The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on June 18 that former Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) analyst, Henry Kyle Frese, would be spending the next 30 months in a federal prison having previously pleaded guilty to providing two journalists, Amanda Macias of CNBC and Courtney Kube of NBC with classified materials.

As a reminder, in 2017-2018, Macias was covering the “war beat,” and Kube at that time was an MSNBC journalist covering national security. Macias and Frese had a close personal relationship, which included cohabitation. Macias and Kube were also colleagues.

“When our nation’s secrets are published, in print or online, those secrets are made available to all of our adversaries,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Frese’s choice to betray his oath to his country had real consequences and caused actual harm to the safety of this country and its citizens.

 

“When Mr. Frese chose to provide classified information to members of the media, he violated his oath to serve the United States as a trusted government employee,” said Timothy R. Slater, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI‘s Washington Field Office.  “Put in the hands of our adversaries, this information causes damage and harm to our country.  This investigation and today’s sentencing serve as a reminder that unauthorized disclosures of classified information is a crime, and will not be tolerated.”

Other Cases of Leaking Classified Information

Is the sentence fair and in line with those who broke trust with the government and provided classified information to those who had no need to know? To those without authorization to have access to the materials?

  • Reality Winner provided classified information to The Intercept and her legal team negotiated a 63 month prison sentence.
  • General David Patreaus didn’t receive any jail time for sharing classified with his paramour, Paula Broadwell.
  • FBI Special Agent Terry Albury received 48 months in prison for sharing classified information with The Intercept
  • Jeffrey Sterling, formerly of the CIA, received 30 months in prison for sharing classified information with NY Times reporter, James Risen.
  • John Kiriakou was also sentenced to 30 months in prison for sharing the identity of a CIA colleague to media

Based on the above, 30-60 months seems to be the ballpark for the amount of time an individual can expect to be sentenced to the hoosegow for breaking their secrecy agreement and sharing national security secrets with media.

In the case of Frese, Markus Wolfe of Stasi fame, would be so proud and would be asking every counterintelligence officer in government, “When will individuals with access to classified information realize some individuals within the fourth estate (and others within hostile intelligence services) find the pillow to be an excellent elicitation and source acquisition tool?”

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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 securelytravel.com