Foreign Affairs

Spy Case May Offer Clues How Chinese Missile Ended Up in Hezbollah’s Arsenal

In February 1999, Dr. Ronald N. Montaperto was identified by PBS’ News Hour during a segment on “human rights in China” as “a senior fellow at the Institute for National Strategic Studies at National Defense University.” He was also said to be “advising the Pentagon on Chinese military issues.” At the same time he was preening for PBS, however, he was an espionage agent for the People’s Republic of China.

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A joint Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and FBI investigation nailed Montaperto’s spying for the PRC beyond any reasonable doubt, and Montaperto recently confessed to violating the “Espionage Act” in U.S. District Court.

Montaperto is currently awaiting sentencing, and one hopes he is telling everything he knows, perhaps in the hope of a lesser sentence. But make no mistake, he passed top-secret information to a PRC military officer. Our nation is at greater risk because of his treachery.

As example of his perfidy is stated in the criminal case: “One disclosure dealt with the sale of military equipment to a Middle Eastern country.” That simple declarative sentence could have had direct life-and-death consequences.

If in selling out his country Montaperto revealed the sources and methods of how the U.S. could identify PRC military sales, those individuals who trusted the U.S. could have been killed and/or extremely capable and expensive technology to gather information compromised.

Taken even further, if the country was Iran and the military technology was the Chinese C-802 anti-ship missile (Ying-Ji-802), Montaperto’s release of top-secret information could have shut down our knowledge of where the missiles were ultimately going. The C-802 in the hands of Hezbollah recently surprised the world by slamming into an Israeli warship and killing Israeli sailors.

What is truly amazing with the Montaperto spy case is how the media have ignored it. Bill Gertz of the Washington Times, as always, did an exemplary job in both breaking the story and staying ahead of it. But throughout the mainstream media the silence has been deafening.

For example, two very capable Washington Post reporters, Robert Kaiser (now associate editor) and Steven Mufson, in a Page 1 story on Feb. 22, 2000, “Blue Team Draw A Hard Line on Beijing,” describe the Washington battle between those of us who think the PRC is a military threat to America and our allies — the Blue Team — and those who disagree with that view — the Red Team. As an aside, this blue-red battle continues to rage today.

In the Post’s fair and well-written, front-page story, Montaperto, a very influential member of the “Red Team,” is directly quoted:

“Scholars who have been targets of Blue Team scorn say there is an increasingly politicized atmosphere among Sinologists “It’s not as much fun as it used to be,” said Ronald N. Montaperto, a professor at the National Defense University whom the Blue Team considers soft on China. “Debate has become very personal and very political and frequently generates more heat than light.”

So Montaperto was quoted in the Washington Post as a thoughtful scholar who, poor dear, had to suffer the scorn of the Blue Team. Well, the putz is a spy, and I did not read of his treason in the Post.

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