Friday, 28 May 1999 Washington, DC
1. COX REPORT: NO SPY NOVEL EVER HAD SO MANY PLOT TWISTS.
700-page insomnia treatment, except for two troubling questions.
First, how did we learn the Chinese had stolen our top nuclear
secrets? The answer, according to the Report, is that they told
us. In 1995, a "walk-in" in a country outside the PRC gave the
CIA hundreds of secret Chinese documents including the nuclear
stuff. A year later the CIA determined that the walk-in was
working for Chinese intelligence. That brings up the second
question: Why would they tell the CIA? The report has no answer
for that one, but theories abound. Cox suggests either Beijing
was trying to intimidate Washington, or it was a dumb mistake.
In intelligence circles, explanations are more devious. One is
that it was an ancient Chinese tactic for sowing dissension by
setting off a spy hunt. One purpose would be to stem the brain
drain of top Chinese nuclear scientists who work at US labs after
they complete graduate studies, in which case the plan may be
working. Another explanation is that the secrets were actually
disinformation the US had deliberately leaked to the PRC, and
they were just sending it back to let us know they weren't
fooled. A variant of this is that the PRC wasn't sure it was
disinformation and sent it back to gauge US reaction. A further
elaboration is that it really is disinformation and the Cox panel
is part of an elaborate ruse to convince the PRC that it's real.
2. REACTION: THREE VIEWS ON THE REPORT.
said, "It's already out of date, 32 of the 36 recommendations
have already been implemented. President Clinton, speaking at an
Empowerment conference in South Texas, thanked the committee for
its careful work. Behind him the backdrop read "Tapping America's
Potential." That's exactly what China was doing! At a morning
press conference, China's Ambassador, Li Zhaoxing, told a worried
reporter, "It's the uninformed who are frightened, the nightmare
is not true. Go to a good restaurant and have a sound sleep."
3. NASA: "THE PROMISE OF SPACE FLIGHT FOR AGING RESEARCH."
They got it backwards. On Wednesday, a NASA press conference featured
John Glenn talking about his adventures in space. He was
followed by a panel of academic scientists who gave an overview
of the latest findings on aging research related to muscle
atrophy, balance disorder, disrupted sleep and bone disease all
done on the ground. This could benefit the space program drugs
developed to treat osteoporosis in the elderly, for example, may
help astronauts. There was little evidence, however, of benefits
going the other way. Perhaps the press conference should have
been titled "The Promise of Aging Research for Space Travel."