No Defense: How the New York Times Convicted Wen Ho Lee

| October 16, 2000

No Defense: How the New York Times Convicted Wen Ho Lee

The torment of Wen Ho Lee did not begin with his indictment and arrest in December 1999, reports Robert Scheer in The Nation, but rather when the New York Times, the most respected media outlet in the country, presented a tale of atomic spying that has been proved wrong on virtually every count, and launched a witch hunt ending in Lee's incarceration. Lee's media nightmare began with The Times' 4,000-word front-page story on March 6, 1999, under the shocking headline, 'Breach at Los Alamos: A Special Report; China Stole Nuclear Secrets for Bombs, US Aides Say.' Written by investigative reporters Jeff Gerth and James Risen, the story was rife with circumstantial evidence and outright falsehoods.

In an in-depth essay, Scheer untangles the many issues at play in this nightmarish case, including racial profiling and the American judicial system's attempt to prove itself tough on Chinese spying, a meticulous breakdown of the many falsehoods in the original Times article, and an excerpt from Lee's grilling by the FBI the day before the story broke.

Scheer looks past the Times' web of underhanded journalistic half-truths and make-believe stories. He focuses instead on the way Lee's neighbors and co-workers responded to his incarceration. 'It was the sight of all those neighbors and co-workers from the lab bringing over plates of potato salad and cold cuts to celebrate his freedom,' Scheer writes. 'These were the people who knew Lee and the inner workings of the weapons lab, and they had been there to support him throughout his ordeal, even when established human rights and civil libertarian groups had remained silent.' -- Amanda Luker
Go there>>

In a related article on the MediaChannel, the New York Media Circle discusses the ramifications of the Times' destructive blunder with the Wen Ho Lee case on current journalism: Go there>>

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