Tiger Trap: America's Secret Spy War with China

Hardcover | June 14, 2011

byDavid Wise

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For decades, while America obsessed over Soviet spies, China quietly penetrated the highest levels of government. Now, for the first time, based on numerous interviews with key insiders at the FBI and CIA as well as with Chinese agents and people close to them, David Wise tells the full story of China’s many victories and defeats in its American spy wars.Two key cases interweave throughout: Katrina Leung, code-named Parlor Maid, worked for the FBI for years, even after she became a secret double agent for China, aided by love affairs with both of her FBI handlers. Here, too, is the inside story of the case, code-named Tiger Trap, of a key Chinese-American scientist suspected of stealing nuclear weapons secrets. These two cases led to many others, involving famous names from Wen Ho Lee to Richard Nixon, stunning national security leaks, and sophisticated cyberspying. The story takes us up to the present, with a West Coast spy ring whose members were sentenced in 2010—but it surely will continue for years to come, as China faces off against America. David Wise’s history of China’s spy wars in America is packed with eye-popping revelations.

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For decades, while America obsessed over Soviet spies, China quietly penetrated the highest levels of government. Now, for the first time, based on numerous interviews with key insiders at the FBI and CIA as well as with Chinese agents and people close to them, David Wise tells the full story of China’s many victories and defeats in it...

DAVID WISE's bestselling books on espionage and national security include Spy: The Inside Story of How the FBI's Robert Hanssen Betrayed America, Nightmover: How Aldrich Ames Sold the CIA to the KGB for $4.6 Million,  and The Invisible Government.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:304 pages, 9 × 6 × 1 inPublished:June 14, 2011Publisher:Houghton Mifflin HarcourtLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0547553102

ISBN - 13:9780547553108

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PRELUDE Scene 1November 1997. Katrina Leung made a striking figure, standing there at the microphone in her brightly colored cheongsam Mandarin dress and jacket, her jet-black hair swept up in a tight bun as usual, the high cheekbones accenting her thin, angular face. She was joking with Jiang Zemin, the president of China, joshing and cajoling him to sing for the VIP audience of one thousand at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. “I will sing a song from a Chinese opera,” President Jiang finally agreed, to the delight of the assembled dignitaries. “One silver moon over the window sill,” he warbled in Mandarin, choosing an aria from The Capture and Release of Cao Cao, the classic tale of a conniving, murderous third-century warlord who is caught and sweet-talks his way out of trouble. Katrina Leung, at the time a prominent member of the Chinese American community in Los Angeles, had organized the 1997 dinner in honor of Jiang and was acting as his interpreter and emcee of the affair, basking in the spotlight, where she liked to be. Leung’s persuading the president of China to burst into song was the high point of the evening, and her coup created a major buzz in the room. If there had been any doubt before, the night at the Biltmore solidified her position as the most powerful Chinese American personality in Los Angeles. Leung appeared to move easily at the top of the worlds of politics and business in both the United States and China. How she managed to do so confounded even her many admirers. But there was something that the distinguished dinner guests did not know: Katrina Leung was a spy, code-named parlor maid. Scene 2December 1990.  Bill Cleveland, chief of the Chinese counterintelligence squad in the FBI’s San Francisco field office, was checking into the Zhongshan Hotel in Shenyang, in northeast China, when he saw him. Dark-haired, cool, handsome enough to be a Hollywood actor, Cleveland was not someone easily rattled. But now he looked like a man who had seen a ghost. He turned, crossed the hotel lobby, and spoke urgently to I. C. Smith, a fellow FBI agent. As Smith recalled the moment, Cleveland approached him looking “sort of wide eyed.” “You won’t believe who I just ran into,” Cleveland said. “It was Gwobao Min.” For more than a decade, Cleveland had relentlessly pursued Min, an engineer with a Q clearance who had worked at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, one of two national laboratories in the United States that design nuclear weapons. Cleveland — and the FBI — were convinced that Min had betrayed critical US nuclear secrets to China. Yet the proof, enough evidence to make an arrest, seemed always, maddeningly, just out of reach. In the closed world of FBI counterintelligence, only a small group of insiders knew about the highly classifi ed case and the lengthy pursuit of the former Livermore scientist. Min had become the great white whale to Cleveland’s Captain Ahab. The FBI gave its top secret investigation a code name: tiger trap. Cleveland could not let go of the case; he had delivered dramatic closed lectures on tiger trap at the lab, at the FBI training facility in Quantico, Virginia, even at CIA headquarters, using it as an illustration and a warning of subtle Chinese intelligence methods. At the time of the unexpected encounter in Shenyang, Cleveland was the bureau’s preeminent Chinese counterintelligence agent. For an FBI counterspy to get into China was tricky enough, but Cleveland, a Mandarin-speaking student of Chinese history, had managed it. He had slipped into the Communist-controlled mainland as a member of a State Department team inspecting the security of US diplomatic installations in China. I. C. Smith, the other FBI agent on the team, was on assignment to the State Department and traveled as a diplomat. He recalled that they were closely watched. Well before the inspection team arrived in Shenyang, Smith thought he had detected an unusual amount of surveillance. “In Beijing one day,” he said, “it was late in the afternoon, a cold dry wind blowing, and I went into a park called the Temple of the Sun to stretch my legs.” The park, near the American embassy, was deserted, but as he turned to go back he suddenly came upon a man who quickly looked away and began studying a mural nearby. Smith continued on a short distance, discreetly photographed the man, and kept walking. As he left the park he saw a black limousine, the motor running, with two Chinese men inside. He had no doubt that the car and its occupants were from the Ministry of State Security, the MSS, China’s intelligence service. “Later in a market, I saw a guy and the same guy kept showing up. We were even followed on a trip to see the Great Wall.” Smith was surprised at all the attention. “Usually diplomatic security people don’t get that kind of coverage.” And now, incredibly, Cleveland had run into Min, the target of the prolonged tiger trap investigation, in remote Shenyang! Cleveland knew Min; he had questioned him more than once. The two spoke briefly in the hotel lobby. It turned out that both were scheduled to leave Shenyang on the same flight two days later, but Min never showed up at the airport. Cleveland was shaken by their encounter in the hotel. In a country of more than a billion people, what were the odds of Bill Cleveland running into Gwo-bao Min? “Neither one of us believed in coincidences,” I. C. Smith recalled in his gumbo-thick Louisiana drawl. Was the MSS trying to rattle the FBI? Was the People’s Republic of China sending a message from Shenyang to the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington? Cleveland could not be sure. But as matters turned out, the encounter was a dark harbinger of what awaited him.

