My name is Notra Trulock, III, and I am the former Director of Intelligence at the Department of Energy. I wish to thank the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Senator Arlen Specter, for providing this opportunity to speak out on the facts of the Wen Ho Lee investigation. For months, I have remained silent while my role in the investigation was discussed in the media, in the course of Dr. Lee's bail hearings, and on Capitol Hill. I barely recognize the individual portrayed in these very public proceedings. I wish to thank the Committee for providing me this opportunity.
Prepared Statement of
Notra Trulock, III
Former Director, Intelligence
Department of Energy
Senate Judiciary Subcommittee
on Administrative Oversight and the Courts
"A Continuation of Oversight of the Wen Ho Lee Case"
October 3, 2000
Much of what you have read or heard about DOE's conduct of the Administrative Inquiry into Chinese nuclear espionage is just plain wrong. Much of what you have heard or read about my role in that inquiry is worse than wrong, it is defamatory. Indeed, I have been forced to file libel and slander lawsuits against Mr. Charles Washington, Mr. Robert Vrooman, Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, and Dr. Wen Ho Lee. I wish to address four separate allegations today.
1. It is often alleged that I was inexperienced, overly ambitious, and that is what led to the "later problems."
I became the Director of Intelligence in 1995. I had prior experience in management and the direction of research programs. But I knew I needed help and so sought out the most experienced managers from the CIA. My first Deputy Director was an experienced CIA professional with nearly 30 years of experience in both analysis and operations. He had been a successful manager and was highly recommended by the ClA's senior management. I recruited another senior CIA manager with extensive management experience in nonproliferation and foreign nuclear weapons programs to run these activities for us; she later became my Deputy Director. She received the Meritorious Achievement Medal from the Director of Central Intelligence for her work at DOE. I recruited other experienced CIA experts on intelligence production, operations and management and actively sought their advice and guidance.
For technical advice and guidance, I relied heavily on the expertise and experience of the scientists of our nuclear laboratories. We regularly conducted peer reviews and competitive analyses on different topics; simply put, we did not publish our conclusions or key judgments before their time. It is now said that I was inexperienced in counterintelligence and that caused all the later "problems." When the DOE Office of Counterintelligence came under my management in 1995, I found the office to be riddled with personnel problems and ineptitude. The senior managers of the office routinely engaged in petty bickering; it was a bureaucratic nightmare. With a few notable exceptions, the professional capabilities of the office were extremely low. One example will suffice. One of the most highly touted CI analysts in that shop was asked to produce an assessment of the CI threat in Georgia, the former Soviet Republic. The analyst demurred, saying that Atlanta is a safe city and why should we be worried about the CI threat there.
So, I relied on an experienced CIA counterintelligence expert already on site. When he left for retirement, we found another expert fresh from an assignment on the Aldrich Ames damage assessment team. He was experienced, able, and held in high esteem within the counterintelligence community and proved to be an excellent CI manager. This individual helped shape our efforts to retool CI within DOE and, until encountering fierce resistance from DOE management, had put our CI program on the right track. For his efforts, the Director of Central Intelligence awarded him the highest intelligence medal for his distinguished service.
As true bureaucrats, of course the DOE federal employees resisted these changes bitterly. These employees and their allies in the Department's Human Resources division sought to delay, obstruct, and block any and all changes needed within the Office. The DOE federal employees and their allies in DOE's senior management were content with a bumbling CI effort for the Department.
2. It is now fashionable in the media to express doubts that Chinese espionage even occurred. I would remind the Committee that the unclassified Intelligence Community Damage Assessment, published in May 1999, concluded that the Chinese had indeed obtained through espionage nuclear weapons design information, including on the W88 Trident D5 warhead. Further, that information probably accelerated China's efforts to develop modern nuclear weapons. That conclusion mirrors very accurately the conclusion arrived at by a prestigious group of laboratory nuclear weapons scientists in 1995. The CIA reiterated their judgments about Chinese espionage later in 1999 in an estimate on ballistic missile developments. I am not aware that CIA or Intelligence Community representatives have refuted these judgments or revised them.
