Welcome author David Wise, and Host Steven Clemons (website).

Tiger Trap: America’s Secret Spy War with China

Host, Steven Clemons:

The United States spies on China as it does on many nations of geostrategic significance – but thus far at least, the Chinese book publishing arena hasn’t yet produced anything as sizzling about its own world of spies and spymasters as David Wise has in his page-turner, Tiger Trap: America’ Secret Spy War with China.

John LeCarre – writing fiction – mastered the art of taking shadows of real world sophisticated spycraft and turning them into some of the best novels of the last generation. What David Wise has done is zero in on and reveal the stories of America’s real George Smiley’s – only problem is that most of them have none of the competence or the layers of complexly organized subterfuge that LeCarre’s principal character had.

Wise tells the story of how creative, well-focused and organized Chinese spies have penetrated deeply into America’s national security establishment – in technology firms, in national weapons laboratories, and into the US national intelligence bureaucracies themselves.

Parlor Maid, Tiger Trap, and other code-named spy damsels cut through America’s intelligence walls with as much effectiveness, if not more, than an army of digital hackers. Wise has extraordinary accounts that read like fiction but which are well researched and documented accounts of the collision between America’s world of secrets and China’s world of wanting to know them. It’s a great book.

My friend Tara McKelvey wrote a review of constrained praise for David Wise’ book on 5 August in the New York Times. She also found the detail of the cases explicated by Wise in Tiger Trap to be riveting – but in the end, she wanted something with a more dispassionate feel that slogged through more detail, more context, perhaps less drama.

Respectfully, I disagree with McKelvey in the sense that it might very well be this sort of page-turning treatment of China’s spies that finally gins up some real interest in a vital subject. Decades ago, the FBI’s inter-agency organized crime task force – largely focused on Southern California – and set up originally, among other objectives, to follow in-bound Japanese and Korean criminal activity and corporate espionage operations kept bumping into Chinese espionage activity – at the weapons labs in New Mexico and Northern California and throughout Southern California’s densely deployed weapons systems production and biotechnology development facilities. And this was before China became “big” in its latest incarnation.

The various campaign finance scandals that first built in California around former California Lt. Governor Leo McCarthy who did huge outreach to various Asian-American voter communities, with a large focus on the Chinese-American community, grew into scandals that severely rocked the Bill Clinton administration in cases such as Indonesia’s Lippo Bank director John Huang and Arkansas restauranteur and Asia Pacific business maven Charlie Trie.

David Wise’s Tiger Trap is so fun to read – but it’s filled with historically consequential material and vignettes that those who want to know about the dark side of superpower relations would be wise to read.

Just one caveat as you join in our discussion today – but also hopefully as you read the book – remember that America does this to China too. David Wise just hasn’t written that book yet.

[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book.  Please take other conversations to a previous thread. - bev]

101 Responses to “FDL Book Salon Welcomes David Wise, Tiger Trap: America’s Secret Spy War with China”

BevW August 13th, 2011 at 1:56 pm

David, Welcome to the Lake.

Steve, Thank you for Hosting today’s Book Salon.

Steve Clemons August 13th, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Very happy to join you — and David, nice to meet you virtually

David Wise August 13th, 2011 at 2:01 pm

Thank you Bev for inviting me and Steve for hosting

Steve Clemons August 13th, 2011 at 2:01 pm

I’ve just enjoyed reading Tiger Trap on the way over from Washington, DC to Dubai — and it was a real page-turner. Reading it though, I became convinced that a talented Chinese writer probably would have similar fun with US spies spying on China.

Steve Clemons August 13th, 2011 at 2:02 pm

But then I realized that the whole point of your book, David, was that our side — the American side — of the equation pales in competence compared to China. Do I have that right?

Steve Clemons August 13th, 2011 at 2:04 pm

How many other “Tiger Trap” and “Parlor Maid” agents do think may still be lurking out there?

Steve Clemons August 13th, 2011 at 2:06 pm

are there others on line with us who have queries about the book — or experiences/thoughts about US-China espionage?

