from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2002, Issue No. 1
January 2, 2002


In the latest assertion of executive branch predominance, President Bush dismissed a provision in the FY 2002 intelligence authorization bill that would require written reports to Congress of "significant anticipated intelligence activities" and "significant intelligence failures."

In a December 28 signing statement, the President said that the new requirement "falls short of the standards of comity and flexibility that should govern the relationship between the executive and legislative branches on sensitive intelligence matters...."

He said he would interpret the law "in a manner consistent with the President's constitutional authority to withhold information the disclosure of which could impair foreign relations, the national security, the deliberative processes of the Executive, or the performance of the Executive's constitutional duties."

See the President's statement here:

Intelligence community procedures for granting legislative branch access to intelligence information are set forth in Section 8.0 of Director of Central Intelligence Directive 1/19, "Security Policy for Sensitive Compartmented Information and Security Policy Manual":


A newly published Senate report on the Wen Ho Lee espionage case found fault with all concerned and concluded that "the entire truth will likely never be known."

"As a consequence of an inept investigation, the government has lost the credibility to claim that its version of events is the absolute truth," the report stated.

Moreover, "Some of the most controversial and misguided steps in the case appear to have been motivated more by a desire to protect the affected agency's image than the national security."

On the other hand, "Dr. Lee also lacks the credibility to tell the definitive tale of this case: he repeatedly lied to investigators, created his own personal nuclear weapons design library without proper authority, copied nuclear secrets to an unclassified computer system accessible from the Internet, and passed up several opportunities to turn his tape collection over to the government."

The report was prepared for the Subcommittee on Department of Justice Oversight of the Senate Judiciary Committee. It was cleared for public release by the FBI on December 19 and entered into the Congressional Record on December 20 by Sen. Arlen Specter, who chaired the Subcommittee.

Unlike the "Bellows Report" on the Lee case, which was released last month in heavily censored form, the Senate report encompasses the full duration of the controversial case, up to and including its conclusion in a September 2000 plea agreement.

While the report in large part duplicates what has been previously been reported, it also includes some provocative new information and analysis.

The new report provides the fullest account yet of Wen Ho Lee's disputed December 1998 polygraph test, which he passed, according to an Energy Department contractor, or did not pass, according to the FBI. Lee "definitely did not pass," the report concludes somewhat peremptorily, finding that the questions posed during the test were insufficiently precise.

The report also includes new details of Lee's nine-month pre-trial confinement under arduous conditions and states that the government's conduct of the case "raises questions as to whether the harsh tactics were intended to coerce a confession."

Although Wen Ho Lee's "onerous" incarceration "has not been adequately explained," the subcommittee took pains to rebut allegations that the conduct of the case was motivated by racial or ethnic bias.

Finally, the report speculates at length as to what might have occurred if the Wen Ho Lee case had actually proceeded to trial.

"Although the government would likely have won a conviction because many elements of the charged conduct were not disputed -- Dr. Lee could not credibly deny that he had made the tapes containing vast quantities of classified nuclear weapons data -- this would not have been an easy case," according to the report.

The "Report on the Government's Handling of the Investigation and Prosecution of Dr. Wen Ho Lee" may be found here:

The Bellows Report on the Wen Ho Lee case, as released in declassified form, is now available in large PDF files on the Justice Department web site here:

Two new books on the case are to be published this month: Wen Ho Lee's own "My Country Versus Me" and "A Convenient Spy" by reporters Ian Hoffman and Dan Stober.

A federal appeals court on December 28 reinstated former Department of Energy official Notra Trulock's claim that the FBI illegally seized his computer files in retaliation for a magazine article he wrote critical of the FBI's handling of Chinese espionage. See the decision here:


Another Senate report that critiqued the investigation and prosecution of Dr. Peter Lee was also released on December 20 by Senator Arlen Specter. Peter Lee confessed in 1997 to transferring classified nuclear weapons information and anti-submarine warfare information to China.

"Dr. Lee's confessed crimes caused serious harm to U.S. national security, yet he was offered a plea bargain which resulted in a sentence amounting to one year in a half-way house, 3,000 hours of community service and a $20,000 fine," the Senate report stated.

"Considering the magnitude of Dr. Lee's offenses and his failure to adhere to the terms of the plea agreement which called for complete cooperation and truthfulness, the interests of the United States were not well served by this outcome," according to the report.

The case is analyzed in detail in "Report on the Investigation of Dr. Peter Lee," which may be found here:


"It won't be long before Chinese are walking on the moon," according to a December 3 article in Jiefangjun Bao, the People's Liberation Army daily.

Under its latest Five Year Plan, China will undertake "preliminary research on manned flight and lunar exploration," among a variety of other ambitious space programs. See:


The memoirs of Ayman al-Zawahiri, leader of Egyptian al-Jihad and chief lieutenant to Osama bin Laden, were recently excerpted and serialized in the London-based Arabic paper A-Sharq Al-Awsat.

The volume, entitled "Knights Under the Prophet's Banner," is a rather tiresome compendium of personal reminiscences and exhortations to battle against the infidel. But it also provides occasional insights into the fanatic mind.

The published excerpts, as translated by the CIA's Foreign Broadcast Information Service, may be found here (under "Sources and Resources"):


The British Government's Public Records Office announced its annual unsealing of 30 year old records on January 1.

The meager highlights of the Public Records of 1971 are described here:


The new Bush executive order that curtails public access to presidential records was critically examined by historian Stanley Kutler in a Chicago Tribune op-ed on January 2.

"If his action stands, Bush will have substantially shut down historical research of recent presidents," wrote Kutler, who is one of the plaintiffs in a pending lawsuit that seeks to overturn the executive order. See:


Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

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