Friday, March 7, 2014

Naval Espionage: Stopping A Dangerous Insider Threat

The FBI web page offers a piece on the arrest and conviction of Robert Patrick Hoffman, an American sailor who attempted to commit espionage.

As a sailor with a top secret clearance, a sensitive job on a submarine, and 20 years of service in the Navy, Robert Hoffman possessed a tremendous amount of knowledge about the U.S. nuclear fleet and its operations—knowledge he was willing to sell to the Russians.

“It’s almost impossible to say why someone would become a spy,” said Special Agent James Dougherty, who investigated the case from our Norfolk Division, but Hoffman represents a classic example of the insider threat. “When a U.S. citizen with classified information threatens to betray his country,” Dougherty explained, “the resulting damage to national security and loss of American lives can be catastrophic.”

Investigators speculate that Hoffman may have blamed his divorce on the Navy, along with his failure to gain promotion. The FBI and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) became concerned in 2011 when, nearing retirement, Hoffman told friends he was going on a “man-cation” to Belarus to see Russian women he had previously met when he was stationed in Bahrain—even though he knew the women would not be there.

“He had some sort of motivation to travel to Belarus that didn’t seem logical,” said Dougherty. In addition, Hoffman ignored the requirement to alert military security officers that he would be traveling out of the country, and he failed to adhere to other security rules of reporting any suspicious incidents while overseas. However, Hoffman did post items on social media channels saying he met the president of Belarus. “All of that added to our suspicion,” Dougherty noted.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

You can also read an earlier post on Hoffman via the below link: 

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