David Wise August 13th, 2011 at 2:07 pm

A lot of reviewers drew that same conclusion, although I tried not to reach exactly that judgment. Certainly the Parlor Maid case involving Katrina Leung working for the FBI and then for the MSS, the Chinese intel service, was a disaster for the US and a coup for China. On the other hand, US counterintelligence has had some successes, too, and I describe a number of arrests of Chinese spies by the FBI. So readers are free to reach their own conclusion on who is winning the espionage conflict.

BevW August 13th, 2011 at 2:07 pm

As a technical note, there is a “Reply” button in the lower right hand of each comment. Pressing the “Reply” will pre-fill the commenter name and number you are replying to and helps for everyone in following the conversation.

(Note: If you’ve had to refresh your browser, Reply may not work correctly unless you wait for the page to complete loading)

David Wise August 13th, 2011 at 2:08 pm

Spies, moles, are like trolleys and buses. You miss one and another is sure to come along.

Steve Clemons August 13th, 2011 at 2:09 pm
In response to David Wise @ 8

If you can go in to it further — what are your real feelings about Wen Ho Lee. In the book, the fact that he intersected so directly with the real players in your book struck me as a pretty big indictment.

Steve Clemons August 13th, 2011 at 2:10 pm
In response to David Wise @ 10

lol – probably so. Good line. It seems to me that your expertise in spy lore has long been needed on the Asia side of the equation. I think that one of the interesting things about this book is that it broke out of the more dominant Transatlantic Spy Trap.

Steve Clemons August 13th, 2011 at 2:14 pm

Today on my page at The Atlantic, I shared with folks some historical context that there was a time when China-sourced funds may have been flowing through political channels. California Lt. Governor Leo McCarthy’s campaign was one of the first of these — and then much of this blew up during President Clinton’s tenure…but there was also a major Chinese-American donor who sat next to George H.W. Bush at a fundraiser and raised a lot of eyebrows. Turned out he was a deadbeat dad and owes his wife a lot in child support. In your research did you run into any of these efforts to penetrate the political set?

David Wise August 13th, 2011 at 2:14 pm

By the way, on the technical note, what is the edit button?

Steve Clemons August 13th, 2011 at 2:15 pm
In response to David Wise @ 14

I think it enables you to edit/fix anything that you post

BevW August 13th, 2011 at 2:15 pm
In response to David Wise @ 14

Edit Button allows you to go back in and add / change your reply.

CTuttle August 13th, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Aloha, Steve and Dave…! Mahalo for being here at the Lake…!

– only problem is that most of them have none of the competence or the layers of complexly organized subterfuge that LeCarre’s principal character had…

I would posit that we lack the sophistication and/or subterfuge, because we lack the curiosity and/or desire to learn the cultures/ethos of our adversaries…!

Steve Clemons August 13th, 2011 at 2:19 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 17

Thanks — I’m not sure that would be a true statement during the Cold War. We spent considerable time and effort penetrating, in quite creative ways, the inner circle of the Soviet leadership. But China may be tougher — would like to know David’s thoughts.

Nice to have you join us.

David Wise August 13th, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Wen Ho Lee is a complex business. He was initially suspected of leaking data about the W-88 the US’s most sophisticated warhead. The government presented no evidence at all that he had done that. So he was prosecuted for mishandling classified documents, pleaded guilty to one count of doing that, and won an apology from the federal judge for his misreatment by the govt– he had been held in solitary for 9 months. So he was very badly treated. I do point out in Tiger Trap, however, that he was the subject of 2 previous FBI investigations for suspicious behavior. He telephoned the subject of the Tiger Trap investigation and offered to find out who had “squealed” on him. And he never reported that China’s top bomb-maker had approached him in a Beijing hotel room and asked a key question. So the image presented to the public of WHL as an innocent victim was not the whole story.

Peterr August 13th, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Welcome David (and Steve)!

David, any author who write about spies and subterfuge is bound to come across lots of surprises. What was the biggest “Oh my God!” moment you had in researching the book?