It has also been erroneously reported that there were differences of opinion among the scientists and that somehow I railroaded the group to the "minority" opinion. Anyone with even the slightest experience with such an august group as this will surely appreciate the silliness of that claim. In fact, the study results were presented to then DOE Undersecretary Charles Curtis and DOE senior managers by the scientists themselves both in the Fall 1995, and again in the early Spring 1996. On both occasions, the scientists did the talking; they were questioned closely by Curtis and had ample opportunity to express their dissent or differing views. They didn't.
3. It is alleged that the Administrative Inquiry was flawed from the beginning in that it focused on Los Alamos and Wen Ho Lee as early as October 1995. We conferred with the FBI from June 1995 throughout the summer study effort to its conclusion in September 1995. In the fall 1995, we sought to refer this case to the FBI. But the FBI refused to accept it, claiming that it was too old and that the trail was too cold. Instead, the FBI requested that we initiate an "Administrative Inquiry". Much has been written about this inquiry, most of it overblown and wrong.
The facts are these: the DOE Administrative Inquiry was nothing more than a "records check", such as is done routinely in security reviews every day. By law, only the FBI may conduct espionage investigations within the U.S.; DOE counterintelligence officials are proscribed from conducting any such investigations and conducting any interrogations, etc. We looked at records -- travel records, records of access to nuclear weapons design information, records of interactions with visiting dignitaries, and security records for indications of any "anomalies". In this review, the FBI was with us every step of the way.
Early on, I concluded that DOE was understaffed and ill equipped to conduct even an Administrative Inquiry. I went to the FBI and requested help in the form of on-site assistance from experienced FBI agents. In fact, the FBI provided one of their most experienced agents to assist us. This agent was detailed to DOE for the duration of our inquiry. Moreover, we carefully previewed our approach and methodology for the FBI; the FBI approved our approach and monitored the progress of our inquiry. In this fashion, I believed that such FBI involvement would protect both the integrity of the inquiry and us from criticism later. I guess I was wrong.
Incredibly, when the FBI came under criticism for its handling of the espionage investigation later on, FBI officials blamed the DOE inquiry for "misleading" them. The FBI was there at the beginning, it was there during the site visits, it reviewed and approved the final draft report of the inquiry in 1996, and it enthusiastically accepted the full report in June 1996. The FBI was there every step of the way; its later criticism is disingenuous...at best.
What did we give to the FBI in June 1996? We turned over a long report that detailed our approach and identified 12 "investigative leads" for follow up by the FBI. We told the FBI on numerous occasions that the information in question might also reside at the Department of Defense (DOD) and DOE contractors, but that our authority extended only to DOE facilities. "Don't worry", the FBI said, "we'll take care of the DOD facilities." Of course, they never followed up on the other potential sites of the information.
Obviously, the FBI also discarded the other 10 "investigative leads" on our list and focused in on Wen Ho Lee and his wife. At the time, we assumed that the FBI had some good reason to do so and was unwilling to share that "reason" with us. Congressional reports over the past year have brought to light some of those "reasons", but nothing has yet been revealed to indicate why the FBI never followed up on the other 10 leads. In fact, nearly 3 years later, DOE had to retransmit the list to FBI as the Bureau had "lost" the other names. The report included an "investigatory note" written by the main DOE investigator, which discussed Dr. Lee's opportunity, access, and motive. Clearly Dr. Lee had opportunity and access; the investigator believed that Dr. Lee also had "motive". The investigator's note was an adjunct to the main body of the report; it was reviewed and approved by the FBI agent who had participated in the inquiry and the investigator's supervisor Mr. Charles Washington. I signed the report over to the FBI on Mr. Washington's recommendation. It was clear that the report had the approval of the FBI and Mr. Washington, the supervisor -- both clearly much more experienced than I in these matters. The main content of the report was the 12 "investigative leads" we transmitted to the FBI.
More puzzling to me: is it customary for the FBI to rely so heavily on such an inquiry to guide its espionage investigations? It seems evident from FBI testimony that its agents did little or nothing to follow up on the other leads. Although the FBI told us in June 1996 that it would seek technical coverage of Dr. Lee immediately, I was surprised to learn much later that it did nothing for a year. It made one lame attempt to access his computer in November 1996, after the election, but never went back when turned down by a lab official. The lab official, supposedly trained by Robert Vrooman, didn't know his job well enough to understand the FBI's request. Sadly, the FBI missed an opportunity to uncover Lee's massive downloading of nuclear design secrets early on in this scandal.
