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FAS Note: The following remarks by Rep. Bereuter refer to a right-wing critique of the Cox Committee report that was prepared by a Dr. James Gordon Prather, and that is posted at www.polyconomics.com/prather.html.

Congressional Record: July 19, 1999 (Senate)
Page H5825-H5826


  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the 
gentleman from Nebraska (Mr. Bereuter) is recognized for 5 minutes.
  Mr. BEREUTER. Mr. Speaker, following the public release of the Final 
Report of the Select Committee on U.S. National Security and Military/
Commercial Concerns with the People's Republic of China, more commonly 
referred to as the Cox Committee report, there have been attempts to 
discredit the work of the select committee.
  As one of the nine members of the select committee, this Member would 
like to reemphasize the truly bipartisan nature of the select committee 
and underscore that every finding made by the Cox committee in its 
report is fully corroborated with evidence detailed either in the 
public report itself or in the classified version.
  The Cox committee report is not and has never claimed to be a 
comprehensive report, nor was it ever meant to be one. When rumors 
first arose that sensitive military technology was being illegally 
transferred to the People's Republic of China, the House of 
Representatives created a select committee to investigate such 
allegations with emphasis on the launch failure investigations of the 
failures of two Chinese rockets carrying commercial satellites produced 
by American companies and an investigation of the sale of high 
performance computers to China.
  In the course of our investigation, far more disturbing information 
came to light that took us into unanticipated directions. Even as we 
were trying to close the select committee's operations, new revelations 
kept being brought to our attention by whistleblowers. It became clear 
that a very deep institutional problem had existed for some time in 
some of our Federal agencies and particularly the Department of Energy 
and its national laboratories, there at least since the late 1970s. I 
believe that these lapses of security at the DOE weapons laboratories 
taken together resulted in the most serious espionage loss and 
counterintelligence failure in American history. Moreover, these lapses 
facilitated the most serious theft ever of sensitive U.S. technology 
and information.
  Clearly, what the select committee revealed is very disturbing. 
Americans should be angry that their own government's lax security, 
indifference, naivete and incompetence resulted in such serious damage 
to our national security. The loss of sensitive nuclear weapons 
information to China is a national embarrassment and an incredibly 
important loss.
  The bipartisan Cox committee report should be used as the starting 
point in our efforts to fix the serious problems the select committee 
identified. Rather, some have focused on discrediting the report by 
improperly interpreting the very clear language we used and questioning 
the construction of the report. Instead, they should just focus their 
attention on the actual meaning of straightforward, plain English 
meanings of the words we used. We were very careful in what we said and 
how we said it.
  The most recent distortion circulated in Washington and in the 
national media is a document written by Dr. James Gordon Prather 
entitled "A Technical Reassessment of the Conclusions and Implications 
of the Cox Committee Report." It was released personally by the 
Honorable Jack Kemp after Empower America, the organization to which 
Mr. Kemp belongs and which sponsored Dr. Prather's research, refused to 
endorse the final document. The Prather document was also the subject 
of a Wall Street Journal article and one of Robert Novak's columns last 

