CyberAlert -- 04/13/1999 -- More on Fire Than Contempt; DOE Official Charged Cover-Up, Only CBS Cares

More on Fire Than Contempt; DOE Official Charged Cover-Up, Only CBS Cares

1) ABC and NBC gave more time Monday night to the man rescued from a fire than to Clinton's contempt. "This is a legal tangle that simply will not die," lamented Tom Brokaw. On McDougal, CBS relayed how her lawyer charged "Starr used Hitler-style tactics."

2) McDougal's attorney thanked Geraldo Rivera for his help: "You were...early money in this case." Rivera celebrated "Susan's sweet victory" before denouncing Ken Starr as a "legal terrorist."

3) The Energy Dept. official who uncovered the Chinese espionage and identified a potential spy testified that his superiors "urged me to cover up and bury this case." Only CBS and FNC cared.

4) Investor's Business Daily revealed that "lab directors were actually prodded by former Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary and her senior staffers -- many of whom were anti-nuclear activists -- to open their doors to visitors from other nuclear states..."

5) On Fox News Sunday Tony Snow noted how some networks gave more time to Beavergate than Chinagate. A Fox poll found most believe Clinton knew his money came from the Chinese government.


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) The late breaking news just before 6pm ET that federal judge Susan Weber Wright had decided to hold Bill Clinton in civil contempt for his false answers in the Paula Jones deposition, made it at last minute onto all the network evening shows in live updates. ABC and NBC gave the news barely a minute, less time than they allocated to the man rescued from a crane above a fire in Atlanta. NBC's Tom Brokaw lamented how it is "a legal tangle that simply will not die."

CNN's The World Today at 8pm ET and FNC's Fox Report at 7pm ET both led with live reports on the Wright decision and a not guilty verdict in the Little Rock trial of Susan McDougal. Only CNN had anyone in Little Rock and went to Bob Franken outside the courthouse at the top of their show. FNC's David Shuster appeared from Fox's DC studio and uniquely made a point not mentioned by any of the other networks: "President Clinton has now become the first sitting President in U.S. history to be held in civil contempt of court...."

Of the broadcast networks only CBS ran a full story on McDougal. Without bothering to give the Starr point of view, reporter Eric Engberg relayed how McDougal's attorney "charged during the trial that Starr used Hitler-style tactics."

Here's how the broadcast networks handled the contempt news and the verdict in the McDougal trial on Monday night, April 12, the first night since the beginning of the Kosovo War in which all of the networks devoted less than half their air time to the war and some led with other topics:

-- ABC's World News Tonight still led with Kosovo. Leading into the first ad break anchor Peter Jennings plugged the bad news for Clinton by emphasizing how it may not be so bad: "When we come back: a judge rules that the President is in contempt, or was. It may sound worse than it is."

Live from the White House John Cochran explained how Wright said Clinton lied, specifically how his answers about whether he was alone were intentionally false. Jennings asked what penalty Clinton faces. Cochran replied:
"He will not go to prison. There's some money involved. He'll have to pay some court costs, some more costs to Paula Jones and her lawyers. However, the judge's rulings do go to the Arkansas Supreme Court which will now decide if he is fit to continue being a lawyer. And above all this is an embarrassment, a distraction to the President at a time when he's trying to be an effective commander-in-chief and trying to get the nation focused on Kosovo, not on Paula Jones or Monica Lewinsky."
"Very cogent," Jennings praised Cochran.

Total time for Jennings and Cochran -- 1:10.

Jennings then turned to the McDougal case, relaying her attack on Starr's team without bothering with their side:
"In Little Rock today Susan McDougal was found not guilty of obstructing justice in the Whitewater investigation, a verdict seen as a slap in the face to Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel. Ms. McDougal, a former business partner of the Clinton's had refused to testify before Judge Starr's grand jury -- she said he was not interested in the truth. The jury today also deadlocked on two charges of criminal contempt."

