Safire: Chinese Intel. The Real Scandal

Maher, Steve (SD-MS) SMAHER at GI.COM
Tue Feb 17 15:54:00 MST 1998


Money Laundering

China's Spy Ring

by William Safire
Feb. 16, 1998

   WASHINGTON -- On
   Sept. 13, 1995 -- a date
   that will live in Clinfamy --
   a mid-level Commerce
   official with top-secret
   security clearance named
   John Huang entered the
   White House, listing as
   "visitee" Nancy Hernreich,
   the President's secretary.

   That subterfuge was to
   conceal his presence at a
   5:15 meeting in the Oval
   Office with President
   Clinton and the Lippo
   Group's James Riady, the
   Indonesian banker and
   financial contributor who
   had placed his longtime
   employee, Huang, in
   position to see U.S.
   secrets.

   During his 18 months of
   reading secret cable traffic,
   Huang received 37 personal
   briefings from a
   too-trusting C.I.A. officer
   on the findings of U.S.
   agents in Asia, at which he
   could view some 500 pieces
   of raw intelligence that
   revealed sources and
   methods.

   In that span, Huang made
   261 calls from his
   Commerce office to Lippo
   in Los Angeles and
   Indonesia, 21 calls to Mark
   Middleton, the Clinton aide
   who had gone through the
   revolving door to Lippo. He
   also made 10 calls and paid
   a visit to Webster Hubbell,
   who had been paid $100,000
   by Riady as a favor to
   Clinton just before
   Hubbell's indictment.

   Unbeknownst to his
   Commerce colleagues,
   Huang entered the White
   House and E.O.B. 67 times.
   Surreptitiously, he regularly
   visited a "drop" across the
   street from Commerce
   maintained by Lippo ally
   Stephens Inc., where --
   often just after C.I.A.
   briefings -- Huang sent
   and received faxes and
   packages and made calls he
   did not want to appear on
   Commerce records.

   At the Sept. 13 Oval Office
   meeting, Clinton --
   desperate for TV money
   -- reassigned Huang to the
   D.N.C., where he could
   raise funds from those he
   had serviced. He was the
   only D.N.C. official ever to
   be able to keep his security
   clearance.

   These damning facts are
   from the final draft report
   of the Senate's Thompson
   committee. In rare
   agreement, the
   counterintelligence arm of
   the F.B.I. and counterspies
   in the C.I.A. approved this
   statement to be issued by
   the Senate next week:

   "There are indications that
   Chinese efforts in
   connection with the 1996
   elections were undertaken
   or orchestrated, at least in
   part, by People's Republic
   of China intelligence
   agencies."

   That agonizingly
   worked-over judgment by
   America's intelligence
   establishment is a stunner.

   China's spy network
   succeeded in penetrating
   the Clinton White House.

   We are not dealing here
   merely with lobbying
   conducted covertly,
   unlawful though such secret
   activity is. As the language
   in the report the Senate
   worked out with the C.I.A.,
   F.B.I. and N.S.A. makes
   clear: "the PRC engaged in
   much more than simply
   'lobbying.' "

   We are confronted by
   evidence of espionage. It
   was conducted by
   operatives assigned by
   Chinese intelligence to
   collect U.S. trade-policy
   and other official secrets,
   as well as by agents of
   influence directed by Beijing
   to buy changes in U.S.
   foreign policy.

   "A variety of PRC entities
   were acting to influence
   U.S. elections," the
   unclassified Senate report
   states. A top-secret
   appendix containing
   evidence to back up these
   conclusions is to be locked
   away in inaccessible
   archives for decades.

   Such graymail is
   unacceptable. More news
   about the spy ring must be
   forced out. Our first priority
   is to protect our elections
   from foreign meddling;
   Americans have a need to
   know more right now about
   what spies corrupted what
   U.S. politicians with
   Chinese Government
   money.

   That's why aggressive
   prosecution of the sexless
   scandal is needed. After 15
   months of letting the trail go
   cold and agents flee, the
   Clinton Justice Department
   was recently impelled by
   the impending Senate report
   to hand up its only
   indictment in the case: Yah
   Lin (Charlie) Trie of Little
   Rock and Macao.

   What other suspected
   members of the Riady ring
   go unprosecuted by
   ditherers at Justice? Al
   Gore's Buddhist temple
   friend is one: "The
   Committee has learned that
   Maria Hsia has been an
   agent of the Chinese
   government . . . that Hsia
   has worked in direct
   support of a PRC diplomatic
   post in the U.S."

   The underestimated
   Thompson investigation
   should wake us up. The
   Burton Committee will
   carry it forward. The
   courts should give the new
   independent counsel in the
   Babbitt case the task of
   bringing all those in the
   campaign finance scandal to
   justice.



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