How the FBI protects American intel: a bizarre case study

How the FBI protects American intel: a bizarre case study
What motivates people to become spies? Certainly not money, the FBI discovers.

On Saturday, a Navy nuclear engineer and his wife were arrested in West Virginia by the FBI and accused of attempting to pass extremely sensitive secrets about submarine technology to another country in violation of the Atomic Energy Act. Jonathan and Diana Toebbe of Maryland are charged with contacting a foreign nation, offering cutting-edge secrets about American nuclear-powered submarines and then engaging in multiple clandestine exchanges of classified information with undercover FBI agents in return for $100,000 in cryptocurrency.

Some of the restricted data the couple are accused of trying to sell was information about the nuclear propulsion system of Virginia-class fast attack submarines, the technology at the heart of a recent deal the U.S. and the United Kingdom struck with Australia. It’s the kind of technology that gives the U.S. a crucial edge over adversaries in the race for quieter, less detectable submarines and warships. According to the criminal complaint, each Virginia-class submarine costs about $3 billion and includes the latest in stealth and weapons systems technology. And it’s the kind of advanced military secret that nations such as China and Russia would pay just about anything for.



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