Ok. You lose your ca. $70,000/year job and its benefits, get thrown in jail and held incommunicado in violation of the Sixth Amendment guarantee to counsel and a speedy trial, have the New York Times smirkingly tell the nation how you're going to be judicially executed as an enemy of the American people, and end up unemployable. All because of a security lapse so minor that almost every scientist who works in a federal facility is guilty of it.
And worst of all, everyone knows that you're innocent. They continue to torment you presumably hoping you'll collapse, cave in, be destroyed, commit suicide... all so that the crime of falsely imprisoning you will not be exposed.
After seven years of duking it out, ransoming your home and your first born child to get legal help, you reach a settlement. How much should it be?
Well, $70,000 + $7,000 benefits over (say) eight years. $620K
Interest at 5%: $120K
Pain and suffering: $500K
Legal fees: $600K
Taxes to cover the above: $600K
Total: Roughly $2.5 million.
Wen Ho Lee was awarded far less than he deserved. He supposedly got $750K after taxes and legal fees.
If he had just stayed on the job, he would have made about that much (very roughly $600K). So all of the grief and suffering he and his family endured was compensated at less than the minimum wage.
All the while, everyone knew it was based on a lie:
On the same day, Lee's name was leaked to the media, with the New York Times publishing a story about his case. However, FBI investigators soon determined that the design data the PRC had obtained could not have come from the Los Alamos Lab, because it related to information that would only have been available to someone like a so-called "downstream" contractor, meaning one involved in the final warhead production process, and this information was only created after the weapon design left the Lab.
Wen Ho Lee is getting a total of $1.6M in a settlement
, but that includes ca. $850K in taxes and legal fees:
The payment by AP, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post and ABC is the only one of its kind in recent memory, and perhaps ever, legal and media experts said.The companies said they agreed to the sum to forestall jail sentences for their reporters, even larger payments in the form of fines and the prospect of revealing confidential sources. The companies and their reporters were not defendants in the privacy lawsuit....Lee was fired from his job at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, but he was never charged with espionage. He was held in solitary confinement for nine months, then released in 2000 after pleading guilty to mishandling computer files. A judge apologized for Lee's treatment.
But the arrogance of the press knows no boundaries:
The statement [by the media organizations] noted that the accuracy of the reporting itself was not challenged
But as we know, that's a legal fiction. The reporting was a complete, total lie
AFTER 19 MONTHS of sensational reporting and demagogic politicking, none of the major points made in Gerth and Risen's original March 6, 1999, story hold up.
Why the papers continue to profess their innocence is beyond me. They only continue to lose credibility by refusing to be up front.
The case against Wen Ho Lee was apparently concocted by someone I regard as a a right-wing crackpot by the name of Notra Trulock:
The Post revealed that Trulock was an e-mail contributor to right-wing chat rooms [CUII:: I think this means the Free Republic]. Drogin wrote a story saying that Trulock had spit on Energy Department acting counterintelligence chief Charles E. Washington. Washington, Vrooman and Los Alamos physicist Michael S. Soukup were quoted as saying they believed Trulock lacked any hard evidence and had singled Lee out as a suspect because of his race....
And what are we to assume Trulock's aim was? It certainly does not seem to have been national security, not with evidence so flimsy that it was exposed soon after Wen Ho Lee was arrested. It doesn't take much imagination to suppose that it might have been purely for political goals, i.e., weakening the Clinton presidency so that George aWol could take over and transmitted by Jeff Gerth. In other words, as part of a string of allegations-- Whitewater, Filegate, Travelgate, Haircutgate-- that were later determined to be completely baseless.
Trulock's compounded the wrong done to Wen Ho Lee by suing him
for defamation. In other words, after Lee had spent months in terrified isolation, denied counsel, and under threat of death, Trulock wanted only more blood.
He (apparently; see update below) lost, ironically, because the judge said the suit would expose state secrets.
There is one other person who has never paid a price for the wrong that was done to Wen Ho Lee:
Former Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson, who had oversight of Los Alamos National Laboratory at the time and effectively ordered Lee's firing, is considered, by some, likely to have been the mysterious source who leaked Lee's name to reporters.
The remaining $800K should, in my opinion, be extracted from Trulock and Richardson in equal measure. The American people, by a plurality, would appear to agree that Wen Ho Lee has not been fairly recompensed (AOL poll as of ca. 1PM Eastern):
Do you think Wen Ho Lee's privacy rights were violated?
I'm not sure 15%
How much did Wen Ho Lee deserve?
More than $1.6 million 42%
$1.6 million is fair 30%
Less than $1.6 million 27%
God bless the American people. They know the value of freedom and not just its price.
REVISED AND UPDATED: I have posted a request to Judicial Watch to supply any contrary information on the Trulock case. If it chooses to post that, it should appear here
, on the thread where JW attacks Harry Reid over going to a boxing match on a pass routinely granted to all similar officials-- presumably relying on now thoroughly-debunked reporting by AP reporter John Solomon. Judging from the tone of the posts there, Mr. Klayman may want to avoid a jury trials in future.
Be sure not to miss their HillaryWatch feature!