Category Archives: Security Clearance

DS Agent Charged With “Notoriously Disgraceful Conduct” Gets Three Days Suspension

– Domani Spero

Remember back in 2010 when HeraldNet reported that a federal agent was arrested for assault in the Snohomish County of Washington State? Quick recap:

“The man was arrested June 17 for investigation of second-degree assault. Deputies seized 15 guns from the home, including his duty weapon, according to a police affidavit filed in Everett District Court.

He told investigators that he is an agent with the U.S. Department of State in Seattle. His wife told authorities that he is a diplomatic security officer.”

See DS Agent Arrested After Wife Reports Assault.

The agent’s name was never publicly released.

But — there is a grievance case (names redacted, of course) that is identical in details and timing to the reported case.  A Motion to Exclude order by the Foreign Service Grievance Board (FSGB) on the grievance filed by an unnamed FS-03 Diplomatic Security (DS) Special Agent provides details about a 2010 disciplinary case for “notoriously disgraceful conduct.”  While we cannot say with certainty that this is the exact same case, the 2010 news report made mention that the  “woman complained of blurred vision and head pain” while the 2010 FSGB case mentions that the “Grievant’s wife complained of blurred vision and head pain.”The news report and the grievance case both notes that the incident happened on June 17, 2010 and that the wife was taken to a hospital (location not unidentified in the grievance records).

Below are details extracted from the redacted FSGB 2012-045  ROI dated June 30, 2010, publicly available via FSGB.gov

Grievant is a married DS Special Agent with two children, aged approximately [REDACTED]. On June 17, 2010, while he was assigned to the Diplomatic Security Field Office, grievant was involved in a violent altercation with his wife in his home while his children were at home.

Grievant’s wife called the police who, after interviewing both adults, arrested grievant and charged him with assault in the fourth degree. In a statement provided to the Sheriff’s Office immediately following the incident, grievant reported that he and his wife had had an argument over the contents of messages on his government issued cell phone. Grievant reported that his wife grabbed his phone and when he grabbed it back, she slapped him in the face. Grievant claimed that he stood up from a seated position on the bed in the master bedroom and stretched out his arm to prevent his wife from striking him again, which resulted in her falling backwards and hitting her head on the floor.

Immediately following the incident, grievant’s wife provided a sworn statement to the law enforcement responders in which she claimed that after she slapped grievant, he picked her up and “body slammed” her to the floor, then grabbed her head striking it against the floor four to five times. Grievant’s wife complained of blurred vision and head pain and was taken to the hospital. A CT scan of her head was taken that revealed a palm-sized “subarachnoid hemorrhage within the inter-hemispheric fissure and right cingulated sulcus,” which was described as a bleeding within the brain. Notes on her medical record indicated, “[H]ead slammed into floor repeatedly.” Grievant’s wife was transferred to a second hospital for further examination and evaluation by a neurologist. The neurologist ordered her hospitalized overnight for observation and assessed her condition as “traumatic subarachnoid hemorrhage.”

In a follow up visit on June 19, the Sheriff’s Office took photographs of grievant’s wife, noting two bruises on the left side of her face, near her eye and cheek, that were approximately the size of a quarter. She then sought another CT scan to determine if her cheekbone was broken, but it was not.

As a result of the altercation with his wife, grievant was placed on limited duty status and was restricted from using his government-issued firearm and DS credentials. Grievant’s security clearance was suspended from September 10, 2010 until April 17, 2012. Reports of the incident appeared on a local television news program and three internet sites. In these media reports, grievant was identified as a DS Agent with the Department of State in [REDACTED]. The articles described the altercation and one mentioned the injuries sustained by grievant’s wife.

According to the Record of Proceeding (ROP), the grievant entered into an Order of Continuance of the assault charge that deferred all court proceedings arising from his arrest for twelve months on December 14, 2010.  On May 4, 2011, after grievant fully complied with the terms and conditions of the continuance order, the case against him was dismissed.

On December 19, 2011, the Director of Employee Relations proposed to suspend grievant for five days without pay and place a letter of suspension in his official performance file for two years or until review by two promotion boards. Grievant appealed this decision and on March 4, 2012, the Department upheld the charge of Notoriously Disgraceful Conduct, but reduced the suspension to three days.

The case is available on pdf file here.

