Upon Harold Martin’s arrest in 2016, an Obama administration official said his case was being kept under wraps “to keep this guy from becoming another NSA martyr.” The tactic seems to be have paid dividends.
by Whitney Webb
Part 2 - Hoarder or whistleblower?
While most recent reporting on Martin’s case has focused exclusively on legal proceedings and how Martin will plead, there has been little examination of the facts that don’t seem to fit with Martin’s portrayal as a loner with a hoarding disorder.
According to court documents, Martin’s case is just as complex as the man himself, making it difficult to ascribe his intent. For one thing, Martin’s habit of taking government documents home remained undetected for over 20 years – even after tightening of security following the Snowden leaks – and he extensively used “sophisticated encryption, anonymization, and virtual machine technologies” to hide his actions online.
He also possessed “remote data storage accounts” as well as “encrypted communication and cloud storage apps installed on his mobile device.” Federal prosecutors have also asserted that Martin “was in possession of a sophisticated software tool which runs without being installed on a computer and provided anonymous internet access, leaving no digital footprint.” And they have asserted that Martin “communicated online with others in languages other than English, including Russian” via an encrypted connection.
In addition, Martin’s cache of documents, stored at his home and in his car, were accompanied by “handwritten notes [that] also include descriptions of the most basic concepts associated with classified operations, as if the notes were intended for an audience outside of the Intelligence Community unfamiliar with the details of its operations.”
Martin was also heavily armed, a fact that was apparently unknown to his wife, who was shocked when the FBI removed 10 firearms from his residence, including an AR-style tactical rifle and a shotgun with a flash suppressor. Only two of the weapons were registered.
He also initially lied to authorities about the thefts of the documents, only admitting his unauthorized removal of the documents when confronted with examples of the classified information found in his possession.
There is also evidence suggesting that Martin may not be as “apolitical” as his defense has sought to portray him. Court documents reveal that he often complained about the NSA’s incompetence, claiming in one letter that his co-workers were “missing most of the basics in security practice.” In addition, Martin — who served in Operation Desert Storm — was deeply affected by his experiences in the military and, according to a former mentor, showed an “intense personal and professional interest in the post-traumatic stress disorder.”
However, the most compelling evidence that there is more to this case is how Martin’s theft of classified documents was discovered. According to The New York Times, federal investigators stumbled upon Martin’s trove of documents, investigating him only after uncovering a comment Martin had posted online – the contents of which are still unknown – made him a prime suspect in the “Shadow Brokers” leak.