Friday, November 23, 2001

It’s happened again, another significant security lapse in less than the space of a month has come to light. At least this time, the would-be spy was identified and captured quickly and the damage done thereby limited. However, the fact remains that yet another American citizen employed by an intelligence agency actively sought to trade the security of this nation for personal gain.

Brian P. Regan, an expert in signals intelligence and air defense systems who worked at the ultra-secret National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), “amassed a cache of documents” via his top-secret security clearance and hoped to sell the information to the Libyans, Iraqis, or Chinese. The data related to such things as the coordinates of foreign countries’ missile sites and defense installations, the location of embassy buildings, and other assets abroad. As an employee of the NRO, Regan had access to a secure intelligence network, Intelink, that gave him the ability to view and even download the classified data. Regan was arrested as he was preparing to board a flight at Dulles International Airport headed for Frankfurt, Germany perhaps to make his vile swap of information for cold hard cash. He pleaded not guilty to the spying charges last week at his arraignment in federal court in Alexandria and is scheduled to go to trial March 4.

As with the case just a few weeks ago of DIA analyst Helen Montes, who, according to the charges filed against her, provided classified information to the communist government of Cuba, U.S. intelligence agencies seem to be suffused with people interested in betraying their country mostly for cash, but every now and then, for “the cause” as well.

Security has become an issue once again in the wake of the September 11 attacks, but as these cases remind us, it should have been one long before. Our vulnerability to hostile actions by foreign terrorists and the nations who support them, or just wish us ill, is only increased by the appalling security breaches that have come to light during the past year.

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