back to article Leaky Martin will be livin' la vida lockdown: Ex-NSA bod cops to taking home 'up to 50TB' of hush-hush dossiers

Ex-NSA contractor Harold Martin has admitted he took home piles of top-secret US government reports and other materials, contrary to security rules and basic common sense. The 54-year-old, of Baltimore, Maryland, who had worked for Uncle Sam for more than 22 years within a number of NSA departments, agreed in a federal …

  1. Conundrum1885 Bronze badge

    The problem here

    As we aren't sure exactly what was taken, the sentence may be proportional.

    Also how much information if any was passed to Snowden/Assange/Manning/etc ?

    Interestingly I did read somewhere that at least one document relates to BIOS /HDD malware

    and having possibly isolated a case of this here which has caused me significant problems

    including data loss would be intrigued to confirm/refute this.

    Drives affected generally stop responding after a reboot and aren't responsive to the usual

    recovery methods. Also don't show the normal degradation you'd expect with a head crash

    so this does look a lot like overwritten firmware zone.

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: The problem here

      "if any was passed to Snowden/Assange/Manning/etc?"

      Snowden and Manning both took information themselves, they weren't sent it by other people. Assange relies on other people sending him information, but as he's not reposted it we can safely assume that he didn't receive it. (Also the US government would be making more of a fuss if Martin had shared the info).

      "Drives affected generally stop responding after a reboot"

      Sounds basic, but test with a different (known good) power supply. Power supply problems can cause the weirdest fault conditions.

      1. Conundrum1885 Bronze badge

        Re: The problem here

        Drives won't even show up in the BIOS.

        Yes have had power supply issues before but also tried the same drives in a caddy and a desktop PC with adaptor- nothing.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The problem here

          "Drives won't even show up in the BIOS.

          Yes have had power supply issues before but also tried the same drives in a caddy and a desktop PC with adaptor- nothing."

          I think Office Depot has a diagnostic program that may help.

          1. Conundrum1885 Bronze badge

            Re: The problem here

            Even tried it in the computer shop caddy used for cloning drives. No dice.

            It was a 7200rpm 750GB Seacrate alas but fortunately backed up at least the recent data.

            Lost maybe a months research but I did look into making it RAID 5 so this can't happen again.

            Note to self, if it is sensitive enough to store only on one isolated drive then have a hard copy too.

            Preferably in a fireproof safe with a 12 digit combination.

  2. AbsolutelyAnything

    Clearly Harold suffers from TSDHD - Top Secret Document Hoarder Disorder!

    1. IceC0ld Silver badge

      OR maybe it's a case of

      T - otal

      I - nability

      T - o

      S - top

      U - ndermining

      P - rivacy

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        which the NSA engrained in him. He was becoming the government he worked for............

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Big collection

    "Uncle Sam's lawyers estimated Martin had snatched 50TB of secret information."

    Wow, this guy was collecting a lot of stuff ... This is 2.5 TB per year ! They allow any USB disk/stick at NSA ???

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Big collection

      I guess the NSA spend more time looking for weaknesses in security in order to gather intelligence and less time considering how to make security of data more efficient.

      Even at lunch box level.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This is 2.5 TB per year

      Maybe it is just one really really high resolution scan of a single paper original:-)

    3. DCFusor Silver badge

      Re: Big collection

      Way back when I worked for DEC, NSA Ft Meade was one of the places we'd sometimes get a call from. They'd let you in with just about anything, at least at first, being that a computer repair guy needs a scope, some spares, some diagnostics and suchlike. They didn't have a regular or preventative maintenance service contract - they did their own stuff when they could. So we got to charge them by the hour at then-princely sums.

      We turned it into a huge profit center. What went in - never came out. Nothing, because at that time, no one knew what IC chip (almost all memory was core, but still) - might have held a secret picked up inside. You'd better not have a fancy zippo, even.

      Pretty soon they had a real good selection of spare parts, and nice Tek 465 scopes (I learned not to take my well calibrated and very stable one in after that - the replacements were never quite as good). And once they realized that, nope, we couldn't take anything in without some real special footwork with the bureaucracy. It was fun while it lasted. It was probably a bit different if you worked there.

      But other places in the intelligence community I worked after that - even if the guard knew you, they'd check your badge - no monkey pictures got in at all. They used to be serious. Now it's all probably younger punks with today's set of "IDGAF" attitudes.

  4. Korev Silver badge


    Martin's lawyers, meanwhile, have argued that Martin's actions were the result of mental illness that caused him to become a hoarder, and that the contractor never meant to put classified documents in the hands, or at least in reach, of America's enemies.

    It really annoys me that lawyers try to pin things on the mental health of the accused. It just creates stigma for the vast bulk of mentally ill people who are law-abiding .

  5. Kaufman

    This reminds me of the times the US trained and supported and funded terrorists only for them to come back and bite them in the ass. Along with the rest of the world.

  6. SNAFUology


    hahahahahahaha ,hahahahahahaha hahahahahahaha 50TB hahahahahahaha hahahahahahaha !

    hahahahahahaha, hahahahahahaha

  7. GrapeBunch


    If he were selling the stuff, they'd have evidence or, gasp!, proof. Of course, smearing with the innuendo brush is an old party trick.

    Perhaps he was super-patriotic and simply thought that in the case of a) civil chaos or b) a cover-up by a boss, the documents would still exist to bolster the National Security. His fellow hoarders could only wish they had a cache, even a measly 1 TB, of Top Secret. That way, when you're old and gray, then a stack of old newspapers falls on and suffocates you, it'll be the secret, the top secret, that polishes you off. An Hexit dream.

  8. M.V. Lipvig

    I recommend

    the Hillary Clinton defense. He did exactly what she did, only not as serious as he wouldn't have had access to hose lofty levels, and her punishment was being allowed to run for President several times.

  9. Conundrum1885 Bronze badge

    Re. I recommend

    The alien defense. Claim to be an extraterrestrial gathering data to see if we are worthy of contact.

    1. Martin Summers Silver badge

      Re: Re. I recommend

      Then surely he'd have stopped after... Say a gig?

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: Re. I recommend

        Way less and deemed either unworthy or way too insane and/or dangerous.

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