Why would the FBI rely so heavily on an inquiry that was so limited by statute in its scope and breadth? Remember that the FBI so distrusted DOE at that time that it had pulled back its FBI agents on loan to DOE, because the new Hazel O'Leary regime with its emphasis on "openness" was so uncomfortable for FBI operators. To jump from that distrust to complete and unwavering faith in a DOE inquiry of limited scope in an espionage investigation is hard to swallow. It is obvious in retrospect that the FBI either didn't take espionage seriously or it just wasn't interested in pursuing the case.
We handed over the inquiry to the FBI in June 1996; at that point, we stepped out and the FBI had complete control of the investigation. The FBI requested that Dr. Lee not be alerted as to the FBI's investigation and we complied. From 1996 on, this was the FBI's case; to imply that somehow I drove the FBI on is wrong. Put simply, we had no idea what the FBI was doing on this case. FBI officials provided little information on their progress, apparently because there wasn't any. The FBI never told us until August 1997 that it had waited a year to apply for a FISA warrant. Even then, as I later learned, the warrant did not include coverage of Dr. Lee's computer. Finally, any testimony to the Congress that concerned Dr. Lee, either during the Cox Committee hearings or otherwise, came from the FBI not DOE intelligence.
Regarding Wen Ho Lee: of course, his name was on the DOE list. With all the information now available about his travels, his unreported contacts with senior Chinese nuclear weapons officials, his unreported contact with a suspect in an espionage case, his later performance on polygraph exams, and his computer downloading activities, how could we possibly have left him off our list? We would have been grossly negligent not to include him, even to highlight him and his activities. Ironically, Lee's late arriving white knight, Robert Vrooman, was the first official to single out Lee for DOE-FBI's attention in January 1996. In fact, he went out of his way to direct the DOE-FBI team's attention to Dr. Lee.
But Wen Ho Lee was not the only "lead" provided to the FBI; there were 10 others. Despite all the later claims, these all shared common elements: travel to China or interactions with Chinese nuclear officials; access to nuclear weapons design information; and anomalies or incidents reported in their security files. Lab scientists later claimed "why not me, I traveled, I met with Chinese, why not me on the list?" Most likely because they had followed the appropriate security procedures and guidelines; they had reported their contacts and travels and their security files were "clean." Given the experiences of Los Alamos with the FBI in the recent investigation of the missing computer hard drives, it's difficult to imagine any scientists now clamoring to be on the "list."
By the way, there was no matrix that I was aware of; I didn't hear the word "matrix" until a justice official revealed in 1999 that he had asked the FBI to develop one in order to assist with the approval of the FISA.
It has been alleged that we focused on Dr. Lee as early as October 1995. This is simply not true. The inquiry team did not travel to Los Alamos until January 1996. Robert Vrooman brought Dr. Lee's name to the attention of the team in 1996, that was the DOE investigator's first knowledge of Dr. Lee. My first recollection of hearing Dr. Lee's name was in March or April 1996. Subsequently, we traveled to Livermore National Laboratory and Sandia National Lab in Albuquerque. While I have no access to the 1996 AI, it is my recollection that the references on our list of "investigative leads" came from both Los Alamos and Livermore.
One of the most absurd allegations thus far, which has been reported in the Washington Post, LA Times and elsewhere, concerns the contents of a memo sent to me in 1996. Charles Washington has repeatedly claimed that he warned me in the memo that there was no evidence against Dr. Lee and that the case should be closed. The Post even claimed to have a copy of the memo. In fact, I have seen a copy of the memorandum, dated May 16, 1996.
Suffice to say the memo makes no mention of Dr. Lee, it makes recommendations concerning the transmission of our Inquiry to the FBI, and it notes that DOE is "close to becoming involved in an espionage investigation, which we do not have the authority to do." In February 2000, I wrote to Secretary Richardson requesting that he make this memo available to the Justice Department to clear up these spurious allegations. My information is that DOE has refused to provide that memo to Justice or to the appropriate oversight committees on Capitol Hill. That the Washington Post would publish Mr. Washington's version of the contents, rather than the actual substance, is a comment on its own journalistic integrity.