-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather appeared on tape from Belgrade, the first anchor with a first-hand look at the war. Live from the White House Scott Pelley handled the contempt story, noting: "In her ruling Judge Wright says quote: 'there is simply no escaping the fact that the President deliberately violated this court's discovery orders and thereby undermined the integrity of the judicial system.'"

After a clip of Clinton in the deposition saying "I don't recall" when asked if he was ever alone with Lewinsky, Pelley offered a forecast for Clinton more ominous sounding than suggested by ABC:
"This is a civil contempt citation, not a criminal one. The judge has ordered that Mr. Clinton should pay the reasonable attorney fees for Mrs. Jones which could range into the hundreds of thousands of dollars and it will be referred to the Arkansas Supreme Court in a process that could result in Mr. Clinton's disbarment as an attorney."

Later, CBS became the only broadcast network to assign a full story to the McDougal verdict and dismissals. After reviewing the case history, reporter Eric Engberg highlighted how "McDougal's attorney, who had charged during the trial that Starr used Hitler-style tactics, said the jury of six men and six woman with today's verdict was sending a message to the prosecutor."
Mark Geragos: "This guy should pack up and get out of here. I'm happy to be the one, along with Susan, to wish him bon voyage. But get the heck out of Arkansas and do it now."

Engberg then noted that Starr could re-try McDougal on the deadlocked charges, before concluding: "In closing arguments prosecutors said the jury had to decide whether to believe career federal prosecutors working for Starr or a convicted felon. Today the jury gave its answer."

-- NBC Nightly News. After leading with a 2:50 story on the guy rescued from a crane above a fire, anchor Tom Brokaw bemoaned how Clinton's day was ruined by Judge Wright. Over video of him walking in front of a B-52 with some members of the Air Force, Brokaw sympathized:
"President Clinton had hoped to use this day to demonstrate his role as commander-in-chief, making a quick visit to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana to tank the crews of B-52s who have been flying missions against Serbia. But, the President returned to the White House and some unwelcome news. A federal judge in Arkansas found him in contempt of court for his behavior in the Paula Jones case. NBC's Claire Shipman at the White House now and Claire this is a legal tangle that simply will not die."
Shipman provided a quick rundown of Wright's ruling.


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) "Susan's sweet victory!" exulted Geraldo Rivera on Monday's Upfront Tonight on CNBC.

Bringing aboard McDougal attorney Mark Geragos live from Little Rock to share in the celebration, Geraldo gushed: "If I was there buddy I'd give you a slap on the back, I'd give you a high-five and a hug."
Geragos considered Geraldo part of his team, thanking him: "Geraldo, I wish you were here. I'll tell you. I want to thank you. You were kind of, as they say, early money in this case and we appreciate it more than I can tell you."
Rivera used the praise from Geragos as an opportunity to impugn Starr: "Well, it was really my pleasure. I really thought all along that to bring the criminal contempt after she did 18 months on the civil contempt showed a kind of viciousness that made Ken Starr a legal terrorist in my book."


trulock0413.jpg (14885 bytes)cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) The former head of intelligence for the Department of Energy, the man who exposed espionage by China, testified Monday before the Senate Armed Services Committee. It was Notra Trulock's first public appearance since the scandal broke, providing fresh video for the networks, but of the broadcast networks only CBS bothered to show Trulock specifically charging that higher-ups encouraged a cover-up of what he discovered.

FNC's Fox Report allocated 43 seconds to an introduction by anchor Paula Zahn followed by a soundbite from Trulock saying his warnings were "ignored" and "ridiculed." Not a syllable about him appeared on CNN's The World Today, but CNN anchor Jim Moret did take 19 seconds to uniquely report that some Senators had toured Los Alamos on Sunday but would not offer any comment afterwards.

