NSA contractor charged with taking classified data

With Zach Montellaro, Ellen Mitchell and Connor O’Brien

SNOWDEN 2.0? NSA CONTRACTOR CHARGED WITH TAKING CLASSIFIED DATA: The case immediately conjures memories of the 2013 NSA data theft by Edward Snowden, but the details of the latest NSA contractor arrest over stolen data are still hazy. Our colleagues Josh Gerstein and Cory Bennett have more here: “The U.S. government confirmed a potentially wide-ranging breach of classified information Wednesday, raising serious questions about the steps federal agencies and contractor Booz Allen Hamilton took to prevent leaks in the wake of the Edward Snowden’s seismic revelations about National Security Agency surveillance.

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“The Justice Department announced that Booz Allen employee Harold Martin III was secretly arrested in August after the FBI allegedly found highly classified information at his Maryland home. Martin, 51, was charged with felony theft of government information and misdemeanor unauthorized retention of classified information. He appeared at a closed hearing in federal court in Baltimore on Aug. 29 and has been in government custody since, according to court records. During a court-ordered search of Martin’s home, the FBI ‘seized thousands of pages of documents and dozens of computers or other digital storage devices and media,’ prosecutor Zachary Myers said in a court filing made public Wednesday afternoon.

“Myers did not estimate what percentage of the records or the data was classified or obtained from the NSA, where Martin worked under a Booz Allen contract. The New York Times said he was suspected of removing source code from the NSA developed to hack into the networks of foreign governments.”

— SNOWDEN WEIGHS IN: “Am I correct in reading they didn’t charge him under the Espionage Act?” Snowden chimed in on Twitter. “Under this administration, that’s a noteworthy absence.”

— OBAMA DIRECTS NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCIES TO BOOST MINORITIES, via POLITICO’s Nahal Toosi: “President Barack Obama is directing America’s national security agencies to promote more diversity in their ranks, arguing that inclusiveness is an “imperative” in a still-dangerous but increasingly interconnected world. Obama lays out his instructions in a Presidential Memorandum released Wednesday. The memo, whose details were shared first with POLITICO, directs government departments and agencies to take several steps aimed at cultivating a more diverse workforce.”

2016 WATCH — DEBATE UNDERSCORES THE TRUMP-PENCE GOP FOREIGN POLICY DIVIDE, writes POLITICO’s Michael Crowley: “Will the real Republican foreign policy please stand up? The morning after Mike Pence offered core foreign policy positions that diverged from those of his running mate, Donald Trump, Republicans puzzled over what to make of them and what, if anything, they might suggest about a potential Trump administration. … ‘I think Mike Pence cheered a lot of Republican conservatives who have been pretty gloomy until last night by forcefully articulating a case for conservative internationalism and strong U.S. leadership in Europe and the Middle East as well as rebuilding the military,’ Eric Edelman, a former undersecretary of defense for policy in the George W. Bush administration, said Wednesday.

“Trump has spent months saying friendly things about Russian President Vladimir Putin and has repeatedly suggested that the U.S. should avoid choosing sides in Syria’s civil war, except to strike the Islamic State. But during his vice presidential debate Tuesday night with Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, Pence parted ways with Trump on both those points — arguably the two most important questions in American foreign policy.”

— A TRUMP SHIFT ON PUTIN? Reuters noted this quote from a rally Wednesday: “I don’t love Putin, I don’t hate. We’ll see how it works. We’ll see,” Trump told supporters during a campaign stop in the swing state of Nevada. “Maybe we’ll have a good relationship. Maybe we’ll have a horrible relationship. Maybe we’ll have a relationship right in the middle.”

HAPPY THURSDAY AND WELCOME TO MORNING DEFENSE, where we’re feeling that even-year magic yet again. Sorry, Zach. Keep the tips, pitches and playoff wins coming at jherb@politico.com, and follow on Twitter @jeremyherb, @morningdefense and @politicopro.

HAPPENING TODAY — WORK TO FINLAND: Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work is in Helsinki today and Friday, where he’ll meet with Finnish government officials to talk security issues in the Baltic Sea region, including Russian conduct over the Baltic Sea. During his visit, the U.S. and Finland are expected to sign a defense collaboration statement, according to the Pentagon.

ALSO TODAY — QUADRILATERAL DEFENSE CONFERENCE: The National Defense Industrial Association hosts a conference this morning with military officials from four countries: U.S., Britain, Australia and Canada. The schedule for the event, which is being held at Boeing’s Arlington, Va., offices, is here.

INDUSTRY INTEL — INTERNATIONAL DECLARATION ON ARMED DRONE EXPORTS RELEASED, writes our colleague Ellen Mitchell: “A new international declaration on armed drones is not meant to limit exports but establish a common international framework, Brian Nilsson, deputy assistant secretary for defense trade controls with State, told POLITICO. ‘We’re not creating a new export control regimen,’ Nilsson said. ‘We’re proposing the creation of a confidence building body where we all have the same rules.’

“The Joint Declaration for the Export and Subsequent Use of Armed or Strike-Enabled Unmanned Aerial Vehicles — agreed to by 45 nations — is intended to lead to a common set of standards for the export and use of armed UAVs, Nilsson said, adding the State Department will stand up an international working group next year to discuss the standards. The State Department pointed out that the United States already has the U.S. Export Policy for Unmanned Aerial Systems, which placed strict conditions on the U.S. sale or transfer of military UAVs last year. ‘This Joint Declaration reflects a logical next step in this process,’ the department said in a statement.”

