Friday, May 05, 2006

Former Marine Admits Passing Secret Documents

The New York Times
Former Marine Admits Passing Secret Documents

NEWARK, May 4 — A former Marine security attaché who worked in the White House in the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations pleaded guilty in federal court to passing top-secret information and documents to political opponents of the current Philippine government.

The former marine, Leandro Aragoncillo, 47, a naturalized American citizen who came to the United States from his native Philippines in 1983, also confessed that he had continued mining top-secret and classified material after leaving the Office of the Vice President in the White House in 2003. He took a job as an intelligence analyst for the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2004.

Mr. Aragoncillo's illegal activities were uncovered in an audit of his computer use at the bureau after he appealed in March 2005 to immigration officials on behalf of a former Filipino police official who had been detained in New York for overstaying his visa.

He was arrested in September along with the former police official, Michael Ray Aquino, whom the indictment accused of being Mr. Aragoncillo's go-between in the espionage case. Mr. Aragoncillo faces 15 to 24 years in prison when sentenced on Aug. 14.

Mr. Aragoncillo admitted passing documents from White House briefing books, situation reports and other top-secret documents from the F.B.I. computer that contained information like the names of confidential informants in the Philippines.

Other documents provided to unnamed opponents of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo of the Philippines were described by Mr. Aragoncillo as a "blueprint" of how to stage a military coup that the United States government might support.

"His betrayal is profound and a disservice to his country and all the men and women in military and security positions," said Christopher J. Christie, the United States attorney who prosecuted the case.

Chester Keller, the federal public defender representing Mr. Aragoncillo, said his client never intended to harm the American people and sought only to help the Philippine people.