The efforts of the Obama team to get the perfect blend of diversity and consolation prizes in the cabinet has served to pick at least one old scab which many had forgotten, showing up in the anger of Chinese against Hispanic political gadfly Bill Richardson. Some Chinese residing in America are still miffed about what they consider his mishandling of the Wen Ho Lee spy case of a decade ago. Lee was acquitted, after squawking loud and long about the "racist" nature of the prosecution. The guy's actions looked guilty as hell to me, but I have a suspicious nature.
Anyway, there's not much rainbow kumbaya in the recent episode, where angry Chinese are making unkind remarks about one of the Beltway's top Hispanics.
In a move bound to create political tension between Latinos and Asian-Americans, a group of Chinese-American activists in Silicon Valley has launched a nationwide grass-roots movement to fight President-elect Barack Obama's nomination today ?of Bill Richardson as commerce secretary.
The group is upset at the New Mexico governor for his handling of the nearly decade-old case of Taiwanese-American Wen Ho Lee, a former nuclear scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. U.S. officials once suspected Lee of giving nuclear secrets to China when Richardson was President Clinton's energy secretary.
The Chinese-Americans say they realize that challenging the nomination of Richardson, 61, the nation's most high-profile Hispanic politician, will ruffle the Latino community, many of whose leaders felt he should have been named secretary of state instead of Sen. Hillary Clinton.
But the Chinese-American group insists that Richardson's refusal to acknowledge making serious errors in the case makes it a moral imperative to oppose his nomination to Obama's Cabinet. They say their criticism of Richardson has nothing to do with him being Latino but everything to do with his lack of judgment in the case.
"This was the major Chinese-American civil rights case in the last 30 years," said Albert Wang, a Fremont physician. "And there was a feeling among many Chinese-Americans, particularly in Silicon Valley, that Bill Richardson did a lot to promote the notion that all Chinese-Americans are potential spies."
[Chinese-American activists oppose any Bill Richardson cabinet nomination, San Jose Mercury News, By Ken McLaughlin, Dec. 2, 2008]
The Wen Ho Lee case was a criminal spy prosecution and had nothing to do with civil rights. The loud complaints about racism served to distract from the merits of the case, and always made me more suspicious of the accused rather than sympathetic.
Let's consider the facts about the real danger of spies from Red China. As Lou Dobbs Tonight has reported, there are more than 3000 front companies acting as agents for the PRC. Chinese immigration has brought spies like sleeper agent Chi Mak and Dongfan Chun, who noted that he spied out of love for his Red China homeland.
A 2007 article in the London Times noted that in the previous two years the FBI arrested nearly 30 Chinese nationals or Chinese Americans in spy cases involving US technology.
When national security expert Bill Gertz was asked in 2006 what country's spy operations were the most dangerous for this nation, he answered, "By far, China's intelligence services pose the greatest threat." [Q&A: Bill Gertz Explains How America's Enemies Are Infiltrating Our Government, Human Events, Nov 16, 2006]
And while the US parcels out hand-slap sentences to the enemy spies, Red China doesn't hesitate to mandate the ultimate punishment, e.g. the November execution of Wo Weihan, accused of spying for Taiwan.