"The Spy Who Wasn't" and "Vote of No Confidence"

By Eric Boehlert and John W. Dean

By Letters to the Editor
Published February 1, 2002 8:00PM (EST)

Read "The Spy Who Wasn't"

So ... let me get this straight: The Los Alamos incident was nothing more than some "vast right wing" conspiracy to make the White House look bad? Remember that this happened during Janet Reno's watch, so what does that say about her? Is she secretly part of the "Beltway" frenzy?

More important is the presumption that "Chinagate" is over. Allow me to show you how wrong you are:

A. Judicial Watch, in 1995, through the Freedom of Information Act, uncovered the connection between Chinese campaign contributions and the exchange of sensitive missile and weapons technology.

B. Judicial Watch obtained a court judgment against the corrupt Clinton-Gore Commerce Department in the Chinagate scandal, which found that evidence had been destroyed and testimony falsified.

C. The Clinton-Gore administration offered to pay for all of Judicial Watch's legal costs (totaling about $2,000,000) if Judicial Watch agreed to drop its first Chinagate investigation and lawsuit. Judicial Watch refused the "bribery" attempt and instead dramatically "ramped up" its Chinagate investigations and lawsuits.

D. Judicial Watch has thus far successfully prevented the Federal Bureau of Investigation from silencing Notra Trulock, its client, from revealing the breach of national security at the Los Alamos Nuclear Laboratories. Were it not for Trulock, the massive breach of national security by suspected Chinese agent Wen Ho Lee and others would never have been known and acted upon. Trulock, through Judicial Watch, has sued Wen Ho Lee and his accomplices, as well as FBI Director Louis Freeh. The Wen Ho Lee trial is scheduled for this fall.

F. Judicial Watch deposed and represents Johnny Chung, the only Chinagate figure who has testified truthfully. He implicated Bill and Hillary Clinton and Al Gore in Chinagate crimes. Mr. Chung, through Judicial Watch, has sued the Justice Department for its complicity.

F. The Honorable Royce C. Lamberth, U.S. District Court judge for the District of Columbia, ruled that the Commerce Department still has not complied adequately with Judicial Watch's lawful subpoenas and has appointed a magistrate judge to oversee Commerce's production of documents, including phone records, e-mails, memos and other evidence concerning key defendants and witnesses. As a result, the Chinagate case is now likely to turn criminal on obstruction of justice charges.

Sloppy journalism at its worst. And let me save you further embarrassment; before you go accusing Judicial Watch of being part of the "vast right wing" conspiracy, let me remind you that Judicial Watch was one of the first groups to sue the Bush administration on Cheney's Secret Energy Task Force and all things Enron. So much for them being Republican puppets, huh?

Shrill, shrill, shrill. It really gets tougher to believe anything you say anymore.

-- Reuben L. Owens

What happened to Wen Ho Lee was indeed appalling, and in the large picture there's a much more important issue that Boehlert overlooks. This is that after years of investigation and prosecution, the U.S. government cannot tell its citizens where there is any evidence at all that any person at Los Alamos or elsewhere ever sold a nuclear weapon secret to China.

This certainly seems the business of the American people, and lest anybody think the failure is a Clinton one ... well, it's now more than a year into the Bush administration, there's a post-Freeh FBI director, and these offer America no assurance, either.

I consider Boehlert's praise for federal Judge Parker's speech while releasing Lee misplaced. This prejudicial speech was a squalid piece of party politics; it was based largely on hearsay of hearsay, which is to say, gossip, and it patronized the unfortunate Lee. In his broad and sweeping remarks on what went wrong in the Lee affair, Parker stood by the FBI, attacked Janet Reno and avoided any mention of his own supine agreement to staggeringly harsh terms for Lee's imprisonment before trial.

Parker's earlier complaisant accommodation of the lying FBI's wishes meant that this scientist of Chinese birth wasn't allowed to speak to his Chinese-born wife in their native tongue, he was locked up in solitary confinement 23 hours of every day and he was let out in shackles for exercise in the other hour. Worth pointing out that he was a 59-year-old cancer survivor. As the FBI transcripts show, his English is not too hot, and he relied on his adult daughter to read and explain the New York Times article in which his name first came to wide public attention. The absence of Chinese must have been a torment.

-- Paul Lynch

Read "Vote of No Confidence"

At the end of his piece "Vote of No Confidence," John W. Dean calls for "our presidential election processes and procedures with new laws (and, if necessary, a constitutional amendment to abolish the outmoded Electoral College) ... "

It's interesting to see that the solution he offers as an off-the-cuff example is the most extreme; namely, the abolishment of the Electoral College.

For their own reasons, enough people like the Electoral College to keep it. Thanks to them, barring a groundswell that would happen only from another Bush/Gore debacle within the same generation, no one should expect it to disappear.

Rather, any Electoral College reform should tackle its reason for being: putting the presidential election exclusively in the hands of the state legislatures. Thus, 49 of 51 centers of political patronage hog the electorships for their party cronies instead of letting the people they supposedly serve have a direct say.

We should have the citizens of each congressional district choose an elector from one of their fellow residents, while allowing the state legislatures to choose the remaining two in any fashion they see fit. Each elector would be free to vote his or her conscience while being answerable to the people who chose them -- for most of them these would be the neighbors they must live with every day.

This would encourage the Electoral College to reflect the popular vote while retaining its basic structure, which its adherents zealously defend. It would also disburse local centers of political patronage, which the media overlook except in cases like Florida 2000.

-- Thomas J. Cassidy

In all your articles on the 2000 election, there is one fact that rarely gets explored, namely: Florida's early call for Gore took place before polls were closed in the "panhandle" region of the state. There are numerous accounts of a sudden decline in voting in the panhandle (more conservative than the rest of the state) after the call was made and before polls closed. It is entirely possible that if the media had shown restraint, the Florida fiasco and subsequent events never would have occurred. Could this fact please be analyzed for comment?

Furthermore, the early call of Florida for Gore gave the impression of a sweep (since Pennsylvania and Michigan had also been called for him). This surely could have had an effect on voting in the rest of the country. In most elections it would not have mattered, but in an election where some states were decided by only a few hundred votes, the media's incompetence (or worse) may have drastically affected the election. This to me is the most underreported aspect of Election 2000.

-- Ian Best

Once again, John Dean shows just why he was so deadly to Richard Nixon.

He calmly, succinctly and precisely describes the contents of each of the main books that purport to explain the 2000 election -- and, as he says, the verdict is inescapable: Al Gore won the Florida vote but lost the recount, because he was too worried about looking pushy. The Bush team, meanwhile, working in Bush-controlled turf, had no such worries, probably because they knew that they had the national mass media, particularly the broadcast media, in their hip pockets. How many times did we have to listen to TV stories hectoring Gore to "give it up for the good of the nation," even when it was obvious that Gore was in the right?

I can't wait for the paid GOP flacks to start their letter-writing campaign to Salon to bash Mr. Dean and his article. I make one prediction right here and now: Unlike Mr. Dean, none of RNC-driven detractors will use a single pertinent, contextual fact to make their claims -- and a great many of them will be, as did Bush and his minions then and now, lying out their respective wazoos.

-- Tamara Baker

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