Steve Clemons August 13th, 2011 at 2:22 pm
In response to David Wise @ 19

fascinating — the circumstantial stuff is obviously disconcerting.

Steve Clemons August 13th, 2011 at 2:22 pm
In response to Peterr @ 20

good question.

Knut August 13th, 2011 at 2:24 pm
In response to Steve Clemons @ 15

It`s sort of like the Congressional Record. *g*

David Wise August 13th, 2011 at 2:25 pm

Steve, yes Chinese intel officials asked Leung, Parlor Maid, to become a major contributor to the Republican Party and they said they would provide funds for her to do so. I write about a high-level meeting in China where this was planned and discussed.

Steve Clemons August 13th, 2011 at 2:25 pm
In response to Knut @ 23

exactly.

Margot August 13th, 2011 at 2:26 pm

This sounds like a fascinating book that I want to read.
What kind of spies do we need to infiltrate China? What upbringing, ethnicity, cultural background and language skills would they need? How do we start?

Knut August 13th, 2011 at 2:27 pm

David,

I haven’t read the book yet, but expect to pick it up next week. I’m curious about the object of Chinese espionage? Is it mostly technological, or do you think (which seems only natural), that they are attempting also to acquire American strategic and tactical plans with respect to a possible conflict with China? Is there an espionage war in the Third World (think Africa and Latin America), the way there was with the Soviets?

Steve Clemons August 13th, 2011 at 2:28 pm
In response to David Wise @ 24

fascinating. how would you compare the spycraft that China put forward through its agents with what you wrote about and researched on Robert Hanssen and Aldrich Ames?

For those following this, David Wise authored “Spy: The Inside Story of How the FBI’s Robert Hanssen Betrayed America” as well as “Nightmover: How Aldrich Ames Sold the CIA to the KGB for $4.6 Million”

Peterr August 13th, 2011 at 2:29 pm
In response to David Wise @ 19

To the extent that WHL sat in solitary for something the Department of Justice could not or would not prove in court, I’d say that makes him a victim. Given that the judge apologized to WHL for the government’s treatment of him, it sure sounds like a violation of the fifth amendment to me: “No person shall be . . . deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.”

David Wise August 13th, 2011 at 2:30 pm
In response to Peterr @ 20

I think that moment was when outside a Los Angeles courtroom and approached a man I believed was Leung’s husband. He said Leung was a very common name. But I gave him my card and I returned to Washington. I was totally surprised when 2 days later he called and said he was coming to see me. We spent two days together talking about Katrina Leung, their marriage, her background, their trips to China for the FBI– it was the kind of break that authors hope for but rarely get.

Steve Clemons August 13th, 2011 at 2:30 pm
In response to Peterr @ 29

Your point is an important one.

CTuttle August 13th, 2011 at 2:31 pm
In response to Steve Clemons @ 28

*heh* Maybe Dave will tackle the Jonathan Pollard saga next…! ;-)

Siun August 13th, 2011 at 2:32 pm

Welcome David and Steve!

I’m not quite finished reading but really enjoying the book and quite fascinated by the tale. Most striking to me is how two major FBI guys could have affairs for o long with their primary ounce without anyone noticing. At least through where I’ve read, the deference to JJ which allows him to make such a mess is stunning. David – do you think there are more co told now or is the same personality driven unprofessionalism still there?

David Wise August 13th, 2011 at 2:34 pm
In response to Margot @ 26

Only a little bit of my book discusses US spying on China, although the Leung case (from the FBI viewpoint) was certainly that. Obviously pretty hard, although certainly not impossible, for persons who are not of Chinese background to spy inside China.

Peterr August 13th, 2011 at 2:34 pm

One of the gifts of LeCarre’s George Smiley was to take backbearings. That is, once his intelligence service had been penetrated and the mole uncovered, Smiley was able to look at what the mole had been doing to either (a) see what the mole’s handlers were most interested in knowing and (b) see what those handlers wanted hidden and covered up. By tracing back the actions of the mole, the chinks in the armor of the enemy were uncovered.

