NEWS from
U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, June 11, 2003


WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman today wrote to Attorney General John Ashcroft, urging him to release a Department of Justice (DOJ) report on the Wen Ho Lee case.

The DOJ has rejected a Freedom of Information Act request for the report filed by the Federation of American Scientists. Bingaman weighed in today on the matter because it is important to fully understand what went wrong with the investigation and to ensure that such mistakes are not made again.

Bingaman’s letter is as follows:

“I am writing to request that you release as expeditiously as possible the Department of Justice Office of Professional Responsibility report on the Wen Ho Lee case. While I understand that the report is undergoing a classification review to determine the national security issues that may be involved in its release, I am certain that there are significant portions of the report that could, and should, be made public.

“I believe it is critical to fully understand how the government handled the investigation of this case. Clearly, there were a host of problems such as communication breakdowns and inaccurate representations that led to an inexcusable chain of mistakes. In addition, the allegations made and the investigation tactics employed had a dramatic impact on scientists throughout the nuclear weapons complex. Scientists who have devoted their careers to our national defense found themselves the target of intense and baseless investigations by the federal government. This approach, along with some of the new restrictions imposed at the labs, has had a chilling effect. These national institutions have unfortunately -- and harmfully -- been cast as less attractive places to do science as a result of this case.

“We need all the information we can get about what went wrong in order to put processes in place to keep these things from happening again. The release of this report will both help us better create an appropriate security environment and also be an important step toward boosting lab morale and restoring an atmosphere where scientists can do their jobs without being treated like suspects.

“Thank you for your consideration of this request.”

Bingaman is the top Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.