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Jewish World Review / Nov. 3, 1998 /13 Mar-Cheshvan, 5759

Cal Thomas

Cal Thomas Clinton's greatest peril isn't Monica

WHILE THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES prepares to open hearings on whether President Clinton should be impeached, several current and former Capitol Hill staffers are quietly trying to persuade Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde to expand the inquiry beyond allegations of perjury and obstruction of justice to whether the president compromised U.S. security in his open-ended pursuit of campaign cash from China.

Hyde and other members of Congress have recently been given a new book called ``The Year of the Rat: How Bill Clinton Compromised U.S. Security for Chinese Cash,'' by Edward Timperlake and William C. Triplett II. Timperlake is on the professional staff of the House Committee on Rules dealing with national security. Triplett is the former Republican counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

While much of the material in their highly readable and deeply troubling book has been collected from hearings by Sen. Fred Thompson's Governmental Affairs Committee, which the Democrats have managed to stonewall, the book for the first time meticulously assembles in one place facts and persuasive circumstantial evidence to make its case that Bill Clinton may be guilty of the kind of high crimes and misdemeanors which are clearly impeachable offenses.

Timperlake and Triplett note that James Riady and his Lippo Group latched on to a young Bill Clinton and constructed a web of Asian influence that funneled millions of dollars into various Clinton campaigns and causes (such as silencing Webster Hubbell). For this, Riady enjoyed not only access to Clinton, but Riady's chief stooge, John Huang, got top-secret security clearance and continued to see classified information even after he became a big fund-raiser for the Democratic National Committee. The authors build a strong case that Huang was a conduit for information that did not remain within the confines of the United States but found its way by fax and other means into the hands of those who do not wish America well, notably the Beijing government. Exactly what the Riadys and their Chinese Communist friends got for their money was not fully discovered by the Thompson committee. It should be probed by Chairman Hyde.

Throughout the book, the authors raise important questions. What is so significant about Huang's 1992 fund-raising and his relations with Clinton that he would risk a charge of perjury to deny them? Huang had access to our highest foreign intelligence, which was of great interest and use to the Chinese. What did James Riady get in exchange for massive amounts of campaign cash and hush money for Hubbell? The authors write that the "payoff'' was the insertion of his man, John Huang, into the heart of American political and economic intelligence. They conclude: "Intelligence information and overwhelming circumstantial evidence both indicate that (Huang) betrayed the trust that the American people placed in him when he was called to their service and put on their payroll.'' "Three remarkable women,'' as the authors describe them -- Democratic Party activist Maria Hsia, Pauline Kanchanalak of Thailand and Hong Kong billionaire Nina Wang -- all have money ties to Bill Clinton and Al Gore and all have connections to Chinese intelligence or the military arm of the Chinese Communist Party, the People's Liberation Army (PLA). "Beijing did not hesitate to exploit this connection, even face-to-face with Bill Clinton,'' the authors say.

Hsia is a known agent for the Chinese government who has been indicted for immigration and campaign-fund-raising scams and, say the authors, probably helped Chinese spies enter the United States. Kanchanalak, who has been indicted on charges of violating election laws, brought leaders of a Thai conglomerate that is in business with Middle East terrorists and with China's biggest arms smugglers to the White House to lobby the president. Wang has given millions of dollars to enable PLA officers to come to the United States, including some who participated in the 1989 Tiananmen massacre and who received 19-gun salutes at the Pentagon.

Then there are the organized crime groups, known as triads, and others who used the campaign cash connections for their own purposes and against U.S. interests.

"Year of the Rat'' is a compelling and brutal indictment of an administration that not only was willing to sell out the country in order to hold on to political power, but probably violated enough laws to more than fit anyone's definition of "high crimes and misdemeanors.''


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©1998, Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Inc.