The defense team was able to explore the issue of racial profiling and unearthed evidence that it had dominated the hunt for Lee. Indeed, perhaps the most compelling reason for the plea bargain was that the judge approved a defense request by ordering the government to turn over thousands of pages of documents relating to that matter. The material was due to be handed over to the judge days after the plea bargain was accepted.
Gerth and Risen would have done well to investigate their "star witness," Trulock, the disenchanted Energy Department "whistleblower" who has tracked Lee for four years. The Times presented Trulock as a neutral observer, which was denied by other security experts, who claimed he had been building a case against Lee and was hostile to those who did not view the case his way.
Affidavits filed with the court at Lee's last bail hearing, just before the prosecution's sudden end, are devastating. Vrooman, the former head of counterintelligence at Los Alamos, declared under oath that "it is my opinion that the failure to look at the rest of the population [people with access to the same secret data as Lee] is because Lee is ethnic Chinese." Vrooman added that although there was a list of non-Chinese people with access, "Mr. Trulock made clear that Dr. Lee was his primary suspect." In a declaration dated June 22, 2000, Vrooman said, "The racial issue surfaced explicitly in comments made by Notra Trulock, the head of DOE's Office of Counterintelligence, who told me on November 20, 1996 that 'ethnic Chinese' should not be allowed to work on classified projects, including nuclear weapons."
Another devastating affidavit was filed under oath by Charles Washington, former acting director of counterintelligence at the Energy Department and currently a senior policy analyst at the DOE, who stated, "Based on my experience and my personal knowledge, I believe that Mr. Trulock improperly targeted Dr. Lee due to Dr. Lee's race and national origin." Washington, a decorated Vietnam veteran with extensive military intelligence experience, concludes:
Based upon my personal experience with Mr. Trulock, I strongly believe that he acts vindictively and opportunistically, that he improperly uses security issues to punish and discredit others, and that he has racist views towards minority groups. I am a black man of African-American origin, and I personally experienced his misconduct, and I know of other minorities who were victimized by Mr. Trulock. At one point I was forced to call outside police officers due to Mr. Trulock's abusive behavior, and I brought a lawsuit against the Department of Energy based on that incident, as well as other improper conduct by Mr. Trulock. That case was settled favorably to me by the Department of Energy this year with a pay raise, a cash award, restoration of leave, and other incentives.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Washington said Trulock "spat on me." Trulock is now under investigation by the FBI for allegedly mishandling classified material. Despite all the criticism of Trulock, the New York Times's Risen continued to write sympathetically about him and is still trusted by the paper to cover the Senate hearings on the Lee case objectively.