‘My secret informant love’ | Air Force employee arrested for intelligence leaks on dating site despite rigorous classified information training

Air Force employee arrested for intelligence leaks on dating site despite rigorous classified information training

A U.S. Air Force employee has been arrested for leaking classified information on Russia’s war against Ukraine over a dating site to a person claiming to be a Ukrainian woman.

David Franklin Slater, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, worked for U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) and held a Top Secret security clearance.

Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division alleges Slater “knowingly transmitted classified national defense information to another person in blatant disregard for the security of his country and his oath to safeguard its secrets.”

Slater, in his role at USSTRATCOM, had been given several sets of training on handling classified information, including courses on Unauthorized Disclosure of Classified Information,’ ‘Counterintelligence Reporting and Awareness,’ and ‘Not Releasable to Foreign Nationals ("NOFORN") Classification Training.’

All of Slater’s training on classified information took place from August 25 to August 27 2021, the month in which he began his employment at USSTRATCOM. The indictment document does not indicate any other subsequent training took place.

It appears the training was not sufficient, however.

From February 2022 to April 2022, Slater then communicated with a ‘co-conspirator’ claiming to be a woman he met on a dating platform. He is accused of leaking information classified as “Top Secret,” “Secret”, or “Confidential,” including intelligence regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Messages between the two seem to show the co-conspirator probes Slater for information, consistently asking questions such as “Dear, what is shown on the screens in the special room?”, “Do NATO and Biden have a secret plan to help us?", and “I hope you will tell me right away?”

The exchange the co-conspirator also praises Slater for apparently sharing information, calling him ‘my secret informant love’ and ‘my secret agent’.

“My sweet Dave, thanks for the valuable information, it's great that two officials from the USA are going to Kyiv” reads one message.

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Slater will appear in court on March 5 to face one count of conspiracy to disclose national defense information and two counts of unauthorized disclosure of national defense information. He faces a maximum penalty of ten years in penalty and a $250,000 fine for each count.

Beyond exchanges on dating platforms, U.S. employers are increasingly wary of the risks of employees breaching guidelines and regulations on data privacy despite training, including with the use of AI tools.

Amazon, for example, has consistently reminded employees about its policies on sharing confidential information on non-Amazon software. In January 2023, a company lawyer highlighted that output from third-party AI tools such as lines of code was reflecting confidential existing Amazon material. The e-commerce behemoth had to reiterate its mandate for employees to avoid using third-party software in February 2.

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