Here is what 3 FAM 4139.14 says about Notoriously Disgraceful Conduct: “that conduct which, were it to become widely known, would embarrass, discredit, or subject to opprobrium the perpetrator, the Foreign Service, and the United States. Examples of such conduct include but are not limited to the frequenting of prostitutes, engaging in public or promiscuous sexual relations, spousal abuse, neglect or abuse of children, manufacturing or distributing pornography, entering into debts the employee could not pay, or making use of one’s position or immunity to profit or to provide favor to another (see also 5 CFR 2635) or to create the impression of gaining or giving improper favor.”

It looks like the judgment of “notoriously disgraceful conduct” does not even require that one be publicly identified, just that the potential that the incident be widely known exist (note specific mention of media reports, one tv program and three Internet sites).

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Filed under Diplomatic Security, Foreign Service, Functional Bureaus, Grievance, Security Clearance, Spouses/Partners, State Department

Unsealed Indictment Charges Former USAID Official Marta Rita Velazquez with Conspiracy to Commit Espionage

Via USDOJ:

WASHINGTON—A one-count indictment was unsealed today in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia charging Marta Rita Velazquez, 55, with conspiracy to commit espionage, announced John Carlin, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security; Ronald C. Machen, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia; and Valerie Parlave, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.

The charges against Velazquez stem from, among other things, her alleged role in introducing Ana Belen Montes, now 55, to the Cuban Intelligence Service (CuIS) in 1984; in facilitating Montes’s recruitment by the CuIS; and in helping Montes later gain employment at the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). Montes served as an intelligence analyst at DIA from September 1985 until she was arrested for espionage by FBI agents on September 21, 2001. On March 19, 2002, Montes pleaded guilty in the District of Columbia to conspiracy to commit espionage on behalf of Cuba. Montes is currently serving a 25-year prison sentence.

The indictment against Velazquez, who is also known as “Marta Rita Kviele” and as “Barbara,” was originally returned by a grand jury in the District of Columbia on February 5, 2004. It has remained under court seal until today. Velazquez has continuously remained outside the United States since 2002. She is currently living in Stockholm, Sweden. If convicted of the charges against her, Velazquez faces a potential sentence of up to life in prison.

According to the indictment, Velazquez was born in Puerto Rico in 1957. She graduated from Princeton University in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in political science and Latin American studies. Velazquez later obtained a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center in 1982 and a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, D.C., in 1984.

Velazquez later served as an attorney advisor at the U.S. Department of Transportation, and, in 1989, she joined the State Department’s U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) as a legal officer with responsibilities encompassing Central America. During her tenure at USAID, Velazquez held a top secret security clearance and was posted to the U.S. Embassies in Nicaragua and Guatemala. In June 2002, Velazquez resigned from USAID following press reports that Montes had pleaded guilty to espionage and was cooperating with the U.S. government. Velazquez has remained outside the United States since 2002.

The indictment alleges that, beginning in or about 1983, Velazquez conspired with others to transmit to the Cuban government and its agents documents and information relating to the U.S. national defense, with the intent that they would be used to the injury of the United States and to the advantage of the Cuban government.

As part of the conspiracy, Velazquez allegedly helped the CuIS spot, assess, and recruit U.S. citizens who occupied sensitive national security positions or had the potential of occupying such positions in the future to serve as Cuban agents. For example, the indictment alleges that, while Velazquez was a student with Montes at SAIS in Washington, D.C., in the early 1980s, Velazquez fostered a strong, personal friendship with Montes, with both sharing similar views of U.S. policies in Nicaragua at the time.

In December 1984, the indictment alleges, Velazquez introduced Montes in New York City to a Cuban intelligence officer who identified himself as an official of the Cuban Mission to the United States. The intelligence officer then recruited Montes. In 1985, after Montes’ recruitment, Velazquez personally accompanied Montes on a clandestine trip to Cuba for Montes to receive spy craft training from CuIS.

Later in 1985, Velazquez allegedly helped Montes obtain employment as an intelligence analyst at the DIA, where Montes had access to classified national defense information and served as an agent of the CuIS until her arrest in 2001. During her tenure at the DIA, Montes disclosed the identities of U.S. intelligence officers and provided other classified national defense information to the CuIS.

During this timeframe, Velazquez allegedly continued to serve the CuIS, receiving instructions from the CuIS through encrypted, high-frequency broadcasts from her handlers and through meetings with handlers outside the United States.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office and the DIA. It is being prosecuted by Senior Trial Attorney Clifford Rones of the Counterespionage Section in the Justice Department’s National Security Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney G. Michael Harvey of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.

