|Vol. 15, No. 13
June 21, 1999
Table of Contents
From Chinagate to Kosovo
Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) is serving his second term in the U.S. Senate after having represented Oklahoma’s 1st District in the House of Representatives for eight years. He serves on the Armed Services and Select Intelligence Committees. He was interviewed in his Capitol Hill office by John F. McManus, publisher of THE NEW AMERICAN.
Q. Senator, during a speech you gave on the floor of the Senate on March 15th, you spoke out about China’s acquisition of our nation’s nuclear secrets and the Administration’s complicity in assisting the Chinese. You described your findings as "a story of espionage, conspiracy, deception, and cover-up with life and death implications for millions of Americans." You unambiguously implicated "a President and an Administration that deliberately chose to put national security at risk." What has been the reaction to your remarks?
A. Nothing I said in that speech has been refuted by any member of the Senate, or by anyone else other than presidential Press Secretary Joe Lockhart who seems always to refute anything anyone says that is unfavorable to the President.
Q. What are some of the specific charges you made in your speech?
A. I accused the President of withholding information and covering up the Chinese theft of super-secret W-88 nuclear warhead technology. Those who possess this miniaturization capability can place as many as ten nuclear warheads on a single missile and aim each at a separate target. A W-88 nuclear warhead weighs only 300 pounds but has an explosive capacity ten times that of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. This is perhaps the most serious breach of national security in our lifetimes — more serious than the treachery of Aldrich Ames who betrayed the CIA, and perhaps more serious than what the Rosenbergs did in delivering nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union 50 years ago.
We now have evidence showing that the Administration knew about the W-88 technology theft in April 1996. But no one in Congress learned about it until early in 1999 when some of the findings of the Cox Committee came to light. It is also true that the President knew China has already aimed intercontinental ballistic missiles at our nation.
Q. The date of April 1996 is significant because it was more than six months before the last presidential election. What was the President saying and doing during this period when he should have been stopping the Chinese espionage, rebuilding our nation’s nuclear defenses, and warning the American people?
A. On at least 130 occasions during a time when he knew of China’s thefts and the subsequent aiming of her missiles at America, Mr. Clinton stated: "For the first time since the dawn of the nuclear age, there is not a single solitary nuclear missile pointed at an American child tonight. Not one. Not a single one." Of all the lies this President has told, this is the most egregious. He has worked to instill a false sense of security in the American people when, in fact, we are probably in the most threatened position this nation has been in since the Revolutionary War.
But also during this period, he personally signed export control waivers that allowed his top campaign donors, the leaders of the Loral and Hughes corporations, to sell sensitive U.S. missile guidance technology to China; he shifted export responsibility from the State Department to the Commerce Department that made it far easier for China and others to obtain sensitive military-related technology; he hosted over 100 White House fundraising events where contributions were illegally sought and acquired from Chinese and other foreign sources; and even though he had personal knowledge of the deep China connections of men like John Huang, Johnny Chung, Charlie Trie, and James Riady, he accepted their contributions for his re-election. On another front during this time, Mr. Clinton stopped the deployment of an American missile defense system, leaving this nation with no defense whatsoever against any intercontinental ballistic missile.
Q. What have China’s leaders done with the sophisticated technology they obtained from the U.S.?
A. We know that China has actually aimed 13 [the Cox Committee has increased that estimate to 20] of its arsenal of intercontinental ballistic missiles at U.S. cities. We know that, two years ago, a high-ranking Chinese official boldly stated that China was prepared to hit Los Angeles if the U.S. took any steps to defend Taiwan. And we know that China has supplied North Korea with the technology acquired following the President’s waivers.
But our military leaders have been kept in the dark about this. It was in August 1998 that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Hugh Shelton, stated in a letter to me that our nation would have three years warning before we would have to be concerned about any new long-range missile threat. Only seven days later, North Korea launched a three-stage Taepo Dong I missile that scattered a small payload off the coast of Alaska. So it is factual to say that President Clinton knew he was giving our missile technology to North Korea as well as to China.
Q. Your March 15th speech mentioned two major categories of technology that the Chinese were given: W-88 nuclear warhead capability and missile guidance technology. Has new information come to light about other formerly secret technology ending up in China?
