Update VI: After
years of legal wrangling, Donald Keyser, former number
two in Colin Powell's State Department, was sentenced
January 23, 2007, and will get a year (and a
day) in jail for passing TOP SECRET documents to Taiwan
agents and causing undisclosed damage to American interests.
State Department's Press
Update V: The
US Government has now dropped its charges of espionage.
Sentencing scheduled for Febuary 2007. Update
at the blog.
Update IV: Josh
reveals that Taiwan is no longer cooperating with
the Keyser espionage investigation and is attempting
to get back the documents agent Isabelle Cheng gave
the FBI. The hearing on reversing Keyser's plea is scheduled
for next month (November 2006).
Update III: It
seems only the conservative New York Sun with its ties
to American Enterprise Institute, etc., is following
the Keyser story. Some interesting tidbits in staff
reporter Josh Gerstein's latest
dispatch of August 15.
No one should take seriously any of the so-called
China "experts" involved after all this blows
over. It will be interesting to see whether John
Tkacik, for example, will still get prominent editorial
space to spew his Red China scare line. And Keyser should
escape jail because he helped "save" Harry
UPDATE II: Don
Keyser's sentencing, delayed for the fourth time, was
to be decided June 23 but was delayed yet again
by the prosecution led by David Laufman (President George
to be Inspector General of the Defense Department)
which intends to present classified information that
will elevate the Keyser proceedings to an "espionage-related
But the details of the charges will not be made
public as the prosecution's brief and the hearing scheduled
for no later than August 9 will be in secret.
Bogota (Colombia) born Judge T. S. Ellis III indicated
that if differences ensue -- and most likely they will
as Keyser is represented by former President Bill Clinton's
Assistant Attorney General Robert Litt, currently a
partner at DC heavyweight law firm Arnold & Porter
-- the case could drag on indefinitely. Sadly,
perhaps this is the true aim of both sides?
UPDATE The Press
Office for the US Attorney has not returned our phone
call asking for status on the sentencing that was scheduled
for March 24 9:00 EST at the US Federal Courthouse
Eastern District, Alexandria, Virginia...
ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA December 12, 2005
In late February 2006 Donald Willis Keyser, former number
two at the State Department under Colin Powell, will
be sentenced for removing classified documents and making
false statements during a top secret security clearance
Keyser pleaded guilty to the charges on December 12
at a USA federal court in Virginia. The maximum combined
penalties for these offenses are eight years in prison
and $500,000 in fines.
There is no mention of espionage by any of the parties
concerned which is of course a much more serious crime
and punishable by life in prison or even death.
Yet Keyser took top-secret materials from the State
Department for twelve years and was observed by the
FBI passing documents to foreign intelligence agents
of Taiwan on four separate occasions prior to his arrest
in September 2004.
In 2000 Keyser was disciplined by then Secretary of
State Madeline Albright for the loss
of a laptop computer containing top-secret information
on weapons of mass destruction proliferation.
A laptop containing classified materials was found
by the FBI when they searched Keyser's house. In total
the FBI found 3,600 top secret and "secure compartmented
information" documents in Keyser's possession.
After his initial arrest, Keyser was released on $500,000
bond (conveniently matching the possible fines) and
free to return to the roomy McMansion in a secluded
leafy neighborhood in Fairfax, Virginia, that he shares
with his fourth wife (a CIA employee) provided he wear
an electronic monitoring device. After pleading guilty
on December 12 Keyser was again allowed to return home
and await sentencing.
Contrast Keyser's treatment to that of Los Alamos scientist
Wen Ho Lee.
Lee was held in solitary confinement for almost a year.
His very being was smeared by every major news outlet,
particularly the New York Times, and vilified
by the USA Congress.
But the case against Lee was a sham - a disgraceful
display of partisan politics and anti-China hysteria.
Not only did Lee never pass any documents to a foreign
government, none of the documents he allegedly took
were even classified.
Back in the late 1990s when the anti-China Cox Committee
led by California Congressmen Christopher Cox (R) was
persecuting Wen Ho Lee, it was also investigating whether
the defense contractor Loral gave China high technology
The possibility that American technology and nuclear
"secrets" were given to the Red Chinese was considered
a national disaster by the Cox Committee and all its
supporters in government and in the press. Internet
websites (at the time a new phenomenon) spread the word
that Clinton sold out America to China for campaign
For example, Joseph
Farah, producer of the World Net Daily website,
declared that "treason" and "traitor" were not strong
enough words to describe what Clinton and Loral had
done to America and the scandal was "unlike any other
in American history."
America survived the "crisis" and today Christopher
Cox is President Bush's head of the Securities and Exchange
Commission and the World
Net Daily is part of an army of online apologists
for Bush administration policies.
Coincidentally, Keyser's attorney, Robert Litt of Arnold
& Porter, was Deputy Assistant Attorney General under
President Clinton and gave more than one deposition
in the Loral inquiries. In a bizarre twist, Keyser was
briefly a Senior Inspector at the Office of Inspector
General during this period.
A sure sign of the insidious interconnection between
governments and press in Washington, DC, the husband
of the Taiwan agent (Isabelle Cheng) Keyser passed documents
to and secretly met in Taipei in 2003, is an American
reporter for the Taiwan newspaper The China Post.
He is currently listed on the USA Senate's press membership
roll and reports often (and often critically) about
Isabelle Cheng's boss, Lieutenant General Huang Kuang-hsun
(the other agent Keyser gave documents) was until very
recently the deputy head of the National Security Bureau,
Taiwan's "CIA." He told
a reporter for Taiwan's state-owned news agency
that his government handed over to the USA the records
of Keyser's meetings with Taiwan agents during the FBI
Keyser's career was marked not just by top appointments
but also spanned crucial periods in USA-China-Taiwan
Keyser learned Mandarin Chinese on Taiwan
from 1968 to 1970 during the most tumultuous years of
the Cultural Revolution. He first worked in China proper
back in 1976 when the capital was still called Peking
and there was no US embassy. From that point until 1992
he was back and forth between Beijing and Tokyo holding
ever more important posts. In the pivotal year 1989,
the same year Keyser graduated from the National War
College, he was back in Beijing. Whether he was there
before or after the Tiananmen
Square uprising is not known as of this writing.
Keyser was trained in and exposed to the highest levels
of American foreign policy for over thirty years. He
analyzed Chinese, Japanese, American political affairs
and had access to top secret classified materials
which he stole for twelve years and passed materials
to foreign agents of a country that the USA has no official
It is hard to believe that this is not considered espionage.
It is hard to believe that his actions resulted in no
damage to USA national security.
So why is Taiwan's top spy being let off the hook?
Will Americans ever know whether Don Keyser compromised
or damaged American interests in East Asia? Or after
he is sentenced on February 24 will the whole business
be swept under a rug and forgotten?
©2005 Ben Calmes for Sinomania!