News & Politics

Government to Charge Contractor with Massive Classified NSA Data Theft

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks during a meeting of the Alabama Democratic Conference in Hoover, Ala., Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015. (AP Photo/ Mark Almond)

I was under the impression that sloppy handling of classified data was not a big deal anymore.

But some animals are more equal than others.

The government will charge a contractor under the Espionage Act for stealing a massive amount of NSA data. The contractor is “accused of carrying out perhaps the largest theft of classified government material ever.”

In a 12-page memo, U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein and two other prosecutors laid out a much more far-reaching case against Harold T. Martin III than was previously outlined.

Martin, who will appear at a detention hearing in U.S. District Court on Friday, took at least 50 terabytes of digital data, thousands of pages of documents, dozens of computers and other digital storage devices over two decades, the government alleged.

Earlier this month, a complaint was unsealed that charged Martin with “felony theft of government property and unauthorized removal and retention of classified materials, a misdemeanor.”  Under the Espionage Act he could face 10 years for each charge against him.

The government does not want him released while he awaits trial. Prosecutors claim Martin “presents a high risk of flight, a risk to the nation, and to the physical safety of others.”

“The case against the defendant thus far is overwhelming, and the investigation is ongoing,” Rosenstein said. “The defendant knows, and, if no longer detained, may have access to, a substantial amount of highly classified information, which he has flagrantly mishandled and could easily disseminate to others.”

Flagrantly mishandled? Easily disseminated to others? Is that so?

Prosecutors argued that “the grave and severe danger that pretrial release of the defendant would pose to the national security of the United States.”

Indeed.