A little over a year ago, Mariam Taha Thompson, a forward deployed Arab linguist, was arrested for transmitting to Hezbollah, extremely sensitive and classified national defense information. On March 26, the DOJ confirmed that she pleaded guilty to “one count of delivering national defense information to aid a foreign government.”

Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers for the Justice Department’s National Security Division, described how “Thompson jeopardized the lives of members of the U.S. military as well as other individuals supporting the United States in a combat zone when she passed classified information to a person, she knew was connected to Lebanese Hezbollah, a foreign terrorist organization which intended to use the information to hurt this country.”

Thompson, held a Top Secret government security clearance and had access to the identities of human source of intelligence. She began her dalliance with her co-conspirator in 2017 via “video-chat on a secure text and voice messaging application.”

Following the death of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds Force commander Qasem Suleimani, her co-conspirator began asking her, in January 2020, to provide information about “human assets who had helped the United States to target Suleimani.”

She immediately began, in earnest, to cull information from the classified information systems to which she had access. The DOJ tells us, that “Thompson had used her access to classified national defense information to provide her co-conspirator with the identities of at least eight clandestine human assets; at least 10 U.S. targets; and multiple tactics, techniques and procedures. Thompson intended and had reason to believe that this classified national defense information would be used to the injury of the United States and to the advantage of Lebanese Hezbollah.”

Court documents, dated April 28, 2020, indicate that the application used by Thompson and her paramour was WhatsApp and these conversations were included in the classified materials availed by the DOJ for review by Thompson and her attorney in the court’s SCIF noted classified disclosures totally over 2913 pages. Additionally, the DOJ availed via unclassified discovery which included Apple subscriber info, AT&T subscriber data and pen registers, WhatsApp pen registers, Oath account information, and Microsoft account information.

Discussing the responsibility to maintain the trust bestowed upon each individual who holds a national security clearance, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office, Steven M. D’Antuono said, ““Holding a Top Secret government security clearance bears a responsibility and commitment to our nation, and betrayal of that trust will not be tolerated.”

The DOJ has requested the court not schedule the sentencing of Thompson until late-May 2021 given the need to prepare and present classified materials to the court for consideration prior to sentencing. Thompson faces a maximum sentence of up to life imprisonment.

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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