The charges contained in an indictment are merely allegations, and each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

According to WaPo,  Marta Rita Velazquez, a graduate of Princeton University and Georgetown University Law School, was indicted nearly a decade ago on charges of conspiracy to commit espionage. Velazquez lives in Stockholm and is aware of the charges against her, the Justice Department said. But the extradition treaty between the United States and Sweden does not allow extradition for spying.

Sweden’s The Local reported that Marta Rita Velazquez is married to a Swedish foreign ministry official, Sweden’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Utrikesdepartementet) confirmed last week. The report pointed out that the DOJ statement made no mention of any request to Sweden for Ms. Velazquez’s  extradition.  Velazquez reportedly is also a Swedish citizen.  Citing Per Claréus, press secretary to Justice Minister Beatrice Ask, the report also says that  Sweden has not received any requests to extradite the woman to the US but that “if the US was to send an extradition request, it would be refused.”

– DS

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Career Employees, Court Cases, Federal Agencies, Foreign Affairs, Govt Reports/Documents, Security Clearance, State Department, U.S. Missions, USAID

DS Agent David J. Rainsberger Pleads Guilty to Receiving Unlawful Gratuities, False Statements

Via USDOJ:

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – David J. Rainsberger, 32, a law enforcement officer with the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service, pleaded guilty today to receiving unlawful gratuities while stationed at the U.S. embassy in Kingston, Jamaica, and making false statements to the United States government on a national security questionnaire required to maintain his security clearance.

Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Gregory B. Starr, Director of the Diplomatic Security Service for the U.S. Department of State, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by United States District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee.

Rainsberger faces a maximum penalty of two years in prison on the gratuities charge and five years in prison on the false statements charge when he is sentenced on April 19, 2013.

According to court records, Rainsberger served as an assistant regional security officer for investigations at the U.S. embassy in Kingston, Jamaica, from 2009 to 2011.  While there, Rainsberger befriended a well-known Jamaican musician whose entry to the U.S. had been barred because of allegations of criminal conduct.  Rainsberger’s investigation of this individual resulted in the reinstatement of his visa, which allowed the individual to travel to the U.S. to take advantage of performance and recording opportunities.  On account of the assistance Rainsberger provided him with respect to his U.S. visa, the musician purchased for Rainsberger two luxury watches worth approximately $2,500.  In addition, Rainsberger received free admission to nightclubs, backstage access to concerts, and a birthday party hosted by the musician.

At the same time, Rainsberger, who was already married, became engaged to a Jamaican national and intentionally withheld disclosure of the relationship from the U.S. government on Office of Personnel Management Standard Form 86, a national security questionnaire that requires disclosure of close and continuing contact with foreign nationals.  Rainsberger also repeatedly accessed, without authority, Department of State visa and passport databases for personal purposes.

This case was investigated by the Diplomatic Security Service.  Assistant United States Attorneys Paul J. Nathanson and G. Zachary Terwilliger are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.justice.gov/usao/vae.  Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia athttp://www.vaed.uscourts.gov or on https://pcl.uscourts.gov.

We could be wrong on this but we don’t think this guy is going to get the maximum prison time of seven years for $2500 watches, concert freebies and lying about his engagement while still married to somebody else.  But for sure, his career with Diplomatic Security is now over and he’s only 32.
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Filed under Court Cases, Diplomatic Security, Foreign Service, Security Clearance, State Department, U.S. Missions, Visas

USCG Guangzhou: Former Guard Pleads Guilty for Attempt to Sell Info to Chinese Intel Agency

This one gets an award for astounding stupidity like writing an “I’m ready to spy for you” offer to China’s Ministry of Security, except that he called it an um, “business arrangement.”  This dolt then delivered it to the MSS, that’s equivalent to personally delivering a spy offer to the CIA’s branch office.  But that’s not all. When the MSS declined to accept the letter,  this guy left his open letter in his apartment, believing that Chinese spies keeping tabs on foreigners in the city would find it. And presumably contact him to make a counter offer … just like in a bad movie.

