Spy Case Suggests White House Security Problem


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bountyhunter
October 6, 2005, 05:19 PM
http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Investigation/story?id=1188625&page=1


Spy Case Suggests White House Security Problem

Expert: Former Employee's Arrest Indicates White House Needs Security Upgrade


Oct. 6, 2005 — The discovery that a former White House staff member allegedly used his top secret clearance to steal classified intelligence documents indicates there are serious gaps in high-level White House security, a former White House counterterrorism expert says.

"What it means is that there is a hole in White House security," Richard Clarke, a former White House adviser who is now an ABC News consultant. "There are two kinds of people at the White House: Those that have been very well-vetted and those that have been extremely well-vetted and have access to the top secret computer network. This man had access to the top secret computer network."

Sources tell ABC News that Leandro Aragoncillo, a U.S. Marine most recently assigned to the staff of Vice President Dick Cheney, stole classified material from the vice president's office, included damaging dossiers on the president of the Philippines, and then passed them on to opposition politicians planning a coup in the Pacific nation. Sources said a former Philippine president has admitted that he received some information from the alleged spy. The case was first reported by ABC News Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross.

Aragoncillo, 46, worked undetected at the White House for almost three years. Both the FBI and CIA are calling it the first case of espionage within the White House in modern history.


Allegedly Used White House Clearance

Federal investigators say Aragoncillo is a naturalized citizen from the Philippines. Aragoncillo worked at the White House from 1999 to 2001 and was assigned to the vice president's office under both Al Gore and Cheney.

Last year, after leaving the Marines, Aragoncillo was caught by the FBI while he worked for the bureau at an intelligence center at Fort Monmouth, N.J. Aragoncillo began sending classified information and documents in January while working at Fort Monmouth, according to an FBI complaint. From May to Aug. 15 of this year, the complaint said, he printed or downloaded 101 classified documents relating to the Philippines, of which 37 were classified "secret." He sent some of the material to Michael Ray Aquino, a former deputy director of the Philippines national police who lives in New York City, the complaint said.

"The information was transferred mostly by e-mails," said U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie. Sources told ABC News that he was suspected after a surveillance camera recorded suspicious activity by him.


Both Aragoncillo and Aquino were arrested Sept. 10 at their homes and ordered held without bail following an appearance before a federal magistrate. Aquino is expected to be indicted by a federal grand jury in New Jersey today.

Since his arrest, officials say Aragoncillo has started to cooperate, authorities said, and has admitted to spying while working on Cheney's staff.

Clark said Aragoncillo's arrest suggests the White House needs to improve and upgrade its security-vetting process for employees.

"Lie-detector tests can be beaten. They are largely a myth as to their effectiveness," said Clarke. "What it says about the computer network [Aragoncillo allegedly accessed] is that they don't have at the White House or at the FBI the kind of basic software that not only do American banks operate to find the insider threat, but I know of one piece of insider threat monitoring software that was sold to Bangladesh," he continued.

"So here we have a Third World country that's operating advanced software to find the insider threat doing anomalous things and the White House and the FBI apparently don't have it."

According to friends, in addition to his work for Cheney and Gore, Aragoncillo claimed he also worked with President Clinton and Condoleezza Rice when she was the national security adviser. Officials are now trying to learn how he landed the job in the White House, when he allegedly started spying, and how he escaped detection for so long.






Reported by ABC News Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross. ABC News' Vic Walter, Avni Patel and Rhonda Schwartz contributed to this report.

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AZ Jeff
October 6, 2005, 06:47 PM
BountyHunter, you are quick to point out flaws in the Bush adminstration. This posting of the recent security gaff was expected, given your track record.

I just want to know if you were as equally quick to point out security breaches when they happened during the Clinton administration?

LawDog
October 6, 2005, 07:08 PM
Unknown at this time, bountyhunter joined TFL in 2001 and THR in 2003 - both dates after Clinton was out of office.

LawDog

Flyboy
October 6, 2005, 07:33 PM
BountyHunter, you are quick to point out flaws in the Bush adminstration. This posting of the recent security gaff was expected, given your track record.

I just want to know if you were as equally quick to point out security breaches when they happened during the Clinton administration?
And I'd like to know how that's relevant. "But he did it too!" is not a valid excuse for, well, much of anything. The fact that Bush is still in power (as opposed to Clinton, whom you may have noticed is not) makes the failures of Bush's administration a little bit more relevant than something that happened five years ago.

bountyhunter
October 6, 2005, 07:51 PM
Unknown at this time, bountyhunter joined TFL in 2001 and THR in 2003 - both dates after Clinton was out of office. Law Dog already answered his question.... I didn't point out Clinton admin's blunders here because I was not even a member of the forum as far as I know.

