back to article When Harry met celly: NSA hoarder thrown in the clink for 9 years – after taking classified work home for decades

An ex-NSA contractor who admitted stashing some 50TB of secret US government documents and exploit code at his home was today sentenced to nine years behind bars. Harold Martin, 54, was given the nine-year term along with an additional three years of supervised release by Judge Richard Bennett in a US federal district court in …

  1. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Should have just st set up an email server

    Then he'd be good to go, right?

  2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    There must be a good chance that somewhere in that lot there's the only copy of a file or two that the NSA accidentally deleted. He should have claimed he was just keeping a security backup.

  3. beep54
    Devil

    Honestly

    Engage in this type of surveillance and really you've got to expect behavior like this from someone....

  4. Michael Hoffmann
    Facepalm

    NSA security procedures?

    Did heads roll at the NSA for that guy being able to walk out with reams of secret docs for decades? On paper no less, not even a USB stick hidden in some bodily orifice.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: NSA security procedures?

      My thoughts as well. I worked in the US on a contract with a vision insurance provider and only certain employees had access to multi-function office machines due to HIPA regulations. How does the NSA maintain security if people can print/scan/copy and take documents out of the office for years? I imagine that almost every file in the NSA is classified.

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: NSA security procedures?

      I found this article about him and it states that he was a naval officer with access to classified data. So the fact that he got access is clear now, but it would have been nice to put that in the article.

      And, as he was an officer, decorated no less, I guess it would be pretty standard for him to come and leave with a briefcase or something, making it look official. So there might be an explanation.

      Now someone please explain how is it that the NSA, an organization devoted to the security of the nation, apparently has security procedures that rival that of the Flintstones.

      I'm a consultant as well, and I regularly walk into the IT departments of banks, insurance companies and other large organizations. I can swear that, not only am I not walking out with any document whatsoever, I am certainly not plugging in USB keys. So banks and such are more secure than the NSA. My mind is boggled.

      1. Fatman

        Re: NSA security procedures?

        <quote>So banks and such are more secure than the NSA. My mind is boggled.</quote>

        Banks get very concerned when you try to steal their money.

      2. Joe Montana

        Re: NSA security procedures?

        Just because you're not trying to walk out with data from those banks doesn't mean you couldn't...

        If you spend some time studying an organisation you can usually find ways that data would be able to get in or out.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: NSA security procedures?

          One of the most challenging aspects of security architecture work is to both make an environment secure and *usable*.

          You can plug holes as much as you like, but authorised access also needs to be monitored. The trick isn't to prevent data ex-filtration, but to slow it down so you can spot it and stop it before too much damage is done.

      3. Orv

        Re: NSA security procedures?

        I can swear that, not only am I not walking out with any document whatsoever, I am certainly not plugging in USB keys.

        Sure, you aren't, because you're ethical. But could you? I've worked as an IT grunt for banks and casinos and none of them disabled USB ports or searched my bag when I left.

  5. Claverhouse Silver badge
    Alert

    I Was Young & Stupid; God Knows I Have Learnt My Lesson, And Will Never Ever...

    9 Years, 5.5 Years, 5 Years...

    Why didn't they claim the Hillary Free Pass and claim the pure incompetence of a lifetime's experience of inadequacy ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I Was Young & Stupid; God Knows I Have Learnt My Lesson, And Will Never Ever...

      Hillary was guilty of being stupid, but she lacked intent...

      It looks like “stupid” is contagious...

      NY Times

      “It is not the first time that questions have been raised about how Ms. Trump and Mr. Kushner have used private communications in their government roles. Both have used personal email accounts to communicate with other White House officials and cabinet secretaries about official business. But the irony of the new accusations was savored by Mrs. Clinton’s former aides.”

      If you want to say Hillary should be disqualified from public office (w/ top secret clearance) I’m on board. But, if we enforce this we’ll probably depopulate the capital. President Trump used a non secured private phone (for example) for government business (likely top secret) for quite a while....

      1. Persona Silver badge

        Re: I Was Young & Stupid; God Knows I Have Learnt My Lesson, And Will Never Ever...

        A president, using powers granted by the Constitution, is able to declassify essentially anything. You could (and he would) claim that his action of choosing a non secured device was a presidentially approved declassification of the information involved.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I Was Young & Stupid; God Knows I Have Learnt My Lesson, And Will Never Ever...

          ...Did the people who voted for Trump actually understand that and what it meant?

          1. Joe Montana

            Re: I Was Young & Stupid; God Knows I Have Learnt My Lesson, And Will Never Ever...

            Do the people who vote understand who or what exactly they're voting for?

            The vast majority probably do not, and the minority who do are unimportant.

      2. Shooter

        Re: I Was Young & Stupid; God Knows I Have Learnt My Lesson, And Will Never Ever...

