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Thread: FBI Analyst charged as spy
09-14-2005, 01:29 #1
FBI Analyst charged as spy
CLAIM: Classified documents sent to Philippines
AUTHORITIES: Case may involve coup attempt
FBI analyst at fort charged as spy
Published in the Asbury Park Press 09/13/05
BY BILL BOWMAN
AND KEITH BROWN
NEWARK â€” An FBI analyst working at Fort Monmouth since July 2004 and a former Philippine police official were charged Saturday with funneling classified documents to current and former Philippine government officials â€” possibly to further a coup attempt.
The charges, which were unsealed Monday, accuse Leandro Aragoncillo, 46, of Deptford â€” also known as Juan Miguel â€” and Michael Ray "Ninoy" Aquino, 39, of Queens, with conspiracy and acting as unregistered agents of a foreign country. Aragoncillo, a former Marine who worked at Fort Monmouth, also was charged with unauthorized use of a government computer to obtain and transmit classified information to persons not entitled to that information.
Based on statements in the complaint, the information the two are accused of passing to the Philippines appears to have been U.S. analyses of the country's political climate.
U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie said there was no evidence that the administration of Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was involved but declined to say if the suspects were in contact with opposition factions. The Asian nation has been beset by persistent coup rumors since Arroyo was accused of rigging last year's elections.
The complaint, however, mentions several e-mails that accompanied the classified documents. One refers to a pending "change in leadership" and another urged a "take-over."
"This case strikes at the very heart of the nation's national security, our ability to keep secrets secret," Christie said at a Monday press conference announcing the arrests. "Our view on this is there is to be no compromising on matters of security to the United States."
Held without bail
The two men were arrested at their homes Saturday morning, Christie said. The pair made their initial appearances at 11 a.m. Monday in federal district court and were ordered held without bail when prosecutors said they were flight risks.
Speaking of the FBI's ability to investigate itself, Leslie Wiser Jr., special agent in charge for New Jersey said, "the FBI chooses not to own a rug under which it sweeps its problems."
He said it was "disheartening" that a person such as Aragoncillo â€” a decorated former Marine gunnery sergeant who retired from the military in 2004 after 21 years of service â€” who "swore to uphold the U.S. Constitution," would steal classified information for another country.
Christie would not discuss details of the documents that were sent, but the complaint did include some snippets of messages that accompanied them. On Jan. 2, 2005, for example, Aquino â€” a Filipino citizen, but, Christie said, no relation to former President Corazon Aquino â€” sent an e-mail to an unnamed Philippine official introducing Aragoncillo, who was then finishing his FBI training.
"He wants to talk to you and give you some updates on the political situation in the country," Aquino wrote of Aragoncillo. "He alleged that last Tuesday during a briefing . . . the recent political situation in the Philippines was discussed . . . He claimed that a change in leadership is boiling and that it is just a matter of time."
Christie said that starting in about September 2004, Aragoncillo used an FBI database to research and download classified documents concerning the Philippines. Using two different e-mail addresses, the complaint alleges, Aragoncillo then transmitted those documents to Aquino and two current and one former "high-level" government officials in the Philippines.
Aquino is a former deputy director of the Philippines National Police.
Christie refused to name the officials to whom the e-mails were sent and would not say if Philippine law enforcement was cooperating in the investigation.
The FBI became involved in the case in July after being contacted by agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement who raised questions about Aragoncillo's inquiries into a pending immigration case against Aquino. Aquino was arrested in March for overstaying a tourist visa issued to him in 2001.
Aragoncillo, the complaint states, introduced himself as an FBI agent and asked many questions about the case against Aquino, then called an immigration agent to ask about the status of the case.
The FBI then launched an internal audit of Aragoncillo's computer at the FBI's Information Technology Center at Fort Monmouth, revealing that he downloaded and printed 101 classified documents pertaining to the Philippines. Of those, 37 were classified as "secret," the complaint states.
Wiser, the FBI special agent, said that as an FBI employee since July 2004, Aragoncillo was automatically granted access to classified information. A neighbor in Deptford said Aragoncillo had come to the United States as a teenager.
Christie would not say what motivated the men.
In court, Assistant U.S. Attorney Karl H. Buch said that Aragoncillo had $500,000 in debts, mostly mortgages on rental properties, and that Aquino had been investigated in the Philippines in connection with a conspiracy to kidnap and murder two people in 2000.
After his arrest, Aragoncillo "essentially admitted that he took classified information," Buch said.
Henry Kearney, spokesman for Fort Monmouth, said the FBI Information Technology Center where Aragoncillo worked was not part of the post's Army command.
