After many months of deliberation, Congress compromised on the issue of COSCO's (Chinese Ocean Shipping Co.) leasing the Long Beach Naval Base. The present language, which is part of the 1998 defense-authorization bill, would only block the COSCO lease if President Clinton fails to exercise his waiver authority, which experts say is unlikely given the fact that the White House approves of the COSCO deal.
A proponent of the current measure to stop the COSCO lease, James M. Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), was not pleased with the current compromise as decided on in a joint House and Senate conference. But, unless the present loophole was allowed to remain, that particular portion of the 1998 defense-authorization bill would not have seen the light of day. The theory here is something is better than nothing.
Historically, COSCO was involved in several incidents that concern some Congressmen and informed Americans:
Part of the problem with the Long Beach/COSCO deal relates to the strong possibility that China will establish intelligence-gathering capability at the former Naval base. It is a well established fact that the former Soviet Union established a number of SIGINT (Signal Intelligence) sites at strategic sites throughout the U.S. Given the political and military nature of China at this time, there is nothing to indicate that they will not do the same.
For example, in the case of the former Soviet Union, the Soviet recreational facility at Kellenworth, Glen Cove, Long Island housed a significant SIGINT post , providing the Russians with an enormous amount of intelligence, not only on the U.S. Government, but also private industry and certain individuals.
According to a government document, Arkady Shevchenko, who defected in 1978, said "All the top floors of the building are full of the sophisticated equipment...to intercept all the conversations, telephone conversations on anything which is going on. At least 15 or 17 technicians were working to do all of this."
It is common knowledge in the intelligence community that the former Soviet Union established many diplomatic sites equipped with SIGINT monitoring equipment. At the time, an analyst for AT&T stated that it was clear that the Soviets had carefully picked these sites for microwave interception.
There are those who will tell you that SIGINT operations no longer exist because the cold war is over--but this is simply not true. It is well understood in the intelligence community that commercial information is an even bigger target that China and other countries seek. If anything, the SIGINT efforts of these countries have increased, not decreased.
Even Uncle Sam works hard to obtain secrets from other governments and foreign companies in other countries. In 1993, in Moscow, four members of the Russian armed forces were convicted of selling top-secret information on the composition and weapons used by the Russian army, to U.S. intelligence agents. The four were sentenced from 10 to 15 years under an article of the Russian penal code, but could easily have been put to death for selling out their country.
In March, 1992, Israel came under fire by U.S. officials when they improperly sold Patriot missile technology to China.
Then, in February, 1993, it was reported by the Chicago Sun Times that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was contemplating changes in policy that included the sharing of secrets attained abroad with U.S. businesses at home. This practice is routinely followed to date, as told by CIA operatives when Congressional leaders questioned them during the recent hearings on Chinese money and the DNC.
So what does this mean to U.S. businesses that surround the former Naval base in Long Beach? It could very well mean the plunder of billions of dollars in industrial and business secrets by a very-able adversary who is quite capable of using those secrets to further its own economic and military might. Who in Long Beach would have to worry about the Chinese plundering their treasured secrets? Well, the author of this report considered the same question, conducting research to discover the answer. To see for yourself the companies that would be subject to monitoring by Chinese SIGNET efforts, click HERE.
Copyright 1997 Allan B. Colombo