Inside the Ring

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If Mr. Gates goes to the Great Wall and is denied access to a never-before-seen PLA base, the visit will likely be dismissed by critics as an example of “military tourism.”

That’s what happened back in the late 1990s, when then-Defense Secretary William S. Cohen was shown an aging missile defense facilities in what officials at the time said was a propaganda effort by the Chinese to show the United States how backward their military was — all the better reason the United States should lift the embargo on military sales and loosen advanced technology controls.

So far, no U.S. military or defense leader has been allowed to visit the real Chinese Pentagon — a vast underground command center known as the Western Hills near Beijing. China’s military has prohibited all U.S. military personal from the site, although there have been reports that Russian military visitors have seen it.

Mysterious murder

The FBI has joined Newark, Del., police in probing the mysterious murder of John Jack Wheeler III, a former Pentagon official and West Point graduate who was among a group of advocates in Washington leading the fight in recent years over how the U.S. government should conduct computer-based cyberwarfare.

Baltimore FBI spokesman Rich Wolf confirmed the bureau’s assistance but declined to disclose details about the aid. “Right now, we’re treating this as a homicide,” Mr. Wolf said by telephone.

Mr. Wheeler, 66, was found murdered Dec. 31 in a landfill near Wilmington. Investigators said his body had been left in a trash bin in Newark, Del.

Investigators are said to be looking into several theories for the motive behind the killing, including a legal dispute with a neighbor or a robbery.

Mr. Wheeler held a security clearance and had worked as a contractor for the McLean office of the Mitre Corp., a defense contractor.

Mitre spokeswoman Jennifer Shearman said Mr. Wheeler worked on “outreach activities aimed at promoting discussions among government, industry, and academia on cyberdefense topics.”

Mr. Wheeler, who was known as a fierce political infighter, in recent years helped set up a blue-ribbon panel of experts to study the issue of cyberwarfare.

Mr. Wheeler sided with the U.S. military and defense advocates who want cyberwarfare to be dominated by military warriors rather than intelligence officials, who have sought to make cyberwarfare more oriented toward gathering intelligence and conducting espionage.

The dispute over the military-versus-intelligence orientation of cyberwarfare and the legal authorities for each currently has slowed the U.S. government’s cyberwarfare efforts.

Mr. Wheeler was an Army veteran of the Vietnam War and helped set up the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the Mall.

“America was blessed to have a ‘few great captains’ in the Army Air Corps who were visionaries on the use of air power before World War II,” said Edward Timperlake, a technology security official at the Pentagon during the George W. Bush administration and a friend of Mr. Wheeler’s.

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About the Author
Bill Gertz

Bill Gertz

Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon ( He has been with The Times since 1985.

He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.

Mr. ...

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