By Dan Stober
No espionage case in contemporary many years has been something just like the Wen Ho Lee affair. As Dan Stober and Ian Hoffman describe in "A handy Spy," an astonishingly inept research of a criminal offense that can by no means have happened led to a countrywide shame. A weapons-code scientist at Los Alamos nationwide Laboratory, Lee was once hunted as a secret agent for China, indicted on fifty-nine counts, and held in detention for 9 months as a risk to the complete country. yet after pleading responsible to only one count number, he went domestic -- with an strange and emotional apology from a federal pass judgement on. Prosecutors' claims that Lee had stolen America's "crown jewels" of nuclear defense easily evaporated. but Lee's explanations have by no means been satisfactorily defined, and his often-repeated excuse that he was once simply backing up his paintings records doesn't withstand scrutiny. As Stober and Hoffman record, Lee's lies and his unexplained connections to overseas scientists spanned eighteen years. He was once a safety nightmare. Tapping at his keyboard, he assembled a personal choice of the pc courses used to layout America's nuclear guns, then left them at risk of hackers and overseas intelligence prone for years. The FBI's belated discovery that he had additionally positioned the codes on transportable cassette tapes introduced a frenzied around the globe seek that finally carried brokers to the Los Alamos landfill. And but at the present time, the tapes have by no means been stumbled on. In 1995, Lee was once simply one other American, a Taiwanese immigrant striving to help a kinfolk he adored and to make a reputation for himself in clinical circles. Unknown to him, despite the fact that, scientists operating within the mystery global of nuclear-weapons intelligence tested purloinedChinese records, studied secret agent experiences, and questioned: Had China stolen the secrets and techniques of the W88, America's so much complicated nuclear weapon? clinical hunches quickly advanced right into a felony research geared toward Lee. He have been overheard via the FBI whereas telephoning a secret agent suspect, and he used to be warmly embraced via a high-ranking chinese language nuclear-weapons professional whom he wasn't alleged to be aware of. The FBI famous that he used to be "ethnic Chinese." And during this doubtful interval after the chilly battle, many politicians performed up China as a threatening new enemy. power Secretary and vice presidential hopeful invoice Richardson used to be wanting to hearth Lee and seem decisive in preserving nationwide defense. during this stormy confluence of intelligence and politics, Lee grew to become a handy undercover agent. yet was once he to blame? Dan Stober and Ian Hoffman inform the tale of the Wen Ho Lee fiasco dramatically and authoritatively, delivering an aim account that no partisan model of the tale can fit.
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