The FBI center provides data services for FBI field offices in the Northeast, Kearney said, but has nothing to do with the military work performed at the fort.
A representative from the U.S. State Department could not be reached for comment.
The Philippine Consulate in New York was unaware of the charges against Aquino. Consul Maria Legaspi, head of the department handling legal assistance to nationals, referred all questions to New York-based immigration lawyer Felix Vinluan â€” the lawyer representing Aquino on charges that he overstayed his visa stemming from his March arrest. His office is not representing Aquino on the new charges.
The conspiracy charge carries a potential penalty of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, while the unregistered agent and unauthorized use of a government computer charges carry prison sentences of up to 10 years each and a $250,000 fine.
Gannett New Jersey and The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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09-18-2005, 04:55 #2
It's too bad that we don't hang spies anymore.
09-18-2005, 07:34 #3Originally Posted by skyspy
09-18-2005, 20:01 #4
The scary thing is that someone else may be giving info to someone else somewhere else right now... early onset of paranoia
09-18-2005, 20:38 #5
Don't know if this is done already, but would it be out of the question (workload demands) to conduct backgrounds on current employees once on the job for a while?
09-18-2005, 20:42 #6CA_NY Guest
Well, the $500K debt includes the mortgage....
Also, this guy is a Marine of 22 years standing....
Yes he is Naturalized, but if you think that is bad to be an FBI employee, consider the FBI Agent who sold this nation off to Russia not long ago. That guy was born right here.
It is silly to go about talking about hanging and treachery, when we do not know the full facts or the truth.
Again, this is a Marine for 22 years; if he wanted to betray this country he could have done that all that while..... no one stays a Marine that long without truely loving this country.
Last edited by CA_NY; 09-18-2005 at 20:45.
09-18-2005, 20:58 #7
The obvious serves as great cover. Maybe that is why we have difficulty in finding them. The facts will come out and we do not know all of the background issues concerning this guy. The true lesson from this is that we are still required to be vigilant (sp).
09-18-2005, 21:04 #8Originally Posted by dwf131
09-18-2005, 21:15 #9CA_NY Guest
All I am saying is, we do not have the facts to judge this Marine of 22 years standing....
Last edited by CA_NY; 09-18-2005 at 21:24.
09-18-2005, 21:38 #10
Interesting info everyone....
What do you make of this article published in a daily paper from the Philippines? Sounds absurd but this is how the story is playing out over there with the public. The Daily Inquirer has significant readership...
Michael Ray Aquino caper: 'Controlled leak' gone wrong?
First posted 08:26am (Mla time) Sept 17, 2005
By TJ Burgonio
Inquirer News Service
THE FEDERAL BUREAU OF Investigation had a hand in the leak of classified information to Philippine officials, and tried to cover up when it was exposed to the media by suing its agent, according to retired Navy Commodore Rex Robles.
"My assumption is that it's a controlled leak gone wrong," Robles, chief of the Philippine military intelligence service's domestic section in 1968-72, said yesterday in a phone interview.
He was referring to US authorities' purported practice of sending intelligence information to political leaders and top businessmen in an effort to build communication lines.
Robles said it was possible an overzealous agent "who wanted to go up the ladder" exposed the communication of FBI classified information to outsiders "without knowing it was a legitimate operation" of Leandro Aragoncillo, the conduit.
"To cover this up, the FBI is now filing pseudo-charges [against Aragoncillo] so that the trail leading to the higher-level authority who ordered the leak will be erased," he said.
After retiring from the military in 1999, Robles, now president of the security risk management consultancy RCR, was included in the "blue book" of intelligence officials.
He was a member of the Feliciano Commission that looked into the causes of the July 2003 "Oakwood mutiny" mounted by a band of disgruntled junior military officers.
Robles did not discount the possibility that the disclosure of Aragoncillo's operation to the media was a mere offshoot of the rivalry between the Republicans and Democrats in Washington.
"Aragoncillo could have been caught in the middle of this rivalry," he said, adding that even the US naval intelligence community did not buy claims that the agent had sold the information for $500,000.
"He's a fall guy," Robles said. "The Democrats know this."
As it happened, Robles said, this was an embarrassment to both the Philippine and US governments because the arrest of Aragoncillo and Michael Ray Aquino coincided with President Macapagal-Arroyo's arrival in New York.
"Why did they do this at a time when the political situation is still volatile?" he said.
He also said he found it odd that Aragoncillo managed to download hundreds of classified information from FBI files undetected.
Robles chided Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez and Director Reynaldo Wycoco of the National Bureau of Investigation for hinting on the identities of the three supposed recipients of the information even before they could be formally charged.
