Tony Snow - Detroit News - 5/21/98
This is our president folks, what a sad state we are in.
Clinton makes mockery of security
The latest Chinagate eruption differs from all previous Clinton
controversies because it doesnt require people to hear a lot of grisly
stuff about the presidents lust or his wifes greed. This one focuses
on the simple issue of incompetence.
In less than six years as commander in chief, Bill Clinton has done what
Josef Stalin, Nikita Khrushchev, Leonid Brezhnev and the rest of the
Cold War tyrants couldnt accomplish. He has drained the American
military of its muscle, crippled its will, sucked
the brains from the intelligence establishment and removed what backbone
remained in the foreign-policy establishment.
The word has gotten out: If you want the United States to treat you
well, behave badly.
When North Korea began threatening South Korea with nuclear
annihilation, the United States gave it a bunch of nuclear reactors and
ordered it to start behaving
within 10 years. When China provoked a confrontation with Taiwan, the
president relaxed export restrictions clearing the way for the
communist regime in Beijing to develop an incredible arsenal.
We punished India for detonating bombs by selling it a strategically
useful supercomputer and then threatening economic sanctions.
This week, the administration relaxed sanctions against Iran which the
State Department again has dubbed the worlds foremost exporter of
terrorism. And, of course, the United States tried to talk
Pakistan back from the nuclear brink by offering to fulfill an old order
for $600 million worth of fighter jets.
The question is whether our bungling is the result of accident or
design. To find an answer, let us examine the case of China.
Soon after taking office, Bill Clinton authorized a dramatic change in
the rules governing the sale of supercomputers. He gave the Department
of Commerce permission to sell units that were more than 20 times as
fast as anything this country ever had
permitted beyond its borders.
The United States sold them to such nations as India and China. Although
the machines ostensibly were sent to help other nations create nuclear
power plants, we
didnt monitor their uses. Now, intelligence reports indicate the
computers play crucial roles in both countries weapons-development
The administration also let loose highly sensitive encryption technology
that gives China the capability of decoding some of our own spy
satellite transmissions. The president authorized that transfer over the
objections of the State and Defense departments, and the intelligence
The administration permitted two companies with close Democratic ties,
Hughes Aircraft and Loral Space & Communications Ltd., to help China
launch U.S. satellites that contained encryption microchips. When one
such launch went awry, the two also helped the Beijing government fix
As a result, China can hit the United States with nuclear weapons. All
but five of the communist nations 18 intercontinental ballistic
missiles are aimed at us. To top it off, those rockets within a decade
will have the ability to launch 10 warheads apiece, rather
than just one also thanks to American know-how.
China got access to all this stuff because the Clinton administration
wiped away many previous controls on the export of sensitive equipment
or technology. It transferred responsibility for evaluating the sales
from the Departments of Defense and State, which tend to view such
things through the prism of national security, to the Department of
Commerce, which looks for a quick buck.
As all this was going on, an interesting cadre of characters were making
Camp Clinton safe for espionage. The president placed John Huang in the
Department of Commerce, ostensibly in a mid-level job. But Huang moved
in only the highest circles.
He pressured the administration to put Bernard Schwartz on a 1994 trade
mission to China. Schwartz is the head of Loral (the satellite maker)
and the most generous
contributor this decade to the Democratic Party. Schwartz got on the
trip and later secured a billion-dollar contract with China. His company
almost certainly breached national security when it helped China solve
problems in its rocket-launching systems, but the president signed an
executive order that made Lorals behavior legal an ex post facto
While Huang worked at the Commerce Department, he received 37 classified
briefings from the Central Intelligence Agency on you guessed it
satellite encryption technology. He regularly sent packages to China,
showed up at the Chinese embassy and maintained a private
office outside the Commerce Department, from which he made hundreds of
calls to Asia.
Huang managed also to get involved with Johnny Chung who has told
federal investigators that he received $300,000 from the daughter of
Chinas top military man
and that he routed at least one-third of that sum to the Democratic
Party and Charlie Trie, who escorted several top Chinese officials
(including at least two top arms merchants) into the White House.
This kind of security breach tops anything we know about in modern
times. And what did we get in return?
We got a made-in-the-USA nuclear arms race in what rapidly is becoming
the most unstable area of the world the Asia-Pacific region. India and
Pakistan have nukes or the capability to manufacture them. Indonesia
is in the midst both of a meltdown and
an arms build-up. Malaysia has been increasing its defense spending at a
clip of nearly 10 percent a year. North Korea continues to create
problems. And China helps arm virtually every one of them.
You dont have to get into the vagaries of Democratic Party fund-raising
to understand that the administrations casual attitude toward national
security has placed us all in some jeopardy.