Via USDOJ

Former U.S. Consulate Guard Pleads Guilty to Attempting to Communicate National Defense Information to China

Ryan Underwood, a former civilian guard at a U.S. Consulate compound under construction in China, pleaded guilty today in the District of Columbia in connection with his efforts to sell for personal financial gain classified photographs, information and access related to the U.S. Consulate to China’s Ministry of State Security (MSS).
[...]
Underwood, 32, a former resident of Indiana, was first charged in an indictment on Aug. 31, 2011, with two counts of making false statements and was arrested on Sept. 1, 2011.  On Sept. 21, 2011, he failed to appear at a scheduled status hearing in federal court in the District of Columbia.  The FBI later located Underwood in a hotel in Los Angeles and arrested him there on Sept. 24, 2011.  On Sept. 28, 2011, Underwood was charged in a superseding indictment with one count of attempting to communicate national defense information to a foreign government, two counts of making false statements and one count of failing to appear in court pursuant to his conditions of release.  Sentencing for Underwood has been scheduled for Nov. 19, 2012.  He faces a maximum potential sentence of life in prison.
[...]
According to court documents, from November 2009 to August 2011, Underwood worked as a cleared American guard (CAG) at the construction site of a new U.S. Consulate compound in Guangzhou, China.  CAGs are American civilian security guards with Top Secret clearances who serve to prevent foreign governments from improperly obtaining sensitive or classified information from the U.S. Consulate.  Underwood received briefings on how to handle and protect classified information as well as briefings and instructions on security protocols for the U.S. Consulate, including the prohibition on photography in certain areas of the consulate.

Plan to Sell Information and Access for $3 Million to $5 Million

In February 2011, Underwood was asked by U.S. law enforcement to assist in a project at the consulate and he agreed.  In March 2011, Underwood lost a substantial amount of money in the stock market.  According to court documents, Underwood then devised a plan to use his assistance to U.S. law enforcement as a “cover” for making contact with the Chinese government.  According to his subsequent statements to U.S. law enforcement, Underwood intended to sell his information about and access to the U.S. Consulate to the Chinese MSS for $3 million to $5 million. If any U.S. personnel caught him, he planned to falsely claim he was assisting U.S. law enforcement.

As part of his plan, Underwood wrote a letter to the Chinese MSS, expressing his “interest in initiating a business arrangement with your offices” and stating, “I know I have information and skills that would be beneficial to your offices [sic] goals.  And I know your office can assist me in my financial endeavors.”  According to court documents, Underwood attempted to deliver this letter to the offices of the Chinese MSS in Guangzhou, but was turned away by a guard who declined to accept the letter.  Underwood then left the letter in the open in his apartment hoping that the Chinese MSS would find it, as he believed the MSS routinely conducted searches of apartments occupied by Americans.

In May 2011, Underwood secreted a camera into the U.S. Consulate compound and took photographs of a restricted building and its contents.  Many of these photographs depict areas or information classified at the Secret level.  Underwood also created a schematic that listed all security upgrades to the U.S. Consulate and drew a diagram of the surveillance camera locations at the consulate.  In addition, according to his subsequent statements to U.S. law enforcement, Underwood “mentally” constructed a plan in which the MSS could gain undetected access to a building at the U.S. Consulate to install listening devices or other technical penetrations.

According to court documents, the photographs Underwood took were reviewed by an expert at the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security who had original classification authority for facilities, security and countermeasures at the U.S. Consulate.  The expert determined that many of the photographs contained images classified at the Secret level and that disclosure of such material could cause serious damage to the United States.

In early August 2011, Underwood was interviewed several times by FBI and Diplomatic Security agents, during which he admitted making efforts to contact the Chinese MSS, but falsely claimed that he took these actions to assist U.S. law enforcement.  On Aug. 19, 2011, Underwood was again interviewed by law enforcement agents and he admitted that he planned to sell photos, information and access to the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou to the Chinese MSS for his personal financial gain.

The U.S. government has found no evidence that Underwood succeeded in passing classified information concerning the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou to anyone at the Chinese MSS.

A couple quick thoughts –

I would have like to nominate this guy for the Darwin Awards but he did not self-select himself out of the gene pool.

Of course, if he were astoundingly smarter who knows what type of access he would have granted to his would be “business partners” so I’m glad he wasn’t a bulb of smarts.

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Consul Generals, Court Cases, Huh? News, Security, Security Clearance

Insider Quote: U/S for Management Patrick Kennedy, In His Own Words

Patrick Kennedy, State’s Undersecretary for Management was interviewed in The Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Emily Kopp and featured in Federal News Radio report on State to offer guidance to Secret Service overseas.  Some quotable quotes:

“State Department employees represent the United States abroad 24 hours a day [...]. We advocate and represent for U.S. ideals and values, so we’re very clear no one should be involved in what we term as ‘notoriously disgraceful conduct.”