Steve, in your intro you say that most of our George Smiley’s “have none of the competence or the layers of complexly organized subterfuge that LeCarre’s principal character had.” I haven’t read the book yet, but I’d love to hear more about why you say this. What’s the picture of our intelligence service leaders?

David Wise August 13th, 2011 at 2:35 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 32

An interesting case. But I have not decided on my next project.

CTuttle August 13th, 2011 at 2:37 pm
In response to David Wise @ 36

Food for thought, Dave…! ;-)

David Wise August 13th, 2011 at 2:38 pm
In response to Siun @ 33

I hope not but I’m not sure. FBI has tightened up some on the use of informants and assets to try to avoid another Parlor Maid debacle.

Steve Clemons August 13th, 2011 at 2:38 pm
In response to Peterr @ 35

Reading David Wise’s book, it’s tough to face the fact that Smiley’s characters — and those of a more sophisticated intelligence era — bear much resemblance to those US agents depicted in David Wise’s book. Your point about backbearings is really interesting, and at some level, I’m sure that has gone on inside the FBI and CIA after these cases emerged and were internally sorted out. David Wise might want to add more.

Peterr August 13th, 2011 at 2:39 pm
In response to David Wise @ 30

Yeah, I’d call that a big surprise.

I can imagine you sitting there with him for two days silently saying to yourself “Please keep talking. Please keep talking . . .”

Steve Clemons August 13th, 2011 at 2:41 pm

David — do the FBI and CIA see you as a friend or foe?

David Wise August 13th, 2011 at 2:44 pm
In response to Steve Clemons @ 39

Well, yes, in both the CIA and FBI when a mole is uncovered there is an extensive “damage assessment” to see what secrets and ops may have been compromised. In the case of Parlor Maid, the FBI has, I don’t doubt, had to do this to try to determine which reports she brought back from China– and some of her reports went to four US presidents– were tainted or contained misinformation.

Knut August 13th, 2011 at 2:45 pm
In response to Steve Clemons @ 39

We are of course comparing fictional with real characters, but one could argue that the recruitment in Britain (and originally in the US at the time of the OSS) got higher caliber persons than in the last few decades. The bright guys from the Ivy’s in the US have mostly gone into finance or law. I wouldn’t think government service holds much attraction for most of them. This is a statistical proposition of course, but I would guess that the mean of the distribution of talent at CIA is lower now than it was in the 1950s and 1960s. Plus there have been retirements. The recent fuck-up in Pakistan does not suggest a high level of competence.

CTuttle August 13th, 2011 at 2:45 pm

Dave, have you discerned any particular ideological/partisan bias, I know that under Porter Goss, a lot of mid-career CIA agents were disgusted with his ‘Gosslings’ and left the Agency… I’m also concerned about Betrayus’ taking over, considering the fact that the ‘firewall’ between the Pentagon and Langley is now demolished…! Any thoughts…?

Steve Clemons August 13th, 2011 at 2:47 pm
In response to Knut @ 43

Interesting point — all that said, I know some extremely talented thoughtful intelligence personnel working for the US. I think that the real issue is strategy, focused, patient purpose — and this is what comes out about China’s efforts in ‘Tiger Trap.’

Siun August 13th, 2011 at 2:48 pm

It also seems from David’s account that within the FBI, counterespionage is not seen as a good area to specialize in – it does not seem to draw the best recruits?

David Wise August 13th, 2011 at 2:50 pm
In response to Steve Clemons @ 41

You would have to ask them. However, when the book I co authored years ago about the CIA, The Invisible Government, was published, the CIA explored whether they could buy up all the copies to keep them out of the bookstores. They then tried to stop the book or failing that to get us to change some things. We did not change a word, I am happy to say. I think both agencies realize by now that I try to be meticulous in the facts I present and I believe the FBI and the CIA respect my work even if they do not always like what they read.

