- The Washington Times - Friday, June 30, 2000

China-Libya hookup

A fresh Pentagon intelligence report exposes China's covert cooperation with Libya in developing long-range missiles.

The latest evidence was contained in a top-secret report sent June 9 by National Security Agency Director Lt. Gen. Michael Hayden to top administration officials. The NSA report reveals that the director of Libya's Al-Fatah missile program is planning to travel to China later this month or next, according to intelligence officials who have seen it.

The Libyan will go to the University of Aeronautics and Astronautics in Beijing, China's premier training center for missile scientists and technicians. That's where China is training Libyan missile specialists.

The report is the latest in a series of intelligence reports on the growing cooperation between China and Libya on missile development.

We disclosed in this space in January that China is building a hypersonic wind tunnel in Libya for the Al-Fatah missile program, and that Libyan technicians would be sent to China for missile training.

The latest report is more bad news for the Clinton White House. National Security Adviser Samuel R. Berger had been lobbying furiously to block a bill sponsored by Sen. Fred Thompson, Tennessee Republican. His bill would punish China with sanctions for its ongoing missile and weapons technology sales to rogue states. Mr. Berger insists China's record on dangerous weapons sales is improving. But numerous intelligence reports indicate that's not true.

Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright told a Senate hearing in April that the United States formally protested the China-Libya missile cooperation. She commented after the missile sharing was reported by The Washington Times.

Security push

The Pentagon is further distancing itself from its export security office literally.

Defense Department insiders complain their bosses have reduced the influence of the Technology Security Directorate because bureaucrats there opposed technology transfers to China.

Now, the office that oversees transfers of advanced computers and satellite gadgets is being moved farther away. It's been ordered to relocate to Alexandria, Va., from Army-Navy Drive, which is a short walk to the Pentagon.

The directorate was one of the lone administration voices that objected to the Commerce Department approving high-tech equipment sales to communist China.

"I think it's a scorched-earth policy toward export controls," said a Pentagon official. "It stands in the way of trade. National security or any other kind of security never really scored high with this administration as an issue of concern."

The change of address is effective Dec. 17. The Pentagon defends the move, saying all units of the Technology Security branch now will be under one roof.

Clark snubbed

In Washington, political signals are ubiquitous, whether sent by politicians or military leaders.

Army Gen. Henry H. Shelton, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sent his a week ago by skipping the retirement ceremony for Gen. Wesley Clark, former NATO supreme commander. The chairman's absence was viewed as a final indignity for the military officer many considered the hero of NATO's air war against Yugoslavia last year.

Gen. Shelton lives down the street from Fort Meyer's Summerall Field, the parade ground where the ceremony was held. His spokesman said he was on vacation and unable to attend.

The chairman's absence is the latest in a string of official dumping on Gen. Clark. The first was the unceremonious notification by cellular telephone July 30 in Latvia that Gen. Clark was being replaced a few months before his term ended. Before the four-star general could call back to lobby for keeping the NATO command, he was called by a Washington Post reporter. The reporter said he had been given an "official leak" on Gen. Clark's pending retirement.

Defense Secretary William S. Cohen did attend the retirement ceremony. But the secretary offered a kind of snub of his own. He surprised the assembled brass and guests by not offering any words on Gen. Clark closing out a long military career.

The first Green Beret

He planned in North Africa the first U.S. combat assault using paratroopers. He is revered as the "Father of the Green Berets." Gen. Henry H. Shelton, a career commando and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, still calls him "sir."

The career of retired Army Lt. Gen. William P. Yarborough received official recognition recently at a ceremony in Tampa, Fla., home to U.S. Special Operations Command. Hosted by Gen. Peter Schoomaker, who heads the command, the fete featured laudatory speeches, a collage of photographs of Gen. Yarborough's career and a biographical handout extolling his commitment to Army special forces. Gen. Yarborough received the "Col. Arthur 'Bull' Simons Award," named after another special operations legend.

One photo showed the honoree in the first official wearing of the Green Beret as he greeted President John F. Kennedy, a big booster of unconventional warfare.

"His vision of [special forces] continues to guide our community," the handout said. "He is, in so many ways, the father of modern special operations."

A key period in his career was his command in 1961-65 of U.S. Army Special Warfare Center and Special Warfare School, a center later named after President Kennedy.

"During these years, he oversaw the unprecedented growth of special forces and psychological warfare units, a response to the Vietnam War," the text stated. "He provided the intellectual leadership for the development of counterinsurgency tactics and doctrine …"

A 1936 West Point graduate, Gen. Yarborough, 88, retired in 1971. He lives today in North Carolina, not far from Fort Bragg, home to Army Special Operations Command and the elite Delta Force counterterrorism unit.

We reached Gen. Yarborough by phone, where he told us he's not big on self-promotion or talking to what he called "the fourth estate."

Asked why he is still revered today in commando country, Gen. Yarborough answered, "If I am, it is because I was on board when presidential interest and the confluence of world events made special forces appropriate to look at."

While molding special forces, Gen. Yarborough recalls, he stayed in frequent phone contact with Gen. Ted Clifton, an old friend and Kennedy's military aide.

"Clifton, while the president was shaving in the morning, would read him the daily reports and I knew how the president felt about special forces and special operations through Clifton," Gen. Yarborough said.

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