What did ABC and NBC find of greater news value? ABC's World News Tonight gave 1:40 to the man being rescued from the crane and over three minutes to how owners of sports teams get a special tax break. NBC Nightly News opened with nearly three minutes on the crane rescue/fire in Atlanta and spent a couple of minutes on how more women die of lung than breast cancer, a serious subject but hardly pressing news. Plus, Tom Brokaw took 24 seconds to inform viewers about how a second of the beavers, who had destroyed some Cherry trees in Washington, DC, had been trapped.

On the April 12 CBS Evening News reporter Sharyl Attkisson put Trulock's testimony in context:
"In his first public statement the man largely credited with breaking the Chinese espionage case at U.S. nuclear labs gave an extraordinary account of what happened when he first sounded the alarm to his superiors at the Department of Energy."
Notra Trulock of the Energy Department, in the Senate hearing room: "Beginning in early 1997 senior DOE officials, including my direct supervisor, urged me to cover up and bury this case. These officials argued that this case was of historical interest only and not relevant to the contemporary missions and objectives of the national laboratories."
Attkisson continued: "In fact, some intelligence officials now regard the theft of design plans for America's most sophisticated nuclear warhead, the W-88, the most important spy case in recent history, but Trulock says his efforts to fix security breaches at the weapons labs were blocked at every turn, even when he identified suspects in early 1996."
Trulock disclosed: "These suspects, however, retained their clearances and access to sensitive nuclear weapons design information until December of 1998."
Attkisson concluded: "The secrets in the W-88 case were stolen back in the 1980s. But this new charge of a cover-up seriously undermines the Clinton administration's insistence that the nuclear labs have been secure under its watch."

It may undermine Clinton claims, but how many know when only one networks considers it newsworthy. This CBS story partially makes up for the network's irresponsibility last Thursday night. As detailed in the April 9 CyberAlert, the April 8 CBS Evening News story on Clinton's press conference with China's premier failed to mention how he was asked about a New York Times story which reported that China obtained neutron bomb technology from the U.S. during Clinton's first term. That contradicts Clinton's insistence that all the espionage occurred during the Reagan and Bush years.


cyberno4.gif (1375 bytes) Notra Trulock's observation that Energy Department officials thought Chinese spying "was of historical interest only and not relevant to the contemporary missions and objectives of the national laboratories," matches what Investor's Business Daily (IBD) discovered.

In an April 9 front page investigation titled "The Folly of 'Denuclearization': Los Alamos Leaks Point To Test Ban Treaty Flaws," IBD's Paul Sperry revealed:
"As part of the Clinton administration's so-called denuclearization goal, lab directors were actually prodded by former Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary and her senior staffers -- many of whom were anti-nuclear activists -- to open their doors to visitors from other nuclear states and share otherwise classified information."

Here are some additional excerpts from the fascinating April 9 piece:

....In 1995, President Clinton announced that the U.S. would pursue a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty as a way to stop the building, use and spread of nuclear missiles after the Cold War.

To get Russia and China -- not to mention U.S. lab directors -- on board, Clinton had to convince them that computer models could tell whether existing bombs work without actually blowing them up.

Up went billion-dollar labs designed to simulate nuclear blasts through "virtual testing." And out went the welcome mats to foreign scientists. Thousands visited the labs. Some even got jobs.

But the "openness" policy went too far, say former Energy and Defense Department officials. They cite widespread security lapses and the administration's slow response to the Los Alamos espionage case....

You'd think the administration -- which has known about the leak since 1995 -- would move swiftly to fix it and stop further leaks.

Instead, the White House let the lab promote to a more-sensitive post the ethnic Chinese scientist suspected by the FBI of spying. It also apparently OK'd his hiring of a Chinese national aide.

The administration waited until last month to fire the alleged spy -- only after the press broke the story. It hasn't yet charged him with any wrongdoing.

More, the White House didn't order the labs to beef up security until last year.

Why didn't officials give the case top priority? Some suspect it conflicted with a higher priority: Selling the global test ban to China and other nuclear states.

"They wanted to get them on board by exchanging this new (virtual-testing) technology in the spirit of scientific fraternity and openness," said former Reagan Defense official Frank Gaffney.

