But do what? TIME Pentagon correspondent Mark Thompson says that major procedural changes will have to made at the labs -- possibly counterproductive ones. "These places are more like university campuses," he says. "Scientists work by sharing information, not by keeping everything secret." As for private companies like Loral and Hughes that the report claimed subordinated national security to the "bottom line," the bottom line is their business. National security is the Administration's. Clearly, the well-intentioned Clinton engagement-through-technology policy (begun when Reagan wanted a more sophisticated China as a hedge against the Russians) needs more policing and perhaps less engagement. The Cox report does not accuse the Administration of traitorous behavior. But it does take issue with some Monicagate-style foot-dragging -- like the 40 days that National Security Adviser Sandy Berger took to respond to a written question about when Clinton was informed about reports of Chinese spying. And for all the steps the Administration says it's taking to correct its mistakes, it will be hard for critics to shake the impression that for a White House that thrives in crisis mode, it's only a "crisis" when the Republicans find out.
As the expected but still chilling findings in the Cox report on Chinese spying reverberate around the country and its capital, the Clinton reaction plan is quickly emerging. Step one: Stick to its guns. "I strongly believe," said Clinton Tuesday before leaving on his vacation, "that our continuing engagement with China has produced benefits for our national security." Step two: blame Reagan. "This Administration has acted on the problem," intoned Energy Secretary Bill Richardson. "Previous Administrations didn't act." Step three: Take the bipartisan Cox report very, very seriously. The White House agrees with "the overwhelming majority" of the report's 38 recommendations, Clinton said. "We have a solemn obligation to protect such national security information, and we have to do more to do it."