Wednesday, October 24, 2007

“It Gives Operational Security People Brain Cooties…”

I'd like your opinion on this story:

Tech Central Station is reporting on a story of the secret court martial in July of a sergeant who has been stealing intelligence files and giving them to law enforcement officers involved in anti-terrorism work in southern California.

The San Diego Union Tribune broke the news:

CIA Terror Busters logoMarine Gunnery Sgt. Gary Maziarz said patriotism motivated him to join a spy ring, smuggle secret files from Camp Pendleton and give them to law enforcement officers for anti-terrorism work in Southern California.

He knew his group was violating national security laws. But he said bureaucratic walls erected by the military and civilian agencies were hampering intelligence sharing and coordination, making the nation more vulnerable to terrorists.

Maziarz, a member of the Marine Forces Reserve, had helped search for survivors in New York after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“I decided to make a difference and act,” Maziarz testified during his court-martial in July at Camp Pendleton.

Now Maziarz and his alleged conspirators are being investigated by the FBI, National Security Agency and Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

Details of Maziarz’s case emerged after he pleaded guilty to mishandling more than 100 classified documents from 2004 to last year. The overall breach could be far larger: Investigators believe that as far back as the early 1990s, the intelligence-filching ring began taking hundreds of secret files from Camp Pendleton and the U.S. Northern Command, which tracks terrorist activity in the United States.

The San Diego Union-Tribune pieced together the story by reviewing material from Maziarz’s court proceedings and interviewing people familiar with the case. Those sources asked not to be named because they’re banned from revealing contents of an ongoing investigation.

During his trial, Maziarz said he passed the classified files to at least four men. These alleged accomplices were military reserve officers, and two of them also worked with anti-terrorism units for police and sheriff’s departments in Los Angeles County.

Maziarz said he took the documents while serving as an intelligence analyst for the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton. In a plea agreement, he received a 26-month jail sentence in exchange for detailing the spy ring. He also agreed to testify against his alleged accomplices if they are charged.

The plea deal bars Maziarz, 37, from talking with the media. His purported conspirators could not be reached for comment, and investigators refused to discuss any developments.

The case is an intelligence nightmare, said defense analysts briefed on it.

They also said it unmasks the military’s growing role in post-Sept. 11 domestic security and confirms that U.S. officials believe al-Qaeda is active in the United States.

“It gives operational security people brain cooties to think about an incident like this,” said John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org, a think tank that focuses on emerging security concerns.

“It’s the apparent extent of this intelligence hemorrhage and the fact that they caught someone and prosecuted him that make this case stand out,” he added.

Steven Aftergood, a research analyst for the nonprofit Federation of American Scientists, couldn’t remember another instance of people being driven by patriotic frustration to break the law.

“It’s incredible. We had better understand their motivations or else this is going to keep happening,” said Aftergood, whose organization works to reduce government secrecy while improving security practices. “The failure of agencies to share information is a real one and has been raised over and over again without a satisfactory resolution.”

Tech Central Station’s has Robert Haddick has a good take on the situation:
- - - - - - - - -
…many of the war veterans have actually seen real jihadists, either armed with an AK-47 or smirking from a street corner as the U.S. soldiers drive by. For the vast majority of Americans back home by contrast, an al Qaeda terrorist is an abstract and increasingly mythical concept as the harsh memories of September 2001 fade into misty oblivion.

[…]

There was apparently no such fading memory for Gunnery Sergeant Maziarz and his alleged conspirators. This is also likely the case for many thousands of additional U.S. combat veterans who have seen the violent face of the jihadists.

America’s war veterans are for the most part intelligent, perceptive, and aware of the debates that go on about America’s foreign policy. And they have far more practical experience to bring to these discussions than the vast majority of Americans.

Gunnery Sergeant Maziarz has confessed to crimes and will suffer criminal punishment as a result. His alleged conspirators are likely in legal jeopardy and may soon join him in the brig. This is as it should be for breaking the law.

But those government officials responsible for protecting the country against terrorist attack have a responsibility to perform their jobs diligently and competently. Rogue “vigilance committees” can form whenever this is not the case.

Let us hope that the strange case of Gunny Sergeant Maziarz occurs just this one time. Those leaders charged with protecting America have their responsibility in this regard. And those Americans who are back from fighting the jihadists may be monitoring the performance of America’s law enforcement leaders closest of all.


So what do you guys think? Is he a patriot or a vigilante? Will his actions bring about any change in the “it’s-all-for-show” operations manual our current bureaucracy uses?

21 comments:

Archonix said...

First point:It's absolutely right that he should be prosecuted. He could just as easilly have been handing those files over to an enemy without realising it. The relevant laws are quite clear on that sort of thing.

