The Manchurian presidency

The worst national security disaster in history came about because President Clinton had loyalties not to foreign communists, but to the Chinese funders who got him elected.

David Horowitz
June 21, 1999 8:00PM (UTC)

Thanks to the Cox Report, we now know that the seven years of the Clinton presidency have coincided with the most massive breach of military security in American history.

As a result of the calculated degrading of security controls at America's nuclear laboratories, the Chinese communists have been able to steal the designs of our arsenal of nuclear weapons, including our most advanced warheads.


As a result of the 1993 Clinton decision to terminate the COCOM security controls that denied sensitive technologies to nuclear proliferators and potential adversary powers, the Chinese communists have been given the secrets of our intercontinental ballistic missile systems, along with previously restricted computer hardware. This allows them for the first time to target cities in the United States.

In the past few years, therefore, the Chinese communist dictatorship has been able to close a huge technology gap, and to destroy a security buffer that had kept America safe from foreign attacks on its territorial mainland for more than a century.

Throughout its entire history until 1957, the United States was protected from such attacks by the natural barrier of the oceans surrounding this continent. In 1957, the Soviet Union acquired an intercontinental missile technology that threatened to close that gap. Since then, the only real protection the United States has enjoyed has been its technological edge in developing more sophisticated warheads and more accurate missiles than its potential opponents. The edge provided a possibility that America might prevail in a nuclear war, and discouraged preemptive strikes.


The catastrophe that has occurred on the Clinton watch is summed up in the fact that this edge has now vanished, probably never to be regained.

America's new vulnerability to nuclear attack is a reality now not merely in respect to China, because of the absence of an anti-ballistic missile defense system. This, the Clinton administration has steadfastly refused to develop, despite the emergence of rogue states armed by China or Russia. These two are the chief distributors of nuclear, missile and satellite technologies to other governments. The governments that have benefitted are notorious stockpilers of biological and chemical weapons and among the most dangerous and dedicated enemies of the United States: Libya, North Korea, Iraq, Iran and Syria.

Yet, the attitude of the Clinton administration to all this has been one of hear-no-evil, see-no-evil. The official line, ritually repeated by the Democratic leadership in the sickeningly familiar refrain from the Monica Lewinsky scandal, is thateverybody does it and it's no big deal.


Far from acknowledging the catastrophe that has occurred or recognizing the dangers it creates, the Clinton White House has hurried to resume export sales of the same previously restricted technologies and to reassert the "strategic partnership" it promoted with the very dictatorship that has declared America its "No. 1 adversary" and has stripped us of our military shield.

Indeed, the government's awareness of many of the losses dates back several years, during which time the Clinton reaction was exactly the same: Continue on the destructive course. According to Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., a member of the Cox Committee, at least 15 government officials have experienced the wrath of the Clinton administration because they tried to protect America's secrets from being transferred to China. One notorious case was described in a recent Wall Street Journal article by a former security official, Michael Ledeen.


According to documents obtained by Ledeen, a mid-level government arms control bureaucrat was asked in 1997 to provide a memo supporting the administration's certification that China was not a nuclear proliferator and could be provided with advanced technologies. This request was made on the eve of a visit from China's communist dictator, Jiang Zemin. The bureaucrat refused and wrote that the agreement the U.S. government was about to sign "presents real and substantial risk to the common defense and security of both the United States and allied countries."

The official added that China was actively seeking American secrets and that "China routinely, both overtly and covertly, subverts national and multilateral trade controls on militarily critical items." This patriot was immediately told by his superiors to revise his memo or lose his job. Sadly, according to Ledeen, he complied with the order and rewrote the document to state that the proposed Clinton trade agreement "is not inimical to the common defense or the security of the United States."

In keeping with its fierce defense of a suicidal policy, the Clinton administration has failed to prosecute the people who have been identified as being responsible for the most critical thefts of American military secrets, and has protected those whose wrists it has slapped. Wen Ho Lee, the man believed to be responsible for the most damaging espionage, is known to have downloaded millions of lines of computer codes revealing the designs of our most advanced nuclear warheads. But Wen Ho Lee today is a free man.


Peter Lee, who gave communist China our warhead testing techniques and the radar technology to locate our submarines -- until then the most secure element of our nuclear deterrent -- is also free, having served only a year in a halfway house for his treason.

Wen Ho Lee was actually protected while performing his dirty work. When government agents requested a wiretap on his phone, the request was denied by Clinton's Justice Department. This was the first wiretap request ever denied in the Clinton era. Asked why it has not prosecuted Lee, the Justice Department claims that its evidence only shows that Lee downloaded the classified information onto a non-secure computer, from which others unknown may have picked it up.

But, as Angelo Codevilla pointed out in a Wall Street Journal article, "By this logic no one could be prosecuted for espionage for putting stolen documents into a dead drop, such as a hollow tree, for later pickup by foreign agents." Of course, the administration lacks even this transparent excuse in the case of Peter Lee, who did in fact give the information directly to the communists.


