Archive for October 19th, 2009

US scientist charged with spying for Israel

US Scientist Accused of Trying to Spy for Israel

A Maryland scientist has been arrested for attempted espionage after he offered to sell military secrets to an undercover FBI agent that he believed was an Israeli spy. The scientist, Stewart Nozette, used to work for the Department of Energy, where he had top secret clearance and access to nuclear weapon design information. Nozette is also alleged to have worked as a consultant for an Israeli aerospace company from 1998 up until last year.

US scientist charged with spying for Israel

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US scientist charged with attempted spying for Israel


WASHINGTON — The US authorities arrested Monday a leading American scientist who had worked for the Pentagon and NASA and charged him with attempted spying for Israel.

Stewart Nozette, 52, was apprehended after a sting operation involving an undercover FBI agent, the Department of Justice said, adding that there was no wrongdoing by Israel.

He is charged with “attempted espionage for knowingly and willfully attempting to communicate, deliver, and transmit classified information relating to the national defense of the United States to an individual that Nozette believed to be an Israeli intelligence officer.”

Nozette, who was arrested in the Washington suburb of Chevy Chase, Maryland and taken into custody, could make his first court appearance Tuesday on the charge, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

“The conduct alleged in this complaint is serious and should serve as a warning to anyone who would consider compromising our nation’s secrets for profit,” said David Kris, assistant attorney general for national security.

Nozette, 52, developed an experiment that fueled the discovery of water on the south pole of the moon, and previously held special security clearance at the Department of Energy on atomic materials.

In addition to stints with NASA and the Department of Energy, Nozette worked at the White House on the National Space Council under then-president George H.W. Bush in 1989 and 1990.

“From 1989 through 2006, Nozette held security clearances as high as top secret and had regular, frequent access to classified information and documents related to the US national defense,” the Justice Department said.

In early September, Nozette received a phone call from a person “purporting to be an Israeli intelligence officer, but who was in fact an undercover employee of the FBI,” the DOJ said.

“Nozette met with the UCE (undercover employee) that day and discussed his willingness to work for Israeli intelligence,” informing the agent that “he had, in the past, held top security clearances and had access to US satellite information.”

The scientist offered to “answer questions about this information in exchange for money.”

Over the next several weeks, Nozette and the undercover agent exchanged envelopes of money for answers to lists of questions about US satellite technology.

“In addition, Nozette allegedly offered to reveal additional classified information that directly concerned nuclear weaponry, military spacecraft or satellites, and other major weapons systems,” DOJ said.

FBI agents retrieved a manila envelope left by Nozette in a designated location this month that “contained information classified as both top secret and secret that concerned US satellites, early warning systems, means of defense or retaliation against large-scale attack, communications intelligence information, and major elements of defense strategy.”

In 1987, the United States sentenced Navy analyst Jonathan Pollard to life in prison for providing Israel — from May 1984 to his arrest in November 1985 — thousands of confidential military documents on US spying, particularly in Arab nations.

Israel has appealed for his release repeatedly, and in vain. And Pollard supporters in Israel and the United States have done the same for the man who since has obtained Israeli citizenship.


US Pentagon scientist arrested for ‘agreeing to be Israeli spy’


A scientist who worked for the US Defense Department, a White House space counsel and other agencies was arrested Monday on espionage charges.

The Justice Department said Stewart David Nozette, 52, of suburban Chevy Chase, Maryland, was charged in a criminal complaint with attempting to communicate, deliver and transmit classified information to an individual he believed to be an Israeli intelligence officer.

The complaint does not allege that the government of Israel or anyone acting on its behalf violated US law.

Officials in Jerusalem refrained comment on Monday night, telling Israel Radio they were not familiar with the case.

Nozette was arrested Monday by FBI agents. He is expected to make his initial appearance in federal court in Washington on Tuesday.

In an affidavit supporting the complaint that was unsealed Monday, FBI agent Leslie Martell said that on September 3, Nozette received a telephone call from an individual purporting to be an Israeli intelligence officer. The caller was an undercover FBI agent.

Nozette agreed to meet with the agent later that day at a hotel in Washington and in the subsequent meeting the two discussed Nozette’s willingness to work for Israeli intelligence.

Nozette allegedly informed the agent that he had, in the past, held top security clearances and had access to US satellite information, the affidavit said.

Nozette also was alleged to have said he would be willing to answer questions about this information in exchange for money. The affidavit said the agent explained that the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad, would arrange for a communication system so Nozette could pass on information in a post office box.

Nozette agreed to provide regular, continuing information and asked for an Israeli passport, the government alleged.


Spy Nozette 09 10 22 distressing

—– Original Message —–
Sent: Friday, October 23, 2009 1:40 PM
Subject: Fw: Secrecy News — 10/22/09
NOZETTE AND NUCLEAR ROCKETRYStewart D. Nozette, who was arrested and charged this week under the
Espionage Act, is an unusually gifted and accomplished technologist.  The
allegation that he provided classified information to an FBI agent posing
as an Israeli intelligence officer in exchange for cash is distressing on
several levels.Among other things, Nozette had exceptionally broad access to a range of
classified programs in defense, space and nuclear technology.  According
to an FBI affidavit, Nozette stated that he “held a DOE Q clearance from
1990-2000, which involved insight into all aspects of nuclear weapons
.  Held TS/SI/TK/B/G clearance 1998-2006,… Held at least 20+ SAP
[special access program clearances]… from 1998-2004.”

In fact, however, Nozette’s participation in Department of Defense special
access programs dates back even earlier, to 1990 or so.  At that time he
was read into an unacknowledged special access program called Timber Wind,
which was an effort by the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization to
develop a rocket engine powered by a nuclear reactor.  Dr. Nozette’s name
appears on a Timber Wind master access list we obtained which identified
the several hundred persons who were authorized to be briefed on that
nuclear rocket program.

The discovery of the hyper-classified Timber Wind program was an
inspiration for the FAS Project on Government Secrecy, since we considered
it a compelling instance of classification abuse.  On a number of occasions
I asked Dr. Nozette about the program, but he was always quite scrupulous
about rebuffing my inquiries.

Timber Wind was canceled shortly after it became public, and other nuclear
rocket initiatives likewise faded away in the 1990s, as the effort to
develop nuclear rocketry for military or civilian applications surged and
then collapsed, leaving behind only a bunch of good stories.

An idiosyncratic new memoir by Tony Zuppero, one of the would-be nuclear
rocketeers, tells those stories as he recalls them, with sometimes
alarming candor, humor, and disappointment.  Dr. Zuppero had his own
concept of a nuclear rocket that would open a path for human expansion
into the solar system.  But, he laments, “after all the effort, all the
visions, I got old instead of making it happen.”

Dr. Nozette, myself and the Federation of American Scientists make a few
cameo appearances in Dr. Zuppero’s new memoir, entitled “To Inhabit the
Solar System.”


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