Time International on Consarc
I was in Tokyo when Time Magazine broke the story that gave creditability to Newsday's stories, and may have been the reason ABC News was willing to run the story. Thatcher probably read the press briefs before she made up her mind to deport me.
Within the familiar RED borders of the front cover of Time's international issue on November 23, 1987 was a blue and black mosaic of a simple electronic control board. On this background, just below the magazine's big RED name, a yellow headline proclaimed: "HIGH-TECH SPYING"
A large white graphic of a keyhole, in the center of the cover, with black print on the white background told the readers in smaller print: A letter from the publisher on the page inside the cover told how Time got the story. The cover story inside was about the loss of high technology to the Russians. My picture was published in the story. Time invented a new word in its headline title:
WESTERN COUNTRIES TRY TO STOP TRANSFERS OF INDUSTRIAL SECRETS TO THE EAST
"----- Three years ago, US Defense Department officials learned to their horror that the British subsidiary of a New Jersey furnace-manufacturing company, Consarc Corp., was in the process of shipping nine sophisticated, high-temperature furnaces to the Soviet Union. This equipment would be capable of producing an extremely light and durable fiber known as carbon-carbon, which is used to improve the accuracy of the re-entry nose cones of intercontinental ballistic missiles. Though proper export licenses had been obtained and 95% of the order had already been filled, U.S. authorities prevailed upon the British government to stop the shipment of vital heating elements, which the Soviets needed to operate at least some of the equipment. When informed of the fiasco, according to Washington officials, the Thatcher government ordered the heating elements seized and destroyed. -----"
Time's main character in the story was Charles McVey, whom they describe as "a reigning, brazen and accomplished technobandit." The photo of McVey was a police photo with my photo being credited to Newsday, a New York tabloid who ran a series of articles a couple of weeks earlier, from which this story was lifted.
The white keyhole used on the cover was followed by the caption under the picture of the two men side by side: "Two cases: Charles McVey in a police photo; James Metcalf at home in Scotland". -----
"----- Throughout his career as a technology smuggler, according to federal documents, McVey has habitually operated outside the law. The same is not true of businessmen involved in the Consarc Corp. case in Britain. Everything they did seems to have been perfectly legal. James Metcalf, an American and a director of Consarc, was given the green light by U.S. Department of Commerce officials. The company secured the permission of the British Trade Ministry to export the furnaces that could be used to make carbon-carbon, and the ministry determined that the export did not violate British regulations, which follow the COCOM agreement. Metcalf was no smuggler. He even managed to persuade the ministry to insure the project for $11 million so that if for any reason it was not completed, he would not lose his investment. Later, after the shipment of the heating elements had been foiled and the materials destroyed, a government-owned insurance agency compensated Consarc for most of the money it lost. Thereafter Metcalf, who has a Russian wife, continued to visit Moscow to offer the Soviets advice on the plant. His activities were strictly legal because he was working on technology that had been exported with British government permission. To this day Consarc maintains that it acted responsibly and that it had no idea the furnaces could be used for manufacturing carbon-carbon. -----"
Time did very little investigation to support their story about me. They did not indicate they had checked any source other than the Newsday articles from which the story was lifted. In any case, they did not attempt to ask me about the events.
Although careful to say I had worked within the law, by placing my photograph beside that of a convicted smuggler, Time intended to leave a visual impression with the reader that these two "birds are of the same feather."
Time used the same story in its U.S. issue on November 30, 1987, just a few days before Gorbachev's arrival in the United States. The cover story was about alcoholics, a problem most of us peddlers understand. This issue did not mention my name or use the Newsday connection. They did not use my picture, name, or my Russian wife.
Time sent a photographer to the factory in Scotland, where the equipment was designed and manufactured, before their USA release, but he did not have enough interest in the accuracy of his story to find the exact equipment in operation at that factory.
The picture Time used to present the high technology for their non-technical readers was a simple heat treatment furnace. Any picture of equipment with Consarc's name on it was acceptable to the Time reporter. A portion of that story was as follows:
"---- One of the most controversial disclosures involved a British subsidiary of a New Jersey firm, Consarc Corp. U.S. officials discovered in 1985 that Consarc had been shipping vacuum furnaces to the Soviet Union for two years, with the approval of British authorities. The high temperature furnaces had the potential of producing an extremely light and durable fiber, carbon-carbon, used to improve the accuracy of intercontinental ballistic missiles. When the U.S. learned of the case, officials rushed to halt the deal. Though most of the order had already been filled, U.S. authorities prevailed on the British government to stop shipment of the vital heating elements that the Soviets would need to operate at least some of the equipment properly. When informed of the fiasco, the Thatcher government ordered the heating elements destroyed."
"Pentagon officials were especially frustrated by the Consarc case because the technology breach was potentially devastating and perfectly legal. ----- Growled Stephen Bryen, who heads the Pentagon's export-control program: "This was an instance of really bad licensing by the British. It was an absolutely squalid case. ---"
The conclusion of Time's story in the international issue had a large picture of a missile with a carbon-carbon nose cone in the center of the final page. The same white keyhole symbol that was used on the cover had the caption "Knowledge put to use: a MX missile silo in Wyoming."