“Sex trafficking is just something that’s abhorrent to American values, and so our personnel, employees and chief of mission personnel, irrespective of their agency, are banned from this type of activity.”

“Our employees, because they have high level security clearances, we are very, very concerned about people potentially being blackmailed [...]. We don’t believe that anyone should put themselves in any kind of compromising position in regards to their conduct abroad. Certainly, engaging in adultery is something that could potentially compromise you subject to blackmail and then potentially endanger the national security.”

“Since our regional security officers and our political officers are present in every embassy around the world where the Secret Service might be going as part of their mission, we’re making ourselves available to conduct briefings on individual situations in the country that they’re traveling to.”

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Devastating Tsunami Hits Peter Van Buren, Security Clearance and Diplomatic PPT Swept Away in Foggy Waters

The diplomat of 23 years experience now has to use the Visitor’s Entrance of the U.S. State Department?  Well, that’s what it looks like.  Some folks are quite happy with that – to see Mr. Van Buren’s work bag inspected and Mr. Van Buren wanded every time he goes into the Big House.  I suspect that the somebodies rather that he does not show up, but so far, they have not yet figure out how to fire him. They’re pouring over the FAM on what regs to cite for that. I hate to think how much manhour-cost the taxpayers are expending just for this very important task.

The good news is, anonymous officials of the State Department can now tell their media contacts that Mr. Van Buren is officially under investigation. But don’t worry, the official spokesman will continue to say that this is an internal, personnel matter that he/she is unable to discuss publicly for privacy reasons. 

I can’t say for sure who in the Big House reads our blog. But somebody took our advice not to order a tsunami on the book launch of Peter Van Buren’s We Meant Well last September 27. It would have looked, you know, bad and vindictive. Well, they followed that advice until today.

On October 18, the ordered tsunami finally hit the cubicle of FSO Peter Van Buren. He was stripped of his security clearance. Well, stripped might be too strong a word. His Top Secret security clearance was officially “suspended” pending the outcome of an ongoing investigation. The suspension of security clearance is, of course, not formal revocation, nor does it indicate that a revocation is in the works.  It is an ongoing investigation, you see.

They also took away his diplomatic passport. Perhaps, they were afraid, he would run away and fly back to Iraq using his black passport. That must be it.

I can’t find anywhere in the FAM the regs governing the confiscation of a diplomatic passport. Regs must be behind the firewall.  The Bureau of Consular Affairs has a special issuance unit that does just the issuance of diplomatic and official passports. But it sounds like the “somebodies” at the State Department can also demand the surrender of the black passport at any time; need not even have to be officials of the Consular Bureau.

Well, anytime, they don’t want you to run away to Iraq. It’s for your own protection. 

So after 23 years, the veteran diplomat’s ability to handle protected information is now in question. 

It has nothing to do, of course, with writing a critical book about our reconstruction boondoggle in Iraq.

Yo guys, that sounds suspiciously lame, you realized that? 

…..You don’t care?

Well, tigers must eat meat ….

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Filed under Foreign Service, FS Blogs, FSOs, Regulations, Security Clearance, State Department, Tigers Are Real

USG Employee’s Security Clearance Revoked Because His US Citizen Wife Went to an Islamic School?

US-NationalGeospatialIntelligenceAgency-OrigSealImage via WikipediaU.S. Citizen Mahmoud M. Hegab worked as a budget analyst at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) until last year when his Top Secret/SCI security clearance was suddenly revoked. The revocation of his clearance was apparently due to the fact that his newlywed wife who is a U.S. citizen had graduated from an Islamic school located in the D.C. area. Also that she had participated in an ‘anti-war occupation protest in Washington’” on the grounds of the Washington monument, and that she had engaged in pro-Palestinian political activity while a student at George Mason University.

The wife had since graduated from GMU. And if the anti-war protest happened outside of Washington, would it have made a difference?

Last week Mr. Hegab filed a lawsuit against the NGA seeking reinstatement of his clearance. Mr. Hegab’s complaint includes a rebuttal of the allegations against his wife.

Am I the only one who find this something out of the twilight zone? This is the United States of America. And here is a U.S. citizen forced to go to court to defend himself against “allegations” against his wife?

Quick excerpts from the court filing (h/t to Secrecy News):

5. Mahmoud M. Hegab, plaintiff, is a United States citizen who was employed by defendant, NGA.

8. Plaintiff was employed by NGA on January 4, 2010 in the position of Financial/Budget Analyst.

9. During plaintiff’s employment by NGA, he held a Top Secret security clearance and Access to Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI). There were no problems with plaintiff’s employment and his performance was well regarded by his supervisors.

