- The Washington Times - Friday, January 17, 2003

A former Energy Department intelligence chief charges in his new book that fired Los Alamos nuclear scientist Wen Ho Lee provided sensitive weapons data to China during unreported meetings with nuclear-weapons scientists.

The FBI, however, mishandled the counterespionage investigation of Mr. Lee because the nuclear weapons designer and his wife worked as FBI informants, according to the book by Notra Trulock, Energy intelligence director from 1994 to 1998.

Mr. Lee was the U.S. government's chief suspect in the compromise of W-88 warhead secrets to China. He pleaded guilty in September 2001 to one count of mishandling classified information, including computer codes used to design nuclear weapons. He was never charged with espionage and denied giving data to communist China.

Mr. Trulock's book, "Code Name Kindred Spirit," also discloses that a Justice Department report on the Lee case concluded that electronic surveillance of Mr. Lee should have been carried out based on evidence that he and his wife were spies for China.

A surveillance application to a secret federal court "established probable cause to believe that Wen Ho Lee was an agent of a foreign power, that is to say, a United States person currently engaged in clandestine intelligence activities for, or on behalf of, the [Peoples Republic of China] and that his wife Sylvia Lee, aided, abetted or conspired in such activities," the book states, quoting a report by Justice Department official Randy Bellows.

Mr. Trulock stated that during trips to China in 1986 and 1988, "Lee had indeed been asked by Chinese scientists for classified information about U.S. nuclear warhead designs."

"He would later claim that he refused to discuss classified information, but he admitted helping the PRC with some problems in computer coding," Mr. Trulock wrote.

"Both times he had helped the Chinese fix problems with their hydrodynamic codes using information from the classified nuclear weapons codes he was working on at Los Alamos," he said. "Both times, he knew that the Chinese scientists asking for the assistance on computer codes worked in the nuclear weapons program [and that] the assistance he was providing would be useful to the PRC's nuclear weapons program."

During the 1988 visit to Beijing, Mr. Lee met Hu Side, the head of China's program to build small nuclear warheads, in a hotel room and was asked questions about the W-88 warhead, Mr. Trulock stated.

After returning to Los Alamos, N.M., however, Mr. Lee "omitted Hu from his trip reports and debriefings and he denied that the Chinese had asked him for any classified information," Mr. Trulock said.

The book outlines new details on the Wen Ho Lee case and Chinese espionage against U.S. nuclear-weapons facilities, which U.S. intelligence agencies concluded had led to the compromise of the most secret details of U.S. nuclear weapons.

The book also says that the FBI bungled the counterintelligence investigation of Mr. Lee and his wife, and suggests the mishandling was done deliberately to prevent the disclosure of the fact that Mr. Lee and his wife supplied information to the FBI on Chinese nuclear scientists from 1985 to 1991.

The FBI paid for Mrs. Lee's travel to China with her husband, and helped pay entertainment expenses when the couple hosted visits to the United States by Chinese nuclear scientists.

Mr. Lee is a Taiwan-born scientist who worked in Los Alamos' X Division, the section that designed U.S. nuclear weapons.

Since his 2001 plea bargain, Mr. Lee has said he was a victim of racism and his supporters have sought a presidential pardon.

Additionally, Mr. Trulock reveals that the FBI conducted a counterintelligence probe of Lee for providing documents to Taiwan and meeting improperly with Taiwanese intelligence agents. The FBI probe was closed in 1984 and no action was taken against Mr. Lee.

Security officials at Los Alamos National Laboratory recommended in 1984 that Mr. Lee be removed from the laboratory's sensitive program to build the W-88 small nuclear warhead, but the director, Don Kerr, allowed Lee to keep his job.

Mr. Trulock's book also reveals the decades-long effort by foreign governments, including China, Russia, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Pakistan to gather valuable data on U.S. nuclear weapons from the Energy Department facilities.

The effort increased during the Clinton administration due to the pro-China policies of Bill Clinton and his advisers, Mr. Trulock said.

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