United States government security breaches

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

This page is a timeline of published security lapses in the United States government. These lapses are frequently referenced in congressional and non-governmental oversight. This article does not attempt to capture security vulnerabilities.



The 33 convicted members of the Duquesne spy ring (FBI print)
Main article: Duquesne Spy Ring
  • June 1941 - Fritz Joubert Duquesne (also known as "The man who killed Kitchener") was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) with two associates, on charges of relaying secret information on Allied weaponry and shipping movements to Nazi Germany. On January 2, 1942, 33 members of the Duquesne Spy Ring, the largest espionage ring conviction in the history of the United States, were sentenced to serve a total of over 300 years in prison. William G. Sebold, a double agent, was instrumental to the capture and conviction. One German spymaster later commented that the ring’s roundup delivered ‘the death blow’ to their espionage efforts in the United States. The 1945 film The House on 92nd Street was a thinly disguised version of the uncovering of this spy ring.


  • 1951 - Theodore Hall was interviewed by the FBI for handing atomic weapons secrets to the Soviet Union. He was not prosecuted, but later admitted to giving secrets to the Soviet Union.


  • January 1977 - Christopher John Boyce (born February 16, 1953) was convicted of spying against the United States for the Soviet Union. He was arrested in January 1977 for selling U.S. spy satellite secrets to the Soviet Union. Boyce was convicted in April of espionage and sentenced to 40 years in prison at the federal penitentiary in Lompoc, California. On January 21, 1980, Boyce escaped from Lompoc. While a fugitive, Boyce carried out 17 bank robberies in Idaho and Washington state. Boyce did not believe he could live as a fugitive forever and began to study aviation in an attempt to flee to the Soviet Union, where he would accept a commission as an officer in the Soviet Armed Forces. On August 28, 1981, Boyce was arrested while eating in his car outside "The Pit Stop," a drive-in restaurant in Port Angeles, WA.


  • October 1980 - David Henry Barnett, a retired CIA officer pleaded guilty to espionage charges, admitting that he had sold CIA secrets to the Soviets. He was sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment and was paroled in 1990. He died on November 19, 1993.
  • August 1988 - Clyde Lee Conrad, a member of the United States military was arrested for selling NATO defense plans to Hungary from 1974 to 1988. He was convicted by a German court of treason and espionage in 1990 and died in prison.


  • February 1991 - Charles Lee Francis Anzalone, a Corporal in the United States Marines, was arrested for attempted espionage after passing documents and a security badge to an FBI agent posing as a KGB intelligence officer. He was convicted in May and sentenced to 15 years in prison for this and other charges.[1]
  • April 1991 - Jeffrey Carney was arrested for providing classified documents to the East German government between 1982 and 1984, while stationed in Berlin with the United States Air Force. He deserted and defected to East Germany in 1985. He pleaded guilty to espionage, conspiracy, and desertion and was sentenced to 38 years in prison, but was released after 11 years.[1]
  • March 1991 - Albert T. Sombolay was arrested and admitted to providing military information regarding the Desert Shield deployment, military identification cards, and chemical weapons equipment to Jordan, while he was stationed in Germany. He was a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Zaire. He was sentenced to 34 years of hard labor.[1]
  • August 1993 - Geneva Jones was indicted for theft of government property and transmission of defense information to unauthorized persons. While a secretary in with the State Department, she passed classified documents to a West African journalist friend Dominic Ntube, who then passed some of them to Liberian rebels. In 1994, she pled guilty to 21 counts of theft and 2 counts of unlawful communication of national defense information. She was sentenced to 37 months in prison.[1]
  • May 1993 - Steven John Lalas was charged with passing sensitive military information to Greece between 1991 and 1993 while working for the State Department. He passed hundreds of highly classified documents between 1991 and 1993. He was of Greek descent, but was born in the United States. In June, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit espionage and was sentenced to 14 years in prison.[1]
  • February 1994 - Aldrich Hazen Ames was charged with providing highly classified information since 1985 to the Soviet Union and then Russia. The information he passed led to the execution of at least 9 United States agents in Russia. In April, he and his wife both pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit espionage and to tax evasion. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole on the espionage charges, and 63 months in prison on the tax evasion charges.[1]
  • May 1995 - John Douglas Charlton was arrested and indicted for 10 counts of attempting to sell Secret United States Navy documents in 1993. He took the document from Lockheed Corporation before his retirement in 1989. In 1996, he pleaded guilty to 2 counts of attempted transfer of defense information. He was sentenced to two years in prison without parole followed by 5 years of probation.[1]
  • December 1996 - Earl Edwin Pitts was charged with providing Top Secret documents to the Soviet Union and then Russia from 1987 until 1992. In 1997, he pleaded guilty to two counts of espionage and was sentenced to 27 years in prison.[1]


