NSA con­trac­tor from Glen Burnie charged with theft of doc­u­ments

Baltimore Sun - - FRONT PAGE - By Ian Dun­can

ANavy veteran from Glen Burnie with a top-se­cret se­cu­rity clear­ance work­ing as a govern­ment con­trac­tor has been charged with steal­ing govern­ment prop­erty and tak­ing and keep­ing clas­si­fied ma­te­ri­als, fed­eral prose­cu­tors an­nounced Wed­nes­day.

Harold Martin, 51, was ar­rested by the FBI in Au­gust, prose­cu­tors said. He re­port­edly worked as a con­trac­tor for the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors searched Martin’s home, two sheds and a ve­hi­cle in late Au­gust, and have been re­view­ing ter­abytes of dig­i­tal in­for­ma­tion and thou­sands of pages of doc­u­ments, au­thor­i­ties wrote in court doc­u­ments.

Much of the ma­te­rial was marked as clas­si­fied, an FBI agent wrote in a crim­i­nal com­plaint against Martin.

The al­leged breach comes as the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity has tried to clamp down on in­sider threats. That work in­ten­si­fied af­ter NSA con­trac­tor Edward

Snowden leaked thou­sands of in­ter­nal doc­u­ments to re­porters in 2013.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the charges against Martin serve as a re­minder of the im­por­tance of pro­tect­ing na­tional se­cu­rity in­for­ma­tion.

“This is cer­tainly a sit­u­a­tion that the Depart­ment of Jus­tice takes se­ri­ously, as ev­i­denced by their com­plaint,” he said Wed­nes­day. “This is also a sit­u­a­tion that Pres­i­dent Obama takes quite se­ri­ously.”

Au­thor­i­ties did not say where Martin worked, but The NewYork Times and other news or­ga­ni­za­tions said he was em­ployed by Booz Allen Hamil­ton — which also hired Snowden — and worked for the NSA.

Booz Allen Hamil­ton, a ma­jor in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity con­trac­tor, said Wed­nes­day that one of its em­ploy­ees had been ar­rested, but it did not name Martin.

“When Booz Allen learned of the ar­rest of one of its em­ploy­ees by the FBI, we im­me­di­ately reached out to the au­thor­i­ties to of­fer our to­tal co­op­er­a­tion in their in­ves­ti­ga­tion, and we fired the em­ployee,” the com­pany said in a fil­ing with the Se­cu­ri­ties and Ex­change Com­mis­sion.

“We con­tinue to co­op­er­ate fully with the govern­ment on its in­ves­ti­ga­tion into this se­ri­ous mat­ter.”

Rep. C. A. Dutch Rup­pers­berger, whose dis­trict in­cludes NSA head­quar­ters at Fort Meade, said the al­le­ga­tions raise fresh ques­tions about how in­tel­li­gence con­trac­tors are screened.

Rup­pers­berger was the top Demo­crat on the House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee at the time of the Snowden leaks.

“We have to make sure our sys­tem of vet­ting pri­vate con­trac­tors is very se­cure,” he said.

Rup­pers­berger said the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity has taken steps to tighten se­cu­rity af­ter Snowden, but stop­ping one among tens of thou­sands of work­ers is al­ways go­ing to be dif­fi­cult.

“These are very dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tions when you have in­sid­ers,” he said. “When you have In­ves­ti­ga­tors raided the Glen Burnie home of of Harold Thomas Martin III in Au­gust, seiz­ing ma­te­rial they said was clas­si­fied. Martin re­mains in de­ten­tion. some­one who’s been through the clear­ance process and a back­ground in­ves­ti­ga­tion, they’re very dif­fi­cult.”

In­ves­ti­ga­tors raided Martin’s home on a Satur­day af­ter­noon in Au­gust. Neigh­bors said they heard bangs they as­sumed were stun grenades be­fore see­ing Martin be­ing led out in hand­cuffs.

Martin ini­tially de­nied tak­ing any files, the FBI agent wrote in court pa­pers, but was con­fronted with spe­cific doc­u­ments and ac­knowl­edged that he had.

“Martin stated that he knew what he had done was wrong and that he should not have done it bea­cuse he knew it was unau­tho­rized,” in­ves­ti­ga­tors wrote.

At least six doc­u­ments seized by in­ves­ti­ga­tors were par­tic­u­larly sen­si­tive, the FBI agent wrote, and their dis­clo­sure would re­veal sources, meth­ods and tech­niques used by the na­tion’s se­cu­rity agen­cies. The doc­u­ments dated from 2014, af­ter Snowden’s leaks.

It’s not clear pre­cisely what in­for­ma­tion Martin is sus­pected of steal­ing.

Martin was taken into cus­tody in Au­gust. The charges against him were un­sealed Wed­nes­day. He re­mains in de­ten­tion.

In a court fil­ing from Septem­ber, also made public Wed­nes­day, au­thor­i­ties said they had to wade through the seized records and get Martin’s lawyers se­cu­rity clear­ances be­fore they could move for­ward with the case.

Fed­eral au­thor­i­ties and Martin’s at­tor­neys were try­ing to reach a deal to avoid hav­ing to ob­tain a grand jury in­dict­ment, prose­cu­tors wrote.

A judge agreed to give in­ves­ti­ga­tors un­til March to file an in­dict­ment.

Martin is be­ing rep­re­sented by James Wyda, the fed­eral public de­fender in Mary­land. Wyda said the charges rep­re­sent only the first step in the process.

“There’s no ev­i­dence that Hal Martin has be­trayed his coun­try,” Wyda said. “What we do know is that Hal Martin loves his fam­ily and his coun­try. He served this na­tion hon­or­ably in the U.S. Navy, and he has de­voted his en­tire ca­reer to pro­tect­ing his coun­try. We look for­ward to de­fend­ing Hal Martin in court.”

Martin was com­mis­sioned as an of­fi­cer in the Navy in 1988, ac­cord­ing to De­fense Depart­ment records. He achieved the rank of lieu­tenant and served aboard the com­bat sup­port ship USS Seat­tle in the early 1990s. He was later as­signed to a post in Wash­ing­ton.

A LinkedIn pro­file un­der Martin’s name says he worked at a suc­ces­sion of de­fense con­trac­tors af­ter leav­ing ac­tive duty in 1995. The LinkedIn page de­scribes Martin’s most re­cent work as con­sult­ing for the De­fense Depart­ment and the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity on how to fight bat­tles over com­puter net­works.

Martin is a grad­u­ate stu­dent in in­for­ma­tion sys­tems at the Univer­sity of Mary­land, Bal­ti­more County, a school spokes­woman said. His page on the school’s site lists in­ter­ests in cloud com­put­ing, ro­bot­ics, ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and com­puter se­cu­rity.

The search of his home came shortly af­ter a per­son or group call­ing it­self the Shadow Bro­kers dumped NSA hack­ing tools online and said it would auction off more to the high­est bid­der. The group re­mained ac­tive this past week­end, com­plain­ing online that its auction had not drawn enough in­ter­est.

Com­puter se­cu­rity an­a­lysts have said that it was un­likely hack­ers had bro­ken into the NSA to ob­tain the tools. They say it’s more likely that an in­sider took them, or a mis­take left them ex­posed online.

JOSE LUIS MAGANA/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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