back to article US cyber intelligence officer jailed for kidnapping her kid, trying to hawk top secrets to Russia in Mexico

A US Air Force intelligence officer who kidnapped her daughter to Mexico and attempted to defect to Russia with top-secret information is set to spend the better part of a decade behind bars. Elizabeth Jo Shirley, 47, of West Virginia, specialized in cyber operations and worked at a range of intelligence agencies for nearly 20 …

  1. JimboSmith Silver badge

    Won't somebody think of the children.

    Now she's going to be separated from her daughter for a very long time. It's the daughter (and her husband) who I feel most sorry for in all this.

    1. Snake Silver badge

      Re: Won't somebody think of the children.

      I am not sure about that. The father got custody, a very unusual occurrence in the U.S. unless the mother is declared unworthy which is quite difficult to prove, as the mother is assumed the first custodial option.

      So, to get this woman declared unworthy, plus have the (same?) court almost instantly grant complete and solitary custody to the father at only a single application, after she failed to show up to surrender the child?

      Plus her illegal actions, described in the article therein?

      Sounds like she was, errrr...not playing with all cylinders firing. Or, at the minimum, not as trustworthy as her security clearance implied.

      The husband got the better end of the deal from the sound of it: that is, he got rid of that headache. And (bonus?!) I don't think you need to pay alimony (to an apparent deadbeat parent) when they're in jail. For quite a long time.

      The daughter? I'm sure she'll miss her mother. Even if said mother has highly questionable ethical standards.

      So, for the daughter, maybe a long-term advantage after all, after the hurt [that the mother] brought upon her.


    And she would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for her meddling kid's father.

  3. cornetman Silver badge

    I get the reference, but "Budget Snowden" seems a bit much.

    Snowdon was a whistleblower trying to blow the cover on illegal goings in the US government. A noble gesture considering he will have to look over his shoulder for the rest of his life.

    This woman on the other hand seems to have had less than noble intentions.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Hence "budget".

      1. cornetman Silver badge

        Well "budget" implies small-scale whistleblowing.

        I don't gather that that is remotely what is happening here.

    2. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Budget Snowden

      Yeah, yeah, whistleblowing, we get it. It was an attempt to point out she was rather crap at whatever she was hoping to achieve. Bargain Bin Klaus Fuchs might be more apt.

      We already changed it to something else.


      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Budget Snowden

        I wonder if what she was trying to achieve was keeping the daughter. The stash of information might just have been accumulated over the years because she was a hoarder and then she realised it might have been the means to get her out of the US with the child.

        1. Claverhouse Silver badge

          Re: Budget Snowden

          That does seem very likely; I suspect many mothers would do the same.

  4. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

    Russian Embassy: We didn't take her intelligence "cache" because we already got them several months/years ago through "alternative channels".

    1. chivo243 Silver badge

      Russian Embassy: We didn't take her intelligence "cache" because we already got them several months/years ago through "the normal channels".

      She would have been the alternative...

    2. First Light Silver badge

      Presumably you mean from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

  5. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    a wealth of electronic devices:

    one laptop computer, two tablets, five cell phones, four mobile phone SIM cards, three external hard drives, four thumb drives, and nine SD cards.

    And a paaaaartidge in a pear tree!

    (too soon? nah...)

    1. eswan

      Re: a wealth of electronic devices:

      Shoot, a fella’ could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all that stuff.

  6. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Side issue but...

    Concurrent sentences.

    I've never understood the reasoning behind this.

    Commit one crime, get one free.

    Why? Just why?

    1. Danny 2 Silver badge

      Re: Side issue but...

      It's for when the crimes are related, and if the first hadn't happened then the second wouldn't have, and so they should all be lumped together under the headline crime. For example if you play your music a tad too loud one time, and end up concussed in a cell for resisting arrest.

      A court appointed female lawyer explained, "So, you're saying things just went tits-up."

      I relied, "No, that's not what I am saying, certainly not in court."

      "That wasn't a question. I will ask you if things went tits-up and then you reply, Yes, sorry."

  7. WonkoTheSane

    Title goes here.

    And yet the woman who stole Nancy Pelosi's laptop during the US Capitol invasion & tried to sell it to Russia gets sent home with a slap on the wrist!

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Title goes here.

      That's because the capitol seditionist was actually an antifa crisis actor being paid by a the Clintons in secret plot run by the milk marketing board and it was all filmed on a back-lot in Hollywood by communist movie studios.

      I think Bernie's mittens may have been involved somehow.....

      ps Why does my spell check want to change "seditionist" to "educationist"? Proof that Bill Gates is behind it all !

      1. HausWolf

        Re: Title goes here.

        You forgot to mention that George Soros was paying for all of the pizzas.

      2. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Title goes here.

        You won't be saying that after you've had the vaccine (unless the server is down of course).

  8. Sleep deprived

    Russia, one of America’s foremost adversaries

    This is very recent news. A week ago, Russia was a friend of the USA, unlike those pesky secret services of the deep state, and Putin was a nice and very smart leader. He had even assured the president of his re-election, hence the outcry over the inevitable rigging.

  9. red floyd

    "she has signed a document promising not to disclose a word of what was contained in the documents she stole for the rest of her life, or face the rest of it behind bars"

    Of course, she signed such a document when she started working with classified data. I'm not sure how much the Court should trust her to follow this NDA....

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      This time she didn't have her fingers crossed

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Betrayed by career choice

    “Shirley betrayed the trust of the American people"

    No, she betrayed the spy agency, the "American people" do not respect or trust the spy agencies. - With good reason.

    If they didn't make dirty secrets to hide we wouldn't have so many problems.

  11. spoofles

    Grail?, we've already got one.

    The FSB and the PRC have become surprisingly stingy when it comes to dosh for treason.

    There was another story about a bloke who had missile engine secrets in the offing and the PRC was only offering 10k USD.

    Maybe they already had one.

    Shirley got off lightly as they used to shoot traitors.

  12. Claptrap314 Silver badge

    Let me get this straight...

    This woman separates from her husband, and the father of her child. Okay, it happens.

    The courts award the father primary custody. Okay, hold up. This is very, very rare for young children. The mother would have had to have to have messed up something fierce for this to happen.

    How does this woman's access to TS material not get suspended? My understanding is that talking in your sleep is enough to be denied a TS.

    When this woman fails to return her child, the father applies to the court and immediately receives full custody!!!???!!! Yeah, this woman has been a problem case for the court for a long time. No way in $#&& she should have still had her clearance. The AF needs to go after her supervisor.

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: Let me get this straight...

      Yes, personal issues are supposed to be of major import when determining the issuance and renewal of security clearances. Her custody issues (and whatever led to them) made her a spectacularly bad risk, and her clearance should have been pulled previously.

      That wouldn't have helped with whatever she stashed away in her storage unit, but at least she wouldn't have been able to offer any CURRENT intelligence.

    2. fajensen

      Re: Let me get this straight...

      They have 4.5 million people with security clearances in the US. At some point, reached a while back I am sure, the integrity of such a vast system of bureacracy becomes hard to maintain.

      1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

        Re: Let me get this straight...

        There are not 4.5 million with TS. That is MUCH more restricted than S.

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