Lt. Cmdr. Edward Lin Charged with Spying for China…And US Made It Easy

Bayard & Holmes

~ Jay Holmes

Once again, the US government has allowed your tax money and the nation’s security to be compromised in ridiculous fashion.

On Friday, April 8, 2016, the US Navy charged an active-duty maritime reconnaissance officer with passing US military secrets to a foreign government. The US Navy filed multiple charges, including espionage, against Lieutenant Commander Edward Lin during an Article 32 hearing in Norfolk, Virginia.

 

Lt. Cmdr. Edward Lin Image by US Naval Institute

Lt. Cmdr. Edward Lin
Image by US Naval Institute

 

Originally, the US Navy had not released the suspect’s name or the name of the country for which he (allegedly) spied because the Navy had designated the case as a “‘National Security Case.”

A “National Security Case,” according to the US military, is one which “ . . . to any serious degree, involves the compromise of a military or defense advantage over any foreign nation or terrorist group; involves an allegation of willful compromise of classified information, affects our military or defense capability to successfully resist hostile or destructive action, overt or covert; or involves an act of terrorism.”

The Navy explained that, “NCIS and FBI are still investigating the details of this case, and, therefore, we cannot provide any additional details at this time.” Since then, unidentified Navy officers have identified the accused as Lt. Cmdr. Lin and the beneficiary of Lin’s espionage work as Communist China.

You remember China? It’s that country that has been rapidly expanding its military and is claiming large areas of international waters as their national domain. Yes, that China.

Though redacted, the charging document describes a depressing story in which Lin transported secret information out of the country without permission and then lied about his whereabouts when he returned to duty. The charging documents allege that Lin successfully committed espionage twice and attempted espionage on three other occasions. Lin is currently in pre-trial confinement at the Naval Consolidated Brig in Chesapeake, Virginia.

Given that Lin had a high security clearance and served on E-P3E Aries II reconnaissance aircraft, he likely did tremendous damage to the US.

The technical and operational information that Lin was entrusted to safeguard constitutes an intelligence coup for Communist China. The reporting on this case will understandably focus on Lin’s access as an officer in the Commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Group.

However, Lin had access to a whole other trove of treasure for China.

He served as the Congressional Liaison for the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Finance Management and Comptroller from 2012 to 2014. In his position as liaison to Congress, Lin would have had access to a vast array of sensitive information from every part of the US Navy.

It would be easy to assume that Edward Lin went to great lengths to succeed at such a villainous subterfuge. He didn’t. It was all too easy, and anyone could do it.

Most of the outrage – all of which Lin and my beloved Navy deserve – will be directed toward Edward Lin. In my opinion, Lin is just one small aspect of a much larger problem that we should not continue to ignore.

How did the US Navy, the FBI, and the rest of the US government manage to miss Lin’s (alleged) spying for what was likely more than a decade?

In the case of the FBI, we can forgive them if their pathetically small counterintelligence efforts missed Lin. Given their lack of resources and minimal mandate, the only surprise from the FBI counterintelligence team would be if they ever actually stumble upon an espionage operation. I am not knocking the FBI agents tasked with counterintelligence. They are undoubtedly as well trained and dedicated as other FBI agents, but they simply lack the means to conduct anything like an effective counterintelligence operation.

As for the US Navy, the Department of Defense, the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branches, I am much less forgiving. For one thing, Lin was a Taiwanese-born Taiwanese citizen until he was 14 years old. I disagree with the current policy that allows foreign born naturalized citizens to so easily gain high security clearances. I’m sure it’s the more politically correct thing to do, but it’s an asinine policy.

This is not the first time that the United States has lavished secret information on a Taiwanese born “alleged” spy.

Refer to the Wen Ho Lee* case if you are uncertain of the wisdom of this policy. In any event the proof is in the pudding, or in this case, the proof is in the feast that Lin served up to hostile Communist China.

If Lin is indeed guilty, then he deserves a life sentence of hard labor at Leavenworth or some obscure distant location. Most of my cohorts in the US Military and the US Intelligence Community will likely disagree with me and would prefer for Lin to be executed.

I can’t agree to that because I don’t support the death penalty. All judicial proceedings depend on the integrity and wisdom of those involved in prosecutions, and I can’t ignore that people are not perfect. For example, the government that is prosecuting Lin is the same government that was stupid enough and careless enough to make it easy for Lin to rob the taxpayers blind and endanger our national security. We now know about Edward Lin, which begs a question . . . Who do we not know about?

Regardless of the outcome of Lin’s trial, we, as American citizens, should start demanding better security standards to protect our national security and the billions of dollars in technology that we are all financing. Until our politicians have reason to think that the public is paying attention to our pathetically poor security policies, they will have no motive to fix it.

I hope that all of our readers will look beyond Edward Lin and tell their Congressweasels and their White House to start acting like adults on issues of national security. Edward Lin, if guilty, is a dangerous criminal, but this is a democracy, and We the People allowed him to do what he did.

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* Note to Wen Ho Lee:  I am not the New York Times. Don’t dream of sending lawyers in my direction. You and I have met before. I meant what I said . . . Does your hand still hurt?

