Pardoned Spy Gets Caught for Stealing

Samuel Loring Morison

If you remember the Samuel Morison case from the 1980’s: He was a Navy intelligence analyst who sold classified spy satellite photos and a classified report to Jane’s Defense Weekly, got caught and arrested, spent time in jail but later was pardoned by President Clinton. Now it looks like he’s back, stealing Navy records. Just can’t keep out of trouble.

Maryland man charged with stealing Navy records (AP)

A U.S. man who in the 1980s was convicted of espionage and later pardoned for leaking spy satellite photos to a British magazine has been charged with stealing government records related to a famous Naval historian who was his grandfather.

Prosecutors say Samuel Loring Morison was arrested Tuesday but released pending trial. Prosecutors allege Morison stole records related to Rear Adm. Samuel Eliot Morison.

The elder Morison wrote a seminal 15-volume history of naval operations during World War II. A Harvard professor, he was a two-time recipient of the Pulitzer Prize in the biography category. He died in 1976.

Prosecutors say the younger Morison took the files belonging to the Naval History and Heritage Command in Washington, where he had been a part-time researcher. Prosecutors say approximately 34 boxes of government records were found in his home and that other records he took were being sold on eBay.

If convicted of theft of government property, Morison faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

When reached by telephone Tuesday, Morison referred questions to his attorney but called his grandfather his “idol.”

Morison’s attorney, Jim Wyda, said in an email that he and Morison look forward to addressing the allegations in court.

Morison was convicted in 1985 of leaking three spy satellite photographs to the British military magazine Jane’s Defence Weekly. At the time he gave the magazine the photographs, pictures of the Soviet Navy’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier under construction, he was a civilian employed by the Navy as an intelligence analyst. His attorneys defended Morison by saying he was trying to inform the public about a Soviet naval buildup and didn’t disclose anything the Soviets didn’t already know.

Morison was sentenced to two years in prison. He was pardoned by President Bill Clinton in 2001.

Morison was convicted in 1985 of leaking three satellite photographs to a British military magazine.

Grandson charged with theft of admiral’s Navy documents; some were for sale on eBay (Washington Post)

Rear Adm. Samuel Eliot Morison was a friend to President Roosevelt who knew the ins and outs of the Navy’s strategy during World War II. He would go on to write the definitive history of the Navy’s wartime operations in a collection that spanned 15 volumes.

In February 2013, an employee at the Naval archives in the Washington Navy Yard discovered that some of Morison’s papers — a trove of maps, charts and photographs that informed his writings — had gone missing.

On Tuesday, Morison’s 69-year-old grandson was arrested and charged in the theft after some of the records turned up for sale on eBay.

Samuel L. Morison of Crofton, who had already been pardoned by President Clinton for leaking classified photos to the media nearly three decades ago, is accused in court papers of stealing scores of items from his grandfather’s collection.

Federal investigators say that Morison took the documents while working as a part-time researcher at the nonprofit Naval Historical Foundation.

He tried to sell the items through a bookstore for about $20,000, according to court papers. . . .

. . .  On May 21, federal agents searched Morison’s home. They said they recovered 34 boxes of stolen records.

“Morison admitted to his theft of historical records from the Navy Archives and provided a signed statement admitting his theft,” according to an affidavit signed by special agent Brian Kelley of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. . . .(read more)

More Info:

Samuel Loring Morison (Wikipedia)
Morison: Consulting Led to Espionage
U.S. v. Morison (4th Cir. on confidential sources)

By STEPHEN ENGELBERG, Published: October 3, 1984

WASHINGTON, Oct. 2— The Federal Bureau of Investigation said today that it had arrested a United States naval analyst and charged him with selling classified satellite photographs of a Soviet ship to a British weekly defense publication.

A spokesman for the F.B.I. said Samuel Loring Morison, a civilian analyst at the Naval Intelligence Support Center in Suitland, Md., was arrested Monday evening at Dulles International Airport.

Mr. Morison, 40 years old, of Crofton, Md., is the grandson of Samuel Eliot Morison, a well-known naval historian. An affidavit filed in Federal Court in Maryland said Federal agents obtained evidence in the case by analyzing his office typewriter ribbon to decipher a letter he had written to a British editor. . . . (read more)


Threats are Out There