Unlike AIPAC lobbyists, retired DoD official to face charges

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
In a development that one observer described as “the tip of the iceberg with insider threats” at the US Pentagon, a retired official with the US Department of Defense has been charged with conspiracy to communicate classified information to a foreign agent. The US Department of Justice alleges that James Wilbur Fondren, Jr., 62, was part of a spy ring that operated on US soil under the supervision of Chinese government officials, whom Fondren supplied with several classified documents for over three years, beginning in 2004. According to US government prosecutors, six years after retiring from his high-level post at the US Pacific Command’s Washington Liaison Office, Lieutenant Colonel Fondren offered his private consulting services to Tai Shen Kuo, a Taiwanese-American handled by an intelligence agent of the People’s Republic of China. Over the next several years, Fondren was paid around $50,000 to provide Tai Shen Kuo with a list of classified documents, including naval exercise data, excerpts from US diplomatic cables, as well as background notes on meetings between Chinese and US military officials. Fondren’s lawyer claims his client did not know that Tai Shen Kuo was working for the Chinese government, while Beijing has dismissed Washington’s accusations as “inventions fabricated to suit a particular agenda”. Accusations and dismissals aside, observers in Washington have noted the difference between the Department of Justice’s handling of the Fondren case and that of Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, two former AIPAC lobbyists involved in the Lawrence Anthony Franklin spy ring. Franklin was a US Defense Department analyst who in 2006 was given a 12-year prison sentence for handing classified US military information to an Israeli agent. Earlier this month, US Justice Department prosecutors dropped all charges against Rosen and Weissman due to “significant reservations about the case”, even though several Department officials still believe that Rosen and Weissman “acted imprudently”. Meanwhile, if convicted, Lt. Col. Fondren will face a maximum fine of a quarter of a million USD and up to five years in prison. The joke circulating among Justice employees is that Fondren’s crime was not spying per se, but rather spying for the wrong country.

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About intelNews
Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

One Response to Unlike AIPAC lobbyists, retired DoD official to face charges

  1. GDAWG says:

    Interesting cases.
    My take on these matters are:
    As to the “lobbyists” and Franklin; I think the newly emerging American elite political class has some measure of confusing when it comes to differing between the reality of American permanent interests as oppose to the fictional notion of permanent friends.
    But then again, maybe they are followers of the dictum: “keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer.” Just saying.
    As to the China matter, the Colonel was caught. He has to do the time. No excuses.

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