Steve Clemons August 13th, 2011 at 2:53 pm
In response to David Wise @ 47

I happen to be in Dubai at the moment and am on my way to Kabul with the spouse of the Washington Post’s Dana Priest. Priest co-authored the important series on America’s sprawling national intelligence establishment – suggesting that it really is too big and too self-propelled to be manageable. Do you agree with Dana Priest’s general characterization of the intelligence industry – and if so, does this present an even more penetrable opportunity for China and others spying on the US?

PeasantParty August 13th, 2011 at 2:54 pm
In response to David Wise @ 24

David,

Do you think those republican campaign contributions and talks were what helped to bring about George H. Bush’s NAFTA plans?

David Wise August 13th, 2011 at 2:55 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 44

The closeness between the military and the CIA, and the CIA taking on paramilitary and military duties is a cause for concern. Drone strikes seem to be killing a lot of civilians, even though the CIA denies it. See today’s NY Times. Targeting of American citizens– even certified bad guys– is very disturbing. The Constitution provides for due process. A drone is not due process. I wrote an essay about this for Time a few years ago when a drone killed an American citizen in Yemen.

David Wise August 13th, 2011 at 2:57 pm
In response to Siun @ 46

It is not a good career path within the FBI. But some very smart people are in FBI counterintelligence. i.e. Les Wiser who got the evidence to arrest Aldrich Ames and broke open the Parlor Maid case as I write in Tiger Trap.

CTuttle August 13th, 2011 at 2:58 pm
In response to Steve Clemons @ 48

Steve, have you read Dr. Hillhouse…?

Steve Clemons August 13th, 2011 at 3:00 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 52

No — haven’t. Should I?

David Wise August 13th, 2011 at 3:02 pm
In response to Steve Clemons @ 48

I have a lot of respect for Dana Priest. One of China’s biggest successes, and I go into it in depth in the book, was their acquisition of the design of the W-88 nuclear warhead. How they got it has never been determined, but dozens of contractors had those details so the secret could have been obtained by China from someone outside a government agency– it did not necessarily leak from the Pentagon, or the nuclear weapons labs, for example.

David Wise August 13th, 2011 at 3:02 pm
In response to PeasantParty @ 49

Sorry, I don’t know.

Peterr August 13th, 2011 at 3:03 pm
In response to Steve Clemons @ 48

I hope you got a nap earlier. It’s something like 2 AM there right now, isn’t it?

If you agreed to host this book salon chat knowing what time it would be for you in Dubai when it would be live, that says a lot about how much you think of this book!

CTuttle August 13th, 2011 at 3:03 pm
In response to Steve Clemons @ 53

Most definitely, She’s very well informed…! ;-)

Peterr August 13th, 2011 at 3:07 pm
In response to David Wise @ 51

Counterintelligence, either in the CIA or FBI, starts from the premise “we screwed up — now what can we learn?” That is, to one extent or another, CI starts when we discover an agent or a ring that has been active. The deeper the penetration, the more embarrassing it is to the FBI and CIA for not having caught on sooner.

I can’t imagine regular FBI/CIA folks like hearing about their mistakes from CI people, and I could see where people considering CI might think twice about the effect this would have on their own careers.

Steve Clemons August 13th, 2011 at 3:08 pm
In response to Peterr @ 56

You are nice – but I didn’t know I was heading out to Kabul until a few days ago — but wanted to keep my commitment to the FDL Book Salon — and was very interested in this book.

David Wise’s book reads like a thriller — and most discussions of this material are so dry, less well researched, and show fewer patterns. I really did enjoy the book.

CTuttle August 13th, 2011 at 3:10 pm
In response to David Wise @ 54

That’s one of Dr. Hillhouse’s biggest pet peeves, how we’ve contracted out over 50% of our Intel shops…! She argues that the proliferation of ‘Green Tags’ have diminished our efforts significantly, and, even jeopardizes/paralyzes our entire MIC/Intel Apparatchik…!

PeasantParty August 13th, 2011 at 3:12 pm

David,

I’ve had lots of contact with CIA and FBI. Most all of the ones I’ve spoken to have a particular hatred for the Bush Administrations and especially Dick Cheney. While researching and working on your book did you encounter the same?

