On many occasions over the past few years, including innumerable campaign appearances and three State of the Union addresses, the president of the United States has looked the American people in the eye and assured them that because of his policies, "There are no more nuclear missiles pointed at any children in the United States."
For President Clinton, the truth of this statement probably depends on what the meaning of "are" is.
But for the rest of us, it is imperative that we recognize the president's statement for the dangerous lie that it is. The tiny shred of truth out of which Clinton has woven this politically useful lie is a meaningless, post-Cold War agreement between Russia and the United States to stop targeting one another's cities. But even if Russia's government were not in a state of near dissolution, the stark military reality is that U.S. intelligence services simply have no way of telling what targets Russia's leaders have actually chosen for their nuclear warheads. In any event, it would take only 15 seconds for Russian commanders to retarget any of their hundreds of strategic missiles tipped with multiple nuclear warheads our way once again.
More importantly, by every military index available, the Russians are in fact energetically planning for the possibility of future nuclear war with the United States. And they are not alone. Thanks to technology transfers courtesy of the Clinton administration, China and North Korea are also armed with long-range missiles capable of reaching the American mainland, and neither of those countries are parties to our non-targeting agreement with Russia. According to a recent CIA report, 13 of China's 18 nuclear warheads are known to be aimed at American cities. Nevertheless, after six years of tenacious, dedicated opposition by the Clinton administration to the Strategic Defense Initiative, America has almost no protection against incoming missiles and no prospect of deploying a new system for many years to come.
Meanwhile, the post-Cold War world is a dangerous place, and our potential adversaries are more numerous and less predictable than during the Cold War itself. But, as documented by the veteran military reporter Bill Gertz in his disturbing new book "Betrayal," the Clinton administration remains in virtual denial of these dangers:
Now the Cox Report has revealed that even while the Clinton administration was steadfastly "engaging" China as a friendly power, the Chinese were systematically plotting to penetrate the Democratic Party, subvert America's electoral process and steal America's advanced weapons arsenal. The bottom line result is chillingly captured in the Wall Street Journal's summary of the bipartisan report: "The espionage inquiry found Beijing has stolen U.S. design data for nearly all elements needed for a major nuclear attack on the U.S., such as advanced warheads, missiles and guidance systems. Targets of the spying ranged from an Army anti-tank weapon to nearly all modern fighter jets. Most wasn't done by professionals, but by visitors or front companies. Lax security by the Clinton administration is blamed in part, and satellite makers Hughes and Loral are criticized."
Loral and Hughes are the companies that provided the Chinese with the technology to deliver the nuclear payloads. They were able to accomplish this with indispensable assistance provided by the Clinton White House, allowing them to circumvent technology controls instituted for national security purposes by previous administrations. Loral and Hughes are large Clinton campaign contributors; in fact, the head of Loral is the largest electoral contributor in American history.
Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., chairman of the national security subcommittee on military research and development, has characterized the six years of Clinton's administration as "the worst period in our history in terms of undermining our national security." In May, Weldon traveled to Russia, in company with 10 other congressmen. On that trip, in his presence, a Russian general threatened the assembled congressman, warning that if the United States put ground troops in Kosovo, Russia "could" detonate a nuclear device in the lower atmosphere off the eastern United States. The resulting magnetic pulses would "fry" every computer chip in the country, shutting down phones, airplanes, electrical grids and so on until the country was thrown into absolute chaos. This threat was not made during the Cold War by a ruler of the former Soviet Union, but by a Russian general within the last month.
If these revelations were not disturbing enough, the Clinton team's initial reaction to the Cox Report gives even more cause for alarm. Before the report was issued, the Clinton cover-up squad had already scrambled its famous spin control into action. We have been told by the Clinton team, for example, that the damage resulting from all this spying is not very great because China has only 18 missiles and we have 6,000. Well, that's this year. The theft has given China a 20-year jump in its nuclear weapons development -- an eternity in terms of modern technologies. What happens five or 10 years from now when the Beijing dictatorship has hundreds of missiles aimed at American cities and decides that it wants Taiwan? What consolation would it be to people in Los Angeles, for example, who have already been threatened with a nuclear attack over the Taiwan issue, should Beijing decide to launch even one missile in their direction, given the fact that their president has denied them a missile defense?
