Hot Topic (More than 15 Replies) Ex-FBI Agent and Informant Accused in Spy Case (Read 26534 times)
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Ex-FBI Agent and Informant Accused in Spy Case
Apr 11th, 2003 at 7:49am
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James J. Smith, a former FBI agent who specialized in foreign counterintelligence at the Los Angeles Metropolitan Field Office, and Katrina M. Leung, a confidential informant he had recruited, were both arrested on Wednesday, 9 April, on espionage-related charges. Leung is alleged to have copied national security documents with the intent of providing them to the Chinese government, and Smith is alleged to have allowed the copying.

This case is likely to have implications for polygraph policy. Today's (11 April 2003) New York Times features an article by Eric Lichtblau titled, "F.B.I. Never Gave Agent in Spy Case a Polygraph." Here's an excerpt:

Quote:
A former F.B.I. agent arrested on Wednesday in an espionage case had not been given a polygraph test in his nearly 30 years with the bureau, and lax oversight of his relationship with an informer now accused of being a Chinese double-agent appears to have violated numerous policies, bureau officials said today.

The officials added that the informer, Katrina Leung, a Los Angeles political fund-raiser who was paid $1.7 million by the F.B.I. for information on her native China over the last two decades, had not been asked to take a polygraph test since the 1980's.

Ms. Leung and the former agent, James J. Smith, were arrested at their homes in Los Angeles. Mr. Smith, was charged with gross negligence in his handling of national defense documents. Ms. Leung, who officials said was Mr. Smith's longtime lover, was charged with the unauthorized copying of national defense information with the intent to injure the United States or benefit a foreign nation, in this case, China.

Historically, the F.B.I. has resisted the use of polygraph or lie detector tests for its employees, in part because many agents have viewed the procedure as a sign of distrust. In the mid-1990's, the bureau began broadening its use of polygraph tests for employees with access to secret intelligence after the espionage arrest of a C.I.A. official, Aldrich Ames, and it significantly increased their use again after the 2001 arrest of an F.B.I agent, Robert P. Hanssen, on charges of spying for Moscow.

An F.B.I. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that because polygraph tests were not routinely used in the 1980's and 1990's, it appeared that Mr. Smith was never asked to take one, while Ms. Leung had not taken one for many years.

"We just didn't really do it much back then," the official said. "It wasn't a focus." 

F.B.I. Director Robert Mueller has requested internal reviews to determine what went wrong. 

Officials outside the F.B.I. questioned whether more aggressive use of polygraph tests by the bureau might have raised questions much earlier about whether Mr. Smith and Ms. Leung were having an affair and whether she was improperly gaining access to secret intelligence that could do damage to American national security interests in the hands of the Chinese.


See also "Ex-FBI Agent Resigns Post at Nuclear Weapons Lab: Officials Examine Link to Spy Case" by Dan Eggen and Susan Schmidt in today's Washington Post.

The following are two court documents filed in connection with the Smith-Leung case that have been made available as PDF files on FindLaw.com:

If Leung was indeed working as a double agent for the Chinese government as alleged, then the question arises as to when she began working for Beijing? The FBI may have been compromised by a double agent who beat the polygraph.

Another recent case of significance to FBI polygraph policy involves the credible allegations made by Sibel Edmonds, a former FBI linguist who alleged that her colleague, Can Dickerson, attempted to recruit her to work for a Turkish organization that the FBI was monitoring and attempted to thwart the FBI's investigation of that organization. Both Edmonds and Dickerson reportedly passed polygraph "tests." Instead of seriously investigating Edmonds' charges, the FBI retaliated against her.
« Last Edit: Apr 11th, 2003 at 11:56am by George W. Maschke »  

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Re: Ex-FBI Agent and Informant Accused in Spy Case
Reply #1 - Apr 11th, 2003 at 4:36pm
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Dear George,

This article tends to allude to the idea that a polygraph exam would have caught or uncovered this agent's deception and behavior.  This is in direct contradiction to the NAS findings.

The FBI believes in the usage of the polygraph.  I have stated in previous posts that many agents currently in service have over ten years of service and never dealt with the pre-screening polygraph exam.  How many existing agents would volunteer to take a polygraph exam with their careers on the line if deemed "not within acceptable parameters"?  What would be their appeals process?

If all polygraph exams were videotaped, would the exam process for an existing agent be different than an applicant?  If yes, why?  The assumption would have to be guilt until proven innocent to achieve maximum security.  Inconclusive results would have to be treated as a failure until passed and the agent placed on administrative leave until a passing exam is achieved.  How often should it be done?  How cost effective is it?  If one exam every five years is good how are we going to handle the spying inbetween exams.

