CIA Says Red Chinese
Tried to Influence
1996 US Election
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Chinese tried to influence the outcome of 1996 U.S. elections, but whether they actually did is not clear, a key senator said Sunday. Sen. Richard Shelby, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee investigating allegations of the illegal transfer of missile technology to the Chinese, said a CIA report to his committee established that influence was sought. Asked directly on the television program Fox News Sunday whether the Chinese did sway the U.S. vote in 1996, Shelby replied: ``I don't know if they influenced it, but I think they tried to influence it. I think that's two different things.'' Shelby's committee heard from CIA director George Tenet last week in the first of numerous congressional probes of allegations that campaign donations from the chairman of Loral Space & Communications Ltd.and Johnny Chung played a role in the Clinton administration's decision-making on allowing U.S. satellites to be launched from China.
The Justice Department is currently investigating whether Loral illegally gave the Chinese missile technology when they investigated the failure of a 1996 Chinese satellite launch. Loral president Bernard Schwartz gave more than $1 million to Democratic political campaigns in the last election. Chung, a Taiwan-born Los Angeles businessman, pleaded guilty in March to illegally donating money to the 1996 Clinton-Gore re-election effort.
Shelby, an Alabama Republican, said he planned to call Schwartz to testify before his committee, but did not necessarily plan to call Chung. In light of the satellite controversy and other points of friction in Sino-U.S. relations, Shelby said President Clinton should not attend a welcoming ceremony in Tiananmen Square when he visits China this month. ``I don't think he should go, but ultimately, that's up to the president,'' Shelby said. ``Will he be used by the Chinese, or will he use Tiananmen Square appearance to do something very positive for human rights? I think that could be the difference.``
Two other senators, including a Democrat who co-chairs the intelligence committee, suggested that the process used to authorize Chinese launches of U.S. satellites may be ``loose.'' ``It looks to me at this stage of the game that the process dating back to 1988 is relatively loose, given the seriousness of this particular (technology) transfer,'' Sen. Bob Kerrey, a Nebraska Democrat who co-chairs the committee, said on CBS's ''Face the Nation''.
Kerrey said the Chinese Long March missile, which failed in 1996 during the attempted launch of a Loral satellite, can also be used to launch long-range nuclear missiles ``which can reach every city in the United States. So we're dealing with a very serious threat.'' Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican who heads the Senate Judiciary Committee, said on ``Face the Nation'' that it was unclear that national security had been breached in the Loral case.
Asked whether an independent counsel should be appointed to look into the question of technology transfer and possible national security problems, Hatch said congressional intelligence committees could look into the matter.
``What this really does point up is that intelligence is set in large measure by policy and it's apparent that our counter-intelligence efforts have been somewhat loose,'' Hatch said. ``We haven't done what we should do and I think under this administration they need to be very much beefed up.'' ``And some people feel that part of the reason they have been so loose is because of the voracious desire of this administration to collect political donations, including from wherever and in this case, maybe without knowing, from Chinese sources who naturally would like to penetrate our country's security interests,'' Hatch said.

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