Letters

PEEVED COX

In reply to a recent article [Will Swaim's "Cox Quiet on Cover-Up," May 16] taking me to task for not responding to the Weekly's messages: I'll be more responsive when you begin to take facts seriously. Your article is the latest case in point. The Select Committee on U.S. National Security completed a unanimous, bipartisan report in 1998 and delivered it to the White House. Absolutely no leaks occurred while the committee controlled that information. No member of the majority or the minority provided any of the report's classified contents to the press or any person. The leaks—and the first newspaper accounts—occurred only after the Clinton White House took custody of the report in December 1998. The American Journalism Review never referred to leaks by "unnamed Republican sources," but only to leaks, without the unsupported accusation you added. Nor was the AJR article focused on the Select Committee's report, as the article suggests, but rather on erroneous newspaper coverage of the Wen Ho Lee case. I, too, leveled criticisms of the handling of the Lee case by the Clinton administration and the press, warning on 60 Minutes against Wen Ho Lee getting the "Richard Jewell" treatment—long before the Clinton administration indicted him. Lee's name appears nowhere in the classified or unclassified version of the Select Committee's report; he was unknown to any Republican or Democrat member of the committee when it completed its report. The Select Committee's findings concerning the theft of U.S. nuclear weapons design information have since been publicly validated by the intelligence community. The committee's other findings, concerning violations of law by satellite firms Hughes and Loral in sharing rocket design information with the People's Republic of China, have been vindicated this year with the payment by both firms of the highest fines in the history of the Export Administration Account for their actions in these cases.

Rep. Christopher Cox
Newport Beach

Will Swaim responds: Reading Cox's response, you wouldn't even guess that my article concerned news that White House officials have suppressed a bipartisan report that concluded they ignored intelligence warnings of the Sept. 11 attacks. I asserted that Cox is a coward at best and a partisan hack at worst because of his unwillingness to demand that Bush release the report. Cox's response? Three-hundred words from the man who runs the House Committee on Homeland Security and not one of them about evidence Bush did nothing to stop the greatest breach of American security since British soldiers burned down the White House in the War of 1812.

Regarding the Wen Ho Lee case: It's bizarre that Cox should even attempt to mask his role at this late date. But let's humor him by going over the facts once more: Two months before the Cox Report was published, someone was leaking details to theNew York Times—someone who would benefit from the suggestion that the Clinton administration had aided and abetted Chinese spying at Los Alamos. That points to the committee's Republican members, among whom Cox had the most to gain. Already angling for the job of House speaker, Cox was also also looking toward the VP slot on the Republicans' 2000 presidential ticket; the words "Cox Report" were his credentials. When reporters began fingering Cox as the source of the leaks in May 1999, he told ABC'sThis Week, "Well, the leaks, I'm very unhappy about [them]. And the leaks are coming rather obviously, I think, from the administration." Obviously? To believe Cox, you'd have to believe the Clinton White House was trying to kill itself—and would chooseNew York Times reporter Jeff Gerth to do it. Gerth spent several years in a vain attempt to bring Clinton down over the Whitewater scandal. And how "unhappy" was Cox about the leaks? Not angry enough to investigate their source.

ANNOYED NURSE

If Nick Schou had asked us before airing such outlandish allegations in "Nursing a Grudge" [May 16], we would have been more than happy to set the record straight. The registered nurses and other health-care professionals at Tenet-owned hospitals will be speaking out on behalf of their patients more often, not less, under the historic new agreement negotiated by SEIU and AFSCME. Not only does the new agreement give them an unprecedented voice in decisions that affect the quality of care, but it also strengthens their ability to advocate for their patients. Because they will be guaranteed the protection of a union contract, they can report patient care problems without fear of reprisal. The charges made by the leaders of the California Nurses Association are more than a little disingenuous, since they negotiated a similar agreement with Catholic Healthcare West. And the unquestioning support they've received from Ralph Nader is more than a little disappointing, since he of all people should appreciate a true victory over a giant corporation when he sees one.

Kathy J. Sackman, RN
President, UNAC/UHCP, AFSCME

Nick Schou responds: My article quoted a UNAC official declaring the contract a "huge breakthrough" for Tenet employees, but also quoted Ralph Nader and activists with the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights who criticized SEIU. That criticism may disappoint union officials who believe they worked hard for an important contract, but it cannot be dismissed as "outlandish" or anti-union.

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