May 19, 2003
The Chinese Spy Who Loved the GOP Too Much
A BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
Poor Katrina Leung. If only she had given her FBI-earned money to Democrats, her bright smile would be appearing on newspaper front pages day after day, and Republicans would make sure every one in the country knew how to pronounce her name.
She wouldn’t be known as, simply, a “political fundraiser”; she’d have the more dignified title of “major Democratic Party donor and spy.” Republican attack dogs in Congress would already be conducting full-scale investigations. A special prosecutor would be called for. She would be vilified by Rush Limbaugh as a spy for the Democratic Party, which he would accuse of siding with the enemy. Bill O'Reilly would denounce her and the Democrats. Regnery Press would already have two books out railing about how she and the Democrats have committed treason against America. Ann Coulter would be calling for the chairman of the DNC to be put before a firing squad.
But Katrina Leung is unlucky in the celebrity category. She allegedly was a spy who loved the Republican Party too much. In news stories, Leung has been labeled as a "prominent Republican fundraiser" and "Republican activist." So the Republican scandal attack machine is silent, because she is one of them, after all.
The accused Chinese double agent and her husband decided to give thousands -- $27,000 in fact (by one account), since 1992 -- to the GOP.
Katrina Leung is a 49-year-old “venture capitalist” from San Marino, Calif., who was recruited by the FBI more than 20 years ago to provide information about her native China. She was paid $1.7 million for her spying efforts over the years, though she was allegedly working for China at the same time. So you could say that taxpayer money was funneled through her to support the GOP, couldn't you? Or maybe we were saved the expense and the money came from her handlers in China. Who knows? The GOP doesn't really care. After all, they've already cashed the checks.
Leung’s FBI handler for most of her years of service to this country was James J. Smith, who retired from the bureau in 2000 after heading the FBI’s Los Angeles field office’s China squad. The two were close, very close: Soon after Leung went to work for Smith, they embarked on a long-term affair, despite both being married to other people.
The accused spy and her former lover were arrested in April. Earlier this month, Leung was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of obtaining, copying and keeping national security documents, while Smith was charged with gross negligence for allowing Leung access to classified documents and depriving the FBI of “his honest services.” The government’s allegations were right out of a movie script: Smith allegedly would leave his unlocked briefcase unattended when he with Leung, and she would view the documents inside.
It gets even better. As early as 1991, there were signs that Leung might be double-crossing the United States. An FBI agent in San Francisco, William Cleveland, warned Smith that wiretaps caught Leung giving information to China. What steps did the FBI take? The agency left it to Smith to give her a warning. Meanwhile, Leung (codename: “Parlor Maid”) and Smith continued their affair, though Leung was a busy woman. She also found time to have an affair with Cleveland, while also taking care of her husband, so to speak.
Let’s consider again the extent of the outcry if Leung had donated money to the Democratic National Committee instead of the Republican Party. Or if she had given money to Bill Clinton. Or Al Gore. Republicans would be exploiting the connection – however tenuous – for all it was worth. They’d likely be looking at Leung’s business and political connections, speculating publicly whether there had been any quid-pro-quo. They'd be growling, foaming at the mouth, and calling for impeachment. They'd be accusing all Democrats of being treasonous betrayers of America. It would be a 24/7 story on FOX News.
Back in 1996, Clinton and Gore were at the Republican-driven center of an alleged scandal involving several fundraisers who channeled money to their re-election campaign from non-U.S. citizens. And then there was the 1996 Buddhist temple fiasco that trailed Gore even through the 2000 campaign. Despite overwhelming evidence that the event was never billed as a fundraiser, and Gore was forthcoming in his responses as to what he knew about the scheduling of the event, Republicans, aided by sloppy media reports that kept repeating erroneous information, managed to twist the situation and portray Gore as a shady, unbelievable candidate. (See Roger Parloff’s brilliant dissection of what-happened-when and why Gore was wrongly maligned in the May 2000 issue of American Lawyer).
The FBI launched a massive investigation, and televised senate hearings were held. Ultimately, the FEC fined the DNC $115,000, and levied other fines against individual campaign donors.
Will the FBI look into Leung's donations to the Republican Party and her activist involvement with the GOP? Don’t bet the ranch on it. During the initial investigations into fundraising improprieties, FBI Agent Smith, Leung’s handler, was the lead agent responsible for questioning Johnny Chung, one of the major players in the Clinton-Gore fundraising dust-up. That's right, the FBI agent accused of betraying his nation led the investigation that sparked the unrelenting GOP scandal mongering about alleged Clinton-Gore "knowing" relationships to foreign fundraisers, charges about Clinton and Gore that were never proven to be more than an orchestrated GOP smear campaign.
But, now we have a woman accused of spying for China, known as a GOP activist and contributor in California, consorting with the FBI agent who led the Johnny Chung investigation, which was used to mercilessly slime the Clinton-Gore administration. And have you heard a peep out of Tom DeLay, Dan Burton, Newt Gingrich or their media shills?
Not a peep. Imagine that.
A likely GOP spy for China and not a word from the Republicans.
BuzzFlash doesn't call it the Grand Hypocrisy Party (GHP) for nothing.
A BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
otherwise noted, all original