SANTA FE – Supporters of a fired Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist say they don't believe a government report that concluded he was not targeted for prosecution because of his race.
The report, prepared for the Justice Department by former federal prosecutor Randy Bellows, criticizes the FBI and Energy Department for numerous flaws in the investigation of Wen Ho Lee. A source who had seen the report told The Associated Press it also concluded racial bias did not play into investigators' decision to focus on the Taiwanese-born scientist.
"Of course, we don't buy the report," said Cecilia Chang, a Lee supporter. "By virtue of the fact that it was done by a federal prosecutor, it cannot be objective."
The report also contradicts testimony last year before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee in which Robert Vrooman, the lab's former counterintelligence chief, testified race was cited in the investigation, said Chang and Ted Wang of the California-based Chinese for Affirmative Action.
"I'm skeptical," Wang said. "We have very little reason to believe that the Department of Justice has been telling the truth about Dr. Lee's case from the very beginning."
He said his organization would like an independent look into the government's investigation of Lee — not one written by the same agency that launched the probe against Lee in the first place.
"I think the Department of Justice is engaged in spin control right now," Wang said.
Vrooman declined to comment since he is a defendant in a lawsuit concerning the Lee case. Notra Trulock, the former chief investigator for the Energy Department who led the Lee probe, has sued Vrooman and others, claimed he was defamed.
Lee last Sept. 13 pleaded guilty to a single count of downloading restricted data. In exchange, the government dropped 58 similar counts. Lee spent nine months in solitary confinement before the plea bargain.
U.S. District Judge James Parker apologized to Lee for his incarceration. Parker said federal prosecutors, agents and Energy Department officials had embarrassed the nation.
The report was finished in May 2000, months before the plea bargain, and new information about the race issue came out after then, Chang said.
"It's a halfway report," she said. "How accurate can it be?"
An edited version of the 800-page report was given to members of Congress. The report is supposed to be released publicly Monday, said a Justice Department spokeswoman.