February 28, 2000
The Attorney General Janet Reno
Room 5111 Main Justice Building
Tenth St. & Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20530
Dear Attorney General Reno:
As President of the American Physical Society, I am writing to express our concern about the pretrial treatment of Dr. Wen Ho Lee, accused of mishandling classified information at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
We recognize the great importance of the proper handling of classified information to our national security, and we make no judgment about Lee's guilt or innocence. That will be decided in a court of law. However, we are deeply disturbed by the inhumane treatment that he has received in his pretrial incarceration. The extraordinarily harsh conditions under which he is detained suggest to the outside world that he is presumed guilty, and is being punished, before his trial has even begun. This perception has been reinforced by the statement of CIA Director George Tenet that Lee's actions were taken "with intent to harm the United States." It seems to us that basic principles of American justice are being violated in this case.
I would like to bring another important issue to your attention. One of the principal missions of the American Physical Society is to maintain the strength and vitality of the scientific enterprise in this country. The perception in the physics community that Dr. Lee is not being treated justly has caused great consternation, especially among the large number of scientists in the United States who have come here from abroad. As a result, it is becoming difficult to attract and retain the very best scientists at our weapons laboratories and other facilities. We are deeply concerned, therefore, that our scientific capabilities and national security are being compromised by our government's actions in the case of Wen Ho Lee.
I respectfully urge you to look into this matter.
James S. Langer
cc: W. Richardson, Secretary, DOE
Dr. Neal Lane, Assistant to the President for Science & Technology
Dr. Bruce Alberts, President, National Academy of Sciences