Security specialists testified yesterday that missile-site information carried by spy suspect Brian Patrick Regan was outdated, of no value to Iraq and China and should not have been classified top-secret.
“That information was not damaging because it was publicly known,” said Maynard Anderson, former acting deputy secretary of defense for security policy who has helped formulate the presidential order for security.
By contrast, the information disclosed Wednesday to the United Nations by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell could be damaging, but it was necessary for officials to illustrate the dangers posed by Iraq, Mr. Anderson said.
“Far-fetched” was how Alan Shaw described concerns that two papers possessed by Sgt. Regan when he was arrested Aug. 23, 2001, endangered the United States and aided Iraq and China. Mr. Shaw is a director of the Office of Technology Assessment and has had security clearance since 1974.
The papers, introduced as evidence in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, listed the geological coordinates of missile sites in Iraq and China. Prosecutors claim the information would have provided revelations about America’s satellite imaging and helped those adversaries set up defenses.
Mr. Shaw’s testimony was the last in defense of Sgt. Regan, who is charged with three counts of attempted espionage and one count of illegally gathering national security information.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys are expected to give closing arguments when the trial, which began Jan. 27, resumes Monday. Sgt. Regan, 40, could face the death penalty, a first for an American spy since 1953 when Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were convicted for passing information to Russia.
Five specialists on security, computers and satellite intelligence testified in behalf of the retired Air Force master sergeant, who had worked in the supersecret National Reconnaissance Office in Chantilly.
Several testified that the information that FBI agents seized from Sgt. Regan at Washington Dulles International Airport and from his Bowie home and Gateway computer was public knowledge available on the Internet, some newspapers, other publications and from commercial and foreign satellites.
Computer forensics specialist Donald Allison testified that the FBI may have made incorrect copies from Sgt. Regan’s computer. Mr. Allison testified similarly in the trial of terrorist suspect Zacarias Moussaoui.
Cross-examined by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Gillis, Mr. Allison acknowledged that computer hard-drive errors are only one bit in billions. He also said the FBI had done as he recommended by making copies rather than researching the hard drive repeatedly.
Mr. Shaw said some information is classified uselessly because it has become common knowledge through publications and advances in technology.
Both Iraq and China certainly knew about the geological coordinates listed by Sgt. Regan, Mr. Shaw said, pointing out that China had been working with Strategic Air Missiles since receiving them in the 1960s from Russia.
He agreed with defense attorney Jonathan Shapiro that it is “reasonable to believe that Iraq, Iran [and] Libya know that every inch of their territory is seen by U.S. satellites.”
Most of the evidence is unseen by courtroom spectators. Much of it is classified as secret or top-secret and is shown on video screens only to the jurors and court officials.
Prosecutors have said Sgt. Regan sought $13 million for the information. They said evidence indicated he wanted the money deposited into banks in Switzerland. He was about to board a plane to Switzerland when arrested.