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Jewish World Review/ Jan. 5, 1999/ 16 Teves, 5759

Linda Chavez

Linda Chavez Forget Danny Williams,
what about Bubba’s
trade and campaign abuses!?

(JWR) --- (http://www.jewishworldreview.com) WHEN THE SENATE takes up impeachment later this month, the most serious charge yet leveled against the president won't even be on the table --- namely, that in pursuit of trade and campaign contributions, President Clinton allowed the transfer of highly sensitive technology to communist China, where it is now being used to build better weapons.

When these charges were first raised more than a year ago, some Democrats were quick to dismiss them as right-wing fantasies. Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., reassured one administration witness at a hearing last June not to be too concerned about "this malarkey about the transfer of technology through satellites to China."

In a similar vein, when the House approved a select committee to look into the matter, Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., likened the investigation to a "Pink Panther" movie. "It is the Congress of Inspector Clouseau," he said, in reference to the bumbling character immortalized by the late Peter Sellers.

The Inspector
Democrats aren't laughing any longer. Last week, all 4 Democrats and 5 Republicans on the House Select Committee on the People's Republic of China Technology Transfers issued a unanimous 700-page report documenting that U.S. national security has been compromised by the transfers.

Although the report remains classified for the time being, Rep. Chris Cox, R-Calif., who chaired the committee, said he will urge the House to declassify it quickly. About half of the report contains new information about China's efforts to obtain military technology, according to Cox.

One reason why Democrats joined Republicans in adopting the report, however, is that some of the allegations refer to incidents that occurred during past Republican administrations, many of which have been previously reported. The most serious breaches that occurred during Republicans' watch involved poor security and thefts of classified data at federal installations during the 1980s at the Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico and the Lawrence Livermore lab in California.

Under Republicans, it seems, the Chinese were forced to steal U.S. technology, but the Clinton administration appears to have allowed the Chinese to buy what they wanted outright. American companies began selling previously prohibited sensitive technology shortly after the president took office.

As first reported by The New York Times' Jeff Gerth, in 1993 President Clinton met with Silicon Valley executives who complained bitterly that U.S. government rules prevented them from selling high-speed computers and other technology that might be put to military use by the Chinese, leaving Americans at a competitive disadvantage.

The president promised the computer executives he'd fix their problems -- and he did. "Over the next five years, the president delivered, personally presiding over what industry executives and government officials agree was one of the most sweeping relaxations of export restrictions in American history," Gerth reported. But as the Times noted, the transfer of much of this sophisticated technology ended up in the hands of the Chinese military. Although we don't know the full extent of the harm this has done, experts suspect it has allowed the Chinese to more accurately aim their intercontinental ballistic missiles at targets, including the United States.

The problem increased dramatically when President Clinton ordered responsibility over monitoring technology transfers shifted from the State and Defense departments to the Commerce Department under former secretary Ron Brown, who was far more interested in improving the trade imbalance with China than in maintaining national security.

Brown, who died in a plane crash on a U.S. trade mission to Bosnia in 1996, was the head of the Democratic Party and its chief fund-raiser before he became commerce secretary, and was widely criticized for improperly using trade missions to increase Democratic Party campaign contributions.

In 1994, the Clinton administration eased export-license restrictions on high-tech transfers, making it difficult if not impossible to trace who was buying what and for what purpose. Under the old rules, the Pentagon scrutinized license applications to determine whether the technology might have military application. But the new rules allowed American companies to police themselves, deciding on their own if they needed to even bother with a license. As might be expected, the request for licenses for trade with China declined by 60 percent since 1994, even though sales increased rapidly in the same period.

Congress should make a redacted version of the Cox committee report public as soon as possible. At the very least, it might encourage a few Democrat senators in the coming weeks to put aside their partisan interests in defending a president who has not only defiled his office but jeopardized the future security of the nation.


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©1998, Creators Syndicate, Inc.