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Report blames Energy Department, FBI in Wen Ho Lee probe

Lee spent nine months in solitary confinement.
Lee spent nine months in solitary confinement.  

From Terry Frieden
CNN Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A new government report blames both the Energy Department and the FBI for the botched investigation into whether Los Alamos nuclear scientist Wen Ho Lee had revealed secret weapons information to China.

The report released Monday blames the Energy Department for "the inaccurate representations given to the FBI" and blames the FBI for "failing to become thoroughly familiar with ... such an important investigation."

The Justice Department's examination into how things went so wrong in the investigation of Lee dealt with classified information, leading officials to black out substantial portions of the report released to the public. But the released material did not conceal the conclusion that the Energy Department had given the FBI bad information, and the FBI had simply accepted it.

The tough conclusions were contained in the first two chapters of the long-awaited document.

Lee, originally jailed on 59 felony counts, pleaded guilty last September to a single count of mishandling classified information and was released after spending nine months in solitary confinement. A federal judge harshly scolded the government for its handling of the case and its treatment of Lee.

The Energy Department had started the investigation by assembling a group that it named the Kindred Spirit Analytical Group to examine possible compromising of nuclear secrets. The report says the conclusions of that group were wrongly conveyed to the FBI in 1995.

"This inaccurate communication ... resulted in the FBI spending years investigating the wrong crime," the report says.

Although the Energy Department is blamed for singling out Lee, the report does not conclude that Lee was targeted on the basis of his race, as some critics suggested.

The portions of the report made available Monday had been ordered released by a federal judge in a suit brought by Notra Trulock, the head of the counter-intelligence office in the Energy Department. Trulock is suing two Energy Department employees who charge that Lee was singled out for prosecution because of his race.


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