"The conspiracy theory is that the U.S. struck there in retaliation for China's sharing intelligence with Belgrade," adds Waller. "But thatís a very common practice among the U.S.ís rivals, and certainly Russia was doing the same thing with Milosevic." In the end, though, even discounting the mounting evidence that the CIA and Pentagon merely bungled the job, the motive just doesnít measure up. "It seems implausible that the U.S. would wreck its relations with China over something as trivial as intelligence sharing," says Waller. Incompetent but not stupid? China is sticking with villainous.
Chinaís persistent fury over the bombing of their Belgrade embassy is getting easier and easier to understand. At least two of the three "journalists" killed in the predawn bombing, it seems, werenít insomniac keyboard slaves at all but spies. In addition, the B-2ís bomb just happened to strike the compoundís intelligence-gathering nerve center. "That certainly encourages suspicion on the Chinese side," says TIME State Department correspondent Douglas Waller. "In their eyes, it provides a motive."