To answer your question: I called Nixon a liar when he lied, and Clinton as well. I called Reagan and his cronies liars when they lied and I will apply equal treatment to any other politicians.

BountyHunter, you are quick to point out flaws in the Bush adminstration. This posting of the recent security gaff was expected, given your track record. No offense, but do you know how pathetic it sounds when all I did was reprint an article from a news page ver batim and you launch into an ad hominem attack?

First off, it sounds like you have nothing intelligent to say in reply to the story which apparrently has offended you.

It certainly says you have a problem with my posting of it, but have nothing intelligent to add other than "given your track record".

You know about as much about my track record as a dog knows about brain surgery.

Standing Wolf
October 6, 2005, 09:31 PM
...Richard Clarke, a former White House adviser who is now an ABC News consultant.

Sounds suspiciously like a left-over from the Snopes Clinton-Liar Gore régime.

That said™, there's really no excuse for that sort of sloppiness.

LAR-15
October 6, 2005, 09:44 PM
This guy worked under GORE AND CHENEY.

Why did the Klintoon Admin hire him in the first place? :mad:

JohnBT
October 6, 2005, 10:32 PM
"I was not even a member of the forum as far as I know."

That's funny.

JT

rick_reno
October 6, 2005, 10:48 PM
I don't believe they have a litmus test they can apply to spies. When I got my clearances, telling the truth, background checks that agreed with what you told them and getting thru the interview with the lie detector appeared to be about it. They might have done follow up work once the clearances were granted, if they did I never knew.
I think this case shows nothing more than a failure of imperfect systems. I'm never surprised when they catch them, but I continue to be amazed that people would do this to their Nation.

Nehemiah Scudder
October 6, 2005, 11:16 PM
The guy's a 21 year Marine veteran. That's a helluva cover.

longrifleman
October 6, 2005, 11:34 PM
Belmont Club-more detail (http://fallbackbelmont.blogspot.com/)

Wretchard has a very in-depth post on some of the details on this case. The beginnings go back to Clinton's fundraising. Why am I not surprised.

but I continue to be amazed that people would do this to their Nation.

He did do it for his country. His country isn't America.

AZ Jeff
October 7, 2005, 10:52 AM
You know about as much about my track record as a dog knows about brain surgery.

I have no problem with you pointing out faults of politicians, as long as the fault finding is equal to all shades of the political spectrum.

Just don't insult me for calling it as I see it. If you would have posted critcisms of other politicians other than GW Bush and his cronies, I would not sense a bias, and be so quick to point it out.

Have you posted (on this forum) any criticisms of other political factions besides the Republican Bush admin?

stevelyn
October 7, 2005, 12:41 PM
Trying to topple the corrupt govt of the Phillipines isn't exactly a crime against the United States and long overdue.

However, using U.S. Govt documents to do it could be politically embarrasing for U.S.-Phillipine relations depending on how indepth those documents are and how much dirt they contain on the subject persons. But it won't last long either, because the Phillipine govt needs the U.S. to prop it up, so all will be forgiven soon regardless of the dirt revealed in the documents.

At the worst he's a Phillipine patriot guilty of misappropriating U.S. govt property/documents. I can't see how his actions intended harm to the U.S.

Waitone
October 7, 2005, 01:26 PM
NO, but the documents could be used to overthrow a government or kill a head of state.

Art Eatman
October 7, 2005, 02:33 PM
White House? What do the current White House people have to do with this?

The FBI does the background check for security clearances, and on this guy it was back in 1999 or earlier.

The guy got his clearance in the Clinton era, which calls to mind other White House security problems that were talked about in the 1990s. (Remember the fat guy that nobody knew who hired him? Craig something?) Cheney let Aragoncillo go on to other work, so I'd imagine it's the Fort Monmouth people who didn't do any followup check during the latter part of 2001...

From reading the article, it's a rather disjointed three-stories-in-one, striving weakly to blame Bush for what others did--or didn't--do...

Art

mtnbkr
October 7, 2005, 03:02 PM
Art, he's had his clearance long enough to have gone through a periodic reinvestigation (every five years for DOD clearances). While the original granting of access fell under Clinton's govt, the reinvestigation came under the Bush govt.

That said, the process is imperfect if the person being investigated has done nothing to indicate he would not be worthy of the clearance. If he never spoke of his true alliances to his friends, family, and acquaintances and kept everything off the books, the investigation might not turn up anything to suggest a problem. They can't discover what people don't talk about. The people doing the investigations aren't mindreaders.

Chris

bountyhunter
October 7, 2005, 04:52 PM
While the original granting of access fell under Clinton's govt, the reinvestigation came under the Bush govt. With the latter occurring during a time of war.... not that such would make security a "higher priority"......

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