Friday, 17 December 1999 Washington, DC
1. COX REPORT: STANFORD GROUP ISSUES A DETAILED REBUTTAL.
in May, after weeks of selected leaks and hype, a House Select
Committee, headed by Chris Cox (R-CA), released 700 soporific
pages of speculation about Chinese spying
(WN 28 May 99)
week, a group of five Stanford scholars issued a devastating 100-
page critique of the Cox Report. While noting that not all of
the report was unclassified, the Stanford group found unsupported
allegations, unwarranted conclusions, inflammatory language, and
factual errors. One of the authors, W.K.H. Panofsky (1974 APS
President), notes that while the Cox report fails to specifically
link losses to scientific exchanges, it nevertheless alleges that
essentially all Chinese visitors to the U.S. are potential spies.
2. SECRETS: LOS ALAMOS SCIENTIST INDICTED FOR TAKING WORK HOME.
It's been ten months since Wen Ho Lee was fired from his job at
the weapons lab and publically fingered as the chief suspect in
the leak of nuclear weapons information to China. The prime
suspect since 1995, Lee was not indicted until this week--and he
was not indicted for espionage. He was charged with 59 counts of
downloading. He is being held without bail. Mishandling nuclear
secrets is a serious offense, carrying a possible life sentence.
But there is a slight whiff of something else. The strange case
of Richard Jewell and the Olympic bombing in Atlanta immediately
comes to mind. The only case against Jewell, it turned out, was
that he matched an FBI profile. So, it would appear, does Wen Ho
Lee. Others, including CIA Director John Deutch, have downloaded
classified information, but they didn't fit the Cox profile.
3. HUBBLE TROUBLE: SHUTTLE RELIABILITY CALLED INTO QUESTION.
The launch of Discovery to fix the comatose space telescope has been
postponed for the seventh time. First set for October
(WN 12 Nov 99)
, it has been rescheduled for tonight to allow fuel line welds
to be checked--a contractor used the wrong welding rods. Now the
weather looks bad. If it's not up by tomorrow, it must wait till
January to avoid possible Y2K glitches. NASA isn't talking about
the growing panic over space station construction delays. Three
of the four shuttles remain grounded for wiring repairs, and one
of them can't reach the high-inclination orbit of the station
anyway. With 80 launches to go, one space veteran estimates that
assembly could take another 20 years. Meanwhile, Russia's Proton
rockets are still grounded while a commission tries to figure out
why they keep crashing. Prediction: the critical Service Module,
which provides propulsion, will not be launched before Spring.
4. URGENT! SCIENTISTS ARE NEEDED ON CAPITOL HILL.
Things may be
nutty up there, but it would be a lot worse if it weren't for a
dedicated group of Congressional Science Fellows. I promise you
that a year on the Hill is an education. The application deadline
is 15 Jan 00. For details, go to