The Military-Industrial Complex — Where Is The Money?

Bayard & Holmes

~ Jay Holmes

On January 17, 1961, US President Dwight D Eisenhower delivered his farewell speech. The retired five star general had served two presidential terms and was being replaced by his fellow military veteran, the newly elected John F. Kennedy.

 

President Dwight D. Eisenhower receives hydrogen bomb tests report from Lewis Strauss Image public domain.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower receives hydrogen bomb tests report from Lewis Strauss
Image public domain.

 

In that farewell address, Eisenhower warned, “We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military–industrial complex.”

Left-wing radicals are always quick to oppose military spending, but Eisenhower could hardly be accused of being anything like a left-wing radical. At the peak of his long military career, he skillfully commanded the allied forces in Operation Torch, which was the 1943 Allied invasion of Northwest Africa, as well as the 1944 D-Day invasion of Normandy and the Western Offensive against Nazi Germany and the European Axis powers.

After WW2, Eisenhower served as US Army Chief of Staff and then as Supreme Commander of European Forces. Few Americans could claim to have anything close to Eisenhower’s military experience or expertise.

Eisenhower was no “dove.”

He took the threat of Soviet expansion seriously. As US President, he oversaw the conclusion of the war in Korea in 1953 and approved funding for fledgling US space and satellite programs. Eisenhower also approved expensive Navy projects, such as the nuclear submarine program and the construction of the nuclear carrier, the USS Enterprise. He presided over the growth of expensive jet aircraft in the young US Air Force, and he approved funding for expensive new air defense systems for the US Army.

In spite of the large military budgets that President Eisenhower approved, some military and defense industry leaders saw him as being too frugal. Conversely, Eisenhower and his supporters felt that increasing military budgets threatened the economic health of the US.

Fifty-five years later, the arguments over defense spending continue.

Unlike during Eisenhower’s time, the arguments are now conducted against a backdrop of a frightening budget deficit and an eighteen trillion dollar national debt. The consequences of all government spending have a serious impact on the quality of life for the average American and on national security.

In Eisenhower’s time, the real threat posed by the Soviet Union impacted defense spending. Today, the Soviet Union is gone, but US and European citizens are justifiably concerned by threats from various radical Islamic groups, the increasingly nuclear-equipped North Korean despot Kim, a rapidly growing communist Chinese military capability, and a resurgent and belligerent Russia.

At a glance, it might seem as though a stable status quo has been in effect in military budgets.

In some senses, similar dynamics have remained in force. In 1961, Eisenhower was unable to convince Western allies to commit to adequate defense spending. The allies seemed happy to let the US military and taxpayers carry more than their fair share of the responsibility for the defense of Western Civilization. In 2016, that dynamic continues. US President Obama listens to nations like France, Canada, and the UK proclaim their increased commitment to defeating Islamic radicals, but then he watches as they reduce their defense programs. Eisenhower would recognize his frustration in dealing with NATO partners.

We might be tempted to assume that US defense spending itself is proportionate to what it was in 1961. Let us make some comparisons.

In 1961, US military personnel were badly underpaid. In 2016 this remains true. In 1961, the US defense budget was close to 10% of GDP. Today it is below 5% of GDP. In terms of GDP, the defense budget seems reasonable enough. But let us compare some specific defense project costs.

In 1961, the new Enterprise class nuclear aircraft carrier cost $451 million to build. Due to the escalated cost of construction, the additional three carriers of that class were cancelled. Today the new Ford class nuclear aircraft carrier is, so far, costing the taxpayers $12.8 billion to build, with an additional $4.7 billion in research costs. If we compare the two ships in inflation adjusted costs, then in today’s dollars, the Enterprise would have cost $3.4 billion to build. Where did the other $9.4 billion go?

When the Enterprise was built, it included many state of the art features, but its air defense system had been scaled back to save money. The Gerald Ford class carrier includes state of the art equipment and features, but the overall economics of the two programs are completely out of scale.

 

USS Gerald Ford under construction in Newport News, VA. Image public domain.

USS Gerald Ford under construction in Newport News, VA.
Image public domain.

 

My question is simple. What national defense value are we receiving for the disproportionately high cost of the USS Gerald Ford?

We could make similar comparisons with nuclear submarine programs, but let us instead apply the scrutiny to a broader defense project, the F-35 fighter program. The F-35 was developed as a low cost alternative to the F-22 Raptor. So what does “low cost alternative” mean in the defense industry?

The F-22 cost a frightening $150 million per plane. No wonder we wanted a “low cost alternative.” The F-35, so far, cost between $100 million for the basic model and $104 million for the VSTOL version. I’m grateful that we decided to pursue a “low cost” fighter plane.

Let’s compare the F-35 to the infamously expensive Republic F-105D fighter. In 1960, the year before Eisenhower’s farewell speech, the outlandishly expensive F-105D cost $2.1 million each. In 1960, it was the state of the art fighter, and it incorporated many new technologies. It was plagued by cost overruns, and its development was every bit as contentious as the F-35 development has become. In 2016 dollars the F-105D cost $17 million apiece. As with the Gerald Ford Carrier, the cost of the F-35 has wildly outpaced inflation.