11. Bushra Nusairat is an American citizen, who at the time of her marriage to plaintiff was residing in Fairfax County, Virginia, and who has continued to reside in Fairfax County Virginia with plaintiff since their marriage.

12. By memorandum dated November 2, 2010, which plaintiff received on November 18, 2010, NGA notified plaintiff of its intent to revoke his security clearance and his access to classified information. The proposed revocation was based in part, on his marriage to Ms. Nusarait, and in part on information previously disclosed by plaintiff as part of his security clearance investigation in 2009 which had been reviewed, discussed and cleared by NGA prior to his being hired and being granted a security clearance by NGA.

24. With respect to his wife, Ms. Nusairat, plaintiff responded that his wife “is a U.S. citizen residing in the U.S. who has never been accused of any illegal activity or being associated with any illegal activity.”

35. NGA’s decision did not resolve all issues. It further continued:

However, the information provided does not mitigate your
spouse’s current affiliation with one or more organizations which consist of groups who are organized largely around their non-United States origin and/or the advocacy of or involvement in foreign political issues. This concern elevates the potential for conflicts of interest between your obligation to protect sensitive or classified United States information and technology and your desire to help a foreign person, group, or country by providing that information. (Emphasis added).

53. Plaintiff renewed his argument that his wife’s employment by Islamic Relief USA did not constitute a security risk, that the action taken was solely due to the anti-Islamic bias of NGA’s security personnel, and that the revocation of Plaintiff’s security clearance and access was in violation of his constitutional rights and privileges.

Read the complaint in full here.

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Alleged Fake Amcits Had Contract Jobs at State Dept, Held Security Clearances

privacyImage by alancleaver_2000 via FlickrAlso alleged to have accessed and obtained information relating to approx 250,000  medical records of State Department and other USG employees  


Criminal Case 1:11CR144 is between the United States of America vs. KUANG HAO CHOU, Also known as Edwin Chou, LING YU HSIEH, Also known as Erica Hsieh.

The Grand Jury Indictment dated March 17, 2011 includes six counts of conspiracy to commit immigration fraud, bribery of a public official and (aiding and abetting), fraud and misuse of immigration documents) and (aiding and abetting), procurement of citizenship or naturalization unlawfully and (aiding and abetting), fraud and related activity with computers, false statement in a security clearance application.

Below are excepts from the indictment:

1. Robert Schofield was a federal employee with the title of Supervisory District Adjudications Officer responsible for processing applications submitted by immigrants requesting adjustments to their United States immigration status. Prior to early 2003, Schofield worked for the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). After early 2003, Schofield worked for the newly formed Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS).

6. On November 30,2006, Schofield pled guilty in the Eastern District of Virginia to Bribery of a Public Official and Procurement of Citizenship or Naturalization Unlawfully. As part of his plea agreement, Schofield admitted to fraudulently providing United States immigration documents, including naturalization certificates; Temporary I-551 stamps, which are evidence of LPR (“green card”) status; and Advance Parole documents, to ineligible aliens in return for bribes. Schofield admitted that he utilized various brokers to bring the aliens to him who were willing to pay for falsely made United States immigration documents.

7. KUANG HAO CHOU a/k/a Edwin Chou is a Taiwanese national who entered the United States on or about August 21,1996, as a nonimmigrant B-2 visitor for pleasure. CHOU obtained unlawfully issued immigration benefits from Schofield in return for money. CHOU used his unlawful immigration benefits to obtain a United States Passport and to obtain jobs as a contract employee of the United States
Department of State(DOS) and United States government security clearances. CHOU also brought and referred other foreign nationals to Schofield in order to obtain unlawful immigration benefits for these other aliens.

8. LING YU HSIEH a/k/a Erica Hsieh is a Taiwanese national who entered the United States on or about April 11,1998, as a nonimmigrant B-2 visitor. HSIEH obtained unlawfully issued immigration benefits from Schofield in return for money. HSIEH used her unlawful immigration benefits to obtain a United States Passport and a position as a contract employee of the DOS and United States government security clearances. HSIEH also brought and referred other foreign nationals to Schofield in order to obtain unlawful immigration benefits.

9. KUANG HAO CHOU and LING YU HSIEH are married and have been married since 1991. They have resided in Herndon, Virginia, within the Eastern District of Virginia since 2001.

