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Charlotte Amalie
Saturday, July 13, 2024


A week ago, the government claimed that Wen Ho Lee was such a dangerous spy that letting him out of jail under house arrest and electronic monitoring could lead to grave harm to our national security. Now, they're saying he just mishandled some sensitive tapes (a VERY common misbehavior) and can go free without trial as long as he says the government had a good reason to lock him up for nine months, implying that he doesn't think they demonized him and ruined his career because he was of Chinese origin. President Clinton was excoriated early on for saying there was no proof that any espionage had taken place. Can we now expect a spate of apologies?
I concluded a long time ago that our intelligence establishment is even less trustworthy, much less trustworthy, than the rest of the government. The people it attracts tend to be unbalanced in their love affair with cloak-and-dagger plots and in their self-glorification as our protectors from evil foreigners. They excuse themselves from careful analysis because their commitment to our security requires that they act quickly, aggressively and ruthlessly.
This isn't an American failing, it's how all the intelligence services think. What makes it more obvious in the U.S. is that more of our intelligence nuttiness gets played out in the public political arena. In totalitarian countries, the excesses are hallmarks of the system. Secrecy is the norm and publicity is calculated (show trials, and the like). In one of those countries, Lee would simply have been shot some time ago.
Henry Wheatley
St. Thomas

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