Most Damning Information
Against Clinton Cut
From Cox report
The 700-page Cox Report, released to the public today, is missing more than 100 pages that detail White House involvement in China's extensive theft of U.S. military secrets, material embarrassing to past Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush and details implicating key officials of the US Department of Energy.
The details were omitted "for national security" under a deal between the House Select Committee and the Clinton White House.
However, those who have read the full, unedited, report say it is a stinging indictment of a White House that clearly helped US secrets fall into the hands of Communist China.
"There was a pattern of clear and consistent White House involvement in the transfer of sensitive technology to China," says one senior Congressional aide who had access to the report. "The pattern shows, at best, a White House that was incompetent and, at worst, complicit in the loss of US secrets."
But, under a deal cut by Committee Chairman Christopher Cox of California and President Bill Clinton, the public will not see that section of the report and the public version, while damaging, is not the clear-cut indictment of the White House that some had hoped.
Unlike a still-classified investigation by the Central Intelligence Agency, the public Cox report does not connect the dots between Democratic campaign contributions laundered by the Chinese government and White House actions to approve transfer of sensitive technology.
The CIA report established a clear pattern of political contributions from Chinese sources and the Loral Corp. with the White House approval of transfer of sensitive technology from Loral to China. The CIA report also found US Department of Energy officials tried to cover up discovery of the China spying.
The public Cox report, however, does not specifically implicate key US Department of Energy officials. Those who have read the full, classified, version say there is information that suggests criminal activity on part of some Energy department officials. That information, they say, has been turned over to the Justice Department.
Some Congressional sources say Cox agreed to the deletions in exchange for also cutting some report sections that could prove embarrassing for past Presidents Reagan and Bush.
"Quid pro quo, pure and simple," says one aide.
Others, however, say Cox allowed the cuts because he is not personally convinced the administration knowingly sold out the country.
"The Congressman is not prepared to publicly indict the President for treason. That is a very serious charge," said one aide. "The report that the public will see is, without a doubt, a pointed example of how the White House put political considerations above national security, but it does not attempt to assess blame on any single source."
For example, while the report says the Clinton administration relaxed restrictions on high-end computer sales to China in 1996, and 600 have since been sold, it also argues that US officials have no effective way to determine whether computers sold for commercial purposes are diverted to military uses.
However, high-performance computers legally purchased from US companies have been secretly used by Chinese military institutes and organizations involved in research and development of nuclear weapons, missiles, satellites, spacecraft, submarines, aircraft, military systems, command and control, communications and microwave and laser sensors.
In addition, Hughes Electronics Corp. and Loral Space and Electronics Ltd. illegally transmitted information that helped China improve its military rockets and operations, including the design and reliability of its ballistic missiles and nose cones. Both companies are currently under investigation by the Justice Department.
The report says China obtained information on seven US nuclear warheads, including five still deployed. They are the W-88 and W-76, both of which are launched from Trident submarines; the W-87, which is atop the Peacekeeper MX intercontinental ballistic missile, and the W-78 and W-62, which are on Minuteman III ICBMs.
But the report also says China has obtained far more advanced military equipment and technology from increased cooperation with Russia since 1992 than it has from espionage in the United States.
One Cox aide said his boss was determined to release a "bipartisan report that would not get lost amid charges of political witch hunting."
Advance reaction from the White House appears to support that assessment.
"I think finger-pointing is a popular spectator sport and participative sport here in Washington," Presidential spokesman Joe Lockhart said Monday. "The bottom line is this is a bipartisan problem that needs a bipartisan solution. It goes back over 20 years. It doesn't have a Democratic or Republican name on it."
The ranking minority member of Cox's committee added to the bipartisan theme.
"He was a gentleman throughout the entire process," said Rep. Norman D. Dicks (D-Wash.), said of Cox.. "He was definitely interested in a comprehensive report which was thoroughly investigated, but he was also willing to be fair in this enterprise."
Others, however, wonder what the spirit of bipartisanship cost.
"The report, as released publicly, is damaging, but it is far from the bombshell that some had hoped," says intelligence analyst Sander Owen, who read an advance copy of the report Monday night. "It leaves you wondering just what was taken out."