Yesterday Henry Kyle Frese, a Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) analyst with a Top Secret clearance, pleaded guilty to the unauthorized sharing of Top Secret information with two journalists, one of whom he shared a residence from January to November 2018.

In October 2019 we shared Frese’s arrest and how a grand jury brought forward an indictment against Frese for giving classified information to two journalists.

The first journalist, identified as “journalist 1” in court documents has been identified by media as Amanda Macias, with whom Frese in 2017 had a close and personal relationship. Macias, who continues in her role as a CNBC journalist, covering the “war beat” was the recipient of classified materials from Frese.

The second journalist is identified in court documents as “journalist 2” and identified by media as Courtney Kube who was an MSNBC journalist and continues in her role as an NBC journalist covering national security at the Pentagon.

Surveillance on Frese’s phone

The court approved surveillance records of Frese’s cell phone revealed 508 calls and 37 text messages between Frese and Macias for the time period of March 1, 2018 and October 7, 2019.

These same surveillance records obtained by the FBI show 22 calls and 150 text messages between Frese and Kube for the time period of May 1 and October 7, 2019.

Frese provides classified information which ends up in public media

Court documents show that Macias had published eight articles between early-May 2018 and mid-July 2018 which were drawn from five intelligence reports, some of which was at the TS/SCI level, provided by Frese.

The court documents reveal that Macias and Kube collaborated on an article in early-July 2019 which contained classified national defense information. Then in September 2019, Frese accessed additional intelligence reports containing classified information at the SECRET/SCI level and shared these reports with Kube. In response to a query from Kube, Frese dug into the classified system to which he had access and obtained additional classified information which he subsequently provided to Kube.

As we revealed in our October 2019 piece, one of the pieces published by Macias and which she characterized as a “scoop” was the article concerning China’s defense preparedness:  China quietly installed missile systems on strategic Spratly Islands in hotly contested South China Sea. 

Reporter Ethics

Others will have to determine the ethics of obtaining and using national defense information one knows as classified in an article which will be read by a potential adversary to the United States. The networks CNBC and NBC appear to have no issue with their reporter obtaining information from those with whom they cohabitate.

Frese plea to the court, acknowledged his guilt and the fact that he conducted 30 separate searches of classified reporting in 2018 which he subsequently shared with Macias and Kube.

In addition, Frese admitted to having shared classified information to a private sector consultant who was located abroad on national defense information associated with counterterrorism topics.

In announcing Frese’s plea, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, G. Zachary Terwilliger, perhaps said it best, “Henry Kyle Frese was entrusted with Top Secret information related to the national defense of our country. Frese violated that trust, the oath he swore to uphold, and engaged in felonious conduct at the expense of our country. This case should serve as a clear reminder to all of those similarly entrusted with National Defense Information that unilaterally disclosing such information for personal gain, or that of others, is not selfless or heroic, it is criminal.”

Frese will be sentenced on June 18 and faces up to 10 years incarceration.

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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). He is the founder of