TALE of unnamed countries, satellite pictures, decorated retired Marine
Saturday, August 25th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Brian P. Regan was a man rich with access to U.S. intelligence secrets.
The retired Air Force master sergeant, decorated for military analysis during the Gulf War, is now accused of trying to share the wealth.
He is suspected of seeking to give other countries samples of the kind of classified U.S. information he could obtain. Investigators have linked his activities to Libya, a government source says.
Regan, 38, was charged Friday with conspiracy to commit espionage. The alleged damage appears minimal, analysts and government sources say.
While Regan was not charged with spying _ just the attempt to do it _ several pieces of information linked to him reached one country in the fall of 2000, according to an affidavit by FBI counterintelligence agent Steven A. Carr.
That country, identified in the affidavit as Country A, mostly received pictures taken by U.S. satellites. The affidavit does not say what was in the pictures.
Libya is Country A, said the government source, speaking on condition of anonymity.
``U.S. intelligence is interested in the Libyan chemical weapons program,'' said John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.Org, a think tank in Alexandria, Va. ``It has closely monitored that program. Libya would like to hide it. Libya would like to know what U.S. satellites are able to see.''
Libya has poor relations with many of its neighbors, and private analysts suggested that Libya, which does not have its own satellites, would like to see images of the military forces of its neighbors.
Libya, ruled by Moammar Gadhafi, continues to be accused by the United States of backing international terrorism.
According to the affidavit, Country A also received a CIA secret report, pages from a classified CIA newsletter, and information ``relating to a foreign country's satellite capability.''
In April, the FBI found that Regan had accessed many of these documents on his former office computer at the National Reconnaissance Office, a military intelligence agency in Chantilly, Va., the affidavit says.
The NRO designs, builds and operates the U.S. network of spy satellites. What the satellites observe is determined by other agencies like the CIA, the National Security Agency and the Defense Department.
Regan was trained in cryptanalysis _ solving codes. At the NRO, he was an administrator of a site on Intelink, a classified computer network used by intelligence and military analysts. It contains vast amounts of secret information on other countries.
``If you are working on a project, working on Chinese submarines, for example, and you need a lot of information quickly, it's very useful, just like the Internet is,'' said James Bamford, who detailed Intelink in his recent book ``Body of Secrets,'' about the National Security Agency.
In August 2000, Regan retired after 20 years in the Air Force. He gave up his high-level security clearance and his access to Intelink. Two months later, he signed on with military contractor TRW Inc., in Fairfax, Va. In July, he returned to the NRO as a civilian and regained his security clearance.
Meanwhile, U.S. officials learned that Country A had received the documents and officials tied them to Regan, according to the affidavit. In June, the FBI started watching him.
Regan was arrested Thursday night while preparing to board a flight for Europe at Dulles International Airport near Washington. FBI agents found him with an NRO document, encrypted papers and contact information for the embassies of two unidentified countries.
On Friday, prosecutors asked that Regan be held without bond, and a combined detention and preliminary hearing was set for Wednesday. Prosecutors said the maximum sentence for the charges were life in prison or, in certain cases, the death penalty, and a $250,000 fine.
Regan, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., had received a number of military honors, including an award for distinguished service involving his work as an intelligence analyst following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990. A married father of four, Regan lives in Bowie, Md.