Weeks after reports that Wen Ho Lee, a Chinese-American scientist at Los Alamos, may have leaked secret nuclear-weapons designs to Beijing back in 1988, some in the U.S. intelligence community are asking: was the FBI deliberately slow to investigate? The bureau certainly had a reason to be embarrassed about the investigation: NEWSWEEK has learned that Lee's wife, Sylvia, was for years an FBI informant. According to senior intelligence officials, from 1985 to 1991, Sylvia Lee--an administrator at Los Alamos who arranged lab tours for Chinese delegations and attended academic conferences in Beijing--covertly helped the FBI keep tabs on prominent Chinese scientists and develop personality profiles on them.
In fact, her role may have been more complicated than some in law enforcement first realized. Intelligence sources say that in the late 1980s, officials in Beijing took a special interest in Sylvia Lee, inviting her to attend an academic conference in China. The advances were unusual. A nonscientist, she seemingly had little to contribute to the meeting, and presented a videotaped lecture prepared by the lab. Lee's boss at Los Alamos at the time was a leading expert on laser technology, and the Feds believe the Chinese may have been trying to use her to obtain the lab's laser research. The FBI briefly worried that Sylvia Lee might have been a double agent. When Energy Department investigators first surmised the Chinese had stolen secrets from Los Alamos, they concluded that both Wen Ho and Sylvia were likely suspects.
The FBI does not now consider Sylvia Lee a suspect. She was "closed" as an FBI informant in 1991 because the bureau no longer believed she was providing useful intelligence. Intelligence officials still have doubts about whether they will ever gather enough evidence to prosecute Wen Ho Lee, who, sources say, knew about his wife's relationship with the FBI. Lee maintains he is innocent.
Earlier this month the FBI sheepishly revealed Sylvia Lee's FBI ties to top intelligence officials, who are furious that the bureau withheld critical information. According to government officials, FBI Director Louis Freeh, Attorney General Janet Reno and CIA Director George Tenet were also kept in the dark. This week Freeh will appear before angry senators on the Intelligence Committee. It won't be an easy sell.STARRPaying Whitewater Legal Bills
The Whitewater investigation has already cost taxpayers an estimated $45.2 million. The tally could climb higher--in defendants' legal fees. Under the independent-counsel statute, the court panel that appointed Kenneth Starr can order the government to pay the legal expenses of anyone who is investigated but not indicted. No claims can be filed until Starr's inquiry is formally concluded, but a source familiar with the probe says that among those caught up in the inquiry who are likely to seek refunds are Clinton confidant Bruce Lindsey and former White House aides Bernard Nussbaum, Harold Ickes and Maggie Williams. Even Hillary Clinton might qualify, says the source. But one Starr target who may not be eligible is Bill Clinton. Under fire to explain his Whitewater dealings in 1994, Clinton called for an independent counsel. By doing so, some advisers now think, the president may have waived his right to claim lawyers' fees, even if he was cleared. Some defense lawyers expect Starr's office to contest applications for reimbursements.THE BUZZRed Eyes, Puffy Nose: Yeltsin's Got Allergies!
April is the sniffliest month, as allergy season hits its stride. but this year is off the charts. When pollen counts soar this high, even the normally non-allergic fall prey, which is bad news: once one irritant nabs you, you're more susceptible to all the others.
Just Shoot Me If all else fails, get shots--they work. But don't neglect your allergies: untreated, they can spur infections, asthma and lung damage.
Blame Industry Asthma rates have skyrocketed for years. No one knows why, but many point to pollution.
Prescription Pills Are OK ... Prescribed antihistamine pills help a bit and don't have side effects, but they only partly work. (Over-the-counter pills make you drowsy.)
But Oh, Prescription Sprays! Prescribed steroid nasal sprays are safe and work far better than pills. Avoid over-the-counter sprays: they only make things worse.
Blame La Nina Milder winters mean more tree pollen and an earlier release, extending misery season. And dust mites breed more when it's warm.STYLESBad Hair Day? Not With These Guys Around.
Is an accent required to cut hair well? probably not, but all four of these upscale hairstylists (prices: $100 to $290) spoke in lovely European lilts. They also sprinkled their sentences with "sexy," "happening" and other frisky adjectives. Nice guys all; we'd sit in their chairs any day.Laurent Dufourg
Most Famous Cut: "I cut Gwyneth Paltrow's hair very short for 'Sliding Doors.' It got lots of press and changed my career. It was great because she trusted me with such a radical change."
