If you’re a fan of fires, nuclear radiation and espionage, have I got a tale for you!
Once upon a time (actually in 1999) the Los Alamos National Labs realized they had a leak. The labs, run by the University of California and administered by the Department of Energy, fingered Wen Ho Lee. Lee was from Taiwan and had developed the W88 warhead, a small thermonuclear weapon. Classified information on nuclear weapons had been leaked to China and possibly North Korea.
It wasn’t long after (2006) North Korea tested it’s first nuclear warhead. It should be noted that Iran and North Korea cooperate on their nuclear programs (UnitedAgainstNuclearIran). This information could have been laundered through North Korea kinda like money and weapons were from from Nicaragua.
Lee was investigated although he had alibis for all instances of concern (CNN). He was imprisoned for 9 months. His treatment during incarceration was found to be unjust and he was awarded $1.6m in a settlement. It was found that he hadn’t engaged in espionage. A Taiwanese American wouldn’t be the first person on my suspect list for an intelligence leak to the PRC. The biggest threat to Taiwan’s independence is the Communist Chinese regime.
While this was unfolding a controlled burn (intentional) started on May 4th quickly ran out of control. High winds had been forecast but the burn was started anyway. By May 6th the fire (Cerro Grande Fire) reached the outskirts of Los Alamos and people began evacuating. This was happening while people were realizing Lee was probably a scapegoat(The Militant and CNN). On May 7th, two hard drives normally locked in a secure vault at the labs were reported missing.
On the 8th most of the lab was evacuated (Newswire). The hard drives reappeared in June as reported in the New York Times. The area where they were discovered had been searched by the FBI and investigators from the Department of Energy several times. They may have contained evidence applicable to the intelligence leak probe.
According to Department of Energy Secretary Bill Richardson and friend of YOU KNOW WHO, there was no espionage in the case of the missing hard drives (CNN). He was scoffed at. The Congressional Intelligence Committee joint hearing notes are here. The feds began investigating a number of scientists (SFGate). Too bad the whistleblower(s) at LANL weren’t taken seriously sooner. Too bad they went after the wrong guy at first. I’m sure it was an honest mistake.
North Korean diplomats would often come to visit Richardson, refusing to communicate with most other politicians. Why? Because the North Korean government loves Karl Marx, Karl sets things up in such a way to deflect the blame at those he does not like. Karl does not like NM.
In the meantime it turns out that Donald Rumsfeld’s employer had been selling nuclear reactors to North Korea (The Insider and Democracy Now) as early as 1994. CNN Money in 2003 asks why he remained silent on the deal. He became Secretary of Defense for the second time in 2001.
The whole sordid affair was fixed by assigning new directors and administrators and such (UPI). The true perpetrator was never discovered. Now it’s just a faded memory from the days of yore.