- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 25, 2001

A retired Air Force sergeant, arrested by the FBI on Thursday night at Washington Dulles International Airport, was charged yesterday with espionage during a brief appearance at the U.S. District Court in Alexandria.
Brian P. Regan, 38, a government contractor at the supersecret National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), was charged with conspiracy to commit espionage in connection with what U.S. Attorney Kenneth Melson called an effort to aid a foreign government "and bring injury to the United States."
Mr. Melson did not disclose the information Mr. Regan was said to have obtained or to whom he is suspected of passing it. The Associated Press, citing an anonymous "government source," reported last night that the country was Libya.
Mr. Melson said in a statement the former Air Force sergeant had access to classified information in his work at the NRO, which designs, builds and operates spy satellites.
"Mr. Regan conspired to transmit classified U.S. national defense information to a person or persons he knew were working for a foreign government with the intent to aid that foreign government and bring injury to the United States," Mr. Melson said outside the courthouse. "We believe we will be successful in this particular case."
Prosecutors asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Welton Sewell to order Mr. Regan held without bond. A hearing was set for Wednesday.
According to prosecutors, Mr. Regan began his espionage activities shortly after his retirement from the service in August 2000. The government said they continued until his arrest Thursday.
An FBI affidavit said Mr. Regan was trained in cryptanalysis and that his responsibilities included administering the Intelink Web site, a classified government computer system accessible only to certain members of the intelligence community.
The affidavit said Mr. Regan was suspected of being the source of a number of classified documents received by an unnamed foreign country. They included secret electronic images, a CIA intelligence report and documents related to a foreign country's satellite capability.
It said he accessed classified material after logging into Intelink and was seen looking at a secret document on his computer terminal and taking notes in a small notebook, which he put in the front pocket of his pants.
On Thursday morning, while Mr. Regan was in an NRO meeting, the affidavit said, the FBI searched his van and found a carry-on bag containing encrypted messages, handwritten addresses and telephone numbers for foreign diplomatic offices in Switzerland and Austria. It said Mr. Regan told colleagues he was going to Orlando but had reservations for a Lufthansa flight to Zurich, Switzerland, via Frankfurt, Germany.
After being stopped by FBI agents at a security checkpoint at Dulles, the affidavit said, Mr. Regan denied knowing about cryptanalysis and coding. But after being shown photos of documents seized from his bag, he said, "This is my stuff." FBI agents later searched his Bowie home.
NRO spokesman Rick Obern said Mr. Regan began working for the agency about three years ago while still on active duty and became a contract employee after his retirement from the Air Force. He said he most recently was assigned to a unit that met with military officials to determine their needs and how the agency could help.
The agency's satellites, which are provided to such customers as the Central Intelligence Agency and the Defense Department, are designed to warn of potential trouble spots around the world, help plan military operations and monitor the environment.
As part of the 13-member Intelligence Community, the NRO plays a primary role in achieving information superiority for the U.S. government and armed forces. A Defense Department agency, the NRO is staffed by Defense and CIA personnel and is funded through the National Reconnaissance Program, part of the National Foreign Intelligence Program.
The existence of the NRO was a secret until 1992.
Mr. Regan, who was not handcuffed for the court appearance, is a native of Brooklyn, N.Y. During his years in the Air Force, he won several commendations, including a Defense Meritorious Service Award for his work as an intelligence analyst after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990.
A woman who answered his home telephone declined to comment. Neighbors told reporters that the family, including four children, was quiet and kept to itself. He is thought to have lived in the Bowie neighborhood for about eight years.
Mr. Regan, who joined the Air Force in August 1980 and was assigned in 1995 as an intelligence specialist at the Pentagon, told Judge Sewell he could not afford an attorney. He was advised that one would be appointed.
The case is being investigated by the FBI's Washington field office foreign intelligence squad.
Authorities said the suspected intelligence damage by Mr. Regan, though serious, does not compare to that of former FBI Agent Robert P. Hanssen, an FBI counterintelligence agent who pleaded guilty last month to spying for the Soviet Union and Russia for more than 15 years.
Hanssen's February arrest prompted Attorney General John Ashcroft to begin several probes and an immediate re-evaluation of security within the FBI. In July, Hanssen pleaded July to espionage, conspiracy and attempted conspiracy and agreed to co-operate with prosecutors under a plea deal to avoid the death penalty.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide