Former NSA contractor facing 200 years for stolen docs


In this June 6, 2013 file photo, the sign outside the National Security Agency campus in Fort Meade, Md. The Justice Department says a former National Security Agency’s theft of top secret information was “breathtaking” in its scope. Federal prosecutors revealed new details Thursday about their case against Harold Martin, a Maryland man arrested in August on charges of stealing classified information. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

A federal grand jury unveiled an indictment Feb. 8 charging a former NSA contractor with stealing highly classified documents over the course of a 20-year career.

Harold Martin, 52, of Glen Burnie, Maryland, faces a potential 200-year sentence – 10 years on each of 20 counts of willful retention of national defense information.

“The indictment alleges that for as long as two decades, Harold Martin flagrantly abused the trust placed in him by the government by stealing documents containing highly classified information,” U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said after the indictment was unsealed.

The charges allege that Martin – who began work as a government contractor in 1993, working for at least seven different companies, including most recently Booz Allen Hamilton – began taking home top secret and sensitive compartmented information (SCI) documents as early as 1996 and continued to do so through to his arrest in August 2016.

Officials said back in October that Martin stole some 50 terabytes of information, much of it related to cybersecurity and national defense.

Baltimore Sun reporter Ian Duncan noted in a tweet that the Feb. 8 indictment enumerates some of these documents, including:

  • A March 2014 NSA leadership briefing outlining the development and future plans for a specific NSA organization.
  • A 2014 NSA report outlining intelligence information regarding foreign cyber issues, containing targeting information.
  • A 2014 NSA report outlining intelligence information regarding foreign cyber issues, containing foreign cyber intrusion techniques.
  • A 2009 draft of a United States Signal Intelligence Directive, which outlined specific methods, capabilities, techniques, processes and procedures associated with CNO [computer network operations] used to defend the United States.
  • February 2008 NSA email correspondence containing an NSA intelligence assessment about an overseas project, containing information directly related to a subject that implicated national security policies and responses.
  • A February 2007 Daily Operations Briefing concerning the daily operations of NSA activities, which identified specific NSA capabilities and operations.
  • A NSA anti-terrorism operational document concerning extremely sensitive U.S. planning and operations regarding global terrorists.
  • 2002 NSA email correspondence and SNA intelligence information regarding extremist activity, which identified targets of intelligence collection.
  • An August1996 NSA weekly status summary of national defense concerns emanating from various parts of the world.
  • An NSA Threat Operations Center (NTOC) progress report that specifically described activities, capabilities, techniques, process and procedures associated with NTOC, which discovers, characterizes and proactively counters threats to U.S. national security systems and other networks of interest.
  • An outline of a classified exercise involving real-world NSA and U.S. military resources to demonstrate existing cyber intelligence and operational capabilities.

“The FBI investigation and this indictment reveal a broken trust from a security clearance holder,” said Special Agent in Charge Gordon B. Johnson of the FBI’s Baltimore Division. “Willfully retaining highly classified national defense information in a vulnerable setting is a violation of the security policy and the law, which weakens our national security and cannot be tolerated.”

While prosecutors had previously accused Martin of a “breathtaking” theft and had raised the prospect that he could be providing the information to a foreign government, the indictment contains no allegations that he spied for or colluded with any other country or even that he gave away the documents.

Martin’s attorney, federal defender James Wyda, did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment Wednesday. He has previously described Martin, a former Navy lieutenant, as a “compulsive hoarder” who never intended to harm his country and who took work documents home with him as he strove to be as committed to his job as possible.

Martin’s first course appearance is set for Feb. 14 in the U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

AP reporters Juliet Linderman and Eric Tucker contributed to this report.