back to article FBI arrests satellite engineer on charges of espionage

A US military contractor is alleged to have tried to sell Uncle Sam's satellite secrets to someone he thought was a Russian intelligence officer, the Feds claim. Gregory Allen Justice, 49, of Culver City, California, worked as a security tester on military satellites, including the GPS system, the Milstar military …

  1. SteveK

    So if he didn't have 'access to classified material', how was he able to copy it onto USB drives? Or was security and proper separation of classified material from unclassified lax with no access controls?

    Or was the stolen data not actually 'classified' at all, just commercially sensitive stuff that the Americans would rather foreigners didn't get their grubby paws on?

    1. Alister

      Or was the stolen data not actually 'classified' at all, just commercially sensitive stuff that the Americans would rather foreigners didn't get their grubby paws on?

      Did you miss this bit of the article?

      "Justice did not have access to classified material, but, claimed Special Agent Peter Lee in an affidavit, he allegedly handed over proprietary trade secrets that, under international arms laws, could not be moved from the US without an export licence – in breach of arms laws, as well as trade secret protections."

      1. SteveK

        No, didn't miss that bit. But as the article later says he handed over USB sticks containing classified material, it wasn't clear whether he had obtained classified data that he didn't have access to (in which case, how did he access it), or whether it wasn't 'Government classified', but - as in the section you quoted - proprietary trade secrets (in which case it is possibly misleading for the agent to describe it as 'classified').

        Or perhaps it's my interpretation - companies have commercial secrets that they don't want competitors to have, and in this case may require a license to export, but to me at any rate, that's not the same thing as being classified as containing government secret information or designs, which ought to be access restricted etc.

        I'm guessing it's the former - that he obtained the material that he wasn't supposed to have access to through nefarious means, but that implies poor security.

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "his own interests of greed"

    There was a film (with Sean Connery and Nick Cage) in which a general was prepared to turn traitor to get the men who died in his platoon proper care and recognition.

    If I cite that film (the Rock), it is because said general gave a speech to his men promising them a million dollars each for their services, because, in his words, they would never again be able to set feet on any soil that had an extradition agreement with the US. In essence, they were traitors going into exile and they knew it.

    It seems to me that if you are setting yourself up to be such a traitor purely for monetary purposes, as apparently in this case, you should be smart enough to realize that you're in the same spot. You should therefor make sure that each transaction has the possibility of giving you the means to vacate the country ASAP and, at the very least, set yourself up to get some form of revenue somewhere else. $1,000 is not going to do that.

    So this guy sells state secrets at a thousand a pop. He must have thought himself very smart and able to do so for years without getting caught. He apparently thought he was just supplementing his income or something.

    Smacks of unbelievable stupidity to me.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Smacks of unbelievable stupidity to me.

      Sure. But although you don't get much info on Justice's personal circumstances, a bit of guessing between the lines suggests his personal circumstances were not contributing to a sense of overall calmness and wellbeing. It's not always easy to make rational decisions in such cases. I tend to doubt that he was the evil spy as implied by the FBI, more likely he was just desperate and impulsive, and probably exactly the kind of guy that agents (of all kinds) exploit to get what they want. If he was a calm and calculating seller of national secrets, he would, most likely, have had a plan - even if a rather poor one - along the lines you describe.

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: Smacks of unbelievable stupidity to me.

        "exactly the kind of guy that agents (of all kinds) exploit to get what they want"

        In this case, a nice bump to their "spies arrested" totals, and a bit of publicity.

        You were talking about the FBI agent right?

    2. RIBrsiq
      FAIL

      Re: "his own interests of greed"

      >> "Smacks of unbelievable stupidity to me".

      This.

      Also considering that he was apparently selling trade secrets for amounts on the order of magnitude of what he was paying for readily-available soft-porn, it does not seem to me that this guy was very smart.

      And he "worked as a security tester on military satellites"...!?

      Oh, dear...

  3. Kane Silver badge

    I'm sorry...

    I couldn't finish reading the article, certainly not when it sunk in, the name of the individual concerned.

    Mr Justice.

    1. Ol' Grumpy
      Thumb Up

      Re: I'm sorry...

      It brought Sheriff Buford T. Justice to my mind ... :)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'm sorry...

        Whatever happens, Justice will prevail!

        Hmmm... maybe not.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
          Black Helicopters

          Re: I'm sorry...

          "Whatever happens, Justice will prevail!"

          Fuck Yeah!!! Truthtm, Justicetm and The American Waytm

      2. Alister

        Re: I'm sorry...

        I was just watching that the other day...

        "Junior, there's no way, *no* way that you came from *my* loins. Soon as I get home, first thing I'm gonna do is punch yo mamma in da mouth!"

  4. JimmyPage
    Black Helicopters

    All of a sudden ...

    "The Americans" doesn't seem fiction anymore ....

    1. O RLY

      Re: All of a sudden ...

      "The Americans" is based on real life.

      http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2014/05/the-americans-real

      http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/29/showbiz/tv/the-americans-fx-ayers/

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illegals_Program

  5. Mage Silver badge

    Blueprints?

    I last saw those in the mid 80s. Then we changed to photocopies and CAD + plotter.

    Must be old satellites?

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Blueprints?

      Meh... we old farts still call them "blueprints". Either nostalgia is setting in or senility. There is something (not good) to be said for the smell of a freshly printed blueprint. "Eye-watering" I think is the right phrase.

  6. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
    Megaphone

    Repeat after me

    On The Internet:

    - 16 year old girls are cops

    - 16 year old boys are cops

    - the hot babe from Stalingrad is a sweaty, overweight scammer from Moscow

    - the Soviet spy is an FBI agent

    - the supplier of bomb-making materials is an FBI agent

    - the ISIS recruiter probably is, but he just wants you to blow yourself up

    Got it?

    1. David 132 Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Repeat after me

      Or the version I heard years ago:

      "The Internet - where Men Are Real Men, Women Are Real Men, and little girls are FBI agents"...

  7. Hollerithevo

    Already a jerk

    Sending 'support' to an Eastern European 'girlfriend'? He's already a jerk, so stealing trade secrets and selling them for paltry amounts to what he thought were Russian agents in some sort of pathetic James Bond fantasy world of riches is more of the same. I feel sorry for this poor schmuck.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Already a jerk

      My thought as well....$500 - $1000...is that all?

      1. John 104

        Re: Already a jerk

        Its pretty amazing. In the 80s the US Navy busted some chump for selling sub secrets to the Russians. the pay out was around $40K if I remember correctly. Staggeringly stupid. State governments have millions at their disposal and you ask for hundreds or thousands? Dumb ass.

    2. keith_w
      Trollface

      Re: Already a jerk

      He wasn't sending money to an Eastern European girlfriend, he was sending money to a girl in California who was using the picture of an Eastern European model as her "face"

  8. Lyndon Hills 1

    When Justice met the g-man

    Sounds like a song title

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Our nation's security depends on the honesty and integrity of those entrusted with our technological secrets," said US Attorney Eileen Decker.

    Too bad their political masters are neither honest nor have integrity.

  10. vostro

    entrapment by fbi again

  11. andNonBreakingEmptySpace

    Sounds more like US taxpayers' money being spent on enforcing private-profit (possibly tax-avoidant) trade secrets. This would be a cam on the taxpayer, really...

  12. andNonBreakingEmptySpace

    This guy was an 'engineer' and not more intelligent than this? His emotions must have been an utter WRECK to be so susceptible to such scams. What kind of idiot sends material help to someone they've never met in real life who can't be verified (unlike a genuine charity)? Another example of technology-derived mental illness... sad.

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