- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 18, 2000

What on Earth was he thinking? This is the question prompted by House Speaker Dennis Hastert's selection, announced last week, of a new national security adviser: Nancy P. Dorn, a woman who had parlayed her stints as an official in the Reagan and Bush administrations into a lucrative business as a registered foreign agent.
Not just any foreign agent. One of her troubling clients was, in the words of Insight magazine, which broke the story, "a division of a Communist Chinese company linked to Beijing's military intelligence."
Specifically, Mrs. Dorn lobbied for Hutchison Port Holdings (HPH), a subsidiary of Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. which is, in turn, owned by Li Ka-shing a Hong Kong-based billionaire who reportedly enjoys an extemely close relationship to the leadership in Beijing and its security services.
HPH created a stir in this country when it became known last year that Mr. Li's subsidiary had secured under suspicious circumstances (including allegations of corrupt dealings) long-term leases for ports at both ends of the Panama Canal. Concern about this ominous strategic development was intensified because it came on the heels of a string of other problems arising from China's operations in this hemisphere. A short sampler of these includes:
Chinese intelligence agents were found to have made illegal payments to the Clinton-Gore campaigns and secured private meetings with the president in the White House and elsewhere.
John Huang an individual who had his own ties to Beijing, thanks in part to his dealings there on behalf of his Indonesian employers, the Riadys was given an appointment as a deputy assistant secretary in the Clinton Commerce Department. In that capacity, he exploited his access to secret information that might have been of interest to the People's Republic of China and frequently thereafter made suspicious use of a private fax machine provided by the Riadys.
The Cox Committee determined that Chinese intelligence had successfully penetrated America's nuclear weapons complex, making off with invaluable information, including blueprints for the nation's most modern warheads.
Samuel "Sandy" Berger, Mr. Clinton's national security adviser and himself a former trade lobbyist for China, had a hand in securing an appointment to the super-sensitive President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB) for former Rep. Jane Harman, California Democrat. Prior to serving in Congress, including on the House Intelligence Committee, Mrs. Harman also worked as a registered foreign agent for a Chinese client.
President Clinton personally intervened on no fewer than four separate occasions to try to secure the use of a former U.S. Navy base in Long Beach for the Chinese merchant marine, COSCO a company on whose board Li Ka-shing sits and that is believed to have been used by PRC operatives to bring hundreds of AK-47s, illegal aliens, drugs and other contraband into this country.
During a state visit to China, Mr. Clinton embraced the communist line on Taiwan and affronted America's regional allies by refusing to visit any of them enroute to or from the PRC.
Against this backdrop, the prospect that China was about to secure effective control over the strategic "path between the seas" in Panama was the last straw for many Americans. Their concerns were only exacerbated by President Clinton's Freudian pronouncement on Nov. 30, 1999, that: "I think the Chinese will in fact be bending over backwards to make sure that they run it [the Panama Canal] in a competent and able and fair manner… . I would be very surprised if any adverse consequences flowed from the Chinese running the Canal." Republicans in particular were appalled.
So who did Li Ka-shing turn to in order to head off GOP efforts to reopen the bidding on the Panamanian ports in question and to limit other political fall-out especially efforts that might have interfered with the plans he and his friends in Beijing had to expand Hutchison/ China's presence in the Bahamas and elsewhere in the hemisphere? Lobbyist Nancy Dorn.
It turns out Mrs. Dorn was also the "go-to" woman for one of China's leading clients, the military junta that seized power in Pakistan last year. Presumably, her assignment was to keep Republicans from making too much of a ruckus about the Clinton-Gore administration's systematic failure to fulfill legal obligations to sanction both countries over their cooperation in the proliferation of nuclear weapons and long-range missile technology. Whether thanks to her or others, that objective was largely achieved.
Perhaps Mrs. Dorn deserves credit as well for the lack of protests from the Republican congressional leadership earlier this year when Pakistan was curiously left off the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism. Political considerations (namely, payback for contributions from Pakistani-Americans to Hillary Clinton's campaign) seem to have been the driving force behind this decision a prime example of the worrying politicization of that list decried by the recent, congressionally chartered commission that examined shortcomings in U.S. policy and capabilities for dealing with the terrorist threat.
The question recurs: Why would Speaker Hastert appoint this individual, of all people, as his national security adviser, one of the few statutorily mandated, highly paid and exceedingly sensitive senior staff jobs on Capitol Hill? Why would he want at his right hand a person whose responsibility had, until last week, been to neutralize Republican opposition to behavior inimical to U.S. interests in which China and Pakistan are engaged and to which the Clinton-Gore administration has largely turned a blind eye? Why hire someone who would compromise the GOP's ability legitimately to assail not only these policies but the troubling roles played by the likes of Mr. Berger, Mr. Huang and Mrs. Harman?
According to Insight magazine, Mr. Hastert has a simple answer: He has told colleagues that he thought she was a " 'stay-at-home mom' with solid foreign policy and defense credentials from the Reagan and Bush administrations." Now that he knows better, he must return her forthwith to private life.
In a way, an even more interesting question would be why Mrs. Dorn saw fit to take a significant pay cut to assume a position that may cease to be Mr. Hastert's to fill half a year from now? The troubling answer may be that she hoped, by laundering her credentials in this way, to make herself eligible for a senior position in a future Bush administration one that her incarnation as a paid agent of Li Ka-shing and Pakistan should have precluded. That prospect too should be foreclosed by prompt action to terminate her tenure as the speaker's national security adviser.


Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is the president of the Center for Security Policy and a columnist for The Washington Times.

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