Why is Clinton furiously covering up for the communist Chinese and protecting its leaders and their spies from the wrath that should surely follow their rape of America's most guarded secrets? Certainly not, as Clinton and his complicit Democrat defenders now claim, because "everyone does it."

Unlike China, for example, the state of Israel is a democracy and a proven ally of the United States. Yet when an Israeli agent named Jonathan Pollard was discovered stealing secrets whose dimensions did not even approach the seriousness of these thefts (no technologies, for example, were involved), he was given a life sentence amid the most solemn anathemas from the officials of the government he betrayed.

The evidence suggests only one conclusion. The reason Clinton is protecting China's spies and their communist masters is because in protecting them he is protecting himself. The China strategy is fully intelligible in the frame of Clinton's strategy on other matters: The president has triangulated with China's communist government in pursuit of his own political interest at the expense of the United States.

This is not about loyalties that Clinton might have to communist ideology or communist dictators. On this, Clinton's record is clear: He has no loyalties, except to himself. It is the solipsistic nihilism that we have come to know as the very essence of President Clinton that has made this treachery possible, even, inevitable.


Clinton's triangulation with communist China has been chillingly charted by two national security professionals (although they do not employ the term itself), with the help of congressional investigations into illegal campaign contributions.

In "Year of the Rat," Bill Triplett and Ed Timperlake show that the roots of the Clinton betrayal lie in relationships that go back to Arkansas, and the fact that Clinton owes his political life to the Chinese communists through their agents, business associates and friends.

The book begins with the authors' observation that the No. 1 funder of the Clinton-Gore 1992 campaign was an Arkansas resident and Chinese banker named James Riady, who has been a friend of Clinton's for 20 years. Riady is the scion of a multibillion-dollar financial empire that is a working economic and political partnership with China's military and intelligence establishment. The Riadys gave $450,000 to Clinton's presidential campaign and another $600,000 to the Democratic National Committee and state Democratic parties.

But the importance of the Riadys to Clinton's ascent is far greater than even these contributions suggest, and not merely because the Chinese network, in which the Riadys are only one important factor, extends through thousands of companies and individuals whose contributions no one has as yet attempted to track. Without the Riadys, Clinton would not have won the Democratic nomination in the first place, and would not have been in a position to benefit from their later largesse.


In the presidential primaries of 1992, in fact, the Riadys were the absolutely crucial factor that stood between Clinton and defeat. After losing the New Hampshire primary, the candidate faced a crucial test in New York. But he had also run out of money. At this critical juncture, James Riady stepped in to arrange a $3.5 million loan to the Clinton campaign. New York proved to be the last real competition that Clinton faced on his path to victory.

When the Arkansas governor stepped onto the national scene, Clinton and Riady were not new acquaintances. They had met in 1978, when Clinton was attorney general, and had not yet become governor of the state. They were introduced by Clinton's chief political backer, Jackson Stephens, the head of Stephens Inc., one of the largest private investment firms outside of Wall Street. "Thus began a friendship," in the words of Timperlake and Triplett, "that has lasted 20 years, and has spread a web of intrigue, financial corruption and foreign influence into American government."

Riady had begun his American banking career earlier in the '70s as an intern at Stephens. Later, they became partners in the Worthen Bank of Little Rock, the very same institution that subsequently experienced a mysterious fire that destroyed records being sought by Kenneth Starr and other Whitewater investigators in their inquiries into Hillary Rodham Clinton's Rose law firm activities. It was through the Worthen bank that Riady arranged the $3.5 million credit to Clinton's failing primary campaign.

The Riady relationship extended beyond the Clintons themselves to their friends and to Hillary's associates at Rose, including its head, Joe Giroir, and a White House aide named Mark Middleton, who later invoked the Fifth Amendment when he was called before a congressional committee. It was the Riadys who provided a $100,000 "job" for the indicted Web Hubbell, at the moment when he had indicated to the Starr prosecutors that he might be ready to talk. After the payment from Riady and others, Hubbell changed his mind and chose jail instead.


Understanding the security disaster that has befallen the United States requires an understanding that the leakage of America's secrets proceeded along two parallel tracks. One track was espionage, the other was a political-economic track through the legal commercial activities of the United States government -- in particular through its political oversight of these commercial activities, which in past administrations had included formal controls of sensitive technologies that the Clinton team systematically dismantled. Political contributors to the Clinton-Gore campaigns played key roles in promoting the dismantling process.

A central figure in the economic track of Chinese activities was the vice president and Far-East area manager for the Worthen Bank, a Chinese-born American named John Huang, who was a friend of Bill from Little Rock days. Triplett and Timperlake make a strong case that it was through the personal intervention of Hillary Clinton that in 1994 Huang was made a top official in the Commerce Department, where he had access to all the information an agent would need to strip America of the supercomputer technologies vital to the development of advanced weapons systems. Huang also inexplicably retained his top security clearance in the Commerce Department when he left the government.

The decision to leave the government for a position at the Democratic National Committee was made for Huang at a meeting in the Oval Office attended by the president, Huang, Riady, Riady partner and former Rose law firm head Giroir and presidential aide Bruce Lindsey.

