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Alleged spy inside the White House

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/story?id=1187030&page=1 Espionage Case Breaches the White House Accused Marine Worked in Vice President s Office Spy By BRIAN ROSS
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 5, 2005
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      http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/story?id=1187030&page=1

      Espionage Case Breaches the White House
      Accused Marine Worked in Vice President's Office
      Spy

      By BRIAN ROSS and RICHARD ESPOSITO

      Oct. 5, 2005 — Both the FBI and CIA are calling it the
      first case of espionage in the White House in modern
      history.

      Officials tell ABC News the alleged spy worked
      undetected at the White House for almost three years.
      Leandro Aragoncillo, 46, was a U.S. Marine most
      recently assigned to the staff of Vice President Dick
      Cheney.

      "I don't know of a case where the vetting broke down
      before and resulted in a spy being in the White
      House," said Richard Clarke, a former White House
      advisor who is now an ABC News consultant.

      Federal investigators say Aragoncillo, a naturalized
      citizen from the Philippines, used his top secret
      clearance to steal classified intelligence documents
      from White House computers.

      In 2000, Aragoncillo worked on the staff of then-Vice
      President Al Gore. When interviewed by Philippine
      television, he remarked how valued Philippine
      employees were at the White House.

      "I think what they like most is our integrity and
      loyalty," Aragoncillo said.

      Classified Material Transferred by E-Mail

      Officials say the classified material, which
      Aragoncillo stole from the vice president's office,
      included damaging dossiers on the president of the
      Philippines. He then passed those on to opposition
      politicians planning a coup in the Pacific nation.

      "Even though it's not for the Russians or some other
      government, the fact that it occurred at the White
      House is a matter of great concern," said John Martin,
      who was the government's lead espionage prosecutor for
      26 years.

      Last year, after leaving the Marines, Aragoncillo was
      caught by the FBI while he worked for the Bureau at an
      intelligence center at Fort Monmouth, N.J.

      According to a criminal complaint, Aragoncillo was
      arrested last month and accused of downloading more
      than 100 classified documents from FBI computers.

      "The information was transferred mostly by e-mails,"
      said U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie at the time
      of Aragoncillo's arrest.

      Since that arrest, officials say Aragoncillo has
      started to cooperate. He has admitted to spying while
      working on the staff of Vice President Cheney's
      office.

      Aragoncillo began working at the White House in 1999.
      Officials are now trying to learn how he landed the
      job, when he started spying, and how he escaped
      detection for so long.

      "Of course, it is a source of embarrassment when you
      find out that this kind of activity has been carried
      out literally right under your nose," said Martin, the
      former espionage prosecutor.

      According to friends, in addition to his work for
      Cheney and Gore, Aragoncillo claimed he also worked
      with President Clinton and Condoleezza Rice when she
      was the national security advisor.

      ABC News' Vic Walter and Avni Patel contributed to
      this report.
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