  • April 2000 - Timothy Steven Smith was charged with espionage after being caught stealing disks and five Confidential documents from a ship in the Pacific Fleet. He pled guilty to stealing government property and assaulting an officer and was convicted to 260 days in prison, including time served.[1]
  • June 2000 - George Trofimoff, a naturalized citizen of Russian parents, was arrested for spying for the Soviet Union and Russia since about 1969. Having retired as a colonel in the United States Army Reserve, he was the highest-ranking military officer ever accused of spying. He was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.[1]
  • September 2001 - Ana Belen Montes, a senior intelligence analyst with the Defense Intelligence Agency passed classified military and intelligence information to Cuba for at least 16 years. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 25 years in prison and 5 years of probation.[1]
  • 2002 - The Department of Justice Inspector General reported that 212 functional weapons, 142 inoperable training weapons, and 317 laptop computers were lost, missing, or stolen during a 28-month review period.[3]
  • April 2003 - A security officer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory loses an electronic access badge. The loss is reported to an immediate supervisor, but senior Livermore managers are not notified until late May, at which point the badge was deactivated.[5]
  • 16 July 2004 - Sandia National Laboratories announced that they had located a classified floppy disk that had been discovered missing on June 30 during a routine inventory. It was missing because it was improperly transferred to a different organization at the lab.[6]
  • October 2006 - A drug-related investigation at a private residence found classified documents and a thumb drive containing classified information, all from Los Alamos National Laboratory, at the home of Jessica Quintana, a former subcontractor to the laboratory.[7]
  • December 2006 - Petty Officer Ariel Weinmann of the United States Navy pleaded guilty to espionage, desertion and other charges. His case is notable as an espionage case where the Navy and trial court officials have denied access to basic information, including the court docket.
  • February 2007 - The Department of Justice Inspector General reported that "over a 44-month period the FBI reported 160 weapons and 160 laptop computers as lost or stolen."[3]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z Defense Personnel Security Research Center, Espionage Cases 1975–2004, archived from the original on February 4, 2006, retrieved 2006-02-19 
  2. ^ L. Britt Snider; Daniel S. Seikaly (2000-02-18), Improper Handling of Classified Information by John M. Deutch (1998–0028–IG), Central Intelligence Agency Inspector General 
  3. ^ a b U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General Audit Division (February 2007), The Federal Bureau of Investigation's Control Over Weapons and Laptop Computers Follow-up Audit (PDF) (Audit Report 07–18) 
  4. ^ "Man Pleads Guilty to Sandia National Labs Breach", SANS Newsbites (The SANS Institute) 5 (11), 2003-03-14 
  5. ^ a b "DOE REVIEWS LIVERMORE LAB: SECURITY UNACCEPTABLE" (– Scholar search), HPCwire (Tabor Communications) 12 (22), 2003-06-06 [dead link]
  6. ^ Sandia Corporation (2004-07-16), Sandia Labs locates floppy disk 
  7. ^ U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Inspector General, Office of Audit Services (2006-11-27), Selected Controls over Classified Information at Los Alamos National Laboratory (PDF)