Thu, Mar 28, 2002 - Page 1 News List

Fallout from spy-case hits Washington

TAINTED LOBBYISTS Recent revelations about secret NSB funds being used to influence US policy toward Taiwan may damage the nation's defenders in the US

By Charles Snyder  /  WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

Washington supporters of Taiwan are concerned that further disclosures from the National Security Bureau spy scandal could possibly taint those who speak up for Taiwan in the US capital, a senior Taiwanese politician has been told.

Presidential senior advisor Yao Chia-wen (姚嘉文) received that message during two days of talks with US think tanks and congressional aides during a stopover in Washington.

Fear of what's to come

While the congressional staffers were not concerned over what has been revealed so far about Taiwan's efforts to influence US political opinion with slush funds set up under former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), they say they may be increasingly concerned as new information, including the names of those involved, became public, Yao was told.

Yao was the first senior Taiwanese official to go to Washington and seek opinions on the scandal since it broke.

During his trip, Yao told reporters toward the end of his two days in Washington, he called his wife in Taiwan and was told that more details of the scandal were certain to come out. There was concern in Washington that the revelation of the names of the people involved would compromise intelligence sources.

Yao met with some conservative Taiwan-supporting congressional aides, but spent much of his time with conservative think tanks and others who are Taiwan's main supporters in Washington.

Congress is on a two-week spring recess, and virtually all Representatives and Senators are out of town back home, as are most of their staff members.

Think tank scholars voiced concern that as new names are made public, those who speak out in favor of Taiwan may be suspected of having "sold out" as potential recipients of some of the NT$3.5 billion in money allegedly set aside in two secret slush funds intended to buy political favors overseas.

As one person Yao met said, further disclosures could make some vocal Taiwan-supporters "radioactive."

So far, only the names of two officials of the George W. Bush administration have been publicly implicated in the scandal; Carl W. Ford, Jr., the assistant secretary of defense for intelligence and research and James Kelly, the assistant secretary of state of East Asia.

Ford, a former CIA official and senior defense official under the elder George Bush administration, was said to be an important Taiwan lobbyist who was allegedly wined and dined to the tune of NT$400,000 in late 1999 and early 2000 by the Lee Teng-hui administration. Although Ford is a republican, he is a native of Arkansas, former President Clinton's home state.

Kelly was alleged to have been involved in shuffling funds from Taiwan to Japan when he was head of the Honolulu-based Pacific Forum of the George Washington University's Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Friend under fire

Neither Ford nor Kelly would comment on the issue. Ford directed reporters to the State Department and a department spokesman said that while Kelly had read the articles implicating him, he had no comment.

Two months before Ford's alleged November 1999 trip to Taiwan described in an article in Hong Kong's Sing Tao newspaper (星島日報) earlier this week, which described the lavish entertainment Ford received, he wrote a letter to the editor of The New York Times in which he was described as a consultant for the Taiwan Research Institute, whose public relations firm, Cassidy and Associates, was a key lobbyist for increased US arms sales to Taiwan.

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