                              {time}  2130

  Dr. Prather claims that our select committee erred in finding that 
Chinese espionage penetrated U.S. weapons labs. Indeed he claims there 
was no evidence of Chinese espionage, that the real culprit is the 
Clinton administration's policy of unilateral nuclear disarmament and 
opening up the Nation's nuclear secrets to the world.
  That is pure nonsense. Of course there was espionage. After careful 
review of the Prather document, this Member concludes that it was 
written with an underlying political agenda in mind; that is, to focus 
attention and blame on the Clinton administration, particularly its 
policy of engagement with China and its declassification of nuclear 
secrets. There is plenty of blame that might be headed that direction, 
but that should not discredit the Cox Committee Report.
  If partisan politics is the purpose of the report, then we should 
recognize it as such, but it is a disservice to the Nation to discredit 
the work of the Cox committee if the result is that their 
recommendations are not implemented.
  The cover letter to the Prather document clearly states, quote, "the 
White House is using the espionage angle to mask the real security risk 
which comes not from foreign spies, but rather from the Clinton 
administration's own ill-conceived strategy," end of quote. Of course 
the United States is a target of foreign espionage, including Chinese 
espionage. To ignore or fail to act on such evidence is an 
embarrassment to the Clinton administration, and it is dangerous.
  Without the Cox Committee, we would still not know of this massive 
failure or be seeing corrective action. There is a significant 
difference between analyzing the motive behind whatever partisan spin 
and public relations angle the White House has given to the Cox 
Committee Report and the Prather analysis of the contents and 
conclusions of the report itself.
  It appears to this Member that the Prather document mixes up these 
distinctions for its partisan purposes. In order to better support and 
prove its conclusions, the Clinton administration policy alone, and not 
any Chinese espionage, is responsible for American national security 
losses. The Prather analysis necessarily had to redefine the Cox 
committee report in a critical way. Unfortunately the overall 
credibility of the Prather document is suspect, given its numerous 
flaws and its noticeable selective cherry picking of the Cox committee 
  For example, the Prather document essentially dismisses the charge 
that China stole design information for the neutron bomb with the help 
of Taiwan-born Peter Lee.
  This dismissal is based on a deliberately selective reading of our 
report, faulty assumptions and a disregard for other information which 
is still classified. The Prather document called this theft charge 
(quote) "ridiculous" (unquote) and opined that the Cox Committee, in 
its zeal to be bipartisan, claimed the Chinese stole neutron bomb 
information (quote),

[[Page H5826]]

"because the alleged spying happened on Reagan's watch, not Clinton's 
watch." (unquote). Notwithstanding Dr. Prather's interpretations, 
Peter Lee pled guilty to willfully passing classified U.S. defense 
information to PRC scientists and to providing false statements to a 
U.S. government agency.
  The Prather document also introduces the case of Wen Ho Lee, another 
scientist at Los Alamos. In fairness, the Prather document states that 
"Wen Ho Lee is not mentioned by name in the Cox Report . . ." He is 
not. However, aside from the caveat, Prather treats the Wen Ho Lee case 
as if it was the lynchpin of our investigation. It was not and 
furthermore the allegations against Wen Ho Lee are, at this time, still 
just that--allegations.
  This Member does not disagree with Dr. Prather that through our open 
system, smart people can gather significant amounts of information 
other countries would consider very sensitive. Mr. Speaker, our 
colleagues may recall the publicity that was given to the book 
"Mushroom" which was written back in 1978 by John Phillips, then an 
undergraduate student at Princeton University. Mr. Phillips wrote about 
how he was able to design an atomic bomb using only the open-source 
information available in the university's library. Experts confirmed 
the design was valid. This Member is sure that the Chinese and others 
have similarly used our open system, as Dr. Prather states. However, 
the detailed design plans and other extremely sensitive information 
relating to the neutron bomb and other thermonuclear warheads have not 
been declassified and are not in Princeton's library or on the Los 
Alamos public website.
  There are numerous other instances in the Prather document of 
inaccurate interpretations and distortions of the Cox Committee Report 
for which there is not enough time this evening to detail. However, 
given the apparent political objectives of the Prather document and the 
questionable selectivity of its analysis, it should be seen for what it 
really is: a partisan attack or a partisan counterattack to a Clinton 
Administration selective leak and spin operation against the findings 
of the Cox Committee, and it therefore does not warrant any further 
  Mr. Speaker, the Congress has just begun the job of implementing many 
of the 38 recommendations made in the Cox Committee Report. Most can be 
implemented by the executive branch without legislation. Some 
recommendations, such as increasing the penalties for export control 
violations, are relatively easy to legislate. Others such as 
reauthorizing the Export Administration Act, are not so simple and will 
take time and effort. This Member strongly urges his colleagues to 
concentrate on implementing these recommendations and not be distracted 
and dissuaded from this duty by those critics like the author of the 
Prather Report who all too apparently has a different agenda.

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