        "But, if we enforce this we’ll probably depopulate the capital."

        You say that like it's a bad thing.

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: I Was Young & Stupid; God Knows I Have Learnt My Lesson, And Will Never Ever...

        "But, if we enforce this we’ll probably depopulate the capital."

        Drain the swamp?

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I Was Young & Stupid; God Knows I Have Learnt My Lesson, And Will Never Ever...

        > But, if we enforce this we’ll probably depopulate the capital

        It's either that or decapitate the populal.

      5. Mark 65

        Re: I Was Young & Stupid; God Knows I Have Learnt My Lesson, And Will Never Ever...

        Hillary was guilty of being stupid, but she lacked intent had rank...

        FTFY

    2. macjules Silver badge

      Re: I Was Young & Stupid; God Knows I Have Learnt My Lesson, And Will Never Ever...

      he was seeking to build a personal archive of data in part due to hoarding tendencies he had developed.

      Ah, the good old Asperger's Defence. Only works in the UK I'm afraid.

  6. Nick Kew
    Facepalm

    Why?

    Is it just me, or was this guy particularly dumb?

    If you're going to grab government secrets - with all the risks involved - at least do so for a good reason! Like Manning or Snowden ... or a long tradition of whistleblowers and noble spies going right back to Prometheus.

    1. Persona Silver badge

      Re: Why?

      People hoard things. It's regrettably common when a person changes jobs for them to take a copy of "interesting" data in the expectation it will help them with their next job, even though they normally don't ever use it. The smarter ones take the data a long time before they leave as the chance of being caught in the act is so much lower.

      This does beg the question of who he though his next employer might be.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
        Trollface

        Apparently, a guy named Bubba.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Why?

        "People hoard things. It's regrettably common when a person changes jobs for them to take a copy of "interesting" data in the expectation it will help them with their next job,"

        Yeah, but....50TB????

        1. herman Silver badge

          Re: Why?

          "Yeah, but....50TB????" These are paper documents and government scanners are extremely inefficient. So it could possibly have been only 5 sheets with "SECRET" at the top and bottom and "THIS PAGE WAS INTENTIONALLY LEFT BLANK" printed in the middle, which he reused to scribble a shopping list on the back: "milk, bread, eggs". We'll never know the truth.

    2. Orv

      Re: Why?

      Maybe this was his retirement scam scheme.

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. jason 7

    22 years...

    ...as a contractor?

    Really?

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: 22 years...

      Sounds like a candidate for IR35

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: 22 years...

      Does it mean the same as it would in a UK context? Could mean an employee of a bodyshop?

      Two countries separated by a common language.

      1. jason 7

        Re: 22 years...

        Well I was meaning in relation to my experience of 'contractors' in that they get paid 3 times as much as me yet I have to teach them how to do the job and watch everything they do in case they screw it up.

        Still I remember getting my revenge in the end. So sweet.

    3. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: 22 years...

      I'd assume he started off as a direct employee, got trained and got his security clearance, and then left and became a contractor (and the contracting firm was probably set up by another ex-employee, who still plays golf with his old workmates, and entirely coincidentally gets contracts from them).

    4. Orv

      Re: 22 years...

      Privatization. There's been a big political push from the right to reduce the number of civil service employees. Everyone knows the private sector is more efficient, right?

      1. jason 7

        Re: 22 years...

        I remember hearing this many times at my old company I worked for -

        "Well John the contractor has finished managing that big project for us and gone onto another contract abroad!"

        "Oh cool, where is the project work and data from that?"

        "Erm ahhh...I guess it's on John's company issued laptop!"

        "Where is his company issued laptop?"

        "Erm I guess with John...in Germany!"

        "FFS AGAIN??!!??"

        We were a fantastic source of new free Dell Latitude laptops for freelance contractors.

  9. GrapeBunch
    Big Brother

    Counting flowers on the wall

    NSA comes out of this looking incompetent and vindictive. Sure, it was the judge who said nine, but any lesser number could have been sought by the NSA. Maybe they're warming up for Assange and Snowden (if they can get mitts on him). Maybe they're stretching their wings on the dubious practice of loading up the charges followed by a plea agreement. It prevents a fair trial. Who knows, he might have got off with treatment and community service if a trial had found that hoarding is a mental illness. So, also not a good day for US jurisprudence. IANAW - I am not a whatever.

  10. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    WTF?

    Not a permanent employee, but a permanent contractor.

    What's that about...

    The thing is the NSA job is "acquiring" other peoples information.

    Being aware of "The enemy within" should be part of its job description.

    Yet apparently it is not.

  11. trevorde Silver badge

    Hacking target

    NSA is too hard, just burgle this guy's house!

  12. Scott 53

    Credit where it's due

    Top headline punditry

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021