Yesterday, a former State Department security officer and former CIA employee was charged in federal court with passing secret documents to the Chinese.
Kevin Mallory, 60, of Leesburg was arrested Thursday and made an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia. The self-employed consultant who speaks Chinese is charged under the federal Espionage Act and could face life in prison. In fact, if certain conditions are met, the charges could make Mallory eligible for the death penalty, prosecutor John Gibbs said at Mallory’s initial appearance.
Court records indicate that Mallory was an Army veteran and worked as a special agent for the Diplomatic Security Service at the U.S. State Department from 1987 to 1990. Since 1990, he has worked for a variety of government agencies and defense contractors, according to the affidavit. He held Top Secret security clearance until he left government service in 2012.
The story of how this came about ends up asking a lot more questions than it answers.
Mallory flew to Shanghai in April, returning to the United States on April 21. On Mallory’s customs declaration at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, he answered negatively to the question asking if he had over $10,000 in cash or negotiable instruments on him. Mallory was pulled aside for a seemingly random check by CBP officers and they discovered $16,500 in cash in his luggage. Mallory was cited and released. Funny how that happened, isn’t it? Just happened to check his luggage.
From the charging affidavit, it seems like Mallory’s big scheme was to portray himself as a CIA asset while actually working for the Chinese.
He contacts two former CIA associates before going to China to try to get in contact with CIA’s counterintelligence office before his trip and he contacts them again after he’d encountered CBP at O’Hare.
In March, Mallory allegedly reached out to several former CIA coworkers and asked for help getting in touch with a specific department. He told one employee that he believed the people he had met with were working for Chinese intelligence, according to Green. He allegedly also said he had been given a device to communicate securely with the Chinese agent and been taught how to use it.
Expecting to meet with the same CIA employee in May, Mallory was instead greeted by FBI agents. He let them search the device given to him by the Chinese operative. But, according to Green’s affidavit, Mallory was surprised that past conversations on the device had not been erased. He was showing the agents how to move a message from normal to secure mode when the secure messages appeared.
What did those “past conversations” that had not been erased say?
In one May 3 exchange, Mallory told his Chinese contact that he blacked out security classification markings from government documents.
“I had to get it out without the chance of discovery. Unless read in detail, it appeared like a simple note…I have arranged for a USD account in another name. You can send the funds broken into 4 equal payments over 4 consecutive days…When you agree I will send you the bank E.g. instructions,” he wrote, according to the complaint.
In a May 5 message, Mallory wrote to his contact: “your object is to gain information, and my object is to be paid for.”
The communications device also contained a handwritten index describing eight documents, four of which were found stored on the device. Three of those contained classified information, two with top secret information and the other two with secret information.
It is unclear how or when Mallory had obtained the documents or which government agency they came from. His top secret security clearance lapsed when he left government employment in October 2012.
At that point, the jig was rather up.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Unlike the bizarre mantra of “Russia is not our friend” that has acquired talismanic qualities in some quarters, the Chinese espionage threat is real, it is pervasive, it is effective, and we’ve hamstrung ourselves with a phobia about “racial profiling” that allows obvious spies to operate for extended periods of time because people are afraid of being labeled racist. See John Schindler’s terrifying rundown of the number of Chinese spies we’ve caught and indicted. (He is surprisingly lucid on anything not involving Trump and the latest Louise Mensch story). The number that we are watching, that we’ve turned, or that we don’t know about will increase by orders of magnitude the total number.
The Chinese are actively targeting US industry, military, academia, and government officials. In March, a State Department official was charged with working for the Chinese. While they are recruiting here, they are actively engaged in rolling up networks it took us decades to establish in China.
We also have national blinders about China, perhaps because we have a major trade relationship with them and because they aren’t as blatantly aggressive as Putin’s Russia. While people are turning white trousers brown over the DNC losing some emails, no one really gives a rat’s ass about the fact that the Chinese government hacked the US Office of Personnel Management and downloaded more that 20 MILLION personnel records of current and former government employees. These records include their background checks and, in the cases where they applied for a security clearance, it includes all the investigatory documents, financial and personal interviews, used to make clearance determinations. While people are trying to convince us that Mike Flynn was able to be blackmailed based on information known to his employer (that really isn’t how blackmail works, if your wife knows about your mistress you may be dead but you aren’t susceptible to blackmail), they are totally blasé and laissez-faire about the idea that John Brennan’s security investigation is, more likely than not, in Beijing.