Thank you, Mr. Chairman, thank you, Mr. Chairman, and members of the committee, for this opportunity. As you know, Secretary Richardson is appearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee at this same time to discuss the current oil situation, so I'm here in his place.
Statement of T. J. Glauthier, DOE
Oversight on the Wen Ho Lee Case
before a joint hearing of
the Senate Judiciary Committee
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
September 26, 2000
I'm here to discuss the Department of Energy's technical role in the investigation and prosecution of Wen Ho Lee. First, it must be underscored that the violations committed by Dr. Lee were serious. We believe the results of the intelligence community's damage assessment clearly proved that the data on the tapes is crucial to our national security. Given what was on the tapes, we believe the prosecution of Dr. Lee was justified. We also believe that some of the public claims belittling the seriousness of the tapes are inaccurate. Finally, we support the recent plea agreement as our best chance to get to the bottom of this and to learn what happened to those tapes.
First, let me explain as much as I can in open session that the information Dr. Lee downloaded is serious. The codes and associated databases on the downloaded tapes constitute an extraordinarily broad set of classified tools used by this nation's nuclear scientists for the design and assessment of nuclear weapons. In the wrong hands, the tapes could provide valuable information for the development and design of advanced nuclear weapons.
It would be a mistake to underestimate the importance or sensitivity of the contents of these tapes.
The information on the tapes represents a practical and integrated scientific understanding of how nuclear explosions work. They include databases cataloguing the properties of matter at high temperatures and pressures derived from nuclear tests, and the detailed physics design of nuclear devices that we know work from past U.S. nuclear tests.
The tapes are not a complete recipe for designing and building a nuclear bomb, as critical engineering, metallurgy and materials fabrication information is not provided. But the tapes do represent the design know-how and physics information developed by our nuclear labs over a period of 50 years and over 1,000 nuclear tests. The weapons designs on these tapes work, and the tools provide vital information on how we design and understand nuclear weapons. That is their importance and why they clearly need to be protected.
Let me correct the record with respect to some misunderstandings about this data that have arisen over the past several months. First, it has been claimed that 99 percent of the information in these computer codes was unclassified. That statement is not correct when applied to the totality of these files. The individual physics models and mathematical algorithms may not be classified, and in many cases, are available in the open literature. However, the way they are assembled, along with classified, physical databases and specific weapons configurations, which are also on the tapes, is highly classified as restricted data under the Atomic Energy Act.
Second, the claim that the material Dr. Lee downloaded and removed from the X Division was not classified or restricted until after the fact is not correct. Computer files in the X Division, including the material at issue in the Wen Ho Lee case, is automatically restricted as soon as it is produced by a computer. When produced from classified computers, it automatically receives a designation, "Hard, protect as restricted data," and requires a Q clearance for access to it because of a presumption that it contains secret, restricted data.
In order to remove this information from the X Divison, it must undergo a comprehensive classification review conducted by a certified classifier. It is a security violation to remove such material without a certified classification review. Once we determined what had been taken, our classifiers conducted a review and determined that the material was classified as secret, restricted data.
Returning to the broader issues of this inquiry, the department supported bringing the criminal case against Dr. Lee because of the very sensitive nature of the information and the enormity of the effort undertaken by Dr. Lee to download that information. We did so only after conducting a classification review to satisfy ourselves that there was a reasonable prospect that the prosecution could proceed without the public disclosure of classified information at trial.
In addition, it was because of the very sensitive nature of the information, and because we were advised that special administrative measures were the only way to protect against further disclosure of the information while Dr. Lee was awaiting trial, that we signed the certification requested by the Department of Justice supporting the special administration measures.
It was also because of the very sensitive nature of the information and our need to know why, how, and to what extent Dr. Lee compromised that information, that we support the plea agreement that the Justice Department has negotiated. The terms of that plea agreement result in a felony conviction of Dr. Lee and a process by which we hope the government can get answers to those important questions.