June 1, 2001
Notes from the PentagonChina sub untracked
A Chinese submarine conducted secret underwater operations for more than a month without being detected by U.S. intelligence agencies, according to defense sources. The Ming-class attack submarine snuck out of its port at Qingdao, on the Yellow Sea coast opposite Korea, and returned 31 days later.
Intelligence officials said the "undetected SSN deployment" is an indication that Chinaīs Navy is improving its underwater-warfare skills. Chinaīs military has harassed the Navy surveillance ship USS Bowditch, sailing in international waters in the Yellow Sea, on two occasions in the past three months. Intelligence officials told us the submarine could have been operating in the region to support Chinese countersurveillance of the U.S. ship.
China has 20 of the Ming-class diesel-electric-powered boats. The submarines are equipped with anti-ship cruise missiles. Intelligence officials said the Mings will be replaced in the next decade by a new generation of nuclear attack submarines called the Type O93, now under construction.
China also is building a new class of ballistic-missile submarine known as the Type 094. It will carried a variant of the DF-31 ICBM, a road-mobile missile that was flight tested twice last year.
Hamel on hold
The senator also is investigating Gen. Hamelīs role in using his Air Force office to fund a project by George Washington University professor John M. Logsdon, an opponent of using space for military power.
The Air Force brass is closing ranks in an effort to push Gen. Hamelīs promotion through, claiming the general is being unfairly targeted. Gen. Michael Ryan, the Air Force chief of staff, is said to be lobbying hard for Gen. Hamelīs promotion. "Anyone who believes Gen. Hamel is somehow politically tainted as a result of his tour as a military adviser to Vice President Gore is terribly mistaken," Gen. Ryan told us through a spokesman.
Steve Cambone, a key aide to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, also is looking into the matter, we are told.
Laser incident update
Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jack Daly suffered permanent eye damage during the April 1997 laser incident. He continues to experience headaches and eye pain more than four years later.
Mr. Smith, in a letter to the Navy, identified 13 misstatements of fact contained in a Navy "white paper" on the incident. The senator said the Navy failed to adequately search the Kapitan Man for a laser device. He noted that the red light emanating from the bridge of the Russian merchant ship was analyzed by laser experts and identified as a laser device -- not one of the shipīs running lights, as the Navy contends.
"Although I am disappointed that there still has not been finality on the Daly lasing incident and its aftermath, I am hopeful that with Secretary Rumsfeld and the new team heīs assembling, we will be able to revisit these issues and arrive at a fair and expeditious resolution," Mr. Smith told us.
A Navy spokesman denied the senatorīs claims of a coverup that were first reported by Insight magazine reporter J. Michael Waller.
"We did not doctor the photo. Our interpretation is it is not a laser device but a running light," the spokesman said.
The Army suggests victimized soldiers "keep a diary or daily journal."
Adm. Quigley told us that Mr. Fleischer did not dictate a news release on the exchange program. "The wording of the release was done here," he said from his E-ring office. "By the time we talked, it was done."
The sources said look for Mr. Levin to try to find grounds to stop one or two nominees. President Bush is stocking the building with strong advocates of a missile-defense system. Mr. Levin is skeptical that a national-protection interceptor will work. One possible target is J.D. Crouch, picked to be assistant defense secretary for international security policy. Mr. Crouch was a lower-level Pentagon aide in the administration of Mr. Bushīs father.
A book-signing soiree was hosted Wednesday night by GOP fund-raiser Julie Finley. Mrs. Finley is founder and a board member of the U.S. Committee on NATO, a private bipartisan group working to expand the European allianceīs membership.
Gen. Clark, 56, is the focus of speculation he may soon declare himself a Republican or Democrat and run for office. "Iīm not ruling it in and Iīm not ruling it out," he told us after signing scores of books. But the former supreme allied commander told us his priority right now is to "make some money."