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Chinese carry-out

Los Alamos scandal deserves a full investigation

Issue: "Remember Los Alamos," March 27, 1999

Just once it would be refreshing to hear a word of truth from the Clinton White House. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson wants the public to believe the administration has been on top of the leaks that have allowed the Communist Chinese to get their hands on who knows how many of our secrets. Asked by George Will on ABC's This Week whether the administration has found a way to monitor the e-mail from such important sites as the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, Mr. Richardson dodged the question. Later on the same show, Rep. Chris Cox (R-Calif.), whose House committee has concluded an investigation on security breaches with China, said the e-mailing of secrets continues to be a problem not only at Los Alamos, but also at other research sites. Only the morally obtuse and those with something to lose if the truth were known continue to believe that the administration remains pure in its China dealings. Can anyone now say with a straight face that President Clinton's people did not exchange secrets with the Beijing regime for campaign cash? If all the Friends of Bill who fled to China were brought to Washington and told what they know, does anybody still exist who thinks their testimony would not provide evidence implicating people at the highest levels of our government in an espionage scandal? Why have Chinese arms and drug dealers and members of the People's Liberation Army enjoyed regular access to the White House, the Pentagon, and top research facilities (which they continue to have) unless a deal was struck between desperate politicians eager to hold on to power and desperate Chinese Communists eager to know how to build more efficient weapons of mass destruction and acquire the missile technology and guidance systems to deliver them? China's prime minister, Zhu Rongji, is scheduled to visit Washington next month. In any deals arranged at this meeting, President Clinton will be bargaining from a position of weakness because the Chinese know the depth of his compromises with them. They have the records and the people to prove how much he may have jeopardized America's national security just to keep himself in office. He cannot afford to get tough with Beijing because of what the Chinese know about him. In considering China, the political left exhibits the same foolishness it did with the Soviet Union: a belief in "moral equivalency." Many believe our approach to China ought to be one of "understanding." If we treat them right, they'll treat us right, the thinking goes. But China is unlikely to change its view of the West, of capitalism, of democracy, and of free speech simply because we play nice with them. Congressman Cox hints that his bipartisan report will show how many of our top secrets are now in the hands of a major adversary. The administration should not be allowed to escape full accountability and a thorough investigation of what happened on its watch. Excuses concerning when the security breach started are irrelevant. This administration has known about it for at least six years and apparently did little or nothing until Mr. Richardson fired the Los Alamos scientist suspected of being a major conduit for U.S. secrets. His explanation for waiting so long lacks credibility and ranks up there with Al Gore's claim to Internet paternity. Let the investigation resume, this time without timetables and stonewalling by the Democrats who risk their own political future if they allow politics to trump national security while the world becomes increasingly dangerous, thanks in large part to what China is doing with American defense secrets they steal and American computers they buy.

-© 1998, Los Angeles Times Syndicate

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Cal Thomas
Cal Thomas

Cal, whose syndicated column appears on WORLD's website and in more than 500 newspapers, is a frequent contributor to WORLD's radio news magazine The World and Everything in It. Follow Cal on Twitter @CalThomas.


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