Three Cheers for Janet Reno
Jude Wanniski
May 26, 1999


Memo To: Attorney General Janet Reno
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Senator Torricelli is all wet

My New Jersey Senator, Bob Torricelli, wants you fired for refusing to permit an official of the Energy Department to go to court to wiretap Wen Ho Lee, the Chinese-American who is accused of giving away all our nuclear secrets to China. Bob is a good friend, but on this matter he is all wet. I think it is extremely unlikely that Wen Ho Lee did anything wrong, that he has been singled out primarily because he is a Chinese-American, and that his lawsuit against the federal government will result in a summary judgment in his favor -- I hope with millions of dollars in damages placed in his bank account.

Even now, years later, there apparently is little evidence that he "stole" anything and no evidence at all that he transmitted the Legacy Files to Beijing. Although such allegations had been "leaked" to the media previously, they evidently were redacted from the Report released to the public. Wen Ho Lee may have done what he now is suspected of having done, but when the request was made to you for a wiretap and a search warrant, nobody had any idea what to suspect him of having done. Even after the search finally was made, years later, the evidence is manifestly so ridiculously feeble it is no wonder the FBI says the case against him is not prosecutable.

Of course, I do not know, Madam General, what evidence was presented to you to justify a wire tap and search warrant. But if The New York Times stories are accurate about the evidence then in their possession pointing to the theft of Los Alamos warhead secrets, namely the seismic signals from PRC underground nuclear tests, then I have it on authority from a friend intimately familiar with the difficulty in "unfolding" such signals, that such "second-order" evidence hardly would justify a wiretap and search warrant. I watched Congressmen Chris Cox, the Republican, and Norman Dicks, the Democrat, on all the news shows last night, and on the basis of their performance I am almost certain that they have not had the benefit of competent scientific advice about seismic signals or anything else related to divining weapon performance from off-site monitors. Apparently they have relied on staff work of their select committee, which has been isolated from competent scientists.

Mr. Dicks still believes, I take it, that the Chinese have acquired the "revolutionary, miniaturized" W-88 warhead from Los Alamos through espionage. In fact, the only reason for supposing that it was the Los Alamos W-88 that was stolen was that W-88 data files initially were reported to have been found on Wen Ho Lee's computer at Los Alamos after it was searched. As best I can tell from news accounts, the "leakers" now are claiming that it was the W-87, a Lawrence Livermore design, that was stolen by Wen Ho Lee, not the W-88, apparently because it turned out that files on Wen Ho Lee's computer were related to the W-87, not the W-88. In any case, the Cox Committee report that the W-88 was a revolutionary miniaturized design is belied by the information about the W-88 made part of the public record some years ago. Here is the address: []

As best I can tell from "leaked" accounts that were "redacted" from the Cox Committee Report before being made public, Wen Ho Lee, a computer scientist, was working on something like the Los Alamos Weapon Archiving and Retrieval Project (WARP), which the national labs decided would have to be assembled as a part of a Science-Based Stockpile Stewardship Program after President Clinton unilaterally decided to halt underground testing of nuclear devices. It was prudent to do so, for as the years roll by, weapons designers at the labs would retire, and the institutional memory would leave with them. The project, which you can read about on the Internet, involves a Los Alamos team of computer scientists recovering from the various archives the principal test results of all significant full-scale tests since 1962, including the seven weapon designs cited by the Cox Committee as having been stolen by the PRC, decoding them, and translating them into a common computer language and writing a HELP file to assist future weapon designers and other users of the Archives.

Presumably, at the time you were asked to okay a search warrant, Notra Trulock had almost no idea what he would find -- if anything -- on Wen Ho Lee's Local Area Network (LAN) computer. But now, as has been "leaked", the WARP files or something like them were found on his computer, and he had no legitimate reason to have them there -- although he apparently did have a legitimate reason to access those same files at a more secure location. The presence of those WARP-like files on Wen Ho Lee's LAN computer appear, now, to be the "smoking gun" for the Cox Committee statements that the PRC has stolen the "secrets" of all seven of the major U.S. major nuclear weapons systems.

Dozens of Los Alamos scientists obviously are associated with constructing WARP and when fully operational perhaps as many as a thousand scientists at Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore National Lab will have access to it, which certainly will be on a "secure" LAN. There have been media reports that "legacy files" were found on at least one other Los Alamos scientist's LAN computer, but it was concluded that he had downloaded them "inadvertently." One wonders whether Notra Trulock searched all Los Alamos computers or just the computers of Chinese-Americans.

So, the bottom line, Madam General, is that Notra Trulock didn't know what he was looking for when he came to you for a search warrant, and he is not sure what he found on Wen Ho Lee's computer when he finally did get a search warrant. But whatever it was he found there, he and the Cox Committee now are certain that it was transmitted to Beijing several years ago and in the near future will somehow be incorporated into the designs of PRC MIRVed nuclear warheads.

Senator Torricelli, I suspect, is looking for a handy scapegoat, when in fact he should realize that no scapegoat is needed. Unless something turns up to level what appears to be a mountain built out of a mole hill, my congratulations to you on a proper decision. You do continue to amaze me with your wisdom, strength of character and courage.