Deep Mysteries

A news story broke locally last week about Liangtian Yang, an “ex-Army analyst” who was arrested at MSP airport attempting to board a flight for China. Apparently he had a “restricted Army field manual” on a flash drive on him, which was detected by CBP screeners.

It didn’t really get a huge amount of coverage, and what coverage has existed leaves a huge number of questions unanswered:

Yang worked for TRADOC as an analyst, before his security clearance – and thus his job, apparently – were revoked because of “alleged security violations”. What kind of security violations are we talking about, here?

What was the “restricted Army field manual” he had on him? FM-what-dot-what?

How “restricted” was it? Secret? or just FOUO, NOFORN, or some similar sensitive-but-unclassified markings?

Was the airport screening truly random, or was he singled out for screening as part of an ongoing security investigation?

Why in God’s name would someone try to smuggle electronic files out of the country on an unencrypted flash drive? Has Yang never heard of the internet? (Most FMs are 3-12MB in size; easily sent via e-mail.)

I find it very, very interesting that the file in question was found by CBP screeners. As far as I am aware this is one of the first high-profile instances of CBP’s highly controversial egress searches of electronic media to make the news, and possibly the first to actually turn up something of (potential) criminal interest, even if that aspect has largely been overlooked.

I also find it very interesting that news reports refer only to a “restricted” field manual, and not a “classified” one. The distinction is important – being charged with theft for possessing something merely FOUO or otherwise restricted in distribution, rather than for possessing something actualy lawfully classified, could set an extremely chilling precedent for the government…

Published in: General | on September 2nd, 2010| Comments Off on Deep Mysteries

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