Let me state this clearly: at no point in 1996, 1997, or 1998 did Robert Vrooman or Charles Washington express any concern, disagreement, dissent, or protest with the conduct of the Administrative Inquiry or the content of the Inquiry's report. Mr. Washington was the Acting Director of DOE/CI during the conduct of the Administrative Inquiry; he supervised the DOE individuals conducting the inquiry, he reviewed and approved DOE's proposed AI methodology, he reviewed and approved the inquiry team's travel, he reviewed the inquiry team's report and approved its transmission to the FBI.
Mr. Vrooman was present at our initial briefings for the FBI, he assisted our team during their visit to Los Alamos in January 1996, he identified Dr. Lee to our team for inclusion in the report, he was present at our briefing for the FBI in late Spring 1996, and I saw Vrooman at least six times over the course of the next three years. He was a key participant in a DOE-FBI-Los Alamos meeting in April 1997 that focused upon the FBI's handling of the Lee investigation to that point. At no time during that or any other meeting did Vrooman protest or express any dissent or concern to the FBI or DOE participants about the FBI's investigation of Lee. In each instance, as the resident Los Alamos CI official, Vrooman willingly cooperated with the FBI in its handling and approach to Dr. Lee.
4. The most contemptible allegations concern racism and ethnicity.
As Michael Kelly writing in the Washington Post noted, the President and his supporters quickly played the race card when the issue of illegal campaign contributions was first raised in late 1996. Yet I must say that it still came as a surprise when it was alleged that I held "racist views toward minority groups" and that this was the factor in targeting Lee. The facts of my management experience at DOE put the lie to this allegation. I opened new career opportunities for women and minorities during my tenure and was awarded a Certificate of Achievement by the Department's chapter of Federal Women's Group and Margaret Bachelor White, the head of DOE's Office of Economic Impact and Diversity for my efforts in 1995. According to the award: "Mr. Trulock personally assisted in the career development, enrichment, and progression of numerous women and minorities in the Office of Energy Intelligence and continues to seek now opportunities for advancement or promotion." I also received an award from the DOE chapter of Blacks in Government in 1996 for my efforts in support of Secretary O'Leary's efforts to help South Africa.
Allegations made by disgruntled employees from the DOE Office of Counterintelligence against me were repeatedly investigated by the Department and repeatedly found to be baseless. Time after time, the conclusion of independent outside investigators: "that Complainant was not discriminated against with respect to the matters raised in his complaints." Mr. Washington has claimed that he won his complaint, but the settlement, arrived at after I had left the Department, states clearly that it "shall not constitute an admission of liability" by DOE. Secretary Richardson's willingness to settle this case has caused great discontent in the Department, but the settlement served Richardson's larger purposes. The complainant is rumored to have been awarded a staggering sum in the high six figures by Richardson, although investigation after investigation found no basis for a settlement.
Mr. Washington has even alleged that I assaulted him and that allegation has been repeated in the national media. I have the Federal Protective Service's 1997 final report of the incident. The conclusion: "based on the facts of the case no assault occurred." I repeatedly requested that the Department take action on this false allegation, but the Department refused to do so.
Robert Vrooman has alleged that I stated that no ethnic Chinese should be allowed to work on U.S. nuclear weapons programs. Again, categorically false. In fact, I stopped efforts by senior DOE managers to compile a database on the ethnicity of American citizens with access to classified nuclear weapons information. I thought this an outrageous overreaction to a serious problem.
We were concerned about the our ability to stay abreast of the explosion in numbers of foreign national at the labs, particularly those from countries on the sensitive list like Russia, India, and China. We were hardly alone in our concerns; the Government Accounting Office repeatedly cited DOE for its lack of safeguards in light of the ever-increasing numbers of foreign nationals at our nuclear weapons labs. A 1997 FBI report on DOE CI made the same observation and recommended a number of fixes; sadly, DOE management resisted these recommendations. FBI Director Louis Freeh told DOE in 1997 that if DOE management failed to address its security vulnerabilities, the Congress would do it for DOE. He was right; while many now decry the heavy-handed security regime imposed by the Hill on the labs, they only have DOE management, former Secretary Federico Pena and Deputy Secretary Elizabeth Moler, to thank for the state of affairs in the labs today. These officials resisted implementation of the mandates of the 1998 Presidential Decision Directive and effectively delayed any meaningful reforms.