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December 7, 2007
Notes from the Pentagon

Romney and Huawei
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is being asked to intervene with the company he founded to block the proposed merger between 3Com and China's Huawei Technologies.

The request was made in a letter sent last week by Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican and ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, opposing the purchase of 3Com Corp. by China's Huawei Technologies Co., linked to past industrial espionage and support for America's enemies. Bain Capital, the investment firm founded by Mr. Romney, is leading the merger, with Huawei taking a minority stake in the deal in an apparent bid to avoid national security scrutiny.

A classified U.S. intelligence assessment by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, disclosed by The Washington Times, stated that the 3Com-Huawei deal poses a threat to U.S. national security. The assessment was sent to the Treasury Department-led Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which is reviewing the merger.

"Your company, Bain Capital, is taking on a 'strategic partner,' Huawei, in the acquisition of 3Com," Mr. Hunter wrote, noting that Huawei has close ties to the Chinese military and aided Saddam Hussein and the Taliban.

Mr. Hunter said even though Mr. Romney no longer controls Bain, "the contributions you have received from its principals indicate that your influence within the company remains strong."

Mr. Hunter, who like Mr. Romney seeks the Republican nomination for president, asked Mr. Romney to state publicly that "this transaction should be terminated on the grounds of national security."

Romney spokesman Kevin Madden said "the governor is not currently involved in Bain Capital or their investment decisions."

Spies vs. leaks
Senior U.S. intelligence officials recently were vocal about leaks of information to the press, but are silent when it comes to talking about the extreme damage caused by notorious spies, such as CIA turncoat Aldrich Ames, FBI traitor Robert Hanssen, Cuban mole in the Defense Intelligence Agency Ana Montes, FBI double agent Katrina Leung and now Nada Prouty, an FBI agent and CIA operations officer who is suspected of giving secrets to the Iranian-backed terror group Hezbollah.

CIA Director Gen. Michael V. Hayden said in recent public statements that press leaks had caused damage to the agency. Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell, too, has decried leaks to the press.

A search of the millions of documents in the LexisNexis database for comments by both Mr. McConnell and Gen. Hayden and the five spies turned up no references to any of them or their damage to U.S. intelligence, which counterintelligence officials say cumulatively were orders of magnitude more damaging than any press leaks.

The silence raises questions about whether the senior officials really care about the secrets they keep, or are more interested in criticizing the press, while doing little to improve counterintelligence at U.S. intelligence agencies.

CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano bristled at the suggestion the CIA is soft on counterintelligence. Gen. Hayden, he said, "views counterintelligence as decisive to the agency's health and success," while "leaks" are different because they damage "aggressive operations" and undercut legal, authorized intelligence gathering.

As for the Prouty case -- she pleaded guilty to charges of misusing a computer and immigration fraud -- the CIA "views with extreme seriousness any potential compromise of its sources and methods," he said.

Other intelligence officials said some key issues in the Prouty case are secret for legal reasons, suggesting the case compromised recruited agents overseas.

As with past cases involving trusted insiders who spied for U.S. enemies, the reaction of intelligence bureaucrats to the Prouty case has been to minimize the damage, something that is not done when their target is the press.

Chinese silence
The White House will not say whether it obtained the clarification it sought after the Chinese government called President Bush a liar when he said China's Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi told him in an Oval Office meeting that blocking the Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier from Hong Kong was a mistake.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao on Nov. 29 categorically denied that the minister told Mr. Bush that the incident, which pro-China officials have sought to play down, was due to a "misunderstanding."

Mr. Bush's version of the meeting was told to reporters the day before by White House press secretary Dana Perino, who said in response to Mr. Liu that the Chinese spokesman's denial was "not the president's understanding" of what Mr. Yang said. "We are seeking clarification," she said.

Asked yesterday -- seven days later -- if the matter was clarified, Mrs. Perino would not say. "We've been in regular communication with them and have had several opportunities in the past few days to discuss this issue," she said, noting that "our main focus right now is the start up of the defense telephone link [the military hot line] that will help to avoid any future miscommunications."

New Iran missile
A U.S. intelligence official confirmed that Iran has developed a new long-range missile that can hit targets between 1,250 miles and 1,550 miles away. The solid-fuel missile is called Ashura and is increasing fears among defense and intelligence officials about Iran's supposedly halted nuclear program.

The official confirmed the missile after a report on it appeared in Jane's Defense Weekly report, which said the Ashura will be tested soon.

President Bush said this week, in highlighting the threat posed by Iran, that "Iran is a nation that is testing ballistic missiles." A White House official said he was referring to comments by Iran's defense minister reported Nov. 27 who said the new Ashura missile is in production and is being tested.

The new missile is said to be capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, which Iran is thought to be secretly developing, despite denials by Iranian leaders that its nuclear program is for electrical-power generation.

It is the third in a family of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles in the Iranian arsenal. The others are the liquid-fueled Shahab and the BM-25, a missile of North Korean origin reverse-engineered from the Russian SS-N-6 submarine-launched ballistic missile.

  • Bill Gertz covers the Pentagon. He can be reached at 202/636-3274.

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