Former FBI Special Agent Pleads Guilty to Sharing Secrets with the Intercept

Intelligence

Once again we learn of an individual in a trusted position deciding that classified information needed to be shared, and shared with the press. Yesterday, Terry J. Albury, a former Special Agent of the FBI, pleaded guilty to disclosing classified information, as well as retaining classified information, according to the Department of Justice.

“Mr. Albury was entrusted by the FBI with a security clearance, which included a responsibility to protect classified national defense information,” said FBI Counterintelligence Division Assistant Director Bill Priestap. “Instead, he knowingly disclosed that material to someone not authorized to receive it. The FBI will work tirelessly to bring to justice those who would expose America’s secrets. Today, as the result of the hard work of dedicated special agents, analysts, and prosecutors, Mr. Albury has taken responsibility for his illegal action.”

What did Albury share with the intercept?

Albury was an FBI Special Agent working out of the Minneapolis field office. His role? Liaison with the Customs and Border Protection unit at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

From early 2016 through August 2017, Albury would share information classified at the Secret level with a local reporter. He acquired the information from classified computer systems. The information shared included information about how FBI acquires and handles confidential informants.

former fbi agent tried to cover his tracks.

His methodologies would make Boris and Natasha of Rocky & Bullwinkle fame proud.

Albury copied, cut and pasted portions from other classified documents in order to create a ‘new’ document with classified information. In doing so he hoped to circumvent any data loss protection schemes associated with the earmarked and watermarked documents. He would then print this document he created.

Albury also took photographs of his screen. Again in an effort to circumvent any information security protections in place which would indicate that a copy or printing of the classified document had taken place.

He copied these photographed documents onto an electronic storage device which was found during a search of Albury’s residence.

How was Albury caught?

Albury shared these documents – some related to assessing informants, and others related to threats posed by certain individuals from a Middle Eastern Country – with a media outlet. That national media organization, it turns out, is the very same news outlet who Reality Winner ran to with the documents pilfered from the National Security Agency (NSA) by way of her pantyhose.

Albury shared his information with the Intercept, and again, the Intercept provided sufficient sourcing information to permit the counterintelligence teams at the FBI to ferret him out in short order.  The Intercept’s piece was titled “The FBI gives itself a lot of rope to pull in informants.” In the course of researching the story, the Intercept entered a very specific Freedom of Information Act request, aligning to documents that Albury and only a few other individuals accessed.

The FBI later identified 16 classified documents which had been published by The Intercept, of which Albury had accessed more than two-thirds.

The Committee to Protect Journalists and the editor of the Intercept expressed outrage. They took exception that when Albury was charged, the DOJ had trotted out the Espionage Act. In the end, Albury pleaded to a lesser charge.

Albury pleads guilty

Albury admits that he stored classified materials at his residence. He also admitted to having shared classified information with an individual who was not authorized, had no need to know, and therefore was not entitled to receive them.

Albury faces a maximum of 10 years in prison.

Christopher Burgess (@burgessct) is an author and speaker on the topic of security strategy. Christopher, served 30+ years within the Central Intelligence Agency. He lived and worked in South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Central Europe, and Latin America. Upon his retirement, the CIA awarded him the Career Distinguished Intelligence Medal, the highest level of career recognition. Christopher co-authored the book, “Secrets Stolen, Fortunes Lost, Preventing Intellectual Property Theft and Economic Espionage in the 21st Century” (Syngress, March 2008).

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