Lessons from the Cox Report

Article excerpt

The House select committee on Chinese spying, led by Rep. Christopher Cox (R) of California and Norm Dicks (D) of Washington, showed that Republicans and Democrats can still work together on serious matters of national security. The panel's inquiry was a welcome contrast to the partisan bickering - for which both sides are responsible - that has marred other congressional investigations over the last few years.

The unclassified version of the committee report details China's extensive espionage in United States nuclear-weapons laboratories and elsewhere. The fact that administrations of both parties, and Congresses controlled by both, took insufficient action to stop the security breaches may have boosted the bipartisanship.

Republicans can point out that the Clinton administration learned of espionage at the labs in 1995, yet did little about it until last year. Democrats can respond that the GOP-controlled House and Senate intelligence committees were briefed on the problem in 1996 but took no action. Still, senior administration officials have some explaining to do. President Clinton endorses many of the committee's 38 recommendations. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, whose department administers the labs, has implemented a new security regime to deter further espionage. So far, so good, but Congress must ensure follow- through. Behind all this lies a larger question: What is to be the US relationship with China? …