 

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter at Edwards Air Force Base Image public domain.

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter at Edwards Air Force Base
Image public domain.

 

What defense benefit are we getting for the additional $80 million per each F-35? Is the F-35 going to bring us more security today than the F-105D brought us in 1960? I don’t see it.

The defense industry would counter my concerns with comforting catch phrases. They tell us that it is “stealth,” and that it employs more “net centric ability” than previously imagined. For less than $100 my house is “net centric.” So how does the marvelous net centric ability account for the cost of the F-35? From my point of view, it doesn’t.

Defense contractor PR players would likely question my patriotism. Am I not aware of all the real threats in the world? Do I not want the best possible defense for my family’s safety? In fact, I am very much aware of the many threats to our national security, and I do want the best possible defense capabilities for our nation. That’s precisely why I question our $100+ million fighters and our $13 billion aircraft carriers.

Every dollar wasted or overpaid is a dollar that does not help our national defense. At the same time, high costs work to erode our national defense by damaging our economy.

The F-35 and the Ford Carrier are only two of many defense projects that beg closer scrutiny. These high cost programs are being funded at the same time the US Marine Corps is undergoing a 30,000-man reduction in force. The Pentagon and the White House tell us that we are more committed than ever to fighting the increasing terrorist threats, so how is it that we justify large cuts in our premier expeditionary force? The numbers just don’t add up. In some cases, they don’t come close to adding up.

President Eisenhower’s words are even more appropriate today than they were in 1961. Think twice before you quietly accept every extravagant defense expenditure. Let your congressmen know you are watching.

Buyer Beware!

 

US Navy Scandal–The Man with the Golden Silencer

By Jay Holmes

In November of 2013, the US Navy made public an investigation into the questionable purchase of firearms silencers* for US Navy SEAL Team 6. The silencers were for use with AK type weapons, such as the venerable Kalashnikov AK-47**. They were also to be “untraceable,” which is easily achieved by using simple, non-American designs without a serial number system or trademarks.

 

Beloved US Navy SEALs Image by Dept. of Defense, public domain

Beloved US Navy SEALs
Image by Dept. of Defense, public domain

 

So why would the grumpy US Navy inspectors be upset by the purchase of a few AK silencers for our beloved sailors in SEAL 6? Don’t the killers of Osama Bin Laden deserve to have the equipment they need? Sure, they do. But there were a few problematic details with these particular silencers.

First, nobody at SEAL 6 knew anything about the silencers in question. They never requested them, and they never received any of them.

Second, the Navy paid $1,600,000 for 349 silencers of the lowest imaginable quality. In fact, the silencers that my kids made for their third grade science projects were better quality.

Third, the order was completed with a no-bid contract given to a bankrupt auto mechanic, who just happens to be the brother of the civilian Navy Intelligence employee that requested the funds for the silencers.

In the spring of 2014, the US Attorney General’s office joined the US Navy in the investigation and brought the case before a federal judge. On October 30, US Judge Leonie Brinkema handed down a guilty verdict against two defendants, civilian Navy Intelligence official Lee Hall and auto mechanic Mark Landesman. Both are due to appear for sentencing in January 2015.

The disposition of two other civilian Navy employees is as yet unclear. Perhaps they were volunteered for target practice for SEAL 6. Well, probably not, but it’s always fun to imagine such things where people have indulged in such base corruption.

One marvelous piece of evidence that helped prosecutors was the fact that one defendant, the contracted mechanic Mark Landesman, was either too unskilled or too lazy to make the simple, low quality silencers himself. He instead subcontracted the work to a legitimate machinist and paid the machinist $8,000. That little detail fixed a clear value for the manufacturing of the silencers. There was no explaining away the $1,600,000 payment made by the Navy to Landesman.

One of the saddest things about this case is that, in spite of how lame their conspiracy was, they nearly got away with it. When US Special Forces need silencers, they don’t have to hire unemployed auto mechanics to make them. There are plenty of well-vetted contractors available that routinely supply such items.

I was half hoping that the defense team would roll out the old “this was really a CIA Black Ops job” defense ploy. It might have made the defendants eligible to be tried for Patriot Act violations, and then they would now be on extended all expenses paid vacations at a remote location in the Pacific Ocean, waiting for their preliminary hearing dates in the year 2090.

In this particular instance, though, we will have to settle for sentences ranging from five to fifteen years for the two guilty scammers and hope that the other two culprits don’t walk away untouched. SEAL 6 does indeed need lots of expensive items. So does every other group in the US military. But when traitors steal the taxpayers’ money, it damages national security.

Since 2010, the Navy has increased its efforts at preventing fraud and misallocation of resources. This case is probably the result of those efforts. With so many billions of dollars being spent on national defense, you can bet that plenty more scam artists will continue to do their best to rob you of your tax dollars. Let us hope that the Pentagon will continue to refine their defense against fraud.

*In the case of an AK-47, the term “suppressor” is generally more apt than “silencer,” but this story is referenced at other sites throughout the internet using the term “silencer.” For the sake of clarity and consistency, we have done the same.

**US military forces at times opt to use various non-American weapons for a range of operations.