(Hawaii News Now) A defense contractor living in Kapolei is accused of leaking U.S. military secrets.
The Army reservist with a top secret security clearance allegedly shared classified data with his girlfriend who is a Chinese national.
Court documents revealed that Benjamin Pierce Bishop, 59, met the 27-year-old in Hawaii at a conference on international military defense. Investigators said the woman may have been at the conference to target individuals who have access to classified information. [DICE NOTE: “MAY” have been??? Conferences are always good hunting grounds for foreign intelligence services.]
According to sources, Bishop works for defense contractor Referentia Systems Incorporated at the U.S. Pacific Command.
“Mr. Bishop was arrested last Friday at the U.S. Pacific Command headquarters here in Honolulu without any incident,” said U.S. Attorney Florence Nakakuni.
According to an affidavit by an FBI special agent, Bishop leaked classified information to the woman who is living in the U.S. on a student visa.
Bishop is accused of hiding their romantic relationship from the U.S. government.
One email allegedly contained data on existing war plans, nuclear weapons, and relations with international partners.
He is also accused of discussing detection of foreign ballistic missiles and the deployment of early warning radar systems in the Pacific Rim.
Bishop also allegedly kept about a dozen classified documents in his Kapolei home.. . . .
. . . . Bishop is a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve. He is charged with one count of willfully communicating national defense information to a person not entitled to receive such information and one count of unlawfully retaining national defense documents. . . . (read the rest and see video on website)
U.S. defense contractor arrested for passing secrets to Chinese ‘honeypot’ (Washington Times)
A U.S. defense contractor who works in intelligence at the military’s Pacific Command in Hawaii has been charged with passing classified national security information to a 27-year-old Chinese woman he was dating.
Benjamin Pierce Bishop, 59, is accused of sending the woman an email in May with information on Pacom’s war plans, nuclear weapons and U.S. relations with international partners, according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Honolulu and unsealed Monday.
The complaint goes on to allege that Mr. Bishop told the woman over the telephone in September about the deployment of U.S. nuclear weapons and about the ability of the U.S. to detect other nations’ short- and medium-range ballistic missiles.
According to the complaint, Mr. Bishop met the woman at a conference in Hawaii on international military issues. The document does not specify when the conference was held, but it alleges the two began a sexual relationship in June 2011.
The complaint said the woman was living in the United States as a student on a J-1 visa, issued to foreigners for work- and study-based exchange programs. It did not say which institution she attended or where she is now. . . .
. . . .Mr. Bishop is charged with concealing his relationship with the woman, a breach of the terms of his security clearance, which requires him to report contact with foreign nationals.
Investigators who conducted a covert search of Mr. Bishop’s home in the Honolulu suburb of Kapolei in November found 12 documents marked “secret” even though he was not authorized to keep classified papers at home, the complaint said.
Last month, the woman asked Mr. Bishop what Western countries knew about “the operation of a particular naval asset of People’s Republic of China,” the complaint said.
Although the topic fell outside Mr. Bishop’s regular work assignment, he researched the issue using open-source records and classified material on the topic, the complaint alleges.
Intelligence operations in which a younger sexual partner is used to seduce and suborn a target with access to secret information are called “honeypots” by espionage professionals. U.S. counterintelligence experts say the Chinese specialize in such operations. . . . (read the rest)
FBI/DOJ Press Release:
HONOLULU—Benjamin Pierce Bishop, 59, a former U.S. Army officer who works as a civilian employee of a defense contractor at U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) in Hawaii, has been arrested on charges of communicating classified national defense information to a person not entitled to receive such information.
The arrest and charges were announced by Florence T. Nakakuni, U.S. Attorney for the District of Hawaii; John Carlin, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security; Vida G. Bottom, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Honolulu Division; Dwight Clayton, Special Agent in Charge of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) Hawaii Field Office; and U.S. Navy Captain Patrick McCarthy of USPACOM.
Bishop, a resident of Hawaii, was arrested Friday without incident at his workspace at USPACOM in Hawaii and made his initial appearance on Monday in federal court in Honolulu.
The criminal complaint filed in the District of Hawaii charges him with one count of willfully communicating national defense information to a person not entitled to receive such information and one count of unlawfully retaining documents related to the national defense. If convicted, he faces a maximum potential sentence of 20 years in prison.
According to an affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, Bishop currently works as an employee of a defense contractor that has a contract with USPACOM, whose command is based in Oahu, Hawaii.
Bishop has held a top secret security clearance since July 2002 and held access to Secure Compartmented Information from November 2002 to April 2012.
As a person holding a top secret security clearance, Bishop has been subject to multiple security briefings on restrictions regarding the disclosure of classified national defense information, as well as the handling, marking, and storage of such information.
According to the affidavit, between May 2011 through December 2012, Bishop willfully communicated classified national defense information on multiple occasions to Person 1, an individual not entitled to receive such information.
The affidavit alleges that Person 1 is a 27-year-old female citizen of the People’s Republic of China who is residing in the United States on a visa and who does not possess, nor has ever possessed, a U.S. security clearance, and thus is not entitled to receive U.S. classified information.
According to the affidavit, Bishop and Person 1 originally met in Hawaii during a conference regarding international military defense issues.
Since June 2011, Bishop and Person 1 have allegedly been involved in a romantic relationship.
Despite a Defense Department directive requiring personnel, like Bishop, who maintain a U.S. security clearance to report to the U.S. government any contacts with foreign persons, Bishop has affirmatively hidden his relationship with Person 1 from U.S. government officials, the affidavit alleges.
The affidavit alleges that Bishop communicated information classified at the secret level to Person 1 on several instances.
According to the affidavit, the national defense information that Bishop passed to Person 1 included:
- information relating to nuclear weapons
- information on planned deployment of U.S. strategic nuclear systems
- information on the ability of the United States to detect low- and medium-range ballistic missiles of foreign governments
- information on the deployment of U.S. early warning radar systems in the Pacific Rim
The affidavit further alleges that a court-authorized search of Bishop’s residence in November 2012 revealed approximately 12 individual documents each with classification markings at the secret level.
Bishop’s residence is not an authorized location for the storage of classified information, and Bishop was not authorized to remove and retain those documents.
This case is being investigated by the FBI Honolulu Division and the NCIS Hawaii Field Office in coordination with USPACOM and the U.S. Army. The prosecution is being handled by Kenneth Sorenson, Assistant U.S. Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Hawaii, and Robert E. Wallace, Jr., Senior Trial Attorney in the Counterespionage Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.
The charges contained in the criminal complaint are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.