As we commemorate the sacrifices our veterans have made to defend the liberty and security of American citizens at home and abroad, we should contemplate what is happening to the ideals they have so courageously defended.
The case of my cousin, Dr. Shane Truman Todd, is one example of how our own government is undermining the very principles our veterans have served.
You may recall the story of American engineer, Dr. Todd, who was found hanging in his Singapore apartment shortly before his scheduled return to the United States. Yet little attention has been given to the U.S. State and Justice Departments’ role in stymieing justice for this loyal American and his family. This should concern all Americans as the case involved not only the murder of an American citizen, but also the probable illegal transfer of military grade technology to China.
In the months leading up to his death, Dr. Todd had expressed concern about the work his employer, the Institute of Micro Electronics (IME), was having him do with a Chinese company. Dr. Todd eventually became so concerned that this work might be violating U.S. export laws and security interests that he resigned from IME and found a new job back in the U.S. Shortly after tendering his resignation, Dr. Todd told his family that he felt his life was being threatened.
Evidence discovered on a wireless hard drive, Dr. Todd’s parents found in his Singaporean apartment, suggests that his fears about violating U.S. export laws were well founded. Several files on this hard drive revealed that Dr. Todd was the leader of an ongoing project between IME and the Chinese company Huawei to co-develop an advanced amplifier using GaN technology. Although GaN has commercial applications (such as LEDs and cell phones), several experts who examined the project outlined on Dr. Todd’s hard drive have indicated that the specifications for his particular project appear to be for military use (such as high powered radar and jamming systems). The transfer of GaN technology to China for such use would clearly violate U.S. export laws.
In spite of well-documented evidence of an ongoing relationship between IME and Huawei, which was only terminated shortly after Dr. Todd’s death, the two companies have worked very hard to conceal the extent and nature of their relationship. Representatives from the companies have changed their story about their relationship, lied under oath about Dr. Todd’s role in the GaN development project, and attempted to coerce the testimony of IME employees called to testify at the Coroner’s Inquest into Dr. Todd’s death.
The nature of Dr. Todd’s work and the relationship between IME and Huawei appear even more injurious to U.S. interests, considering a forensic analysis of Dr. Todd’s hard drive revealed files relating to the IME-Huawei project were inexplicably opened by an unknown third party after Dr. Todd’s body had already been discovered.
These facts alone should have been enough to convince the U.S. government to investigate Dr. Todd’s death — especially given that in 2012 the U.S. House Intelligence Committee released a report deeming Huawei a security risk, and other countries including Australia, and Canada have accused Huawei of espionage and murky ties to the Chinese Communist Party and the People’s Liberation Army.
Yet, to this day the FBI has ignored written requests from the family and several members of Congress — including Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester and Congressmen Frank Wolf and Steve Daines — to meet with the family and interview the computer forensic expert who analyzed Dr. Todd’s hard drive.
Even more troubling than the FBI’s apparent lack of concern over a potential national security breach, is the State Department’s endorsement of Singapore’s flawed investigation into Dr. Todd’s death.
Most recently the coroner thwarted justice by ordering the destruction of the towel and strap that the police said were found around Dr. Todd’s neck. The towel and strap were important pieces of evidence as they contained two prominent forms of DNA, other than Todd’s, one of Malaysian and the other of Chinese origin. The Singapore state recently incinerated this evidence without ever having it analyzed against a forensic database, even though the Todd family had hired legal counsel and spent a great deal of time and money to preserve it.
Instead of aiding the Todd family, the U.S. State Department legitimized Singapore’s “so called” investigation by immediately declaring that the inquiry into Dr. Todd’s death was “comprehensive, fair, and transparent.” In response to this declaration, a former honorary ambassador, who had represented Singapore in the U.S., submitted an extensive analysis detailing major flaws in the coroner’s findings, yet the State Department still refused to rescind or modify its blanket endorsement.
Furthermore, in spite of repeated requests from the family and several members of Congress, the State Department has additionally impeded the Todd family’s pursuit of truth and justice by refusing to allow the critical testimony of two U.S. Embassy employees, who could verify that the Singapore Police Force mishandled evidence and lied about the crime scene.
The State Department’s refusal to work on the Todd family’s behalf or even respond to their simple requests demonstrates how it has turned its back on the very citizens it is commissioned to serve.
It appears that justice for an American family and legitimate national security concerns have been ignored either for political reasons or simply to placate international sensibilities. Our government’s primary duty is not to advance the interests of those in power — it is to protect the security and rights of each of its individual citizens.
It’s time Americans start calling for our government to recommit itself to the rule of law and the protection of the rights and liberties of American citizens. These are the principles that our veterans have served and which have made our country worthy of their sacrifice.