Although some brief congressional oversight hearings have been held on the Wen Ho Lee matter, those efforts did not and could not search widely or deeply enough to reach the full truth about the Justice Department's handling (or mishandling) of it. Atty. Gen. Janet Reno should take immediate steps to ensure a more exhaustive review of this case in order to return credibility to the Justice Department and the FBI, just as she did when she appointed former U.S. Sen. John Danforth to settle the controversy over the government's actions in the Branch Davidian tragedy in Waco, Texas.
That is why prominent Asian American groups, including the Organization of Chinese Americans and the National Asian Pacific American Bar Assn., met with Reno earlier this month to press her to appoint an impartial outside investigative panel. In response, Reno offered to release to those groups a classified internal Justice Department report on its handling of the case. Even if she did that (which remains uncertain), such a sanitized report would be inherently suspect as self-serving and lacking in credibility. However sincere her offer may be, it is not a substitute for an in-depth independent inquiry.
In the Waco case, Reno and Congress understood that, even with the congressional hearings that were held, the stain on the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies would not be erased until a respected and impartial authority had reviewed the evidence and issued a public report on the findings, which Danforth did this past July. The Lee case urgently requires a similar airing of the facts.