A. Yes, we have learned that a great deal more of our once-secret technology has been compromised to China and other potential adversaries. The lost secrets include details about the neutron bomb, electromagnetic pulse weapons, re-entry vehicles, 50 years of information gathered from nuclear testing, every phase of nuclear weapon design, space radar capabilities, and even the procedures to simulate nuclear testing with computers. Also, data related to the use of other nuclear warheads such as the W-56, W-62, W-76, W-87 (for MX land-based missiles), and W-88 (for Trident submarine-based missiles). It is apparent that the ongoing cover-up of China’s theft of nuclear secrets is one of the greatest national security scandals in American history. Secret files on virtually every technology used in the design of our nuclear arsenal have been compromised.
Q. What has been the response to all of this from others in government?
A. On May 7th, the Senate Intelligence Committee formally concluded that satellite waivers issued by the President had harmed national security by allowing the Chinese to improve their ICBM capabilities. On May 9th, Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson admitted that there have been breaches of security during the Clinton years. But on May 10th, Mr. Clinton notified Congress that he was approving a new U.S. satellite launch on a Chinese rocket in June.
Q. Have any U.S. government employees tried to stop all of this treachery?
A. In April 1996, Department of Energy officials notified Sandy Berger, then the President’s deputy national security adviser, that their chief of intelligence had discovered evidence of China’s acquisition of U.S. nuclear weapon technology. That intelligence specialist, Notra Trulock, was summoned in July 1998 by the House Intelligence Committee to supply details. But he was required to request permission to testify from Acting Energy Secretary Elizabeth Moler. She told him not to cooperate with the House committee because doing so would damage Mr. Clinton’s China policy.
Early in May of this year, we brought both Trulock and Moler before the Senate Intelligence Committee, where their testimonies about this very serious matter conflicted dramatically. This was the most critically important testimony we’ve ever heard because it focused on China catching up militarily to our nation virtually overnight. I stated at the hearing, "One of the two of you is lying. I challenge you both to a polygraph test." Without hesitation, Trulock agreed to take such a test but Moler refused. There is no doubt in my mind who was telling the truth.
Q. On another topic, you returned from a trip to Albania in late April where you spent time with our troops. What did you discover?
A. This was actually my third trip to the area. I have been saying for quite some time that even though the President denies it, he has planned all along to send ground troops into Kosovo. And some of our top officials have indicated that ground troops will be used. General Wesley Clark, for instance, has stated that "we never thought air power alone could stop the paramilitary tragedy." Defense Secretary William Cohen said in mid-April that "an air war could do little if anything" to stop Milosevic.
I flew from Germany into Albania aboard a C-17 loaded with multiple launch rockets, pallets of ammunition for them, a humvee, and a group of troops. These men are based in northern Albania within sight of Kosovo, and they are part of a contingent of 5,000 troops from our nation living in tent cities up to their knees, literally, in mud.
Many more C-17 transports are flying men and equipment into Albania from Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany. Their leader, the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Army’s 5th Corps, oversees 50,000 troops. Yet he has stationed himself in Albania where only ten percent of his forces are positioned. Why is he doing that? If there ever was a scene indicating future gradual escalation and mission creep, this is it. Also, several months ago I visited the 21st Theater Army Area Command (TAACOM) in Germany. Its function is to support ground operations and its leaders said that they could not support a Kosovo operation because they were devoting all of their attention to Bosnia. But over six years the President has reduced the number of troops in TAACOM from 28,500 to 7,300. I asked what might happen if troops were needed in Iraq — this was before anyone knew the extent of what was about to happen in Kosovo — and the answer I received was that they would be totally dependent on National Guard and reserves.
Q. Did you meet with any of the refugees from Kosovo who have fled to Albania?
A. Yes and they all said the same thing. They didn’t have any major problems until the bombing started. I was interviewed by a television reporter from Tirana, Albania’s capital, who asked me, "What are you Americans going to do about the refugees?" When I asked him what he meant, he responded that the American-led bombing of Yugoslavia is what caused the forced exodus. He’s right, because the Serbian forces moved into Kosovo and expelled the Albanians after our planes started bombing Serbia.
Q. You claim that the Administration knew what the Serbs would do in Kosovo if NATO’s bombing campaign began. On what do you base this claim?
