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chronology: the parlor maid investigation

A chronological outline of the "Parlor Maid" story, drawn from the government's court filings in the cases against Katrina Leung and J.J. Smith.

1969 Bill Cleveland begins working for the FBI

In the early 1970s, Cleveland, the son of an assistant director of the FBI, begins working in the FBI's San Francisco office. He eventually becomes the San Francisco office's supervisory special agent for Chinese counterintelligence.

October 1970 J.J. Smith begins working for the FBI

He begins his career in the FBI's Salt Lake City office and is transferred to the Los Angeles office one year later. In October 1978, J.J. is assigned to the foreign counterintelligence squad focused on the People's Republic of China. He remains in the Los Angeles office and works Chinese counterintelligence until his retirement in November 2000.

Late 1970s Katrina Leung is contacted by the FBI

According to sources close to Katrina, she is first recruited by the FBI while living in Chicago, where she was obtaining an MBA at the University of Chicago.

1979 "Tiger Trap" investigation begins

A source in China allegedly provides the U.S. with information that scientist Gwo-Bao Min may be a security risk. FBI Special Agent Bill Cleveland, who works in the bureau's San Francisco office, is chosen to head up the investigation and Katrina Leung becomes one of his sources. According to government documents, Katrina "traveled frequently to San Francisco in the early 1980s" where she would meet with Cleveland.

In 1981, Cleveland interviews Min and believes that he has pushed Min to the brink of a confession. But Min does not confess, and although the FBI recommends prosecuting the case, the Justice Department decides the evidence is not strong enough. In February, Min is forced to resign from his position at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory. However, the Tiger Trap investigation continues.

August 1982 J.J. develops Katrina as an "asset"

According to government documents, J.J. starts recruiting Katrina in August 1982 and in August 1983 formally recommends that the bureau use her as a counterintelligence "asset" to obtain information about China.

The government maintains that J.J. and Katrina began a sexual relationship in the early 1980s, although it is unclear exactly when.

1990 Bill Cleveland travels to China

FBI Agents Bill Cleveland and I.C. Smith travel to China as part of a State Department delegation. Although there remain questions as to the exact nature and purpose of their trip, the pair ostensibly is in China to check out security at the U.S. Embassy and consulates. When they arrive, they notice that they are being tailed by more than the usual number of Chinese security.

The two journey to the remote city of Shenyang on the North Korean border and are shocked when Cleveland runs into Gwo-Bao Min in their hotel. They wonder whether the incident is a coincidence.

April 1991 Cleveland recognizes Katrina's voice

When he returns from China, Cleveland listens to an audiotape of a classified intercept, recorded in the fall of 1990, between a female, code-named "Luo," and her Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS) handler, code-named "Mao." The recording reveals information that compromised Cleveland and Smith's trip to China. When Cleveland hears the tape, he recognizes the voice of "Luo" as that of Katrina Leung, who was one of his sources in the Tiger Trap investigation of Min -- and who has been his lover for three years.

Cleveland immediately notifies J.J. of the recording, and according to government documents, J.J. is "visibly upset" at the news.

May 1991 A meeting at FBI headquarters

J.J. and Cleveland are called to a meeting at FBI headquarters in Washington to discuss the Parlor Maid revelation. Apparently no one at headquarters learns of Katrina's romantic relationships with either of the two men, and it is not clear that either J.J. or Cleveland knows of her relationship with the other.

At the meeting, a decision is made to hand the matter back to J.J., Katrina's FBI handler.

May 31, 1991 J.J. confronts Katrina

The government alleges that when asked about her conversation with "Mao," recorded on the classified intercept, Katrina tells J.J. that in mid-1990 the Chinese had discovered that she was working for the FBI and threatened her. She says that she then promised to provide "Mao" with information about the FBI. Katrina later tells an FBI interviewer, "If you ask me, like, worst day of my life, that must be the day that, you know, J.J. confronted me."

J.J. believes Katrina and tells her that she can continue as his asset. According to the government, he does not reveal that she has refused to submit to a polygraph examination. However, he makes her apologize in person to Bill Cleveland, who accepts her apology. Katrina's affairs with both J.J. and Cleveland continue.

1993 Cleveland retires from the FBI

Cleveland (pictured at right) accepts a job as head of security at the top-secret Lawrence Livermore Laboratory. While at the lab, he assists in the "Royal Tourist" investigation of Lawrence Livermore scientist Peter Lee, who is suspected of having disclosed classified information about U.S. nuclear weapons to the Chinese.

1997 Cleveland and Katrina rekindle their affair

This fact later concerns observers, who note that 1997 was a critical year in the Royal Tourist investigation, and that Katrina is later found to have an unauthorized document relating to Royal Tourist in her possession.

Cleveland and Katrina's affair also picks up again in 1999.

November 2000 J.J. retires from the FBI

Having reached the mandatory retirement age, J.J. leaves the FBI. Katrina attends J.J.'s retirement party, held the same month, and makes a video recording of the party, which is attended by FBI and CIA agents.

January 2001 Katrina and J.J. attend Bush inauguration

By chance, a Washington Post photographer takes a snapshot (left) of the pair together at the inauguration.

December 2001 FBI begins surveillance of Katrina

The FBI's surveillance, which is authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), includes covert physical searches, interceptions of Katrina's phone, fax, and e-mail communications, and physical surveillances.

