United States government security breaches
This page is a
timelineof published security lapses in the United States government. These lapses are frequently referenced in congressional and non-governmental oversight. This article does not attempt to capture security vulnerabilities.
* June 1941 -
Fritz Joubert Duquesne(also known as "The man who killed Kitchener") was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation(FBI) with two associates, on charges of relaying secret information on Allied weaponry and shipping movements to Nazi Germany. On January 2, 1942, 33 members of the " Duquesne Spy Ring", the largest espionage ring conviction in the history of the United States, were sentenced to serve a total of over 300 years in prison. William G. Sebold, a double agent, was instrumental to the capture and conviction. One German spymaster later commented that the ring’s roundup delivered ‘the death blow’ to their espionageefforts in the United States. The 1945 film " The House on 92nd Street" was a thinly disguised version of the uncovering of this spy ring.
* July 1950 -
Alfred Sarantwas interviewed and released by the FBI. He and Joel Barrwere recruited in November 1944 by Julius Rosenbergfor the Soviet Union to spy at the United States Army Signal Corpslaboratories, where they worked. They both escaped to the Eastern Bloc.
* March 1950 -
Klaus Fuchswas convicted in England of espionage for the Soviet Union from 1941–1949. During that time he became a British citizen and worked in the United states at Los Alamosand later in England at the Harwell Atomic Energy Research Establishment.
* ca 1950 -
David Greenglassconfessed to and was convicted of espionage. He was recruited by his in-laws, Julius and Ethel Rosenbergto provide secrets from Los Alamosfrom 1944–1946.
* 1951 -
Theodore Hallwas interviewed by the FBI for handing atomic weapons secrets to the Soviet Union. He was not prosecuted, but later admitted to giving secrets to the Soviet Union.
* January 1977 -
Christopher John Boyce(born February 16, 1953) was convicted of spying against the United States for the Soviet Union. He was arrested in January 1977 for selling U.S. spy satellite secrets to the Soviet Union. Boyce was convicted in April of espionage and sentenced to 40 years in prison at the federal penitentiary in Lompoc, California. On January 21, 1980, Boyce escaped from Lompoc. While a fugitive, Boyce carried out 17 bank robberies in Idaho and Washington state. Boyce did not believe he could live as a fugitive forever and began to study aviation in an attempt to flee to the Soviet Union, where he would accept a commission as an officer in the Soviet Armed Forces. On August 28, 1981, Boyce was arrested while eating in his car outside "The Pit Stop," a drive-in restaurant in Port Angeles, WA.
* May 1985 -
John Anthony Walker, a retired United States Naval Chief Warrant Officerwas arrested for selling encryption information and other classified documents to the Soviet Union, starting in 1967. He was convicted of espionage and is serving a sentence in a federal prison.
* June 1986 -
Jonathan Jay Pollard, a United States Naval civilian intelligence analyst was convicted on one count of spyingfor Israel, receiving a life sentencewith a recommendation against parole.
* August 1988 -
Clyde Lee Conrad, a member of the United States militarywas arrested for selling NATOdefense plans to Hungary from 1974 to 1988. He was convicted by a German court of treason and espionage in 1990 and died in prison.
* June 1990 -
Ronald Hoffmanwas arrested for selling classified software that he developed for Science Applications International Corporationunder a contract for the United States Air Forceto foreign companies. He was convicted in 1992 of violations of the Arms Export Control Act and the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act and was sentenced to 30 months in prison.Citation
title=Espionage Cases 1975–2004
author=Defense Personnel Security Research Center]
* February 1991 - Charles Lee Francis Anzalone, a
Corporalin the United States Marines, was arrested for attempted espionage after passing documents and a security badge to an FBI agent posing as a KGB intelligence officer. He was convicted in May and sentenced to 15 years in prison for this and other charges.
* April 1991 -
Jeffrey Carneywas arrested for providing classified documents to the East German government between 1982 and 1984, while stationed in Berlin with the United States Air Force. He deserted and defected to East Germanyin 1985. He pleaded guilty to espionage, conspiracy, and desertion and was sentenced to 38 years in prison, but was released after 11 years.
* March 1991 -
Albert T. Sombolaywas arrested and admitted to providing military information regarding the Desert Shielddeployment, military identification cards, and chemical weapons equipment to Jordan, while he was stationed in Germany. He was a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Zaire. He was sentenced to 34 years of hard labor.
* May 1992 - Virginia Jean Baynes was convicted of passing Secret documents to the
Philippinesvia Joseph Garfield Brownwhile she was a Secretary with the Central Intelligence Agencyin Manila.
