Latest espionage scandal reveals a service that is deeply troubled and failing in its basic national security mission
Over the weekend a sensational spy saga appeared in the media, one that the U.S. Navy managed to keep out of the headlines for the last eight months. The Department of the Navy revealed that a career officer has been sitting in a brig in Norfolk, Virginia for months, suspected of espionage on behalf of a foreign power. Although the indictment was heavily redacted, it was obvious that the accused has done serious damage to our national security, not least because the charges—including communicating secret information “relating to the national defense to representatives of a foreign government”—could carry the death penalty.
It did not take long for reporters to uncover that the country the suspect stands accused of spying for is China, and the officer in custody is himself of Chinese origin. Neither of these facts can be considered shocking by those familiar with counterintelligence. Beijing spies aggressively on the United States, especially our navy, which is the major obstacle to China achieving its strategic goals in East Asia, while they mainly stick to their ethnic milieu in espionage. Indeed, Chinese intelligence operations against America that do not involve persons of Chinese origin or extraction are very much the exception.
The accused is Edward Lin, a career Navy officer, a lieutenant commander (equivalent to a major in our other armed services) and a naval flight officer. A graduate of the Naval War College who served as a navy liaison to Congress, his career was clearly going places. Particularly troubling is the fact that Mr. Lin spent much of that career assigned to maritime reconnaissance units, in other words squadrons that fly spy planes. He was assigned to very secret special units that collect signals intelligence from modified P-3 Orion patrol aircraft. In other words, Mr. Lin had to be a goldmine for Beijing, since he could reveal highly classified information regarding what the navy and American intelligence know about China.
Read the rest at the New York Observer…