April 2002 FBI begins surveillance of J.J.

J.J.'s surveillance, also authorized by the FISC, includes covert physical searches, interceptions of his phone, fax, and e-mail communications, and physical surveillances.

Nov. 5, 2002 Surveillance detects sexual relationship

With authorization from the FISC, the FBI monitors a hotel in the Los Angeles area. The electronic surveillance reveals a sexual relationship between Katrina and J.J.

Nov. 11, 2002 Katrina's luggage is searched

FBI agents covertly search Katrina's bags at Los Angeles International Airport when she leaves for a trip to China. They find a fax cover sheet from J.J. Smith to Katrina and a second page, from the same fax machine, which contains photographs from a meeting of the Society of Former Special Agents for the FBI. Two active-duty FBI agents, who work community affairs, are pictured in the photographs.

When Katrina returns from China on Nov. 25, FBI agents again covertly search her bags. The photos of the FBI agents are not present.

Dec. 9-10, 2002 J.J. is interviewed by the FBI

During his interview, J.J. says that he provided any information Katrina would have regarding FBI operations or sources. According to the government, he also states several times that "he had probably told Leung too much in the course of operating her as an asset." When asked specifically if he had traveled with Katrina, J.J. admits to trips to Hong Kong and London. He also acknowledges having invited Katrina to his retirement party and having let her videotape the proceedings. He tells the FBI that he has the tape "at home."

When asked if he is having a sexual relationship with Katrina, J.J. first refuses to answer the question and then denies the affair.

Dec. 9, 2002 J.J.'s house searched

J.J. agrees to allow FBI agents to search his study and his home computer. According to the criminal complaint against J.J., "No relevant evidence was found in the study," and an electronic image taken of J.J.'s computer "yielded no relevant information."

Dec. 11, 2002 FBI interviews Katrina

Katrina agrees to a voluntary interview with the FBI. She admits to having a sexual relationship with J.J. that began in the early 1980s.

Later that day, FBI agents arrive at Katrina's house where she voluntarily provides them with a five-page document from her safe. The document includes transcriptions and summaries of phone conversations that were recorded between "Luo" and "Mao." Within a few days, the FBI confirms that the document provided by Katrina is identical to a document classified "top secret."

Dec. 12, 2002 Katrina's residence searched

Katrina agrees to allow the FBI to search her residence, provided that the agents conduct the search while her husband is out. She also stipulates that the agents cannot search her husband's computer or her son's room.

The agents find several documents, including:

  1. A June 1997 FBI electronic communication, which had a "secret" classification marking.
  2. A December 1994 FBI telephone directory, including home phone numbers, of Los Angeles FBI counterintelligence agents.
  3. A March 1994 FBI Legat Directory with the names and phone numbers of the FBI's legal attaché offices abroad.
  4. A document relating to the classified "Royal Tourist" investigation.
Dec. 11, 2002-Jan. 6, 2003 Katrina interviewed multiple times

During her interviews with FBI agents, Katrina admits to surreptitiously taking and copying documents without J.J.'s knowledge as well as taking notes on information provided by J.J., and providing the information to the MSS. According to government documents:

Leung also admitted that Smith would leave his briefcase open and that the file-folder pockets in the briefcase often contained documents, with the text facing out. Leung stated this enabled her to see documents that she wanted, and that she would remove them and copy them without Smith's knowledge when he left his briefcase unattended.

Katrina says that J.J. would sometimes let her review classified documents, although he did not allow her to keep them.

Katrina also admits providing information to the MSS about Bill Cleveland and I.C. Smith's 1990 visit to China. And she states that she "withheld information from both the FBI and the MSS over the years, deceiving both intelligence services."

Finally, Katrina says that she received $100,000 from China and that she was given the money because Chinese President Yang Shangkun "liked her."

Dec. 19, 2002 Bill Cleveland interviewed by the FBI

The FBI interviews Cleveland three other times, on Jan. 28, Feb. 3 and Feb. 4, 2003. During the interviews, Cleveland admits to a long-term sexual affair with Katrina. He gives several dates as to when the affair took place (sometime between 1988 and 1994), but says that the relationship resumed in 1997 and 1999. Cleveland says that after the 1991 revelation of Katrina's unauthorized disclosure of his trip to China, he relied on J.J. to address the problem and that J.J. assured him that he had taken care of it.

April 9, 2003 Katrina and J.J. are arrested

J.J. is charged with mishandling classified documents. He pleads not guilty and is released the next day on $250,000 bail. According to J.J.'s friends, he maintains that he and Katrina were always working for the U.S. and that their only crime was to fall in love.

Katrina is charged with possessing and copying classified documents. She also pleads not guilty, but a judge denies her release, charging that she is a flight risk. In June, she is released on $2 million bail. Katrina's defense argues that she is innocent and she is being punished for actions the FBI once condoned and encouraged. [Read Katrina's on-camera statement to FRONTLINE.]

A few days after the news of Katrina and J.J.'s arrests, Bill Cleveland resigns from his job at Lawrence Livermore. He has been cooperating with the FBI and has not been charged in the case.

July 2004 J.J.'s case is scheduled for trial.
Fall 2004 Katrina's case is scheduled for trial.

 

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posted january 15, 2004

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