11. KUANG HAO CHOU and LING YU HSIEH used their fraudulently obtained United States Naturalization Certificates to obtain United States security clearances and jobs working as contract employees with the United States Department of State. On or about September 9,2005, CHOU submitted to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) an Electronic Questionnaire for Investigations Processing (e-QIP) request number 165787, which contained a Questionnaire for National Security Positions (SF86) in connection with his employment as a contractor to the United States Department of State. On or about September 14,2005, HSIEH submitted to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) an Electronic Questionnaire for Investigations Processing (e-QIP) request number 172495, which contained a Questionnaire for National Security Positions (SF86) in connection with her employment as a contractor to the United States Department of State.

Count Five:

Between on or about April 8,2010 and November 16, 2010, in Herndon, Virginia, within the Eastern District of Virginia, and elsewhere, the defendant, KUANG HAOCHOU, knowingly and intentionally accessed a computer without authorization and exceeded his authorized access and thereafter obtained information from a department and agency of the United States, to wit: CHOU accessed the United States Department of State eMED database without authorization and exceeding his authorized access and obtained information relating to approximately 250,000 or more United States Department of State and other United States government employees. (In violation of Title 18 United States Code 1030(a)(2)(B).)

Count 6

On or about August 5,2010, in Herndon,Virginia, within the Eastern District of Virginia, and elsewhere, the defendant, KUANG HAO CHOU, in a matter within the jurisdiction of the Executive Branch of the Government of the United States, that is the Social Security Administration and the Department of State, did knowingly, unlawfully and willfully make a materially false, fictitious and fraudulent statement and representation, to wit: CHOU claimed to be lawfully naturalized United States citizens when CHOU sought to renew his security clearance he originally obtained to work as a contractor for the United States Department of State,in order to work with the Social Security Administration, when in truth and in fact, as CHOU then and there well knew he had paid a bribe for his immigration benefits and was not eligible to obtain or use a security clearance in September 9,2005, nor to renew it on August 5, 2010. On or about August 5,2010, CHOU submitted a Questionnaire for Non-Sensitive Positions and a Declaration for Federal Employment submitted to the United States Office of Personnel Management to maintain his security clearance and reaffirming his false statement and representation concerning his immigration status. (In violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001.)


The full copy of the indictment is here (h/t to Emily Babay| Washington Examiner for a copy of the indictment posted in ScribD).

If one of the defendants “obtained” a quarter million information from the medical database, how was that information disposed of? Or perhaps the question might be, how compromised is that information right now? Med records normally include not only names, but also SSNs, blood types, medical clearances, test results (and who knows what else – papsmear and colonoscopy results, physicians’ notes, allergies?). 

If the allegations are true, one has to wonder at the motive for accessing personally identifiable information (PII) of State Department and other USG employees.  What was the intent here?  Was the information sold? Was the information hoarded for later disposal? Was it done for much darker reasons? 

But more importantly, how was the data breach discovered? The breach happened in a span of seven months.  Was it also downloaded and copied to a Lady Gaga CD? Did MED discover this breach due to a system warning when a large amount of data was accessed and obtained?  Or was the discovery of the data breach only happened after a collateral investigation of the alleged immigration fraud? 

To be blunt, if the defendant was not discovered to have committed the alleged immigration fraud, would the State Dept Office of Medical Services have discovered the breach in its medical database?

And now that eMed had been eBreached, what do you do to protect yourself?

We have asked this and other questions to Med, we’ll post any response we get. 


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Filed under Contractors, Corruption, Court Cases, MED, Security, Security Clearance, State Department

Don’t read WL from your workstation, if read elsewhere make sure you wash your eyes or you go blind….

Via WaPo’s Federal Eye | Memo from OMB

MODEL AGENCY NOTICE TO EMPLOYEES AND CONTRACTORS CONCERNING SAFEGUARDING OF CLASSIFIED INFORMATION AND USE OF GOVERNMENT INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY SYSTEMS

The recent disclosure of U.S. Government documents by WikiLeaks has resulted in damage to our national security. Each federal employee and contractor is obligated to protect classified information pursuant to all applicable laws, and to use government information technology systems in accordance with agency procedures so that the integrity of such systems is not compromised.

Unauthorized disclosures of classified documents (whether in print, on a blog, or on websites) do not alter the documents’ classified status or automatically result in declassification of the documents. To the contrary, classified information, whether or not already posted on public websites or disclosed to the media, remains classified, and must be treated as such by federal employees and contractors, until it is declassified by an appropriate U.S. Government authority.

