By Dan Stober
No espionage case in fresh many years has been whatever just like the Wen Ho Lee affair. As Dan Stober and Ian Hoffman describe in "A handy Spy," an astonishingly inept research of a criminal offense which can by no means have happened resulted in a countrywide shame. A weapons-code scientist at Los Alamos nationwide Laboratory, Lee used to be hunted as a secret agent for China, indicted on fifty-nine counts, and held in detention for 9 months as a risk to the complete country. yet after pleading accountable to only one count number, he went domestic -- with an strange and emotional apology from a federal pass judgement on. Prosecutors' claims that Lee had stolen America's "crown jewels" of nuclear safety easily evaporated. but Lee's causes have by no means been satisfactorily defined, and his often-repeated excuse that he was once simply backing up his paintings documents doesn't face up to scrutiny. As Stober and Hoffman document, Lee's lies and his unexplained connections to international scientists spanned eighteen years. He was once a safety nightmare. Tapping at his keyboard, he assembled a personal number of the pc courses used to layout America's nuclear guns, then left them susceptible to hackers and international intelligence providers for years. The FBI's belated discovery that he had additionally positioned the codes on moveable cassette tapes introduced a frenzied all over the world seek that finally carried brokers to the Los Alamos landfill. And but this present day, the tapes have by no means been chanced on. In 1995, Lee was once simply one other American, a Taiwanese immigrant striving to aid a relations he adored and to make a reputation for himself in clinical circles. Unknown to him, in spite of the fact that, scientists operating within the mystery global of nuclear-weapons intelligence tested purloinedChinese records, studied secret agent experiences, and questioned: Had China stolen the secrets and techniques of the W88, America's so much complex nuclear weapon? clinical hunches speedily developed right into a felony research aimed toward Lee. He have been overheard via the FBI whereas telephoning a undercover agent suspect, and he used to be warmly embraced by way of a high-ranking chinese language nuclear-weapons legit whom he wasn't speculated to be aware of. The FBI famous that he used to be "ethnic Chinese." And during this doubtful interval after the chilly conflict, many politicians performed up China as a threatening new enemy. power Secretary and vice presidential hopeful invoice Richardson used to be wanting to fireplace Lee and seem decisive in maintaining nationwide safety. during this stormy confluence of intelligence and politics, Lee grew to become a handy undercover agent. yet was once he accountable? Dan Stober and Ian Hoffman inform the tale of the Wen Ho Lee fiasco dramatically and authoritatively, delivering an aim account that no partisan model of the tale can fit.
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