- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 24, 2000

The Clinton administration, in a departure from longtime U.S. policy, has placed Taiwan on the FBI's secret list of hostile intelligence threats, equating Taipei with aggressive spying by Beijing and Moscow.
China, Russia and Taiwan are among 13 nations designated as priorities for FBI intelligence and counterespionage activities, according to a classified memorandum from Attorney General Janet Reno.
"I hereby designate the following countries as country threats under the [National Security List] for 1999/2000," Miss Reno wrote.
Based on FBI, Justice and State Department reports, Miss Reno then listed, in order of priority, Russia, China, North Korea, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Serbian-controlled Bosnia, Vietnam, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Sudan and Taiwan.
In addition to nations, the so-called national security threat list includes eight issues that guide FBI intelligence work: terrorism, espionage, proliferation, economic espionage, infrastructure targeting, government targeting, perception management and legal intelligence gathering.
Disclosure of the threat list comes as the House is preparing to vote on legislation that would loosen trade restrictions on China.
Current and former U.S. intelligence officials said the inclusion of Taiwan on the list appears based on the administration's pro-Beijing policies that seek to equate Taiwan in the same threat category as China.
Asked about the inclusion of Taiwan on the list, Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican and a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said: "What threat?"
"It's very strange to me that Taiwan would be on this list, especially since other countries that spy on us are not," Mr. Kyl said. He added he plans to seek an explanation from intelligence officials.
If Taiwan is on the threat list, then Israel, India, Pakistan and France also should be added since those nations conduct spying operations against the United States, said a former senior U.S. intelligence official.
"This is just for political purposes. The Taiwanese are not in the same league as the other threats and they are the one country on the list that is not a mortal enemy of the United States."
Justice Department sources said the memorandum was written by Frances Fragos Townsend, counsel for intelligence policy and a political appointee who is close to Miss Reno. Miss Townsend was criticized in a recent internal Justice Department report for turning down an FBI request for a wiretap of Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist Wen Ho Lee.
Mr. Lee is the chief suspect in an FBI investigation of Chinese nuclear spying. He was indicted in December for mishandling nuclear secrets.
The former official said the danger from "politicizing" the threat list is that "it has the practical effect of distorting the focus of the FBI and other intelligence community agencies" charged with protecting national security.
"It distorts the reality of the threat and confuses people," he said.
Said a second former high-ranking intelligence official, "Why isn't Israel on the list?"
Taiwan's intelligence service in the past has engaged in intelligence gathering aimed at classified information, and also has sought weapons technology. However, the Taiwanese have not been involved in recent cases, this former official said.
"I'm really surprised," he said of Taiwan's inclusion on the list.
A current U.S. government official involved in China issues said putting Taiwan on the threat list reflects the administration's pro-Beijing and anti-Taiwan stance. "The administration clearly sees Taiwan as the problem, as a provocateur and troublemaker," he said.
Seven of the threat nations are states subject to U.S. sanctions as state sponsors of international terrorism: Cuba, North Korea, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Sudan.
The FBI National Security Division stated in a separate document that the threat issues apply to the activities of all foreign nations, "with special attention given to those nations determined to be a strategic national security threat." The strategic national security threats are those on the threat list.
FBI officials privately have expressed frustration at limits imposed by the White House and State Department that prohibit any public identification of the hostile nations and threat issues.
Justice Department and FBI spokesmen had no comment.
A copy of the document was obtained by The Washington Times from investigative reporter Scott Wheeler of American Investigator, a television news show. Mr. Wheeler turned up the document following production of a documentary film on China called "Trading With the Enemy."
The threat list strategy replaced the FBI's "criteria" country list and gives investigators more flexibility in conducting national security probes. It is the first time the classified list of nations and issues has been made public.
In addition to terrorism, spying and weapons proliferation, a relatively new issue in the issue list is the threat to the "national infrastructure" from electronic information warfare attacks.
"The national information infrastructure is the electronic backbone for the storage, processing and communication of information for nearly every sector of U.S. society," the memorandum states.
The FBI is charged with thwarting foreign intelligence activities aimed at denying or disrupting computer, cable, satellite or telecommunications services, as well as unauthorized monitoring.
The memo was sent by Miss Reno to FBI Director Louis J. Freeh and sets FBI intelligence priorities for 1999 and 2000. It is dated March 8, 1999, and states that it was to be reviewed in March 2000 and approved by December.
Another former intelligence official said the FBI has never uncovered an espionage case involving Taiwan. "There is some collecting [by Taiwanese agents], but it is nothing on the level of the Chinese," he said. He added "there is no doubt that the Israelis are conducting more operations than the Taiwanese."
Taipei's military was linked to the murder of a dissident in the 1980s, said this former official.

Editor's Note: Janet Reno's memo on hostile intelligence threats will be posted on American Investigator's web site (www.ai-tv.net) on Wednesday, May 24.

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