This meeting took place three days after the president had decided on a strategy to rescue his failing political fortunes, which had reached a nadir following the Democrats' historic defeat in the congressional elections of 1994 and Newt Gingrich's ascension to the speakership of the House. It was the first Republican majority in the House in 48 years.

Designed by the president's new political advisor, Dick Morris, the strategy involved a massive television advertising campaign, directed against Gingrich and the Republican House. The campaign has been directly credited with turning the political tide and ensuring the reelection in 1996 of the Clinton team. The chief fund-raiser for this campaign was John Huang.

It should be evident from these facts (and they could easily be amplified with many more) that the alliance Clinton has made with the Riadys and their China network is the pivot of his political career, and the absolute key to his survival. It has had consequences for American politics and security so vast that no brief summary can begin to describe them.

In 1996, to pick an illustrative example, the Long Beach (Calif.) City Council granted a lease on the demobilized Long Beach Naval Station to a Chinese company named COSCO, which is little more than the naval arm of the Chinese communist army and is a major arms supplier to dictators and terrorists. Its cargoes have included rocket fuel for Pakistan, helping to destabilize the Indian peninsula; and nuclear components for Iran, a volatile factor in the Middle East. In 1996 a COSCO ship was seized in Oakland, Calif., by U.S. Customs agents who discovered a cargo of 2,000 assault weapons intended for sale to Los Angeles street gangs.

Why would the Long Beach City Council approve a lease to such a company, particularly if the relevant oversight officials in Washington had alerted them to the nature of the COSCO enterprise? Because the relevant oversight officials in Washington did not alert Long Beach to the danger posed by COSCO. On the contrary, they encouraged the deal.

In the 1996 campaign, Johnny Chung -- another middleman for the China network and for COSCO in particular -- gave $366,000 to the Democratic Party. It was subsequently returned after the campaign finance scandal surfaced and it was clear that it had come illegally from foreign sources. Among the sources was a Chinese intelligence officer, Lt. Col. Liu Chaoying, the daughter of China's highest ranking military officer. On the eve of the 1996 elections, a White House official named Dorothy Robyn made a conference call to the Long Beach City Council and applied direct pressure on them to push the deal with COSCO through. Robyn told the Council that the "national interest would best be served if the [COSCO] plan proceeds." The chief competitor for the lease, whose application was denied by White House pressure, was the U.S. Marine Corps.

Nine months before the COSCO lease was sealed, a crisis had developed in the Taiwan Strait. Elections were being held in Taiwan and the communist regime, which claims sovereignty over Taiwan, was launching intermediate range ballistic missiles with blank warheads in the direction of the island, an act of blatant intimidation. The Clinton administration had interposed two aircraft carriers from the 7th Fleet ostensibly to remind the communists that Taiwan was an American ally. At that moment, an old Little Rock friend of Clinton's appeared in Washington with a $460,000 donation to the legal defense trust that Clinton had set up to defray his expenses in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case.

The friend also brought a message from one of China's top officials that if the United States interfered in this matter, a missile attack against Los Angeles would become a possibility. The friend also brought his own broken-English personal message: "Any negative outcomes of the U.S. decision in the China issue will affect your administration position especially in the campaign year."

The messenger was Charlie Trie, owner of the Fu Lin restaurant in Little Rock. Trie was also a member of the Four Seas triad, a billion-dollar Asian crime syndicate allied to Chinese military and intelligence agencies. Clinton's written reply to Trie's blackmail was addressed "Dear Charlie" and assured him and his communist bosses in Beijing that the interposition of the aircraft carriers was "not intended as a threat to the People's Republic of China," but as "a signal to both Taiwan and the PRC that the United States was concerned about maintaining stability in the ... region."

The network of businessmen, agents and gangsters that links Clinton to China's communist dictatorship is interwoven with every element of the greatest security disaster in American history. It is as though the Rosenbergs had been in the White House, except that the Rosenbergs were little people and naive, and consequently the damage they were capable of accomplishing was incomparably less. It could even be said on behalf of the Rosenbergs that they did not do it for themselves, but out of loyalty to an ideal, however pathetic and misguided.

President Clinton has no such loyalties -- neither to his family, nor his party, nor his country. As is evident from the disclosures that have already come to light, the damage he has done is without precedent and will dwarf even the legacy of national embarrassment that he earned for himself in the Lewinsky affair. The wounds he has inflicted on this nation, and every individual within it, with consequences unknown for future generations, cannot be said to have been inflicted for ideological reasons or even out of some perverse dedication to a principle of evil. The destructiveness of President Clinton has emerged out of a need that is far more banal -- to advance the cause of one ruthlessly self-absorbed man.

David Horowitz

David Horowitz is a conservative writer and activist.

MORE FROM David Horowitz

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Bill Clinton China Department Of Justice Espionage Hillary Rodham Clinton

Fearless journalism
in your inbox every day

Sign up for our free newsletter

• • •