A. As reported in the March 31st Washington Post, CIA Director George Tenet forecast "weeks before the NATO air campaign against Yugoslavia" that Serb forces would respond to any air attacks by drastically accelerating their ethnic cleansing of Kosovo. And when we questioned Defense Secretary Cohen later about Tenet’s remarks, he said that he also knew this would happen. So the President and his Administration knew. Yet the bombing began and has escalated.
Q. How do you respond to claims by President Clinton and others that the type of ethnic cleansing already occurring in the Balkans is precisely what led to World War I, and our forces have to be involved because no one wants to see another world conflict?
A. My understanding of history is that World War I didn’t develop because of ethnic cleansing. Even Henry Kissinger has pointed out that WWI came about because outside powers intervened in a local conflict. After a Serbian nationalist assassinated the Austrian crown prince, Russia and France backed Serbia and Germany supported Austria. These were the competing forces at the outset of that global conflict. In my view, if you wanted to start World War III based on the kind of model that led to WWI, you would do exactly what we are doing now.
Q. Reports about casualties from Kosovo have generated support for the military action against Yugoslavia. Yet you find these reports exaggerated and you also point to greater loss of life from civil strife in other parts of the world where we have made no response. What are you referring to?
A. We have heard that over the past year [prior to the NATO airstrikes] there have been between 2,000 and 3,500 deaths in Kosovo. Let’s say 3,000 without in any way diminishing the death of even a single person. Based on the population there, this means that one out of every 600 Kosovar Albanians has lost his life. I am connected with a religious ministry in West Africa. Early in April, I visited Angola and Sierra Leone where for every one killed in Kosovo, 80 have lost their lives in those two countries. What about the 800,000 who died because of ethnic strife in Rwanda? Or the thousands killed in Ethiopia?
Q. Do you see any national security interests being protected by our action in Yugoslavia?
A. There are many who claim that our national security is at stake because of what is happening in the Balkans. But I disagree completely. Others claim humanitarian reasons for us to be involved in this war. But this area has endured civil strife since 1389 and I find no reason for our nation to be humanitarian protectors of all of mankind.
Q. Do you see the emergence of the United Nations as the "peacemaker" solving the problems in the Balkans? Is it possible that NATO will be deemed a failure and the UN invited in to be the hero with the result that the UN receives a tremendous boost in prestige and maybe even in power?
A. I agree that this is what is going on right now. I’m not pitting UN against NATO however. My main concern is what is happening to American sovereignty. I find that our national strategic interests are at risk, both because of the Chinese acquisition of nuclear secrets and the escalating military operation in Yugoslavia. For example, the air campaign against Yugoslavia has involved 480 aircraft, 365 of which are America’s planes. Yet British Prime Minister Tony Blair insists that the war has to be escalated. He has 20 planes over there. And I have a problem with all these international obsessions President Clinton has. In the case of NATO, we’re carrying 80 percent of the effort, including the cost, and yet we have only five percent of the vote.
Q. You have also addressed America’s declining military strength. What are your concerns about this situation?
A. I happen to be chairman of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness. Our role is to oversee all readiness issues, all military construction, and all training. We have watched what has happened to our military and our ability to defend ourselves since this President took office. The bottom line is that we are just a little more than one half the strength we were since before he took office. Our force strength now includes half the Army divisions, half the tactical air wings, and half the ships at sea. We’ve gone from a 600-ship Navy to a 300-ship Navy. And all of this is happening when we don’t have the military capacity to fund and logistically support another ground movement.
Q. Has the Administration responded to your concerns about declining military strength?
A. In mid-April at a press briefing, Joe Lockhart brushed off some questions about military readiness and said that Senator Inhofe was wrong, that our military is in great shape. He implied that readiness is as good as it was in 1991. I have to say that he is either intentionally lying or is incredibly misinformed because we are about one-half the strength we had in 1991.
Q. What must be done to reverse the ominous situation you are forecasting?
A. I fear that the insertion of American troops into Kosovo will involve us in a much greater war against Yugoslavia, with many casualties and a huge cost in dollars. The only way to keep all of this from happening is if the American people wake up and realize that we are getting involved in a war where we don’t have any national security interests. I am looking for a concerted effort to wake up the American people to stop this President from escalating a war we will all live to regret.
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