Further arrests in Edward Lin spy case ‘possible’, says US official

Edward LinAn American official has told Newsweek magazine that the possibility of further arrests in the espionage case of United States Navy flight officer Edward Lin should not be ruled out. Last Sunday, the US Navy reported the arrest Lt. Cmdr. Lin, who faces two counts of espionage and three counts of attempted espionage, among other charges. Aside from a three-page, heavily redacted charge sheet released by the Navy, almost nothing is known about this case. However, as intelNews opined earlier this week, there are several clues that point to the seriousness of the charges against Lin, and their potential ramifications for US national security, which are likely to be extensive.

On Thursday, longtime intelligence and security correspondent Jeff Stein wrote in Newsweek magazine that Lin appeared to have “scores of friends in sensitive places” in the US and Taiwan. That is not surprising, given that Lin served as the Congressional Liaison for the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Financial Management and Comptroller, between 2012 and 2014. A cursory survey of Lin’s LinkedIn page, said Stein, shows endorsements by a senior commander at the US Naval Air Station at Guantanamo, Cuba, as well as the US Pacific Fleet’s senior intelligence analyst on Southeast Asia. Other endorsers include Congressional liaison officers for the US Navy, a Taiwanese military attaché, and a former official in Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense.

It is believed that Lin was arrested over eight months ago, but Stein says the investigation, which is being conducted jointly by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation is still underway. He quotes an unnamed “US official who asked for anonymity in exchange for discussing some details of the case” as saying that, given Lin’s extensive contacts in the US intelligence establishment, the possibility of further arrests in the case should not be ruled out. Lin is currently being held in the Naval Consolidated Brig in Chesapeake, Virginia.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 15 April 2016 | Permalink

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Analysis: How serious is the Edward Lin spy case?

Edward LinFor the first time since 1985, when the Federal Bureau of Investigation broke the John Walker spy ring, an active United States Navy officer has been charged with espionage. On Sunday, the US Navy reported the arrest Lt. Cmdr. Edward C. Lin, who faces two counts of espionage and three counts of attempted espionage, among other charges. Aside from a three-page, heavily redacted charge sheet released by the US Navy, almost nothing is known about this case. However, there are several clues that point to the seriousness of the charges against Lin, and their potential ramifications for US national security, which are likely to be extensive.

Lin was a signals intelligence (SIGINT) specialist with the Navy, focusing on the airborne collection of maritime intelligence, mostly in the Pacific Ocean. Given that he is a naturalized citizen from Taiwan and speaks fluent Mandarin, it is almost certain that he was tasked with collecting SIGINT from targets in China and Taiwan. If that is so, then the prospect that Lin may have given classified information to Chinese or Taiwanese intelligence officers will be especially unsettling for Washington. Moreover, Lin is believed to have worked with some of the most advanced airborne intelligence-gathering platforms in the Pentagon’s arsenal, including the MQ-4C Triton, the P-3C Orion, the P-8A Poseidon, and the EP-3 Aries II, which is arguably the most advanced maritime surveillance aircraft ever used by the US Navy.

It also appears that Lin had a relatively senior position in the US Navy’s chain of command. He was a departmental head in the Navy’s Patrol and Reconnaissance Group, overseeing the work of over 7,000 sailors. Prior to that post, he served as the Congressional Liaison for the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Financial Management and Comptroller. Lin’s critical positions in the chain of command may explain why US authorities arrested him nearly eight months ago in absolute secrecy and been holding him in pre-trial confinement without releasing any information to the media until last weekend. This level of secrecy in a national security investigation is rare and possibly points to the extent of damage assessment that needed to be completed following Lin’s arrest. Read more of this post

John Walker, head of Cold-War-era Soviet spy ring, dies in prison

John Anthony WalkerBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org
A retired United States Navy sailor, who led one of the most prolific Soviet spy rings in America during the Cold War, and made over $2 million in the process, has died in prison, where he had been serving a life sentence. John Anthony Walker, Jr., retired from the US Navy in 1976 as a Warrant Officer, having previously served as a radio operator and technical communications expert. He held a top-secret clearance for most of his Navy career. In 1967, Walker had walked into the Soviet embassy in Washington, DC, and had given Soviet officials a few US military codes as samples. The exchange sparked a cooperation that lasted 17 years, as the Soviets initially placed Walker on a $1,000-a-week salary, promising to upgrade his income if he delivered more classified material. Eventually, Walker recruited his older brother, Arthur Walker, a US Navy lieutenant commander, who had left the Navy and was working for a US military contractor. He also recruited his oldest son, Michael, who was a US Navy seaman aboard the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Nimitz and was able to clandestinely photograph classified documents he found on the ship. Walker also recruited one of his best friends, Jerry Whitworth, whom he had befriended when Whitworth was a student. He convinced the impressionable young man to enlist in the US Navy for the purpose of providing the spy ring with classified information. Whitworth eventually became a chief radioman for the Navy. The spy ring Walker set up conducted espionage on an industrial scale, providing the USSR with classified information for nearly two decades. The stolen information, which included the daily code configurations for several encryption devices used by the US Navy, allowed Moscow to decode over a million US navy messages. The breach perpetrated by the Walker spy ring is considered among the largest in American military history. Vitaly Yurchenko, a high-ranking officer in the Soviet KGB, once described the Walker spy ring as “the greatest case in Soviet intelligence history”. But the ring was busted in May of 1985 following an extensive counterintelligence operation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Read more of this post