Point the second: having said that, the law is also an ass. If it weren't for the blocks and firebreaks between agencies and departments these files would have found their way to that investigation without anyone feeling the need to break the law.

In that sense he is a patriot because he was doing what he knew was best, even if it broke the law.

Dymphna said...

Actually, the people he was working with -- handing over files-- were all law enforcement folks known to him. If you look at the information on the links, these guys are going down, to.

I believe they all served with him in Iraq or in the Reserves.

So it's not treasonous, but it is illegal...shame they feel driven to do this. I'm not sure I wouldn't do the same in his position. I'll bet he serves his time without a whine.

falcon_01 said...

A gunny shouldn't have been making that sort of call on his own. He could have gone and made such a stink- going up his chain, going to the various audit agencies, local government, state gov't, his reps, even going to the papers- to try to cut through the red tape and hurdles without getting into specifics. He could have stuck his neck out in so many ways without mishandling classified info...

That said, I've done some of the above griping to try to improve things to no effect- going so far as to challenge a 1-star civilian equiv for improper conduct and trying to fight the Air Force downsizing in the middle of a war... but it's easier to shut a lower ranking person up than it is to actually change something for the better. 3 letters prove my point: DHS. 4 more?: FEMA

We need a government overhaul as evidently we didn't learn our lesson with 9-11. Heck, there's often more good intel in the 9-10 group and here on Gates than there is in other places... even the old stuff is still good- nobody has busted up the Jamaat ul-Fuqra folks yet to my knowledge...

Bottom line though- he didn't need to play lone ranger with the situation. Sure, one person saying something needs done won't work, but if the issue is important enough, you approach your friends (without giving them classified) and have EVERYONE raise a big fuss. That would have done the trick. Heck, their best bet might even have been to go complaining to the democrats! They'd be so willing to look for something to point their fingers at, things might actually change... maybe not for the better though...lol

Anyway, to beat another dead cliche, the first rule about classified is: YOU DO NOT TALK ABOUT CLASSIFIED.

gtg, my brain cooties are acting up...

Thunder Pig said...

I would do the same thing as the Sgt, and be willing to do the crime if I got caught.

I'd also say this kind of thing goes on a lot more than we know about.

Thunder Pig said...

I meant to say do the time if I got caught...so much for proof reading!

must have been a Freudian slip.

Jauhara said...

The more our government sells the people down the river, the more we are going to see this sort of thing. I'm not surprised. What bothers me is how the traitors, the real traitors - in the press, in congress, in academia - continue to get away with their treasonous activities.
I can see a time where some terroristic action in the US will lead to star chambers and assassinations. I can see desaparecidos among the imams in the future. Then the law will not only be an ass, but an irrelevant one, as well.

Gringo_Malo said...

Actually, the UCMJ article on espionage contains the wording, "with intent or reason to believe that it is to be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of a foreign nation." In other words, the article requires a mens rea. Had I been the gunny's lawyer, I would have advised him to plead not guilty, since he did not deliver classified information with intent or reason to believe that it was to be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of a foreign nation.

PRCalDude said...

He's a patriot. There was no mens rea, as GM was so kind to point out. I also think juahara is right, expect to see more of this.

Suze said...

I work in a government bureaucracy and I know how it "works", or rather, doesn't work. It will be people like these who will really save our asses when something BIG is coming down the pike. They won't wait for all the red tape - I say hooray for such a patriot. I used to think that the laws should be obeyed, but having seen how incredibly incompetent government really is, I'm all in favor of patriots taking things into their own hands.

Sniper One said...

While his heart may be in the right place, you can still do the right thing and be wrong.

Cindi said...

Vigilante is one who is vigilant. Current meaning is one who takes the law into his own hands.

The law belongs to the people and is entrusted to those we hire. If they fail to do the job, then the people need to do it.

Won't see 'vigilante' as derogatory.

So the gunny is both a patriot and a vigilante and rightly so.

I only hope if the occasion presents itself, I will have the courage to do the same.

davod said...

The Gunny and his posse were a serious security risk. There is no way he could have know what his compadres were doing with the information.

How much was this information worth to a foreign power or even a drug cartel or criminal syndicate.

The counter intelligence people caught this only because the Gunny's property was searched for possible stolen property and the serchers, not counter-intelligence, discovered information he shouldn't have had in his possession.

davod said...

"Steven Aftergood, a research analyst for the nonprofit Federation of American Scientists, couldn’t remember another instance of people being driven by patriotic frustration to break the law.

“It’s incredible. We had better understand their motivations or else this is going to keep happening,” said Aftergood, whose organization works to reduce government secrecy while improving security practices. “The failure of agencies to share information is a real one and has been raised over and over again without a satisfactory resolution"

Much like the Gunny, the Federation of American Scientists is actively involved in releasing the nations secrets because they know better than the government what should or should not be classified. Heaven only knows how many of their releases have resulted in harm to the country.

