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web posted October 18, 1999

Clinton assails GOP's 'new isolationism'

On the day after the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty went down to defeat in the Senate, President Bill Clinton accused Republicans in Congress of "reckless partisanship" and a "new isolationism" that threatens to undermine 50 years of American global leadership.

"You see it in the refusal to pay our U.N. dues. You see it in the woefully inadequate budget for foreign affairs that includes meeting our obligations to the Middle East peace process," Clinton said during an hour-long White House press conference on October 14.

"You see it in the refusal to do our part to stem the tide of global warming."

Clinton said, "They are saying America does not need to lead either by effort or by example. They are saying we don't need our friends or allies. They're betting our children's future on the reckless proposition that we can go it alone.

"That is not where I stand, and that is not where the American people stand."

But Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott rejected the president's accusations, saying, "This treaty was voted down because it was a bad treaty."

Lott said he was convinced that the treaty was flawed because it would not allow the United States to continue the nuclear testing he said it needed to do and would not detect low-level nuclear tests by other countries.

Lott denied that the vote was politically inspired, and he denied that Republicans were being isolationists. "We aren't being international cowboys either," said Lott. "We are not a rubber stamp for the president on a treaty that we believe is wrong."

Supporters of the test ban treaty, which would outlaw underground nuclear testing, could muster only 48 votes in the Senate the night before, far short of the 67 votes needed for ratification.

However, Clinton vowed to continue to press for ratification of the treaty, and he said that for the duration of his presidency, the United States would abide by its provisions.

"We're not going to test. I signed that treaty. It still binds us unless I go, in effect, and erase our names," he said.

But Clinton predicted that "if we ever get a president that's against the test ban treaty, which we may," it could encourage other nuclear countries -- China, Russia, India and Pakistan in particular -- to resume their own testing programs.

The president also said he believes a "strong minority" of congressional Republicans wants to scrap the entire array of international arms control agreements, and he vowed to do what he can to make sure that doesn't happen.

"Imagine the world we live in if they prevail," he said. "I think these arms control agreements have created a climate in the world which has helped to make us far more secure."

Treaty opponent Sen. James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) said, "I've never heard so many untrue things said with a such a straight face as this president has said."

"If anything, (defeating the treaty) helps us in our national security," he said. "If we have what really amounts to unilateral disarmament ... that would put us in a much more difficult position."

Critics of the treaty say that it would be impossible to make sure other nations are complying with its provisions -- and that maintaining the U.S. nuclear arsenal requires having the flexibility to test.

Investigators can't account for secret U.S. nuclear codes

Investigators looking into the activities of a nuclear scientist linked to allegations of Chinese espionage have been unable to account for copies of top- secret computer files containing secret U.S. nuclear codes.

Earlier this year, the FBI discovered that Wen Ho Lee, a scientist at the Los Alamos nuclear weapons lab in New Mexico, transferred sensitive nuclear codes, called "legacy codes," from a secure computer to a non-secure computer.

Law enforcement sources say they have determined that at some point, Lee copied the codes on tape. CNN has learned that investigators have asked Lee to produce the tapes, but he has yet to do so.

Lee, who has been fired from his Los Alamos post, has steadfastly denied wrongdoing and has not been charged with any crime. But the possible loss of key national security secrets could bolster what some have viewed as a shaky case for charging Lee with gross negligence or illegal transfer of classified information.

It's hard to overstate the importance of the legacy codes. They really are the crown jewels of our nuclear weapon design effort," said Gary Milhollin, a nuclear weapons expert.

"They show you how to design a nuclear weapon, how to manufacture it, how to test it, and they tell somebody who has the codes everything about what our arsenal contains," he says.

Despite the revelations about the missing tape, sources say that the decision on whether to charge Lee remains a close call because the FBI still does not have evidence that he gave the secrets to anyone.

