US DoD Defense Personnel Security Research Center 'Recent Espionage Cases' page


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PERSEREC Recent Espionage Cases - very interesting reading sometimes...


WILLIAM KAMPILES, served as a watch officer at the CIA Operations Center from March to November 1977. He was arrested in August 1978 on charges he stole a Top Secret technical manual on the KH-11 (“Big Bird”) reconnaissance satellite and later sold it for $3,000 to a Soviet agent in Athens, Greece. According to press reports, the satellite was used to monitor troop movements and missile installations in the Soviet Union. Kampiles had resigned from the CIA in November 1977, disappointed at having been told that he was not qualified for work as a field agent (he fervently wished to join the covert part of CIA operations). Before leaving the agency, he smuggled out of the building a copy of the KH-11 manual. He proceeded to Greece in February 1978 where he contacted a Soviet military attaché. Kampiles was the son of Greek immigrants and had family connections in that country. He claimed to have conned the Russians out of a $3000 advance for the promise of classified information and on his return to the US bragged to friends about his exploits. About this time the CIA was investigating possible leaks concerning the KH-11, since the Soviets were beginning to take countermeasures against the collection platform. Kampiles’ identification as a suspect in part followed receipt of a letter to a CIA employee from Kampiles in which he mentioned frequent meetings with a Soviet official in Athens. He hoped to be rehired by the CIA and admitted during a job interview that he had met with Soviet agents in Athens in what he intended as a disinformation exercise to prove his abilities as a first-rate agent. CIA counterintelligence was concerned by these reports and contacted the FBI, who questioned Kampiles until he confessed about the theft of the manual and its sale to the Soviets. The former CIA employee maintained that his objective had been to become a double agent. He was sentenced on 22 December to 40 years in prison.

Washington Post, 23 Aug 1978, “CIA ‘Big Bird’ Satellite Manual Allegedly Sold to Soviets”
New York Times, 12 Nov 1978, “Spy Trial Focusing on Security in C.I.A.” 23 December 1978, “Ex-Clerk of C.I.A. Gets 40 Years in Sale of Space Secrets to Soviets"
Washington Post Magazine, 4 Dec 1983, “Spy Rings of One”
Minnick, W.L., Spies and Provocateurs, 1992


1984 - THOMAS PATRICK CAVANAGH, an engineering specialist for Northrop Corporation’s Advanced Systems Division holding a Secret clearance, was arrested on 18 December 1984 and charged with attempting to sell classified documents on Stealth aircraft technology to the Soviets. It is reported that Cavanagh's attempt to arrange a meeting with a Soviet official by contacting the Soviet Embassy from a pay phone was intercepted. In this call he proposed a meeting in a bar near Los Angeles International Airport where a deal could be negotiated. He was met by FBI undercover agents posing as Soviet representatives. Cavanagh told the agents that the documents and blueprints he had taken from the firm were of highest value to the United States and that “once they were in the hands of the Soviets, they would save them billions.” During a subsequent meeting, agents provided the $25,000 demanded for classified documents and made the arrest. Cavanagh, recently separated from his wife, faced mounting financial difficulties and feared that he was being denied a Top Secret clearance because of indebtedness. Agents found more than 30 past due notices from creditors at his residence showing a total indebtedness of over $25,000. Despite Cavanagh’s efforts, it is reported that no serious compromise occurred. According to the prosecuting attorney, had Cavanagh been successful, he would have “gutted” the Stealth Bomber project. Cavanagh pleaded guilty to two counts of espionage and on 23 May 1985 was sentenced to two concurrent life terms in prison.

New York Times 19 Dec 1984, “Engineer is Held in Scheme to Sell Secrets” Washington Post 22 Dec 1984, “Engineer in Secrets Case is Held Without Bail” DoD Security Institute, Security Awareness Bulletin, Dec 1985, Number 1-86, “Portrait of an Uneasy Spy”
San Francisco Examiner 21 June 1987, “Traitor in our Midst”

1984 - SAMUEL LORING MORISON, a civilian analyst with the Office of Naval Intelligence, was arrested 1 October 1984 for supplying Jane's Publications with classified photography showing a Soviet nuclear powered carrier under construction. The photographs were subsequently published in Jane's Defence Weekly (July 1984). Morison, described as a heavy spender and unhappy with his Navy Department job, had been employed by Jane's as a part-time contributor. A search of his apartment turned up two portions of Navy documents marked Secret. On 17 October 1985, after a seven-day trial, Morison became the first individual convicted under the 1917 Espionage Code for unauthorized disclosure to the press. Also convicted of theft of government property, Morison was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment on 4 December 1985. The decision was appealed and in April 1988 the conviction was upheld by the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals. In October 1988 the Supreme Court declined to hear the case, thus endorsing the use of the espionage code for prosecuting cases of unauthorized disclosure.

Washington Post 3 Oct 1984, “Navy Analyst Arrested in Photo Sale”
Washington Post 29 Oct 1984, “Unlikely Espionage Suspect”
Washington Post 18 Oct 1985, “Morison Guilty of Spying, Stealing Documents” New York Times 8 Oct 1984, “Disclosing Secrets to the Press...”

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