The mysterious case of Glenn Souther, US defector to the USSR

Glenn Michael SoutherBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
This past June marked 23 years from the death of Glenn Michael Souther, a United States Navy photographer who defected to the Soviet Union in 1986. Despite the passage of time, a thick veil of mystery remains over the life and works of Souther, an ideological defector to the USSR, who was one of the very few foreign agents and defectors given officer rank in the KGB, the Soviet Union’s foremost intelligence agency during most the Cold War. In 1975, following his graduation from high school, Souther joined the US Navy, and was stationed in Italy in the early 1980s. It was there where he married an Italian woman, and where –it is believed– he was recruited by the KGB’s Boris Solomatin, a legendary Soviet intelligence officer who is believed to have handled US spy John Anthony Walker. In 1982, Souther left the US Navy and enrolled at Old Dominion University, where he studied Russian literature, while at the same time working as a reservist in the US Navy. During that time, Souther worked for naval intelligence, specializing in processing satellite-reconnaissance photographs; he is also believed to have had access to classified intercepts circulating within the US Navy’s communications network. In May 1986, soon after the Federal Bureau of Investigation started to suspect Souther may be working for a foreign intelligence agency, he suddenly disappeared. Two years later, an article in the morning edition of Soviet newspaper Izvestia, official publishing organ of the Soviet Presidium, announced that Souther had been granted political asylum in the USSR. Later that evening, Souther appeared on Soviet Central Television, criticizing American foreign policy and explaining his decision to defect to the Soviet Union. However, on June 22, 1989, an article in Krasnaya Zvezda, official newspaper of the Soviet Ministry of Defense, announced that Souther had killed himself in the garage of his home. Read more of this post

Ex-diplomat: US thinks Israeli spy Pollard was not acting alone

Itamar RabinovichBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
One of Israel’s former ambassadors to Washington has told a radio program that United States officials suspect Jonathan Jay Pollard, an American who spied for Israel in the 1980s, was not acting alone. Itamar Rabinovich, who was Tel Aviv’s most senior diplomat on US soil from 1993 to 1996, told Israel Radio on Monday that this is probably the reason behind Washington’s refusal to release the imprisoned spy. Pollard was a US Navy intelligence analyst who spied for Israel, in exchange for money, from 1984 until his arrest in 1986. Many in US counterintelligence consider him one of the most damaging double spies in American history. But he is widely viewed as a hero in Israel, and Israelis, as well as many pro-Israel Americans, are actively pressuring the US administration of President Barack Obama to release him. According to Rabinovich, however, the main reason behind the US refusal to release Pollard is that officials in the US Intelligence Community think that Israel has concealed the full extent of his activities on US soil. Furthermore, Rabinovich said in his interview that Washington believes Israel has shielded other Americans who either collaborated with Pollard or worked alongside him at the time. “They suspect that he wasn’t the only one, that there were additional Pollards”, said Rabinovich, adding that “Israel, despite its promises, did not reveal all the cards in this case and in similar cases”. The former ambassador said that, to his knowledge, “Israel [still] hasn’t said everything” to the Americans about the extent of Pollard’s espionage activities on US soil. Expounding on this, he said that “the claim concerning the enormous damage done to the Americans” by Pollard’s activities is one thing, “but there is also a hidden [claim], which is not voiced openly, but is implied”. The Americans, said Rabinovich, are “punishing Israel at Jonathan Pollard’s expense. They are angry with Israel more than with Pollard”. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #641 (US edition)

Dennis Blair

Dennis Blair

►► US Navy memo had warned Roosevelt of 1941 attack. Three days before the December 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, US President F.D. Roosevelt was warned in a memo from US naval intelligence that Tokyo’s military and spy network was focused on Hawaii. The 20-page memo has been published in the new book December 1941: 31 Days that Changed America and Saved the World, by Craig Shirley.
►►US spy agencies cut their holiday parties. Holiday gatherings have provided rare opportunities for US congressional staff, embassy aides, government officials, and the media to mix it up —off the record— with the spy set. But this year, agency budget Scrooges have taken aim at high-priced holiday merriment. The Director of National Intelligence has canceled holiday parties altogether, and the Central Intelligence Agency has drastically downsized its guest list and lavish spread by more than 50%.
►►Ex-DNI Blair wants Pentagon in charge of drone strikes. The United States’ former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, who previously proposed scaling back the armed drone operation run in Pakistan by the CIA, is now urging that the program be publicly acknowledged and placed in the hands of the US military.

News you may have missed #506 (bin Laden edition)