I think this is a Pandora's box that the FBI would like not to open.  Many other agencies do five year polygraph checks but do they have as many employees that must be checked?

I believe that this site's "hits" will pick up from agents wanting to learn more about polygraph examinations who have never taken one.

Interesting.

  
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Re: Ex-FBI Agent and Informant Accused in Spy Case
Reply #2 - Apr 11th, 2003 at 5:14pm
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Fair Chance,

Another question raised by the Smith-Leung case involves the FBI's policy of polygraphing confidential informants. If it is true that Katrina Leung was not polygraphed for many years, the politically easy solution for the FBI would be to order more polygraphs for intelligence assets. While it may be politically expedient, it would be harmful to national security. See the message thread FBI Polygraphing of Confidential Informants as well as the "Polygraph Statement of an FBI Confidential Informant" by "Informed Citizen."
  

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Re: Ex-FBI Agent and Informant Accused in Spy Case
Reply #3 - Apr 11th, 2003 at 5:37pm
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Drew Richardson has sent a letter to the editor of the New York Times regarding polygraph screening in light of the James J. Smith case:

http://antipolygraph.org/articles/article-030.shtml
  

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Re: Ex-FBI Agent and Informant Accused in Spy Case
Reply #4 - Apr 11th, 2003 at 5:52pm
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Dear George,

Many minority citizens view law enforcement negatively for what they see as non-equal treatment for similar crimes.   The perception is that a majority of law enforcement agencies are predominately run by white males (and studies determine this to be accurate).   Non-white prison incarceration is much higher percentage wise than general population percentages.  There are many social and economic reasons for this that are way beyond the scope of our site to get into.

My summation is that any informants who are minorities are somewhat skeptical of law enforcement if only due to cultural and historic differences in philosophies.  Creating an additional hurdle to clear by adding polygraph stress and accusations to the mix will undoubtedly decrease cooperation.  

As the article states, asking anyone to take a polygraph would almost bring up an emotional paradox of "I trust you completely but we must verify our trust by this machine."  A normal person would have to feel somewhat puzzled by such an explaination. If you trust me why are you making me do this?

TLBTD related a deleted study displaying minorities failing the polygraph at a much higher rate then other examinees.  This study would indicate most minority informants will fail at a higher rate even if telling the truth.

My previous posting did not mention that for absolute security, not only agents over ten years of tenure need to be polygraphed but all support personel down to the last janitor need a polygraph if never given one.  The Bureau is going to need alot more then the 16 additional slots requested in the 2003 budget if they want to achieve all these test (unless they want to contract this out and then one must worry that a polygraph examiner could be compromised).

Even more damaging is the attitude that once someone works for the FBI for awhile their behaviors which would have not been found acceptable as an applicant (without investigation) are somewhat glossed over after a few years of employment.  The article alludes again that fellow agents (even if retired) did not think it was anything unusual to not report contact with a known suspect requiring it.  The threat of a polygraph examination is unlikely to influence such behavior.

Regards.
« Last Edit: Apr 11th, 2003 at 7:28pm by Fair Chance »  
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Re: Ex-FBI Agent and Informant Accused in Spy Case
Reply #5 - Apr 12th, 2003 at 6:50am
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More news on the Smith-Leung case:

"F.B.I. Was Told Years Ago of Possible Double Agent," Eric Lichtblau, New York Times, 12 April 2003
  

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Re: Ex-FBI Agent and Informant Accused in Spy Case
Reply #6 - Apr 16th, 2003 at 9:56pm
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From AntiPolygraph.org's Polygraph News page:

Quote:
AntiPolygraph.org has learned that William "Bill" Cleveland, Jr., a retired FBI counterintelligence agent who has admitted to having had a longterm sexual relationship with FBI informant and suspected Chinese double agent Katrina M. Leung, passed a Department of Energy (DOE) counterintelligence-scope polygraph examination. The "Test for Espionage and Sabotage" polygraph format used by DOE includes a question about unauthorized contact with any representative of a foreign government.

Cleveland became chief of counterintelligence and later, security, at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory after his retirement from the FBI in 1993.

An informed source has told AntiPolygraph.org that Cleveland was among the first to be polygraphed under the expanded DOE polygraph screening program adopted in 1999. Cleveland was polygraphed in Albuquerque, New Mexico and passed.

