When we hear arguments that the NSA shouldn’t exist, the valid concern that espionage could easily occur isn’t often mentioned.
Almost a Spy
“A Colorado Springs man will make his initial appearance in federal court today on charges that he attempted to transmit classified National Defense Information (NDI) to a representative of a foreign government,” the Department of Justice stated last week in a press release.
Jareh Sebastian Dalke worked at the NSA as an information systems security designer for less than a month (June 6 to July 1, 2022).
Just a few weeks after he finished working at the NSA, Dalke used an encrypted email account to transmit excerpts of three classified documents to someone the former NSA employee thought was working for Russia.
“According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, Dalke began communicating on or about July 29, 2022, via encrypted email with an individual he believed to be associated with a foreign government,” the Justice Department added.
However, as in the case of the two doctors arrested by the FBI last week, it was an FBI counterintelligence sting, and the person Dalke was communicating with was an undercover FBI special agent.
“Dalke told that individual that he had taken highly sensitive information relating to foreign targeting of U.S. systems and information on U.S. cyber operations, among other topics. Dalke represented to the undercover FBI agent that he was still employed by the U.S. government but said he was on a temporary assignment at a field location. Dalke requested compensation via a specific type of cryptocurrency in exchange for the information he possessed and stated that he was in financial need,” the Justice Department stated.
In total, Dalke transmitted excerpts of three classified documents, including one classified as Secret and two documents classified as Top Secret. The motives behind Dalke’s espionage activities seem to be monetary.
The former NSA employee requested $85,000 in cryptocurrency in order to transmit the full classified documents. Dalke seems to have a significant amount of credit card debt and student loans.
At that point, the FBI arranged a trap. The federal law enforcement agents set up a meeting with Dalke in Denver, Colorado, in order for him to transfer additional classified intelligence. Once the former NSA employee showed up, he was arrested by the FBI.
The Justice Department has charged Dalke with three violations of the Espionage Act, which carries a wide spectrum of possible punishments, ranging from the death penalty to any terms of years behind bars up to life in prison.
The Espionage Act makes it a crime to transmit or attempt to transmit classified information to a representative of a foreign government with the intent or suspicion that the information could be used against U.S. national security or to the advantage of the foreign government.