- The Washington Times - Friday, August 11, 2000

Pentagon officials were puzzled by the presence of a well-known Chinese military intelligence officer at the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia last week.

People's Liberation Army Maj. Gen. Chen Kaizeng, a former defense attache in Washington, was working the convention as part of a delegation of Chinese officials who attended and met top defense and foreign-policy advisers of Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush.

The presence of the Chinese general raised eyebrows among a number of Republican insiders. Gen. Chen, demonstrating his collection skills, managed to get hold of the draft China plank of the GOP platform written mostly by Robert Blackwill, a former arms-control official and friend of Condoleezza Rice, Mr. Bush's chief adviser on national security.

The Blackwill version prompted what we are told was a small but secret "struggle" inside the Republican platform committee against efforts to soften language on China. The early draft excluded the word "strategic" in describing China as a competitor, and also left out important references to arms sales to Taiwan, a U.S. defense of Taiwan and China's "stifling" of religious freedom.

The final platform document was rescued by several congressional staffers and former Rep. Robert L. Livingston, Louisiana Republican, who said the squishy language did not represent Republican views.

The final document reflected recent speeches by Mr. Bush. It called China a strategic competitor not a partner and urged "timely" U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, a dig at the Clinton administration's near-moratorium on weapons sales.

It also called for defending Taiwan if it is attacked by the mainland: "We deny the right of Beijing to impose its rule on the free Taiwanese people."

The Chinese government officially protested the tougher language. A Foreign Ministry spokesman expressed "concern and regret" of the platform criticism of China.

Conservative Republicans were left wondering how Mr. Blackwill had so much clout over the platform-writing process. He is close to the PLA as director of the China Initiative program at Harvard, which has brought some 50 Chinese military officers to the United States. Critics have called it "spy training" for the Chinese military in Boston.

The program is funded by a mysterious Hong Kong patron, Nina Kung, who supplied $7 million for the exchanges that also include a separate program for visits to Harvard by civilian Chinese officials.

All the PLA colonels are hand-picked for their visits by Gen. Xiong Guangkai, China's military intelligence chief, who suggested in 1995 that China would use nuclear weapons against Los Angeles if United States dared to defend Taiwan from Chinese attack.

Mr. Blackwill declined to comment for the record on the platform process.

Pentagon fraud?

Peter Leitner, a senior strategic trade adviser within the Pentagon's Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), is charging the agency with "waste, fraud and abuse." In a memorandum, he asserted the Clinton administration is guilty of "the reckless export decontrol of much of our advanced military and military-related manufacturing and operational technology."

In the three-page memorandum to the Pentagon inspector general, Mr. Leitner, a critic of Clinton administration export policies, charged DTRA with padding its personnel rolls "to create the false appearance that U.S. national security is being protected in response to a series of critical congressional and IG hearings and inspections." He called the effort "a Potemkin village."

The staffing issue also is an attempt by "anti-export control forces within the Pentagon" to further isolate and weaken the Pentagon group in charge of monitoring exports of strategic goods those that can be used by foreign nations for weapons development, especially to nations that might use those weapons against the United States.

Mr. Leitner also stated that the DTRA has an inherent conflict of interest with the export-control branch within it known as the Defense Technology Security Administration. DTRA currently is seeking to carry out "a series of ill-advised exports … to Russian nuclear end-users" that the export-control branch is questioning.

"In addition," he writes, "several DoD officials are trying to undermine the State Department-managed arms-transfer regulations by having dangerous nuclear-weapons related technologies transferred to Commerce Department jurisdiction, where its export to even the most dangerous foreign end-users, particularly China, is all but assured."

Mr. Leitner asked the IG to investigate the issue and warned: "The last few months of the current administration will likely see additional attempts by current officials to curry favor with potential future employers at the expense of national security the one chip they have to trade."

A spokeswoman for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency said the agency has no knowledge of an inspector general probe, a sign the IG may have ignored Mr. Leitner's appeal.

Truckers

Stewart & Stevenson Services Inc. wants U.S. permission to start selling its military trucks overseas. But the State Department has laid down some strict guidelines to ensure weaponized versions don't fall into the wrong foreign hands.

The Texas company has provided about 11,000 trucks to the U.S. Army, primarily to carry troops and supplies. But the Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles can also serve as a weapons platform.

A State Department letter we obtained states that any truck modified to carry weapons would make the U.S. Munitions List and must win approval from a host of agencies, including the Pentagon.

"We have no sales lined up at this point," said company spokesman Paul Justice. "We have some possibilities." He said China is not among them.

Clark, the civilian

Friends of retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark say, three months after the Clinton administration unceremoniously ended his career, the general still doesn't know exactly who orchestrated his early departure.

But Gen. Clark first in his West Point class and the head of two four-star command billets, isn't living in the past. He has charged into civilian life on many fronts.

He holds a chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, is making paid speeches, lectures at the National Defense University, is on retainer to Stephens Inc., an investment banking firm, and does pro-bono work as well, educating groups on international affairs.

As if his plate's not full enough, the energetic field commander is also writing a book. He declined comment when we asked if his memoirs will touch on the Pentagon officials who waged war on Gen. Clark himself as he led NATO's bombing campaign against Serbia.

"I loved being in the military," the 55-year-old Gen. Clark says. "It was enormously satisfying to participate in the rebirth of the American Army after Vietnam and then serve in Washington and participate in high policy formulation and execution."

Of his NATO stewardship, he says, "NATO commander was just a wonderful experience, an incredible experience. And we won."

After a year in Washington, Gen. Clark plans to return to his native Arkansas in a full-time job with Stephens, exploring high-tech investments.

"I went to West Point because I believed in duty, honor and country before I went there," he says. "I was given an opportunity and I'm incredibly grateful for it."

Despite his detractors within the administration, Gen. Clark went to the White House on Wednesday to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award.

• Bill Gertz can be reached at 202/636-3274 or by e-mail at gertz@twtmail.com. Rowan Scarborough can be reached at 202/636-3208 or by e-mail at scarbo@twtmail.com.

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