In September, after the FBI was unable to prove Lee has passed along designs for the W-88 nuclear warhead, the agency expanded its investigation to include other suspects and government agencies.

Starr reportedly to step down as independent counsel

Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr will formally step this week and be replaced by one of his assistants, Robert Ray, sources familiar with Starr's plans said October 14.

The development came as his five-year, $47 million investigation of the Clintons winding down.

Ray, a federal prosecutor who joined Starr's office early this year, was selected by a panel of three federal appeals court judges to succeed the controversial special prosecutor, the sources told The Associated Press.

The judges, who interviewed several of Starr's deputies, have not issued a formal order yet, but they told the prosecutor's office of their plans last week, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

That cleared the way for Starr, who has hinted for months of his desire to step down, to return to his private law practice.

Air power alone didn't win Yugoslav conflict, Pentagon says

A Pentagon post-war analysis of the military campaign against Yugoslavia concludes that air strikes alone did not cause President Slobodan Milosevic to capitulate, although they had a "major impact."

The report, unveiled at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on October 14, concludes that other factors -- including Russian diplomacy, the threat of a ground invasion and the success of ethnic Albanian rebels -- also played a role in Yugoslavia's decision to withdraw from Kosovo.

"Because many pressures were brought to bear, we can never be certain about what caused Milosevic to accept NATO's conditions," said a joint statement from Defense Secretary William Cohen and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Hugh Shelton.

In their comments to senators, Cohen and Shelton also said America's NATO allies need to modernize their forces to make them more compatible with U.S. forces. They also said that NATO needs to have better procedures for deciding which targets can be selected by military commanders and which targets require approval from political leaders.

"I think we have learned a lesson in terms of the need to act more quickly in setting the ground rules, as such, and what targets should be subject to review (by politicians)," Cohen said.

"Following such an approach from the start and identifying as early as possible the criteria for those targets that required review by higher authorities -- these are important lessons for the alliance for future operations," he said.

NATO has been criticized for allowing political officials to micromanage the Kosovo bombing campaign, tying the hands of military commanders.

The Pentagon review also faults NATO for failing to plan for all options, including a possible ground invasion, but nevertheless concludes that the public discussion of a possible invasion "undoubtedly contributed to Milosevic's calculations that NATO would prevail at all costs."

The report also say the United States ran short of critical assets such as refueling planes, jamming aircraft and satellite-guided bombs. And while concluding the air campaign was a success, the report said NATO had difficulty targeting Yugoslav air defenses and that locating mobile targets also proved "problematic."

"Our limitations in being able to locate enemy forces under cover is being assessed," the report said.

Gore may tell Clinton: Thanks but no thanks

Vice President Al Gore says he's considering telling President Clinton he doesn't want his help in his quest for the White House, although he says no decision has been made yet.

Gore told The Washington Post that if he's to win the presidency, he has to have what he calls a "very personal connection" with the American people.

Gore compares this campaign to his his first race for the House in 1976, when he asked his late father, a senator, not to speak on his behalf.

Gore acknowledges that Clinton is already injecting himself into the race by wooing major donors and talking up his vice president whenever possible.

But Gore says his campaign is more about tomorrow, than yesterday.

He says Clinton has done a "superb" job, but added that he understood the American people's anger and disappointment with the president over his relationship with Monica Lewinsky.

Hillary Clinton offered New York talk show slot

New York radio listeners who can ask Rudy may also be able to ask Hillary.

The New York Daily News reported on October 16 that the radio station that airs an hour-long call-in show featuring Mayor Rudy Guiliani is offering Hillary Rodham Clinton the same privilege.

Guiliani and Clinton may square off for the New York Senate seat being vacated by Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

WABC program director Phil Boyce was quoted as saying if the First Lady wants to do her listening tour, what better way than to have about 150 000 listeners at a time.

Aides say she's weighing the offer.

If she goes on the air in New York she would join a largely conservative lineup featuring talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Matt Drudge.

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