* February 1993 -
Frederick Christopher Hamiltonplead guilty to passing Secret intelligence reports regarding Peruto Ecuadorin 1991 while stationed in Peruwith the Defense Intelligence Agency. He plead guilty to two counts of unlawfully communicating classified information to a foreign country and was sentenced to 37 months in prison.
* August 1993 -
Geneva Joneswas indicted for theft of government property and transmission of defense information to unauthorized persons. While a secretary in with the State Department, she passed classified documents to a West African journalist friend Dominic Ntube, who then passed some of them to Liberianrebels. In 1994, she plead guilty to 21 counts of theft and 2 counts of unlawful communication of national defense information. She was sentenced to 37 months in prison.
* May 1993 -
Steven John Lalaswas charged with passing sensitive military information to Greecebetween 1991 and 1993 while working for the State Department. He passed hundreds of highly classified documents between 1991 and 1993. He was of Greek descent, but was born in the United States. In June, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit espionage and was sentenced to 14 years in prison.
* February 1994 -
Aldrich Hazen Ameswas charged with providing highly classified informationsince 1985 to the Soviet Unionand then Russia. The information he passed led to the execution of at least 9 United States agents in Russia. In April, he and his wife both pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit espionage and to tax evasion. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole on the espionage charges, and 63 months in prison on the tax evasion charges.
* May 1995 -
John Douglas Charltonwas arrested and indicted for 10 counts of attempting to sell Secret United States Navydocuments in 1993. He took the document from Lockheed Corporationbefore his retirement in 1989. In 1996, he pleaded guilty to 2 counts of attempted transfer of defense information. He was sentenced to two years in prison without parole followed by 5 years of probation.
* May 1995 - Michael Stephen Schwartz was charged with 4 counts of espionage and 5 counts of taking classified material to his residence. He passed Secret
NOFORNclassified material to Saudi Arabiabetween 1992 and 1994, while stationed in Riyadhwith the United States Navy. In October, he agreed to a plea bargain that gave him an other than honorable discharge.
* February 1996 -
Robert Stephan Lipkawas charged with committing espionage while working in the United States Militaryat the National Security Agencyfrom 1964 to 1967. He passed Top Secret information to the Soviet Union. In 1997, he pleaded guilty to espionage and was sentenced to 18 years in prison.
* April 1996 -
Kurt G. Lessenthien, a petty officer in the United States Navywas charged with attempted espionage for offering Top Secret submarine information to the Soviet Union. As part of a plea agreement, he was sentenced to 27 years in military prison.
* August 1996 -
Phillip Tyler Seldonpleaded guilty to passing Secret documents to El Salvadorwhile a captain in the United States Army. He was sentenced to two years in prison.
* September 1996 -
Robert Chaegun Kim, a civilian at the Office of Naval Intelligencewas charged with passing classified informationto South Korea, his country of birth. In 1997, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit espionage and was sentenced to 9 years in prison.
* November 1996 -
Harold James Nicholsonwas arrested while attempting to take Top Secret documents out of the country. He began spying for Russiain 1994. He was a senior-ranking Central Intelligence Agencyofficer. In 1997, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to more than 23 years in prison.
* December 1996 -
Earl Edwin Pittswas charged with providing Top Secret documents to the Soviet Unionand then Russiafrom 1987 until 1992. In 1997, he pleaded guilty to two counts of espionage ans was sentenced to 27 years in prison.
* December 1996 - Several days after
John M. Deutchleft the position of Director of Central Intelligence, classified information was found on an unclassified computer at his home. Further investigation showed that he knowingly processed classified information regarding covert actions, Top Secret Sensitive Compartmented Informationand the National Reconnaissance Programon unclassified computers connected to the Internet at his homes and office. In 1999, Attorney General Janet Renodeclined to prosecute him. [Citation
title=Improper Handling of Classified Information by John M. Deutch
author1 = L. Britt Snider
author2 = Daniel S. Seikaly
date = 2000-2-18
publisher = Central Intelligence Agency Inspector General]
* December 1997 -
Peter H. Leeturned himself in and pleaded guilty to a felony count of passing national defense information for sharing classified informationon hohlraumson a visit to the People's Republic of Chinawhile working for Los Alamos National Laboratory.
* April 1998 - FBI arrested ex-CIA employee
Douglas Frederick Groaton charges of espionage. After being fired from the Central Intelligence Agency, he allegedly gave classified informationto foreign governments. He plead guilty to attempted extortion.