Table of Contents

CONTENTS
1. A Thousand Grains of Sand 5
2. Parlor Maid 20
3. The Recruitment 29
4. Double Game 34
5. Destroy After Reading 42
6. “Holy Shit, Mr. Grove!” 50
7. Riding the Tiger: China and the Neutron Bomb 65
8. The Walk-in 71
9. Kindred Spirit: Wen Ho Lee 81
10. Sego Palm 99
11. Trouble in Paradise 109
12. Ethereal Throne: The Spy Who Never Was 121
13. Storm Clouds 134
14. The Counterspy 139
15. Royal Tourist 154
16. Richard Nixon and the Hong Kong Hostess 167
17. Anubis 176
18. Endgame 187
19. Eagle Claw 202
20. Red Flower 214
21. The Cyberspies 227
22. An Afterword 236
Author’s Note 243
Notes 247
Index 279
Prelude 1

Editorial Reviews

"Wise's conclusion is sobering--'China's spying on America is ongoing, current, and shows no signs of diminishing--and his book is a fascinating history of Chinese espionage that should appeal to a diverse readership."-Publishers Weekly "David Wise has done it again. This time it's China. He's taken us deep into the American efforts to root out Chinese spies here and abroad. As always, Wise is the master - writing with clarity and style abou thte murky and consequential underworld of nuclear espionage."- Tom Brokaw "David Wise is a master of the nonfiction thriller and, once again, he delivers a fact-filled inside account, with sources named and no one spared, including some very amorous and reckless FBI agents.   There is an important message in Tiger Trap -- about the often overlooked threat posed by China's demonstrated ability to dig out America's most important military and economic secrets."-Seymour M. Hersh "David Wise has given us a rare combination in today's literary world -- a book that is great reading, while at the same time shedding light on a subject whose seriousness should concern every thinking American."- Jim Webb, U.S. Senator from Virginia, author of Born Fighting, Fields of Fire "Extraordinary. A stunningly detailed history of China's spy war with us - from sexy socialite double agents to "kill switches" implanted offshore in the computer chips for our electric grid. Wise remains the master."– R. James Woolsey, former Director of Central Intelligence "Forget Moscow rules, Lubyanka Prison, and KGB assassins.  Today’s most threatening web of spies is spun out of Beijing and reaches from Silicon Valley to the Pentagon.  David Wise has written a dead-on accurate narrative of major PRC cases against American targets.  He names names, details agent tradecraft, and takes you into the courtroom and even a jail cell to witness the final unraveling of these sensational cases.  You will never think about Chinese espionage the same way again. " - Peter Earnest, Executive Director of the International Spy Museum