The fact that Freeh is explaining in great detail the government's suspicions after Lee's case was concluded by a plea agreement that convicted him only of one felony count of mishandling classified information suggests that the FBI believes its evidence will fare better in the Senate than it would have done in a courtroom. Of course, civil-rights advocates will howl at the appearance of double jeopardy, and question the fairness of giving the prosecution a second chance in a setting whose evidentiary standards are not those of a courtroom. And even before that to the media, once again CNN led Tuesday with a summary of the evidence Freeh will present. But given the furor following Lee's release, the FBI will no doubt defend itself on the grounds that it feels compelled to explain its behavior in other words, it's not vindictively painting the scientist as shifty about his dealings with the agents and nuclear scientists of a rival nation after failing to convict him in court; it's simply justifying its behavior in the case as even the President urged it to do.
But even setting aside concerns over Lee's civil rights for a moment, it's worth questioning how Director Freeh's testimony will actually help the FBI. After all, if the senators and the wider public actually do buy into a portrait of Wen Ho Lee as a devious consort of a foreign power hungry for U.S. nuclear secrets, they're as likely to believe that by getting away only with time served on a single felony count he made the feds look silly.