In the process, he says, the labs have left themselves open to espionage by countries like China that remain hell-bent on making their nuclear missile arsenals more, not less, lethal.

"In creating much more of an academic environment, the labs probably went too far -- at least more than makes old weapons guys comfortable," said Troy Wade, a former Reagan Energy official in charge of nuclear weapons.

An ex-O'Leary aide said her open-door policy angered some Pentagon officials who "feared security breaches." Looking back, he says, they were right....

In 1995, the same year Clinton announced his nuclear test ban, O'Leary relaxed security at the nation's three nuclear weapons labs -- Los Alamos in New Mexico, Lawrence Livermore in California, and Sandia, which runs sites in both New Mexico and California.

She opened up once-secure areas to foreign visitors, trimming the number of guards. She also loosened background checks on visitors and workers, and eased controls over classified papers....

Energy's own security bureaucrats raised warnings. In a classified 1998 report, Office of Counterintelligence Director Edward Curran found "weaknesses in the foreign visits and assignments program" at the labs.

Now it turns out that China in 1995 stole secret neutron bomb data from Livermore, The New York Times reports -- which is at odds with Clinton's claim that no Chinese espionage took place on his watch....

O'Leary's exchange program didn't sit well with Pentagon officials. "They feared her (openness) policy would lead to security breaches," said O'Leary's ex-aide, who wished to go unnamed. "Some of the things we're discovering today had their genesis back in those days."

But he's not sure that O'Leary was in lock step with the White House's plan to denuclearize the globe. He says O'Leary was in over her head when it came to making national security decisions. "She knew nothing about it," he said. "She was a public affairs director."

Before Energy, O'Leary headed the PR shop at Northern States Power Co. in Minneapolis....

O'Leary did surround herself with no-nukes. A key adviser, still at Energy, was Dan Reicher, formerly a lawyer for Natural Resources Defense Council's nuclear program.

Among the program's top goals? Cutting "nuclear weapons arsenals with the goal of eventual elimination," NRDC's Web site says. Another: Stopping the commercial use of plutonium.

It also boasts playing a "pivotal role" in "educating the executive branch" on the need for a nuclear weapons test ban. Ongoing projects include researching the "technical steps required for transition to a nuclear-weapons-free world."

In other words, denuclearization -- the administration's policy.

Step No. 1 is getting nuclear states to stop blowing up bombs. To do that, Energy has to show them that testing can be done above ground by computer. It plans to sink $4.5 billion a year over the next 10 years into supercomputers and simulation facilities, among other things, at the labs.

Meantime, Energy had invited Chinese scientists to the labs to pick up technical pointers on virtual testing, as well as other techniques like lab security -- under the assumption they'd go back to Beijing and start their own programs.

But it's plain that Beijing is interested in gleaning U.S. nuclear techniques for targeting rather than testing -- much to the chagrin of trusting no-nuke activists in the administration, critics say....

END Excerpt from Investor's Business Daily.

To read today's IBD, go to:


cyberno5.gif (1443 bytes) More on Beavergate than Chinagate. Matching a point made by the CyberAlert Extra edition on Friday, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed that Fox News Sunday host Tony Snow observed in his "Final Thoughts" segment:
"You know, long ago Washington was a frontier town, but now it's a den of city-slickers, who gawk in amazement when confronted by uncaged wildlife. This may explain why the hatchet-toothed, pulp-munching rodents got more attention this week, at least on some broadcasting networks other than Fox, than Chinagate...."

Of the Sunday shows, only Fox News Sunday dedicated a segment to China, interviewing Senator Fred Thompson. Setting up the interview, Snow announced the result of an illuminating poll question. Asked in a Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll, "Do you think President Clinton knew some campaign contributions may have come from the Chinese government?", 63 percent said yes, just 19 percent no.

I'll take that as a good sign -- that most of the public realize Clinton did whatever bad thing they are asked about even if they haven't heard about it from the media. -- Brent Baker


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