Federal employees and contractors therefore are reminded of the following obligations with respect to the treatment of classified information and the use of non-classified government information technology systems:

  • Except as authorized by their agencies and pursuant to agency procedures, federal employees or contractors shall not, while using computers or other devices (such as Blackberries or Smart Phones) that access the web on non-classified government systems, access documents that are marked classified (including classified documents publicly available on the WikiLeaks and other websites), as doing so risks that material still classified will be placed onto non-classified systems. This requirement applies to access that occurs either through agency or contractor computers, or through employees’ or contractors’ personally owned computers that access non-classified government systems. This requirement does not restrict employee or contractor access to non-classified, publicly available news reports (and other non-classified material) that may in turn discuss classified material, as distinguished from access to underlying documents that themselves are marked classified (including if the underlying classified documents are available on public websites or otherwise in the public domain).
  • Federal employees or contractors shall not access classified material unless a favorable determination of the person’s eligibility for access has been made by an agency head or the agency head’s designee, the person has signed and approved non-disclosure agreement, the person has a need to know the information, and the person has received contemporaneous training on the proper safeguarding of classified information and on the criminal, civil, and administrative sanctions that may be imposed on an individual who fails to protect classified information from unauthorized disclosure.
  • Classified information shall not be removed from official premises or disclosed without proper authorization.
  • Federal employees and contractors who believe they may have inadvertently accessed or downloaded classified or sensitive information on computers that access the web via non-classified government systems, or without prior authorization, should contact their information security offices for assistance.

Thank you for your cooperation, and for your vigilance to these responsibilities.

As to that item about Columbia University career counselors urging students not to post links to the documents or make comments on social media Web sites, including Facebook or Twitter:

“Engaging in these activities would call into question your ability to deal with confidential information, which is part of most positions with the federal government,” said an e-mail the office said it sent to students on the advice of an alumnus who works for the State Department.

Ed O’Keefe also has an update from the State Department’s spokesman:  “But the employee’s warning, “does not represent a formal policy position,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Saturday.

“This sounds like an overly-zealous employee,” Crowley said in an e-mail. “Our focus is advising current employees not to download classified documents to an unclassified network. While we condemn what WikiLeaks has done, we cannot control what is done through private Internet accounts.”

Whew! That’s good to know,hmmnn?

Anyway, just think about your IT staff who must fumigate your unclassified computer system if you make the mistake of reading these cables at work.

And just to be sure, if you do read these cables elsewhere, wash your eyes or you go blind. Apparently, there’s a “voluptuous blond” in there.

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Filed under Leaks|Controversies, Regulations, Security Clearance, Social Media, State Department

DMW: Mental Health Treatment Still a Security Clearance Issue at State Department

We have recently posted an email from HRC to State Department employees on seeking help for mental health issues here.

The day after its release, the Concerned Foreign Service Officers issued the following statement (item below from CFSO volunteer blog, Dead Men Working):

WASHINGTON, Sept. 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Yesterday, presumably in response to a series of articles in the September issue of the Foreign Service Journal, Secretary of State Clinton issued an internal statement urging employees needing mental health treatment to get it, stating quite clearly that no Foreign Service Officer had ever lost a security clearance due to having sought mental health treatment. Concerned Foreign Service Officers wants to set the record straight.

Executive Order 12968 provides guidelines for the granting or revocation of a clearance. There are only thirteen criteria under which a security clearance can be revoked, and “seeking mental health treatment” is not one of them. Therefore, it is obvious that no official record would provide “seeking mental health treatment” as the justification for a revocation. Instead, the clearance would have been revoked under a guideline such as “mental disorders” or “personal conduct” and the record would reflect that fact. DS revocation letters are short, and unlike those of other agencies, rarely provide details. But there have been well-documented cases where the unmentioned “cause for concern” under the official guideline was the simple act of seeking mental health treatment and the biased reaction to it by DS adjudicators.

Concerned Foreign Service Officers believes that people who need mental health treatment or counseling should get it. But as long as DS continues to adjudicate security clearances without a real whole-person review, without verification of the facts, and without any real oversight, they do, and will continue to revoke security clearances of employees who obtain mental health treatment.

Active links added above. 


Related post:

Clinton issues note on mental health; seeking help a sign of maturity and professionalism | Sept 10


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Filed under Diplomatic Security, FS Blogs, FSOs, Secretary of State, Security Clearance