* October 1998 -
David Sheldon Boonewas charged with selling Top Secret documents to the Soviet Unionfrom 1988 to 1991, which he as a member of the United States Armyworking for the National Security Agencyin Germany. He later pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit espionage.
* December 1999 -
Wen Ho Leeis accused of espionage at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He later pleaded guilty to improper handling of Secret Restricted Dataand was sentenced to time served.
* February 2000 -
Mariano Faget, a naturalized citizenworking for the Immigration and Naturalization Servicewas arrested for passing classified informationto Cuba. He was sentenced in 2001 to 5 years in prison for disclosing classified information and other related charges.
* April 2000 -
Timothy Steven Smithwas charged with espionage after being caught stealing disks and five Confidential documents from a ship in the Pacific Fleet. He plead guilty to stealing government property and assaulting an officer and was convicted to 260 days in prison, including time served.
* June 2000 -
George Trofimoff, a naturalized citizen of Russian parents, was arrested for spying for the Soviet Unionand Russiasince about 1969. Having retired as a colonel in the United States Army Reserve, he was the highest ranking military officer ever accused of spying. He was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.
* February 2001 -
Robert Philip Hanssenwas arrested for spying for the Soviet Unionand Russiafor most of his 27 years with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He passed thousands of pages of classified documents on nuclear war defenses and Sensitive Compartmented Informationand exposed three Russian agents of the United States, two of whom were tried and executed. He pleaded guilty to espionage and was sentenced to life in prison.
* August 2001 -
Brian Patrick Regan, a contractor for TRWworking at the National Reconnaissance Officewas arrested for attempting to sell Top Secret Sensitive Compartmented Informationto foreign governments. He was convicted of attempting to sell classified informationto Iraqand Chinaand was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
* September 2001 -
Ana Belen Montes, a senior intelligence analyst with the Defense Intelligence Agencypassed classified military and intelligence information to Cubafor at least 16 years. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 25 years in prison and 5 years of probation.
* 2002 - The Department of Justice Inspector General reported that 212 functional weapons, 142 inoperable training weapons, and 317 laptop computers were lost, missing, or stolen during a 28-month review period.
* March 2003 - 18 year-old
Adil Yahya Zakaria Shakourbreached network security at Sandia National Laboratoriesand defaced an Eglin Air Force Baseweb site. Shakour is a Pakistani citizen living in the United States. He pleaded guilty to computer and credit card fraud charges. [Citation
title=Man Pleads Guilty to Sandia National Labs Breach
journal = SANS Newsbites | publisher = The SANS Institute
volume = 5 | number = 11 | date=2003-3-14
* April 2003 - A security officer at
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratoryloses an electronic access badge. The loss is reported to an immediate supervisor, but senior Livermore managers are not notified until late May, at which point the badge was deactivated.Citation
journal = HPCwire | publisher = Tabor Communications
title = DOE REVIEWS LIVERMORE LAB: SECURITY UNACCEPTABLE
date = 2003-6-6 | volume = 12 | number = 22
url = http://www.hpcwire.com/hpcwire/hpcwireWWW/03/0606/105187.html]
* February 2004 -
Ryan Gilbert Anderson, a member of the Washington National Guardwas charged with 5 counts of attempting to provide aid and information to Al Qaeda. A court martial sentenced him to life in prison.
* 16 July 2004 -
Sandia National Laboratoriesannounced that they had located a classified floppy disk that had been discovered missing on June 30 during a routine inventory. It was missing because it was improperly transferred to a different organization at the lab. [Citation
title = Sandia Labs locates floppy disk
date = 2004-7-16
author = Sandia Corporation
url = http://www.sandia.gov/news-center/news-releases/2004/other/floppy-found.html ]
* October 2006 - A drug-related investigation at a private residence found classified documents and a thumb drive containing classified information, all from Los Alamos National Laboratory, at the home of
Jessica Quintana, a former subcontractor to the laboratory. [Citation
title=Selected Controls over Classified Information at Los Alamos National Laboratory
author=U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Inspector General, Office of Audit Services
* December 2006 - Petty Officer
Ariel Weinmannof the United States Navypled quilty to espionage, desertion and other charges. His case is notable as an espionagecase where the Navy and trial court officials have denied access to basic information, including the court docket.
* February 2007 - The Department of Justice Inspector General reported that "over a 44-month period the FBI reported 160 weapons and 160 laptop computers as lost or stolen."Citation
url = http://www.usdoj.gov/oig/reports/FBI/a0718/final.pdf
title = The Federal Bureau of Investigation's Control Over Weapons and Laptop Computers Follow-up Audit
author = U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General Audit Division
number = Audit Report 07-18
date = 2007-2]
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