By Dan Stober
No espionage case in fresh a long time has been whatever just like the Wen Ho Lee affair. As Dan Stober and Ian Hoffman describe in "A handy Spy," an astonishingly inept research of a criminal offense which could by no means have happened led to a countrywide shame. A weapons-code scientist at Los Alamos nationwide Laboratory, Lee was once hunted as a secret agent for China, indicted on fifty-nine counts, and held in detention for 9 months as a probability to the whole country. yet after pleading accountable to only one count number, he went domestic -- with an strange and emotional apology from a federal pass judgement on. Prosecutors' claims that Lee had stolen America's "crown jewels" of nuclear protection easily evaporated. but Lee's causes have by no means been satisfactorily defined, and his often-repeated excuse that he was once simply backing up his paintings documents doesn't face up to scrutiny. As Stober and Hoffman file, Lee's lies and his unexplained connections to overseas scientists spanned eighteen years. He was once a safety nightmare. Tapping at his keyboard, he assembled a personal number of the pc courses used to layout America's nuclear guns, then left them susceptible to hackers and overseas intelligence companies for years. The FBI's belated discovery that he had additionally positioned the codes on transportable cassette tapes introduced a frenzied around the globe seek that at last carried brokers to the Los Alamos landfill. And but this present day, the tapes have by no means been stumbled on. In 1995, Lee was once simply one other American, a Taiwanese immigrant striving to help a relatives he loved and to make a reputation for himself in medical circles. Unknown to him, in spite of the fact that, scientists operating within the mystery international of nuclear-weapons intelligence tested purloinedChinese files, studied undercover agent experiences, and puzzled: Had China stolen the secrets and techniques of the W88, America's so much complicated nuclear weapon? clinical hunches speedily advanced right into a legal research geared toward Lee. He were overheard via the FBI whereas telephoning a undercover agent suspect, and he used to be warmly embraced by way of a high-ranking chinese language nuclear-weapons reputable whom he wasn't speculated to be aware of. The FBI famous that he was once "ethnic Chinese." And during this doubtful interval after the chilly struggle, many politicians performed up China as a threatening new enemy. power Secretary and vice presidential hopeful invoice Richardson used to be wanting to hearth Lee and seem decisive in maintaining nationwide safeguard. during this stormy confluence of intelligence and politics, Lee grew to become a handy undercover agent. yet used to be he to blame? Dan Stober and Ian Hoffman inform the tale of the Wen Ho Lee fiasco dramatically and authoritatively, delivering an target account that no partisan model of the tale can fit.
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