PeasantParty August 13th, 2011 at 3:14 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 60

Mine as well, friend!

David Wise August 13th, 2011 at 3:14 pm
In response to Peterr @ 58

Counterintelligence, as the word suggests, means countering the intelligence efforts of another country. So it does not always start with a “screwup”– it often starts because the CI agents pick up a clue that something is going on. It may be a clue from an “agent in place” or a defector or an informant, or sometimes an unhappy spouse. But your point is an interesting one about intel folks not wanting to have their mistakes pointed out by the CI types.

David Wise August 13th, 2011 at 3:16 pm
In response to Steve Clemons @ 59

Steve,
I wish you had reviewed my book for the NY Times. Their reviewer must have read some other book.

Peterr August 13th, 2011 at 3:18 pm
In response to David Wise @ 63

“it often starts because the CI agents pick up a clue that something is going on”

Yes, but that *always* leads to the question “Why didn’t you pick up that clue yesterday or last week or last month or . . .?”

Again, not a fun question to be on the receiving end of.

David Wise August 13th, 2011 at 3:19 pm
In response to PeasantParty @ 61

I can’t generalize, but I do know that some of the CIA analysts were both cowed and annoyed by Cheney’s repeated visits to the CIA to persuade them that Saddam had WMD, which of course he did not. It did not make him a popular figure, at least among the analysts.

CTuttle August 13th, 2011 at 3:19 pm
In response to PeasantParty @ 62

*heh* Also, Col. Pat Lang’s, Philip Giraldi’s, Ray McGovern’s, etc…! ;-)

Steve Clemons August 13th, 2011 at 3:20 pm
In response to David Wise @ 64

That would have been fun for me. I found these cases so intriguing — and I think they reveal a great deal about China’s appetite, innovation, and patience.

Peterr August 13th, 2011 at 3:22 pm

David, to what extent do you have to make deals with your sources? In some cases, I’m sure they want anonymity, but even if you leave their names out, simply acknowledging the information they supply narrows the possible candidates to a very small universe. That surely would make some of them more than a little reticent.

PeasantParty August 13th, 2011 at 3:23 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 67

You got it!

David Wise August 13th, 2011 at 3:24 pm
In response to Peterr @ 65

I hope that sometimes, at least, the CI people learn of an espionage operation early on. That can happen when a spy tries to recruit a source who immediately reports the approach. Unfortunately, Ames spied for 8 years or so and Hanssen on and off for 22 years.

CTuttle August 13th, 2011 at 3:24 pm
In response to Steve Clemons @ 68

What’s so fascinating is how successful China is in obtaining Oil, rare earth minerals, etc, without having to ‘occupy’ or fire a shot in the individual resource countries…! It does behoove us to learn from them…!

visser August 13th, 2011 at 3:26 pm

David Wise,

Do you think America’s much greater racial diversity and more open society in general makes it easier for the Chinese to infiltrate?

I imagine difficulties might arise with respects to American efforts in the opposite as only Asian Americans can truly serve in any meaningful covert position in China.

PeasantParty August 13th, 2011 at 3:27 pm

David,

I’ve felt for a very long time that China will/has been gearing up for war with the US. Now that NAFTA has given them our technology, manufacturing, and other resources do you see that as well from your research?

I’m thinking our intelligence agencies are now being used merely as corporate spies in most cases.

BevW August 13th, 2011 at 3:29 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 72

Correct me if I am wrong, but are there not Chinese soldiers guarding these resources, mining sites?

David Wise August 13th, 2011 at 3:30 pm
In response to Peterr @ 69

I try to get sources to speak on the record. Some are willing to be quoted partly, but prefer to speak partly on background, which means I can use the information but not identify the source. Others will only speak entirely on background. In the acknowledgments section of Tiger Trap you will see quite a few names of CI agents who were willing to identified or quoted. Some sources probably do prefer to speak on background for the reason you suggest.

CTuttle August 13th, 2011 at 3:31 pm
In response to BevW @ 75

Not in Afghanistan, for instance, Bev…!