For a flavor of what FAS does have a look at the Jan 2007 news site:

FAS News Jan 2007

davod said...

Update to FAS Jan 2007 news site
FAS News Jan 2007

Robin said...

He's a patriot. He's trying to protect us.

Is Harry Reid more of a patriot? He hasn't broken any laws (well, not this week). He's in the government actively working against us.

Maybe we're so early in the war that this proactive incident is seen as something that should be punished by law. If things continue in the direction they're going, Maziarz will be seen as what he rightfully is--a hero in the resistance movement and we will be cheering him from our hiding places wishing there were more of him with incomprehensible motivations.

Profitsbeard said...

falcon_01- has it right.

Expose the hell out of this idiocy through every channel, up to a Congressional Inquiry.

Doing it covertly is just more stupidity.

Because it doesn't solve the systemic problem.

Putting a band-aid on an internal injury is pointless.

Air the grievance within the system.

And never take "NO" for an answer, and keep threatening to go the Press and Congress if nothing is done.

Keep saying "This is what to 9/11!" until it breaks the logjams.

Or get it to Congress.

Right intent, wrong method.

Profitsbeard said...

Erratum-

"This is what led to 9/11!"

(Something took the "led" out.)

R. Hartman said...

SO: "While his heart may be in the right place, you can still do the right thing and be wrong"

How can it be 'wrong' to do the right thing? Only because somebody decided to make a law and thus made it illegal? Are laws per definition 'right'? In my opinion, most laws are wrong, if only because a group of somebodies decided they wanted to enforce certain behaviour, that they considered desirable.

Most laws are arbitrary.

Subvet said...

Sounds like the man did what he thought was right and knew he'd get burned if caught. A standup guy. Maybe he could have done it different, as I wasn't there I won't condemn his actions. The condemnation has already taken place in the courts.

IMHO we'll see more of this as the realists find themselves confronted with the idiots who want John Q. Public to stay safely asleep. These realists won't all be military vets either.

If anyone wants to join their ranks they should be aware there'll never be recognition for their efforts. Public disgrace, ruin and the grave's silence for all who speak the truth or work for it to be spoken.

It's going to get a lot worse before it starts getting better.

JeepThang (PB&J) said...

Insane. Linked.

Seth Patinkin said...

Dear Oprah,

I am writing to you about discrimination which has been expressed by the selective enforcement of city ordinances against me with respect to my rental business in Southern Indiana once city officials discovered that I am a Jewish person.

More about me: I was named to the "30 under 30" list by my alma mater and did my PhD work at Princeton Univ. under John Nash. I am a applied mathematician/ entrepreneur in my day job.

In the years since I completed my undergraduate work at IU in 1998, I proceeded to buy a small number of rental properties in Bloomington, Indiana, which I have successfully run as a side business for a number of years.

However, about 2-3 years ago, the normal flow of my side rental business ran into some serious roadblocks.

It started when two housing inspectors made a number of explicit anti-semitic statements to me and to a Jewish tenant at one of my rentals.

Soon thereafter, four (4) groups of my otherwise law-abiding and happy tenants were threatened with $10,000 + fine (assessed PER tenant) for alleged ordinance violations.

Long story short, I was soon stuck with numerous vacancies and left paying the mortgage payments on these properties which were subsequently burglarized and vandalized. At the same time, the Housing Department caused complaint inspections to take place at these properties, identifying dozens and dozens of "defects" in the properties not otherwise noted in previous move-in inspections and causing me to incur thousands of dollars of needless "improvements".

And then the Legal Department went to work on me, filing at least five (5) lawsuits against me for alleged ordinance violations, and at the same time, the Legal Department Chief's wife, over at Student Legal Services, encouraged my erstwhile tenants to sue me for recovery of their security deposits, in spite of their breaches. I was soon dealing with about ten lawsuits at once.

So in April 2007, I filed a lawsuit against the City of Bloomington for violating my right to equal protection of the law, and a number of other civil rights violations. For reasons unbeknownst to me, I have become of the despotism of city government in small town Indiana. My attorneys have recently discovered that my case is not unique. Another Jewish landlord also has a case pending in federal court against the City, regarding the improper withholding of a building permit based upon the impermissible consideration that the prospective buyer of the commercial property in question was a Jewish investor from New York.

My life has been turned upside down by the systematic abuse of ordinances and
judicial proceedings. I find it outrageous that such a negative spirit still thrives in modern America. I would love the opportunity to talk about my story on your show, as I think it is in the public interest.

~~ Never Stop Learning ~~

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