A Senate investigation into satellite exports has determined that China received military benefits and sensitive technology from the transfers, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott said Tuesday.
Announcing the preliminary results of a Senate inquiry, Lott said new information had come to light that "should remove all resistance to naming an independent counsel" to look into China's efforts to influence the American political process."In violation of stated U.S. policy, sensitive technology related to satellite exports has been transferred to China," said Lott, R-Miss. He said China had received military benefit from these exports and that the Clinton administration "has ignored overwhelming information regarding Chinese (nuclear) proliferation."
Lott summarized the findings of four Republican-controlled Senate committees that have been looking into satellite exports to China and whether they jeopardized national security or were influenced by campaign contributions.
"The Clinton administration's export controls for satellites are wholly inadequate," Lott asserted. "They have not protected sensitive U.S. technology. National security concerns are regularly downplayed and even ignored."
Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., said Lott had given "a pretty partisan report."
"I do believe the issue warrants our attention, but it also warrants objectivity and very thoughtful careful consideration of the facts," Daschle said. He said many of the allegations cited by Lott are unproved and complained about "unidentified sources and very questionable sources."
As to Chinese attempts to influence U.S. elections, Lott said, "I cannot comment in any detail about the nature of this information," adding that "new information has come to light about China's efforts to influence the American political process."
He said the material was new since the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, headed by Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., wrapped up an investigation late last year into alleged fund-raising abuses in the 1996 presidential campaign.
"It has already been reported that FBI Director (Louis) Freeh has indicated his view that an independent counsel should be appointed," Lott said. "It is time to renew attention on the attorney general. It is time for an outside, impartial investigation by an independent counsel into serious and credible charges of direct Chinese government financing of the 1996 elections."
"It is time to end the stonewall and get to the truth," Lott said.
Chinese officials have denied that the country used its commercial satellite-launching program to gain sensitive U.S. technology that could have helped China's ballistic missile capabilities.
At issue are the president's decision to waive export controls on U.S. technology transfers to China and the role, if any, that campaign contributions may have played in the decision.
Both the Senate and House are investigating Clinton's decision to grant a waiver earlier this year to allow Loral Space and Communications to launch a commercial satellite aboard a Chinese rocket.
The waiver was granted despite a Justice Department investigation into whether Loral gave the Chinese sensitive information in a report on a failed 1996 satellite launch.
Congressional investigators also want to know if there is a link between the satellite waivers and Democratic campaign contributions from Loral Chairman Bernard Schwartz and reported donations to the party from a Chinese military official.