The first decision of the China Initiative studies raises more questions than it answers


Soon Former DOJ officials who participated in the program, among others, has called for an end to the experiment or a radical change in his thinking. Witnessing the case before Congress, Attorney General Merrick Garland he promised that the Department of Justice will review the process.

According to this article, “there would be no precedent in the case [the Lieber] It would have been worse for the government, ”said Margaret Lewis, a law professor at Seton Hall University. written very in taking action.

But the facts of the case were strong, especially because of a video of Lieber admitting to FBI agents that he had received money from a Chinese university, had a Chinese bank account, and had not been (in his own words) “obvious. By any means” when questioned. about these and other issues with Harvard executives and government investigators.

This made Lieber’s case “strange” among China Initiative cases, according to a lawyer who followed the case to find out what he wanted to do with the case. While it is not always helpful to predict how the government will deal with future cases of integrity in the process, it has raised questions about the critical role of research-talent recruitment programs.

Unanswered Questions on the Talent Thousand Talents Program

The question of Lieber’s innocence can be settled, for now – his lawyer, Marc Mukasey, he told reporters that it “respects the decision but will continue to fight,” meaning that it may appeal – but the case has raised additional questions about the China Initiative itself and, in particular, the “professional programs” that sparked the review.

Talent programs are government-sponsored programs designed to attract foreign professionals (aka “talent”) to work in China. Although cooperation with Chinese universities, including cooperation through talent programs, has long been promoted by US institutions, the federal government has been concerned about them for the past several years.

A 2019 Senate Report found that China funded more than 200 programs that recruited more than 7,000 people. The report also warned that talent programs encourage its members to “lie to solicitations for aid agencies in the US, which have been set up.” Chinese laboratories are conducting research similar to their US research, and, in some cases, relocating hard-working U.S. scientists. “

“One of the things that made Dr. Lieber so inquisitive was that he had so many Chinese students, didn’t he?”

—Marc Mukasey, Lieber’s attorney

A MIT Technology Review data survey found that 19 of the 77 known cases of China Initiative (25%) were caused by suspicion that the defendants participated in Chinese programs. Fourteen cases in this program, meanwhile, are considered to be the most difficult investigations that have taken place due to the failure to disclose all relevant information to Chinese institutions on academic records. There are no 14 cases related to allegations that the scientist in question transferred US intelligence to China.

Although the government is skeptical of technology programs, it is unclear whether disclosure in the programs is considered a physical or non-material requirement by the federal government.

This was a question that the attorney for another China Initiative, who is following the case to better prepare for his client’s case and who did not want to be named so as not to put him at risk, hoped it would be clear within the case. Without explanation, he said, some defendants would say they did not know it was appropriate to announce a talent participation.

In the end, this was a major issue in Lieber’s case: he covered the participation, and the money, to Harvard University officials and then to state investigators, and the prosecutor was not required to present the documents as a participant in the thousands. The Talent Program did or should not be mentioned.

“My ears quivered”

On the fifth day of the trial, Mukasey, a Lieber defense attorney, asked security department investigator Amy Mousseau a number of questions about what he had been encouraged to do by examining a medical professional. Was it true, Mukasey asked, that the Naval Research Laboratory told Mousseau that Lieber had “many Chinese students in his club?”

“Yes,” replied Mousseau.

U.S. Attorney James Drabick dismissed the question, so Mukasey repeated it. “One of the things that made Dr. Lieber so inquisitive was that he had so many Chinese students, didn’t he?”

“The case was about personal wrongdoing … not a discussion of the China Initiative.”

-Professor of law at Seton Hall University Margaret Lewis

When Mousseau did not respond immediately, he went on to say, “Did it come to you about this study that Dr.

“Yes,” replied Mousseau.

A to the circle tweet A brief overview of the change “caused my ears to shake,” said Lewis, a legal expert, as “it leads to the crucial question ‘Do the government, and the US people, in general, see the merger with China as a reason to encourage. Doubt?'”

It shows “partiality,” he adds, which contradicts what the Department of Justice has long argued: that “their actions are based on the actions of people, their behavior, not on race, ethnicity, nationality, race, or nationality. Any of those things. ”

But racism, which is well documented in the FBI and DOJ, according to Michael German, a former FBI agent who turned out to be a whistleblower and a colleague of the Brennan Center for Justice, is not the only form of discrimination that the case reveals. Another issue they see is selective criticism.

“I’m convinced that if the Department of Justice looks the same way when it comes to recruiting institutional administrators on behalf of students, they can find more people who have not fully accounted for all their expenses,” he said. “Tax evasion” —a case in which Lieber was eventually charged— “is a problem, but it is not the problem that the China Initiative sought to solve.”

For many critics of the China Initiative, there are larger and more important questions that each issue – regardless of its consequences – clarifies.

Are “years of imprisonment a punishment that we, as human beings, think is necessary to break these laws?” asks Lewis, a legal expert. The ruling leaves no stone unturned, adding, another concern: that the China Initiative creates “a very serious case of human trafficking in China.”

That these issues could not be resolved at the end of Lieber’s trial should be expected, according to Lewis. “The case was based on Lieber’s guilt, not on the China Initiative,” he said.



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