- The Washington Times - Friday, March 21, 2003

Brian Patrick Regan was sentenced to life in prison without parole yesterday for offering to sell U.S. intelligence secrets to Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and the Chinese government.

U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee in Alexandria approved the sentence, which was brokered by Regan's attorneys and prosecutors. As part of the agreement, the government promised not to prosecute Regan's wife, Anette, and allowed her to keep Regan's military pension.

Regan also agreed to tell the government about any classified information he might have given to a foreign country.

Regan, 40, a retired Air Force master sergeant, was convicted last month on two attempted espionage counts and a single charge of gathering national defense information. He was acquitted of attempting to spy for Libya.

Standing before Judge Lee in a green prison jumpsuit, Regan apologized but said he felt the sentence was too harsh.

"I feel a life sentence is excessive in my case," Regan said. "I never harmed anyone. I'm entering into this to protect my family."

Though prosecutors acknowledged Regan never passed any secrets, Judge Lee said the attempt to sell intelligence warranted a stiff sentence.

"You betrayed your country's trust," Judge Lee said. "There's no doubt that your attempted espionage put our nation's intelligence-gathering at risk. You have joined the list of infamous spies."

Regan avoided the death penalty when the jury decided that in attempting to spy for Iraq he did not offer documents concerning nuclear weapons, military satellites or war plans.

Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were the last Americans put to death for spying. They were executed in 1953 for conspiring to steal U.S. atomic secrets for the Soviet Union.

A father of four from Bowie, Regan worked at the National Reconnaissance Office, which operates the government's spy satellites. He first worked there for the Air Force, then as a civilian employee for TRW, a defense contractor.

Prosecutors said Regan had credit-card debts of $117,000 when he drafted a letter to Saddam offering to sell U.S. intelligence for $13 million. He made similar offers to Chinese and Libyan officials, though prosecutors acknowledged he never passed secrets to any government.

Using his access to a classified Internet network, Regan looked up dozens of top-secret documents, including satellite photos of Iraqi missile sites. He was arrested Aug. 23, 2001, at Washington Dulles International Airport while boarding a flight for Zurich.

Regan was carrying information with the coded coordinates of Iraqi and Chinese missile sites, the missiles that were stored there, and the dates the information was obtained, prosecutors said. He also had the addresses of the Chinese and Iraqi embassies in Switzerland and Austria in his wallet and tucked into his right shoe.

Defense attorneys said Regan might have fantasized about spying, but had no real intention of selling secrets.

His attorneys argued that the information he had with him when arrested could be obtained easily through public sources.

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