washington D.C. lawyer Mark Zaid, who specializes in intelligence cases.
While he's still considering litigation, Encounter Books publisher Peter Collier says that he wants to avoid a lengthy lawsuit that could further postpone publication of a book which, under the scrutiny of security agency lapses before 9/11, has a new relevance. "Our objective is to play on our playing field." he says, "Going to court would be playing on the government's."
Collier says that the new postmortems about missed opportunities and withheld information by the FBI and CIA before Sept. 11 makes Trulock's book very timely. "It really confirms everything we're now learning about U.S. intelligence," he says. "It's like a parallel universe."