Alleged spy inside the White House
Espionage Case Breaches the White House
Accused Marine Worked in Vice President's Office
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
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
"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
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
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