See also:


If the government's claims about Katrina Leung, James Smith, and Bill Cleveland are true, then it would appear that the polygraph failed to detect deception when Mr. Cleveland (untruthfully) denied having had unauthorized contact with a representative of a foreign government/intelligence service.
« Last Edit: Apr 16th, 2003 at 10:35pm by George W. Maschke »  

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Re: Ex-FBI Agent and Informant Accused in Spy Case
Reply #7 - May 9th, 2003 at 7:25am
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On Wednesday, 7 March 2003, a federal grand jury returned a five-count indictment against former supervisory special agent James J. Smith. The indictment includes an allegation that he failed to report Katrina Leung's refusal to submit to a polygraph "test" in 1991 and instead represented to the Bureau that the credibility of her information was supported by polygraph results. Here is the relevant passage from the indictment:

 X. On or about May 31, 1991, defendant SMITH 
requested that Katrina Leung take a polygraph examination to
establish her continuing bona fides and reliability. Katrina
Leung refused to take a polygraph examination. Defendant SMITH
never reported Katrina Leung's refusal to take a polygraph
examination to the FBI.

XI. On or about June 7, 1991, defendant SMITH
submitted to the FBI a required periodic asset evaluation report
relating to Katrina Leung. In this report, defendant SMITH
stated that Leung was "reliable" and that her reliability and
bona fides had been tested, checked, and reviewed in part
through the use of a polygraph examination. Defendant SMITH
failed to disclose material information in this report,
including: (1) that he was involved in a sexual relationship
with Katrina Leung; (2) that Katrina Leung had admitted secret
unauthorized communications with an MSS officer "Mao"; (3) that
Katrina Leung had stated that the MSS officer "Mao" had learned
Leung was an FBI asset; and (4) that, in May 1991, Katrina Leung
had refused to take a polygraph examination.

The full text of the indictment in U.S. v. James J. Smith may be downloaded here:

http://news.findlaw.com/cnn/docs/fbi/ussmith50703ind.pdf

  

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Re: Ex-FBI Agent and Informant Accused in Spy Case
Reply #8 - May 10th, 2003 at 5:09pm
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Quote:
On Wednesday, 7 March 2003, a federal grand jury returned a five-count indictment against former supervisory special agent James J. Smith. The indictment includes an allegation that he failed to report Katrina Leung's refusal to submit to a polygraph "test" in 1991 and instead represented to the Bureau that the credibility of her information was supported by polygraph results. Here is the relevant passage from the indictment:

 X. On or about May 31, 1991, defendant SMITH 
requested that Katrina Leung take a polygraph examination to
establish her continuing bona fides and reliability. Katrina
Leung refused to take a polygraph examination. Defendant SMITH
never reported Katrina Leung's refusal to take a polygraph
examination to the FBI.

XI. On or about June 7, 1991, defendant SMITH
submitted to the FBI a required periodic asset evaluation report
relating to Katrina Leung. In this report, defendant SMITH
stated that Leung was "reliable" and that her reliability and
bona fides had been tested, checked, and reviewed in part
through the use of a polygraph examination. Defendant SMITH
failed to disclose material information in this report,
including: (1) that he was involved in a sexual relationship
with Katrina Leung; (2) that Katrina Leung had admitted secret
unauthorized communications with an MSS officer "Mao"; (3) that
Katrina Leung had stated that the MSS officer "Mao" had learned
Leung was an FBI asset; and (4) that, in May 1991, Katrina Leung
had refused to take a polygraph examination.

The full text of the indictment in U.S. v. James J. Smith may be downloaded here:

http://news.findlaw.com/cnn/docs/fbi/ussmith50703ind.pdf



I believe Fair Chance hit on some very important points with regard to the treatment of informants.  

This case should be, in my humble opinion, only the beginning for further investigation into the handling - or mishandling, as is the case with way too many - of confidential informants, registered informants, and all higher levels of informants.  

The real problem here is that informants play an incredibly vital role in law enforcement/intelligence efforts.  To foolishly loose these assets because of some stupidy of the polygraph, is not only ridiculous, but shameful.

The overall view of the informant is that they are lower life forms, and that they are somehow a criminal working off charges.  This is most certainly NOT the case.  It is, however, the image portrayed by law enforcement agencies.  This mischaracterized image allows for their ineptitude and unprofessionalism to go unchecked for extended periods of time.

I would love to see the statistics for polygraph policy with informants.  I don't see reports of the "criminal working off charges" being polygraphed as a vetting tool.  Why is it then, that it is used as one on informants that ARE NOT working off charges?  In either case, it would be an exercise in stupidity.  

There are obvious flaws with this notion of polygraphing informants.  I believe that the value of informants has ccaused, fortunately, some agencies to shun this horrendous and dispicable practice.  

The average worked informant is NOT a charged criminal, and to the contrary, work for extended periods of time WITH agents on cases to produce desired results.  I consider asking an informant to submit to a polygraph exam tantamount to a child hitting its mother.  Utterly deplorable!