BevW August 13th, 2011 at 3:33 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 77

True, I was thinking of Africa.

Peterr August 13th, 2011 at 3:34 pm

Are there interesting episodes or events you left out of the book, simply for reasons of space?

If so, and you’d like to share some of them, we’re all ears (or should that be “eyes”?).

David Wise August 13th, 2011 at 3:34 pm
In response to visser @ 73

Yes, our open society makes it much easier, as it was for the KGB during the Cold War. China can collect a lot of data from congressional hearings, government publications, news stories, and other open source material. And it’s much more difficult for the US to insert spies in a closed society like the Soviet Union was, or China.

David Wise August 13th, 2011 at 3:37 pm
In response to PeasantParty @ 74

I doubt China wants war with the US. Right now China is trying to catch up militarily, but they have a long way to go to equal US military power. e.g. they are just building their first aircraft carrier. Maybe 10-15 years down the road China will have a military power to balance the US, but not now.

CTuttle August 13th, 2011 at 3:40 pm
In response to David Wise @ 81

I thought Xinhua had just announced recently they’d actually launched the Carrier…!

edit: Sea Trials Begin for Chinese Aircraft Carrier…

David Wise August 13th, 2011 at 3:42 pm
In response to Peterr @ 79

I don’t think I left out anything really important, but I would have liked to say more about some of these cases if space had permitted. For example,illegal exports of military equipment to China is rampant and there are dozens of prosecutions every year but I was only able to touch on the problem.

David Wise August 13th, 2011 at 3:43 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 82

Still testing it, I think, but I do not claim to be expert on the Chinese military. Espionage is my field.

Steve Clemons August 13th, 2011 at 3:44 pm
In response to David Wise @ 83

I imagine that with the rise of China — and the sense of concern the US has about it’s place in the world — that this topic will be around for a long time, so hope that you will get another chance for ‘more space.’

Peterr August 13th, 2011 at 3:45 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 82

Yes — three days ago.

[edit: your edit beat my comment!]

cocktailhag August 13th, 2011 at 3:45 pm

I’m honored to meet you, Mr. Wise. I’ve been a huge fan of yours since stumbling upon “The American Police State,” and have eagerly snapped up all of your books since then (I live near Powell’s Books…). FDL’ers…. all of Wise’s books, back to the early 60′s with “The Invisible Government,” are great reading. I’ll be getting this one next. Thanks, Mr. Wise,for your great work. Do you think that compelling nonfiction journalists like yourself are still being produced today, given the parlous state of newspapers? (I know you spent some time at the great NY Herald Tribune)

Steve Clemons August 13th, 2011 at 3:46 pm

David — when I commented on your book in the opener above and at The Atlantic, I intimated that Tiger Trap and Parlor Maid were essentially hackers — just of a different sort. That said, have you looked at the issue of hackers from China or more broadly national security hackers more broadly?

BevW August 13th, 2011 at 3:50 pm

As we come to the end of this Book Salon,

David, Thank you for stopping by the Lake and spending the afternoon with us discussing your new book and spying and espionage.

Steve, Thank you very much for Hosting today’s great Book Salon (from Dubai in the middle of the night).

Everyone, if you would like more information:

David’s website and book

Steve’s website

Sunday:
Matthew Richardson / Guaranteed to Fail: Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Debacle of Mortgage Finance
Hosted by William “Bill” Black

Thanks all,
Have a great evening!

Just quick reminder:
Membership drive! Are you an FDL member? If not, please join and help keep FDL delivering kick ass activism and independent journalism. You can join HERE.

David Wise August 13th, 2011 at 3:50 pm
In response to cocktailhag @ 87

I really appreciate your knowledge and support of my work. Sometimes writers feel that no one out there is listening, but you prove that is not the case. Outside of myself and Sy Hersh, the ranks are pretty thin. But every once in a while I have a pleasant surprise– a moment of recognition that someone else is doing what I try to do. I am thinking of Steve Hendricks book “A Kidnapping in Milan.” I don’t know him but it was a superb job of reporting about the CIA bungle in Italy.