"Why don't we keep a tight lid on it and demand [from the US] treatment due a friendly ally and resolve this quietly? Let's not create scandal with so little information in our hands," he said.
Robles further charged that by suggesting the extradition of the three recipients of the information before they could be identified, DOJ and NBI officials were virtually "selling the country's sovereignty."
"What if Cory (former President Corazon Aquino) and Erap (deposed President Joseph Estrada) were among the officials? Would they extradite a former President?" he said."An eye for an eye and the whole world would be blind"
09-18-2005, 21:53 #11Originally Posted by electra1978
To echo Jose's comments, as an FBI Intelligence Analyst, I can't and won't defend his alleged actions. I have no doubt in my mind that he knew what he is alleged to have done was wrong.
09-19-2005, 18:15 #12CA_NY Guest
Following news coming from AFP; my read is this Analyst was, maybe inadvertently, helping prevent a coup in Phillipines.
I think US Agencies (not sure if FBI) are involved in this leakage of information to Phillipines, to help save the government there.
This is a fall guy.... for something USA was doing clandestinely to help an ally out. Sure, without verifying all the facts, lets hang the Analyst. That is the American thing to do.
US warned Philippines of coup against Arroyo
MANILA (AFP) - The United States embassy in Manila warned of a possible coup attempt against Philippine President Gloria Arroyo as early as April this year, a newspaper said Sunday.
In a report written on April 15, former US charge dâ€™affaires Joseph Mussomeli referred to â€˜rampant rumoursâ€™ at the time that a coup attempt could occur â€˜as early as May 2005â€™, the Inquirer said.
Titled â€œPhilippines: Public Unease Growing,â€ Mussomeliâ€™s intelligence assessment could be one of the estimated 100 classified FBI files allegedly downloaded by the FBIâ€™s Filipino-American intelligence analyst Leandro Aragoncillo and sent to several personalities in the Philippines, the paper said.
The FBI last week arrested Aragoncillo and former Philippine police officer Michael Aquino on espionage charges.
â€œThe broad support that Macapagal-Arroyo enjoyed following her inauguration last year has faded and public frustration with the economy, corruption and the stalled efforts at reform have taken their toll on her standing,â€ Mussomeli said.
US embassy press attache Matthew Lussenhop would not comment on the report Sunday.
Mussomeli left Manila last month to take up a new appointment as the US ambassador to Cambodia.
â€œReports from the US Defence Attacheâ€™s Office suggest (the coup plotters) are planning an undefined â€˜military operationâ€™ involving elements from all four services that is intended to intimidate Macapagal-Arroyo into resigning,â€ he wrote.
â€œRumors are rampant but vague, though the latest have officers moving against Macapagal-Arroyo soon, possibly as early as May 2005,â€ he said.
â€œInformation on Macapagal-Arroyoâ€™s hardcore supporters, including how well armed or organised (they) are, also is imprecise. Some reporting suggests, however, that Macapagal-Arroyo may depend on these groups rather than his (sic) unreliable military to defend her government,â€ Mussomeli said in the report.
The report also mentioned two scenarios involving a military takeover as having â€œimminent potential.â€
â€œThe first one involves the opposition goading Ms Arroyo into declaring a state of emergency, prompting the military - unwilling to repress citizens of any political stripe - either to refuse or to turn against the president.â€
â€œThe second involves a â€œgeneral strikeâ€ by those against her.
â€œAlternatively, if Macapagal-Arroyo responds to the strike by calling her own supporters into the streets to confront the opposition violently, the military could act against her in the name of restoring order,â€ the report said.
The Inquirer said Mussomeliâ€™s report quoted widely from the findings of the Social Weather Stations survey at the time.
09-19-2005, 18:59 #13CA_NY GuestOriginally Posted by Jose Canusi
Does it make any sense to you??
Fact 1: This guy is no ordinary Marine, he was decorated.
Fact 2: BuMan thinks this guys acted really Doofus; spying within 4 months of joining FBI is really stupid, by any standard.
Does it make sense to you?
If it does, then the problem is not with the Analyst cadre of FBI; it is much bigger, and I am sorry.
09-19-2005, 19:37 #14Originally Posted by CA_NY
09-19-2005, 20:52 #15CA_NY GuestOriginally Posted by nsedet
And I hope it will mean something to the Jury that will sit on his trial.
PS : There is a reason why they say, once a Marine always a Marine. Nothing can take that away from a person, especially after 22 years of doing that.
Last edited by CA_NY; 09-19-2005 at 20:57.