It’s Raining Traitors
Two significant espionage cases breaking back-to-back illustrate the severity of the counterintelligence threat America faces
No sooner did this author warn about the broken nature of American counterintelligence, which is mired in a bureaucratic dysfunction that allows foreign spies to steal our governmental and industrial secrets far too easily, then the Department of Justice reminded everyone how great that threat really is. Insider threats rank among the most serious security problems faced by the U.S. Government, as two simultaneous espionage arrests demonstrate, yet again.
Last Thursday, DoJ announced the arrest of 30-year old Jareh Sebastian Dalke of Colorado Springs, on several charges under the Espionage Act. Dalke went rogue following one of the shortest careers in the history of the National Security Agency. He was hired by NSA on June 6, 2022, to work as an Information Systems Security Designer at an unnamed Agency location in the Washington, DC, area (presumably this was NSA headquarters at Fort Meade, Maryland, or one of the surrounding Agency complexes) yet by the end of that month Dalke explained that he wished to resign due to an unexplained “family illness.” He elaborated nebulously that he needed nine months away and Dalke stated he planned to return to the Agency after his family situation was resolved. He had his required exit interview with NSA officials by the month’s end. Dalke’s last day as an NSA employee was July 1 of this year.
Given that all NSA new hires receive substantial training in essential employment matters when they enter on duty – ranging from human resources to IT training plus a lot of security briefings on classification and secrecy oaths – it’s difficult to see how Dalke was truly working for the Agency, in his job, for more than a week or two before he decided to move on. Regardless, Dalke was fully briefed on the lifetime non-disclosure agreement he signed when accepting employment with “the Fort,” which is part of the TOPSECRET//Sensitive Compartmented Information security clearance package when you take any job with NSA.
Thereafter, unto death, you are not free to speak (or write or tweet) about your NSA experience, beyond unclassified basics, without Agency approval. Dalke knew all this. Indeed, he was reminded of it during his mandatory security briefing upon his resignation. Nevertheless, by the end of July, after he returned home to Colorado, Dalke began communicating online with an individual whom he believed represented a foreign government, using an encrypted email system. The DoJ case affidavit doesn’t name the foreign email provider, which it says “offers its users a combination of public-key cryptography and symmetric encryption protocols to offer end-to-end encryption,” but by implication it’s Swiss-based ProtonMail.
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