David Wise August 13th, 2011 at 3:51 pm
In response to Steve Clemons @ 88

I have a chapter in the book on the Cyberspies.

cocktailhag August 13th, 2011 at 3:52 pm
In response to David Wise @ 90

I still laugh about when you wrote. “take back your mink…”

Steve Clemons August 13th, 2011 at 3:53 pm

Thanks very much to David Wise for his time and interesting book, “Tiger Trap” – and to Bev for putting this together.

One correction, though is that this is my website:

http://www.theatlantic.com/steve-clemons/

Really appreciate the good comments and questions from folks. And for those interested, my Twitter address is @SCClemons.

All best.

David Wise August 13th, 2011 at 3:53 pm

Bev, Steve, thank you for having me. All the questions were excellent and I enjoyed fielding them.
Thank you all–
David

CTuttle August 13th, 2011 at 3:56 pm
In response to David Wise @ 90

Mahalo for your tireless efforts and the great Book Salon, David…! *g*

Mahalo, Steve, for your great hosting and your efforts…! Stay safe in Kabul…! *g*

Jane Hamsher August 13th, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Thank you so much for being here today Steve and Dave. Apologies for being here late. I’ve been filling out very un-glamorous reports and simply did not keep an eye on the clock!

Dave the book looks fascinating. I am very much looking forward to reading it, all the moreso after reading the discussion here.

And Steve, take care of youself in Dubai! You are the original international man of mystery.

;)

papau August 13th, 2011 at 4:04 pm
In response to David Wise @ 54

I find interesting that history is rewritten on these things – as if we don’t take notes as we go through this life.

Tiger Trap was the W-32 bomb design given or stolen in 83 under Reagan with 1987 publication of details of the “suitcase bomb” in a Chinese Tech journal, followed by our translating the journal many years later and followed by US Intel in 91 trying explain the theft to Congress as well as trying to explain the delay in in translation. Today trying a Google search I find much that was available on the net in the late 90′s is gone.

Indeed today the discussion is of a neutron bomb loss with a time line that says it could have also been 83 but then could be 5 years earlier.

And the W-88 theft is the theft of the day it seems.

I am very familiar (well not really – perhaps a bit more than average) with CIA mis-information work – indeed a lot of folks are employed in it – amazing names in the media (indeed admitted to back in the early 80′s in a public statement).

My own conclusion was Reagan sold us out to the Chinese – those designs were hot off the press and we needed pressure on the USSR. It was also the conclusion of General Olmstead, my boss and Reagan’s dinner date many a Thursday night with Olmstead having a history with Reagan going back to the 40′s.

But then the winners write the history – so what do I know.

Did you ever get access to the 91 hearings on the 87 publication of our nuke secrets in China? For a while they were not classified.

nahant August 13th, 2011 at 4:15 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 82

A rebuilt Soviet Carrier with most of it stripped out prior to the Chineese buying it.. they have also endeavored to buy other retiring carriers( under the guise of making them Casinos.. Sure.. I have a bridge for sale.. any takers?)) which I assume they will rebuild “Their Way”..

James Traynor August 13th, 2011 at 4:20 pm

Is this what they used to call the ‘great game’? Upper middle class children playing in the Imperial Gardens. Le Carre and Graham Greene had it right. A pox on you all.

papau August 13th, 2011 at 4:24 pm
In response to papau @ 97

I should note that suitcase is the program but it was around – just under – 200 pounds.

And W-32 (a repeat of an old ID) was used to identify it but other ID’s were used.

papau August 13th, 2011 at 6:55 pm
In response to papau @ 100

I should also note that Clinton shutdown the suitcase program in 1993 and GW Bush re-opened it 2003.

I suspect – but obviously can’t prove – that the reason the info is gone off the net is because of the need to protect Reagan’s reputation. I do not know the procedure when a public hearing such as the 1991 hearings on Reagan giving the bomb to China become classified after the fact – do they pull them out of the Congressional Record? – seems nuts but the book author made no mention of the event so it seems like a scene from the book 1984 where history is re-written.

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