Harold T. Martin, Edward Snowden, and Secret Government Files…..

Until 2 weeks ago, I had never heard of NSA contractor Harold T. Martin, and I am guessing you have not either.  As of a few hours ago it is revealed Mr. Martin stole about 50 terabytes of information roughly the equivalent of half a billion pages of documents over a 20-year period of time.

The reason he wasn’t detected sooner is that he kept the documents at home on his own P.C. For a comparison, Edward Snowden stole about 1.5 million files. The information could have been devastating to the government or invaluable to those who would want to see them. He was working for the Defense department at the time of his arrest after leaving the N.S.A. The F.B.I. took him into custody August 27th of this year, and charged with theft of government property and unauthorized removal or retention of classified documents. He is still in custody, though they have yet to prove other than having the documents, he has done nothing else with them.

Harold Martin left the service in 1995 and worked for several companies, when he was arrested he worked for Booz Allen Hamilton. He was also pursuing a doctorate in information systems at the University of Maryland. The NY Times stated, “The arrest raises the embarrassing prospect that for the second time in three years, a contractor for the consulting company Booz Allen Hamilton managed to steal highly damaging secret information while working for the N.S.A. In 2013, Edward J. Snowden, who was also a Booz Allen contractor, took a vast trove of documents from the agency that were later passed to journalists, exposing surveillance programs in the United States and abroad.” (1)

In an interesting note, The Baltimore Sun makes a comparison that in 1996 when he first starting taking documents, Edward Snowden was just 13 years old. Also Martin supposedly knows Russian, which was brought up at his hearing. The prosecution after Snowden’s exodus, argued he posed a flight risk if let out on bond, even though he did not even own a passport.

Mr. Martin who lives in Glen Burnie, Maryland was totally unaware as his neighborhood was swarmed with F.B.I. agents, telling neighbors to get inside and stop looking around. That is all I would be doing…. Martin is a heavy set man, and one neighbor was afraid for him, thinking he might have a heart attack. Floodlights on the yard as the F.B.I. loaded up vans at 3 a.m. The neighbors were looking. The Martins were good, even generous to other neighbors….

So far there is no evidence Martin was going to do anything with the decades of material he possessed. Maybe marvel about what was going on beyond government doors. He was no whistleblower, at least no evidence so far, No evidence but a twist…. Though the N.Y. Times paints Harold T. Martin as good neighbor who only took documents for his own edification, before Martin was arrested, prosecutors said, he had an arsenal of weapons, including a military-style rifle, and he went to Connecticut to buy a police grade Chevrolet caprice.

It makes Martin’s lawyers argument that there was no evidence he had betrayed his country a little more complicated. The act of taking the documents home did that, and the arsenal of weapons and police car, may have meant something was going to take place in the near future, like the sale of government documents perhaps?

Though Martin seemed to leave classified documents laying around in his home, authorities asked why he kept much of the material alongside a gun in his car, “as though he were trafficking in dangerous contraband.” (2)

His ex-wife Elizabeth, called him a workaholic hoarder and a computer nerd, but a patriot. Jesselyn Radack, a lawyer who represents whistleblowers, responded to the report on Twitter: “Sounds like the latest ‘NSA leaker’ is really a kleptomaniac with a hoarding disorder.”. (3) Finally Snowden tweeted, “How secure is NSA? Well, the FBI has had this man in a dungeon since August, but says they have no idea what he did.”

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  1. Becker, Jo, Goldman, Adam, N.S.A. Contractor Arrested in Possible New Threat of Secrets, Y. Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/06/us/nsa-leak-booz-allen-hamilton.html
  2. Duncan, Ian, Prosecutors: NSA contractor’s alleged theft ‘breathtaking’ in scope, The Baltimore Sun, http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/bs-md-harold-martin-nsa-theft-20161020-story.html
  3. Smith, David, Accused NSA contractor was workaholic hoarder into computers, says ex-wife, The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/oct/08/accused-nsa-contractor-harold-martin-ex-wife-interview-classified-information
  4. Fandos, Nicholas and Shane, Scott, A “Sad Case’ Suspect, Scared Pale as Police Swarmed his House in N.S.A. Case, The N.Y. Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/06/us/politics/harold-martin-nsa-contractor.html
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