- The Washington Times - Friday, July 28, 2000

After all these many Clinton years of Chinese espionage during which, coincidence or not, nuclear codes have been downloaded, satellite technology has gone missing, top-secret hard drives have been "lost," supercomputer technology has been sold and nuclear facilities have all but gone up in smoke, Americans may now finally rejoice that the nation's security is assured: The FBI has seized Notra Trulock's desktop computer.

Mr. Trulock, of course, is the former Department of Energy counterintelligence chief who first blew the whistle on Chinese espionage penetrations of American nuclear weapons laboratories two years ago. Whistleblowers, as everyone knows, make a lot of noise, shrill, penetrating, sometimes commanding at first. But even the loudest noises fade away. In the bureaucratic calm after the political storm, Mr. Trulock was quietly demoted and then forced out of the Energy Department by senior department officials who disputed his findings that Chinese spies had stolen the know-how to produce every nuclear weapon in the U.S. arsenal, including that nuke in the crown, the W-88 thermonuclear warhead.

While working for TRW Inc., Mr. Trulock decided this year to write "a 'personal reflections-type' manuscript" about his experiences, as he told National Review Online last week. So he did, taking care, he said, not to include any classified information. He sent the document to the DOE for a security review this spring, before submitting to and passing a polygraph test intended to reveal any disclosure of classified information. Until two weeks ago, there the matter laid not to mention the article, which, Mr. Trulock said, was just "sitting around in maybe a half-dozen or so people's hard drives."

Then came a cluster of events. Mr. Trulock was fired by TRW, "under pressure from the Energy Department, according to people close to the case," as this newspaper's Bill Gertz wrote. Then National Review magazine published the article, which, while it may not contain information that is classified, contains plenty of information that is damaging to the Clinton administration on its historic bungle of its duty to protect the nation's defense secrets. Then came the knock at Mr. Trulock's door. Without a warrant, FBI agents coerced Mr. Trulock's landlord "with threats of breaking in doors and bringing in 'media people,' " Mr. Trulock wrote Congress this week to open up for an unlawful search of Mr. Trulock's Northern Virginia townhouse. Agents seized his desktop computer hard drive, carting away not only files on the article in question, but personal and financial files as well.

How can they do that? All too easily, post-Elian, when Americans seem increasingly content to allow the federal government's ends to justify the federal government's means. And why did they do that? The FBI says Mr. Trulock may have revealed state secrets, although one has to wonder, not entirely flippantly, whether there are any left. Mr. Trulock sees the incident as an unacceptable act of government retribution against a citizen who spoke out. "This is what happens to whistle blowers who speak truth to power," he told this newspaper's Bill Gertz. "The notion that there is classified information on [the computer] is outrageous."

Frankly, that's not all that is outrageous about this extremely alarming abuse of power. Mr. Trulock has alerted both House and Senate Intelligence committees to the details of this irregular FBI operation, which calls out for a thorough investigation into whether Mr. Trulock has indeed been subjected to the forces of intimidation and retaliation that this administration has become so accustomed to wielding.

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