Regards,
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Re: Ex-FBI Agent and Informant Accused in Spy Case
Reply #9 - May 12th, 2003 at 6:06am
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Dear Seeker,

What a mess!  We need trusted information from trusted informants.  Yet, the Government  will only use the polygraph to verify trusted informants.  Despite what Batman may claim,  the FBI uses the polygraph as the main and primary way of clearing and verifying informants.  As I explained to you on a previous posting, I would be very hesitant on trusting any source on polygraph alone.  Certainly, I would not trust your life or mine on the results without other confirmations.  

As I have stated many postings ago,  I do not care what your race, color, or religion would be when I needed you to defend my back in the carnage of war.  I care about your ability to shoot straight and watch my back when the  shi_ hits the fan and the world is crashing down around us.  I have trusted my life to many people not based on the results of a polygraph but based on the results of life experiences.  I cannot express the bonds that are built upon being at the wrong place at the wrong time and seeing people doing incredibly brave actions only for the love of caring for those around them.  They do these acts not for country, not for history, only for the immediate people who they have become one with and care about more then themselves.  The humbleness that haunts you throughout your life is amazing.

Liberty is not an easy thing to define yet we know when we have lost it.

Regards.
« Last Edit: May 12th, 2003 at 1:22pm by Fair Chance »  
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Re: Ex-FBI Agent and Informant Accused in Spy Case
Reply #10 - May 12th, 2003 at 12:15pm
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Fair Chance:

Very well said indeed!

Yes, Batman is wrong about the use of polygraph with informants.  Perhaps his agency does things differently, as I know the federal agencies differ in their treatment of informants.   

Of all the agencies, the FBI is most noted for using a polygraph to vet trusted informants.  They do NOT use them on "jammed" people, as one would think they would.  It is the citizen that they intrude upon in their daliy lives to seek our their assistance that is subjected to this circus show.   

Other agencies, with BATFE being a specific example, pride themselves on their use of informants, and they would never contemplate risking the loss of a valued informant to such child's play as the poly.

Like we have discussed before, if an informant submits to a poly and fails it, the investigation ends there, just as in the pre-employment poly.  This is the most dangerous and fatal error of our law enforcement/intelilgence agencies.

Just as innocent people fail to obtain job offers, information provided by informants is not vetted after a failed polygraph - in some federal agencies.  This is most heinous indeed.  The recklessness of it alone is proof of ineptitude.

With such empahsis on the war on terror, you would think that these agencies themselves would demand vetting to be completed with competence, not voodoo.   

If an informant is trusted, provides accurate and valuale information, requesting that that informant sit inside the box to prove their veracity is simply stupid!  The very suggestion to an informant that he or she sit for a poly to vet information once they have been proven trusted is not only offensive, but endangers the future of that relationship.   

Any law enforcement/intelligence officer who works with informants can tell you that the loss of a developed source is not only frustrating, but to do so as a result of a polygraph test is total lunacy.

Regards,
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Re: Ex-FBI Agent and Informant Accused in Spy Case
Reply #11 - Nov 6th, 2003 at 10:01am
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For more on the Smith and Leung cases, see the cover article of the 10 November 2003 issue of U.S. News & World Report, "China Doll," by Chitra Ravagan.
  

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Re: Ex-FBI Agent and Informant Accused in Spy Case
Reply #12 - Dec 29th, 2003 at 12:49pm
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A PBS Frontline report on the Smith-Leung case titled, "From China with Love" will air on Thursday, 15 January 2004 at 9 PM. It is not clear whether and to what extent polygraph screening may be addressed. A press release regarding the report is available here:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/press/2205.html

Ironically, the PBS website features the following picture of Katrina Leung and J.J. Smith in which the latter sports a baseball cap emblazoned with the word "POLY":

« Last Edit: Mar 8th, 2021 at 7:33am by George W. Maschke »  

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Re: Ex-FBI Agent and Informant Accused in Spy Case
Reply #13 - Jan 17th, 2004 at 2:05pm
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The PBS Frontline program, "From China With Love," which explores the Smith-Leung case, is now available for free viewing on demand here:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/spy/

The program does not mention polygraphs, however.
  

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Re: Ex-FBI Agent and Informant Accused in Spy Case
Reply #14 - Jan 17th, 2004 at 7:46pm
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Interesting.  This thread seems to be about an informant that was not polygraphed and was bad...and her "boss" who was not polygraphed and was bad.  And a few posts about how the policy of polygraph should be handled as far as informants goes.  How does this help the antipoly crusade?  Perhaps if they were polygraphed and caught..oh, no, then they would be on the "other" site, not this one.  But if they were polygraphed and passed and still were bad..then we have some good ammunition.  So lets assume that they would have failed their polygraph.  Viola!  Polygraph sucks!!!  Now I have tied it in to your theme. You're welcome
  
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