Making his first public statement Monday, the man largely credited with breaking the Chinese espionage case at U.S. nuclear weapons labs gave an extraordinary account of happened when he sounded the alarm to his superiors at the Department of Energy, CBS News Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports.
"Beginning in early 1997, senior DOE officials, including my direct supervisor, urged me to cover up and bury this case," said Notra Trulock of the Energy Department's counterintelligence office.
"These officials argued this case was of historical interest only, and not relevant to contemporary objectives of national laboratories," Trulock added.
Trulock told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Elizabeth Moler, then the acting secretary, ignored a memo he sent her and then, when he approached her personally, rejected it.
Some intelligence officials now regard the theft of design plans for America's W-88 nuclear warhead as the most important spy case in recent history.
But Trulock says his efforts to fix security breaches at the weapons labs were blocked at every turn - even when he identified suspects in early 1996. These suspects, however, retained their clearance and access to sensitive nuclear weapons design information until December 1998.
The secrets in the W-88 case were stolen back in the 1980's. But this new charge of a cover-up will seriously undermine the Clinton administration's insistence that the nuclear labs have been secure under its watch.
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