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Lee Could Be Freed Soon, Judge Rules


A federal judge in New Mexico ruled Tuesday that physicist Wen Ho Lee can be released on $1 million bail Friday under tight restrictions and following a thorough FBI search of his home.

However, Lee’s release could be delayed if prosecutors decide to appeal U.S. District Judge James Parker’s decision last week to grant bail, and if the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issues a stay of Lee’s departure from jail.

After a hearing Tuesday on the terms for Lee’s release, Parker directed prosecutors and defense lawyers to finish negotiating the details by Friday, so that Lee can live at home while he awaits trial -- scheduled to begin in November -- on 59 felony counts of mishandling classified information at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he worked as a weapons scientist.

“We’re optimistic that he is going home on Friday,” said John Cline, one of Lee’s attorneys.

Parker rejected a request by Assistant U.S. Attorney George Stamboulidis for a seven-day stay of Lee’s release. Instead, he gave the prosecution until noon Friday to consult with Justice Department officials and to appeal to the 10th Circuit in Denver.

Family and friends have already put up more than $2 million of property as collateral for Lee’s $1 million bond. The conditions determining his release include surveillance of his telephone calls and mail, electronic monitoring of his movements and a limited list of visitors.

Cheney Provided Golden Parachutes to Terminated Big Business Executives


When Dick Cheney resigned as chief executive of the oil services firm Halliburton Co. to become the Republican vice presidential nominee, he insisted on being treated like every other executive taking early retirement. No special deals, he told the board of directors.

But that apparently was not the philosophy Cheney brought to the boardrooms of three other corporations that recently bid farewell to their CEOs with lucrative golden handshakes.

Back in 1997, Cheney was on the compensation committee of Union Pacific Corp. when it granted a special $4 million bonus to retiring chairman Drew Lewis. Lewis, a former secretary of transportation, also received a five-year consulting contract valued at $3.75 million that would be paid even if he died before he could provide any advice.

The next year, Cheney was on the board of Electronic Data Systems Corp. when it negotiated a $35 million termination agreement with then-chairman Lester M. Alberthal Jr. Then, last week, Procter & Gamble’s board disclosed it had granted a special $9.5 million bonus to retiring chairman Durk I. Jager on top of his $1.3 million salary and stock options potentially worth millions more. Cheney was a member of the compensation committee that recommended the package.

Cheney’s role in the compensation packages of these large corporations could add a complicating factor to the vice presidential candidate’s defense of his own $36 million in stock and options that he received after leaving Halliburton to become Texas Gov. George W. Bush’s running mate. It could also thrust the issue of executive pay into a presidential contest that Democrats are painting as a class struggle between the interests of working families and those of the rich and well-connected.

Last Sunday, on all three major talk shows, Cheney was peppered with questions about his own severance package -- and the potential conflict of interest that might arise from his ability to benefit financially from Halliburton stock options as a sitting vice president. While vowing to do everything necessary to eliminate any potential conflict, a visibly frustrated Cheney bristled at suggestions that he give up several million dollars worth of stock options, saying such sacrifice shouldn’t be required for public service.