In the event of such an attack, would Washington be willing to trade 17 American cities (and that's just this year) in a retaliatory nuclear exchange to defend Taiwan? On the other hand, if historical experience is any guide, the communists just might. In Vietnam, the communists were willing to sacrifice 2 million of their own citizens, while 58,000 proved to be too great a sacrifice for Americans in pursuit of the opposite result. The Chinese communists have already killed an estimated 50 million of their own population in the pursuit of a revolutionary future. Is the risk of China's willingness to pay another awful price to achieve what its leaders consider a worthy objective one that we can just brush off?
In addition to making the false and irresponsible claim that the thefts reported by the Cox committee are not so serious, Clinton and his spinners have argued that they themselves are not really guilty because "everyone does it." Shame on Democrats who have gone along with this argument, as they did with similar mendacities during the impeachment process. Yes, nuclear spying took place in previous administrations, including Republican. The difference was that previous administrations cared about such leaks and plugged them, and prosecuted the offenders, and did not accept millions of dollars in illegal campaign contributions from the military and intelligence services of foreign powers that threatened them. Previous administrations did not lift security controls that supplied the thieves with additional vital military technologies -- or systematically disarm their own military forces while this was happening. But the Clinton administration has.
One of the key technological breaks China received without having to resort to espionage was the delivery of supercomputers previously banned from export for security reasons. Supercomputers underpin the technology of nuclear and missile warfare, and not only for firing and controlling the missiles. A supercomputer can simulate a nuclear test and is thus crucial to the development of nuclear warheads. But according to a recent Washington Post editorial, "In the first three quarters of 1998 nine times as many [supercomputers] were exported [to China] as during the previous seven years." This transfer was authorized three years after the spy thefts were detected. What rationale could possibly justify this? What responsible president or administration official at any relevant level in any government would allow the massive transfer of national security assets like these to a dictatorship they knew had stolen their country's most highly guarded military secrets?
What, in fact, was the reason for the Chinese cash flow to the Clinton-Gore campaign? Was that a payoff? Who in the administration is responsible for the cover-ups, the laxity and the leaks that made the Chinese conspiracy work as effectively as it did? Is there, for example, any connection between this security disaster and the fact that Sandy Berger, the president's National Security Advisor, was a lobbyist for Chinese companies before being appointed to his post? Or that he and other top Clinton officials responsible for this mess have been left-leaning skeptics of communist threats in the past, and radical critics of American power?
In the immediate handling of this national security disaster, it should be said, a profound disservice has been done to the American people by both political parties. Shell-shocked by Democratic attacks during the impeachment process, Republicans on the Cox committee became complicit in an essential part of the cover-up in the name of bipartisanship. This was the decision to de-couple the spy scandal and the technology transfers from the Clinton money trail to Beijing. This removed a large potential area of conspiracy from the perspective of the report. In all, 105 witnesses to the illegal funding of the Clinton-Gore campaign by people connected to the Chinese military and Chinese intelligence either took the Fifth Amendment or fled the country to avoid cooperating with investigators. They did this with the tacit acquiescence if not active help of the Clinton administration.
Bipartisanship is itself a problem at this stage of the inquiry because the Democratic Party and administration are up to their ears in the entire scandal, and Democrats have in the past shown willingness to put party before country when their president is under attack. Perhaps once the implications of the Cox Report sink in, there will Democrats who will break their lock-step defense of the president to consider the vital security interests of the nation as well.
Thus far the entire debate has taken place in a surreal atmosphere of politics as usual: the partisan defense of the White House, the denial of the real magnitude of the nuclear danger, the political de-coupling of the Chinese plot to infiltrate and influence the Clinton-Gore administration, and the failure even to acknowledge that what is at stake is a probable massive betrayal of the American people's trust by its national security leadership.
The American people may want to revisit questions they recently disposed of, and to subject them to the light of the unfolding national security drama. Is bad character an impeachable offense? Does reckless behavior and lying under oath indicate a leader is unfit to be commander in chief?
Whatever the answers, and whatever the results of the investigations now in progress, one thing is certain: The already revealed facts will redraw the legacy of this presidency as the most reckless and dangerous in our lifetimes.