Tip: "Always trim your split ends."
Price: "In L.A., $150. In New York, $185."Cristophe
Theory: "I use hair to change the face's volumes and angles."
Tip: "When you shampoo, use less lather."
Celeb Clients: President Clinton, Steven Spielberg, Nic Cage.Frederic Fekkai
New Work: "I just cut Brooke Shields's hair short. Very sexy, cool and happening."
Technique: "I let women open up and tell me who they are, then help put it all together. That makes the sexiest hairstyle."Seamus McAllister
Emergency: "One client, a famous actress, accidentally dyed her hair pink. I had to fix it fast."
Philosophy: "Nobody has bad hair. It's just how it's cut."QUAYLESWhat a Fine Family of Props
When is a prop not a prop? On the presidential-campaign trail in Iowa last week, Marilyn Quayle was outspoken: she and her husband, Dan, do not use their children as a "political prop." But Democrats were quick to point out that the Quayles' Christmas card last year, paid for by the former veep's political-action committee, featured Mom and Dad--and their three kids. The card was sent to supporters on the PAC mailing list. "I can't imagine anyone would say putting your children on a Christmas card is exploiting them," said a Quayle spokesman. Mrs. Quayle suggested that the Clintons forfeited Chelsea's right to privacy when they appeared with her during the impeachment proceedings. "When Dan was vice president, you never saw our children," she said.WHAT'S COOLThe Kids Are All Right. Cute, Even.
Last week NEWSWEEK, like other institutions nationwide, hosted take our kids to Work Day (just taking our daughters seemed only half as much fun). We're happy to report that the state of the youth is: adorable. Below, the kids let us in on some junior trends.A DAY IN THE LIFE
They frolicked about our offices, regaled us with tales of pet caterpillars and videogame exploits and generally made us chuckle. Then 16 of our young friends submitted to a quick poll (right). Finally we let them in on a top-secret peri product test. The product: ice cream. The verdict: mmm.BY THE NUMBERS
9 watch 'Rugrats'
6 watch pro wrestling
9 collect Beanie Babies (one boasting a 39-Beanie collection)
13 watch 'The Simpsons'
4 watch 'Futurama'
2 watch 'The Family Guy'
ALL of them (yes, ALL) have computers at home
8 want to be president
13 play videogames
10 play soccer
Baby G-Shock watches were in (and, we had to admit, way cool), as were Pokemon cards and milky gel pens. But WCW wrestling's in trouble: these kids were strictly WWF fans. Also, Sony's PlayStation beat out Nintendo's N64 by a mile.GADGETSThe Bear Who Cares
Sure, we all talk to our computers. But it's not what we'd call companionship. In Japan, Matsushita Electric is developing chip-laden toy bears and cats designed to "aid senior citizens with communication." Besides saying "good morning," "hello" and "good night," the device spouts news and weather reports. And if Grandma knows what's good for her, she'll talk back. The plush toy alerts welfare workers how often its "owner" touches or chats with it, and if ignored will bring concerned agents to the door.DIVORCEHeartbreak Hoteliers
Divorce is a tale of two couches: you begin on your best friend's and end up on your therapist's. New York's Envoy Club, an extended-stay hotel, wants to help. The hotel's new "Suddenly Single" program offers a posh crash pad and complimentary lists of recommended therapists and top lawyers. To salve separation anxiety, guests can request soothing sound machines, massages--or a psychic to predict how it will all turn out. The misery market, brokers say, is booming: as many as two clients a month call for short-term digs, "usually," says one agent, "in a hyper state."AMENITIES OFFEREDPOLICECop Out: The Thinning Blue Line
In a tight job market, good cops are hard to find. Detroit's recent recruiting drive yielded 287 viable candidates out of 1,200 applicants. Top disqualification: prior convictions.Conventional WisdomDoom and Gloom Edition
A CW warning: bad vibes to any presidential candidate who attempts to exploit the Littleton tragedy. And worse vibes to the first producer who pitches a Trenchcoat Mafia TV movie. C.W.
NATO - 50th-birthday party turns into war council. But committees can't fight. Go to ground.
Slobo - His house, TV station finally bombed. This guy can't take a hint.
Students + The Columbine kids are devastated, but brave and resilient. Take back your school!
NRA - 15 die and they "scale down" their convention. How many would it take to cancel it?
Doom - Cool dudes designing splatter games didn't cause deaths. But they seem a lot less cool.
Monica - Old: The "get" of the century. New: Does "Today," America yawns.