AUTHORStober, Dan / Hoffman, Ian
TITLEA Convenient Spy: Wen Ho Lee and the Politics of Nuclear Espionage
PUBLISHERSimon & Schuster
CITYNew York, NY

This book is the first written to analyze the investigation by the United States government into allegations of espionage purportedly undertaken by Chinese-American scientist and software engineer Wen Ho Lee at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. Beginning with accusations of espionage and improperly handling classified information related to nuclear weapons design, the case of Wen Ho Lee quickly engulfed the Justice Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Department of Energy (DOE), the State Department, and nearly the entire workforce of Los Alamos. The authors, both journalists, capture the frustrations and bureaucratic infighting that hindered the investigation, destroyed many careers and reputations, and ultimately led to the collapse of the government’s case against Lee. The book situates the events within the framework of relations between China and the U.S. in the 1970s and 1980s, wherein attempts were made by both Chinese and U.S. officials to inquire into each country’s respective nuclear weapons programs. It chronicles what the authors describe as “a time when democratic ideals were forgotten in the name of national security, when ideology and ambition overpowered objectivity and when partisan warfare trumped statesmanship” (p. 347). Although the authors are critical of the U.S. Justice Department and its mishandling of the case, they never fully absolve Lee. A section of black and white photographs is included.

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