The FBI recently arrested and charged a U.S. federal contractor, billed as the “second Snowden,” with theft of government property and unauthorized removal and retention of top secret classified material.
The National Security Agency (NSA) contractor worked with a team of specialized hackers, using a highly classified secret code developed by the agency as a hacking tool to penetrate computer networks of foreign nations.
On Wednesday, the New York Times broke the story that a former NSA contractor had been arrested in a “possible new theft of secrets.”
Shortly after, The Daily Beast reported that the man, who was arrested in August and is already being billed the “second Snowden,” worked with a group of the NSA’s elite hackers who specialized in penetrating the networks of foreign nations.
“The contractor was identified as Harold T. Martin III of Glen Burnie, Md., according to a criminal complaint filed in late August and unsealed Wednesday,” the Times wrote in its breaking report. “Mr. Martin, who at the time of his arrest was working as a contractor for the Defense Department after leaving the N.S.A., was charged with theft of government property and the unauthorized removal or retention of classified documents.”
The Times went on to explain that, according to court documents, after raiding the home of the 51-year-old Ph.D. candidate, the F.B.I “discovered thousands of pages of documents and dozens of computers or other electronic devices” and that a large amount of the recovered material was classified.
Some of it was computer code, which is precisely what sources say his old hacker squad at the NSA used to specialize in:
“Marin worked with NSA’s Tailored Access Operations unit, sources with knowledge of his background told The Daily Beast. In his LinkedIn resume, Martin says he worked as a ‘cyber engineering advisor’ supporting ‘various cyber related initiatives’ in the Defense Department and intelligence community.”
Martin’s doctoral program at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County is focused on Information Systems, and a profile description of Martin at the school’s Interactive Systems Research Center states the suspect was investigating“new methods for remote analysis of heterogeneous & cloud computing architectures.” He even helped present a paper on the subject at a conference in Seattle in 2014.
The University of Maryland has a partnership with the NSA, through which the agency “helps develop curriculum for the school,” though it’s unknown whether Martin’s work there is related to his intelligence duties. Some believe it very well could be, as one former U.S. official told The Daily Beast.
“It’s conceivable given what he was working on that he might have used the [classified] material for research,” the former official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Even the New York Times, in its initial report, acknowledged Martin doesn’t fit the mold of the typical “insider threat”:
“Several officials said that at the moment it did not look like a traditional espionage case, but the F.B.I. has not ruled anything out.
“Mr. Martin does not fit any of the usual profiles of an ‘insider threat,’ and one administration official said that investigators thought that he was not politically motivated — ‘not like a Snowden or someone who believes that what we were doing was illegal and wanted to publicize that.’”
Martin, who was working for NSA contractor Booz Allen Hamilton at the time of his arrest, was immediately compared to that other Booz Allen employee who made off with classified data some years back, Edward Snowden. And the Times was sure to make note of the connection in the opening paragraphs of Wednesday’s breaking report:
“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.”