April 03, 2008

"Classic Espionage" (Updated April 3, 2008)

UPDATE: Chi Mak was sentenced to over 24 years in prison even though the documents Mak took and passed to unnamed Chinese operatives were unclassified.

"Mak's attorney, Ronald O. Kaye, said his client was a scapegoat for other U.S. intelligence failures and a 'symbol of the government's cold war against the Chinese.'"

UPDATE (April 1, 2008): Pentagon weapons analyst Gregg William Bergersen plead guilty to one count of criminal information conspiracy yesterday in US District Court. Last week Chinese born Chi Mak, a retired 65 year old engineer, plead guilty in California. No other details are available. These are unusually swift trials and convictions. Beijing's Foreign Ministry denies any knowledge of these conspiracies. The FBI, Navy, and Air Force investigators behind these espionage cases have not shown any evidence that any information was actually procured or received by the Chinese government.

Previous posts:
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Liu Jianchao had this to say in a press briefing on Thursay (Feb. 14):

"Q: Not long ago, the US alleged that they had arrested four Chinese spies. Do you have any response? What is China's position on the espionage issue?

A: We have taken note of the report. The so-called accusation against China on the issue of espionage is utterly groundless and out of ulterior motives. We urge the US to abandon its Cold War mentality and put end to the groundless accusations and do more to contribute to mutual trust and friendship between our two peoples."
First post (February 11, 2008):
What do the following have in common? The FBI, Boeing, the Pentagon, upcoming elections in Taiwan and the United States, the Space Shuttle, and the US Air Force's unhappiness with its share of the near $1 trillion USA defense budget?

They are "all the elements of a classic espionage operation" Kenneth L. Wainstein, USA Assistant Attorney General for National Security gushed in a release first reported by the chief purveyor of anonymous Pentagon secrets Bill Gertz in his Washington Times column and picked up by the Associated Press today.

There are actually two separate stories in the "operation" according to today's Justice Department announcement of espionage arrests. First the New Orleans - Pentagon connection centered on the efforts of Tai Shen Kuo to buy information on Taiwan arms sales from a Pentagon analyst. Mr. Tai is described in an AP report as a "furniture salesman" but someone with the same name is listed on the Internet as the CEO of Houma, Louisiana, based G T L International, a business services consultancy. There are a lot of GTL companies found on the Internet ranging from shadowy conglomerates of "The Global Group" based in Mumbai, India, to carriers in France.

The other witch hunt is against a Chinese native 72 year old retired Rockwell International (now part of Boeing) employee. Shades of Wen Ho Lee?

The first spy ring, if true, is entirely the result of US Government actions. Beijing would not need to counter American technology transfers to Taiwan if Washington would abide by the 1982 joint communique on ending arms sales to Taiwan.

It will be interesting to see the impact of this latest Chinese spy scandal on the elections in Taiwan on March 22 and the campaigns of USA presidential contenders Obama, Clinton, and McCain. I believe it is the first sign of a China bait and bash that will come to dominate the "news" cycle for the rest of the year with peaks next month, August, and October.

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