Power and Politics - I am Not the Yellow Peril

The life and times of an Asian American activist who tells all the truth (and dishes news and analysis) but with a leftwards slant.

Monday, June 05, 2006

The sad saga of Wen Ho Lee and the American media

Has hopefully come to a quiet (if not just) end.

Wen Ho Lee, former Los Alamos scientist, finally received some (monetary) compensation for the pain and suffering that the US governement wrought. Five major media outlets (NYTimes, LATimes, WashPost, the Associated Press and ABC News) joined with the US government in giving Lee a $1.6 million restitution for being publicly smeared in the press and being held in jail for some 270 odd days in jail. At the end, the judge who presided over his case apologized to him for being led astray by agents of the US government. As Lee says, apologies by judges are almost nonexistent.

But it doesn't make up for the lack of face that he has suffered, nor the damage done to his reputation. While I am a 2nd generation Asian American and one who doesn't particularly care to uphold my family's name by saving face, I acknowledge that it is a part of the culture and that for 1st generation immigrants like Lee, "face" is reality.

The poor man will always have "accused of national security theft" after his name. I would like to say instead that he was cleared of any wrongdoing after a witchhunt by Nora Trulock and James Risen of the New York Times and the Department of Energy under then Secretary Bill Richardson. (Richardson is currently Gov. of New Mexico with ambitions for presidential office. Remember this during the primaries and find better, more moral people to support. Richardson has never really apologized for his oversight of the case or how his employees treated Wen Ho Lee to my recollection.)

Eric Boehlert (Salon.com, Rolling Stone) has a compelling piece up on the Huffington Post that compares and contrasts how the media (chiefly the NYTimes) and government worked together to sell a false story to the American public both during the Lee case and the leadup to Iraq. Here's the last paragraph:

NOTE: In March 1999, when the Times was poised to break its big Wen Ho Lee scoop on page 1, a story with major national security implications, Clinton's FBI, for various reasons, asked the Times to hold off running the story. The Times complied for just 48 hours and then published the story. But recall that in 2004, when the Times was set to break its big NSA wiretapping story on page 1, a story with major national security implications, the Bush's administration, for various reasons, asked the newspaper to hold off running the story. The Times complied for nearly a year before finally publishing the story.
Read the whole thing. Very worthwhile.


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