— AGREEMENT GETS MIXED REVIEWS FROM INDUSTRY: The leading defense trade association said it supports the State Department’s new international declaration on armed drones, but calls for a more transparent interagency review and approval process to make sure U.S.-made systems are the “global standard.” The Aerospace Industries Association asserts that if allies “understand clearly and follow consistently” the principles laid out in the joint declaration, it could lead to a faster review and approval process for American-made UAV exports. AIA warns, however, that “if other countries’ UAV systems predominate in the global market, and U.S. companies continue to lose market share to their foreign competitors, the United States could lose the leverage necessary to ensure that the Joint Declaration principles become the norm.”

WAR REPORT — SYRIA’S MILITARY SAYS IT WILL REDUCE AIRSTRIKES FOR ALEPPO EVACUATIONS, via The Associated Press: “Syria’s military command said it would scale back its bombardment of the contested city of Aleppo on Wednesday to allow civilians to evacuate besieged rebel-held neighborhoods. The announcement, broadcast on state TV, followed 16 days of airstrikes and shelling that have killed over 300 civilians and damaged hospitals and water facilities. Satellite images released Wednesday by the U.N. show the scale of the destruction since a U.S.-Russia brokered cease-fire collapsed two weeks ago.”

** A message from BAE Systems: At BAE Systems, protecting our troops remains our top priority. Our combat vehicles are designed from the ground up to do just that and are integrated with the latest technologies and solutions with soldiers in mind. Learn more at www.baesystems.com/AUSA. **

DOCUMENT DRAWER I — B-21 GETS THE ‘GOLDEN FLEECE’: The fiscal watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense has bestowed its dubious Golden Fleece Award on the Air Force for its decision to keep the contract value of its planned B-21 bomber a secret. In announcing the award — a tradition meant to highlight programs that waste of taxpayer dollars — the group argued the Air Force won’t disclose the cost of its new Long-Range Strike Bomber “because officials don’t want taxpayers to know how many hundreds of billions of dollars it will cost to sustain this system for the next 40-50 years.”

DOCUMENT DRAWER II — CLIMATE CHANGE AND NATIONAL SECURITY: The Institute for Policy Studies is out with a new paper that makes the argument the government can afford to spend more on combating climate change when it spends 28 times more on traditional military security. The report contends that the military has described climate change as a security threat, and should be spending more “to respond to the threat.”


— SENIOR CARTER ADVISER DEPARTS: Mark Jacobson, a senior adviser to Defense Secretary Ash Carter, had his last day at the Pentagon this week. Jacobson continues to teach a class on politics, bureaucracy and national security at George Washington University, and tells Morning D he’s got a book in the works, too.

— AND A FORMER OSD OFFICIAL JOINS COVINGTON: Zachary Mears, a former deputy chief of staff to the defense secretary, has been hired by the law and lobbying firm Covington as a senior adviser on defense and aerospace issues. Mears left the Pentagon earlier this year for a job with Ohio State University and a Columbus, Ohio, researcher.


— A Pentagon investigation concludes Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s former senior military aide used his government credit card at strip clubs or gentlemen’s clubs in Rome and Seoul, drank in excess and had “improper interactions” with women: AP

— Hurricane Matthew forces partial evacuations at military bases in Florida and South Carolina as U.S. forces prepare for relief operations in Haiti: Stars and Stripes

— Portugal’s Antonio Guterres is poised to be unanimously chosen by the U.N. Security Council to be the next secretary general: Reuters

— The U.N. releases satellite images that shows the extensive damage in Aleppo, also providing evidence that the aid convoy was struck by an airstrike: AP

— Russia terminates a nuclear agreement with the U.S. on uranium conversion: Reuters

— Russia is operating with increased military sophistication in the Arctic: The Wall Street Journal

— House Speaker Paul Ryan plans to steamroll Democrats next year with the budget reconciliation tool should Donald Trump win the White House: POLITICO

— Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson won’t name the leader of North Korea: POLITICO

— Afghanistan 15 years on: Obama’s sorriest legacy: POLITICO Magazine

— A bomb at a Syrian-Turkey border crossing kills at least 25 Turkish-backed rebel fighters: Reuters

— The Philippine defense minister says his president might be “misinformed” about the value of joint military operations with the U.S.: Reuters

— Iraqi militia fighters are pouring into Syria to reinforce the Assad regime in Aleppo, further complicating U.S. alliances against the Islamic State that could shift from Iraq to Syria: WSJ

— Blue Origin successfully tests a crew escape system on its rocket: The Seattle Times

— A Pew Research Center survey finds half of Chinese respondents have a favorable view of the U.S. — while 45 percent believe America also poses a threat: The New York Times

— Germany is considering buying four to six new Lockheed Martin transport planes: Reuters

— India is unlikely to buy any more Rafale fighter jets: Defense News

— An Israeli pilot dies after ejecting following a strike mission in Gaza: Defense News

— Two Brussels police officers are stabbed in a suspected terrorist attack: The Guardian

— Congress looks into Marine Corps hazing allegations but isn’t sure yet what action it will take: Military Times

— After a long wait, a quadruple amputee gets two new arms in a transplant: The Washington Post

— The Air Force says a push-up challenge to raise awareness for veterans’ suicide can’t be done on duty or in uniform: Air Force Times

** A message from BAE Systems: At BAE Systems, we work relentlessly to stay ahead of any challenge our customers may face. Our passion and dedication shows in everything we do—from advanced electronic systems to cyber operations and intelligence analysis, from combat vehicles to naval weapons, and from ship maintenance and modernization to vehicle upgrades and services. Knowing that our work makes a difference inspires us to push ourselves and the technologies we create to new levels. That’s BAE Systems. That’s Inspired Work. Learn more about our technologies, systems and services: www.baesystems.com/US. **

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