|Ex-DIA analyst admits passing secrets to China
THE WASHINGTON TIMES | June 23, 2006
By Bill Gertz
A former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst has pleaded guilty to illegally
holding classified documents and admitted in a plea agreement to passing
"top secret" information to Chinese intelligence officials.
Ronald N. Montaperto, the former analyst who held
a security clearance as a China specialist at a U.S. Pacific Command research
center until 2004, pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful retention of
national defense information, according to court papers and law officials
familiar with the case, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
"Montaperto admitted to verbally providing [Chinese
military] attaches a considerable amount of information that was useful
to them, including classified information," according to a statement of
facts submitted in the case.
Montaperto told investigators he could not recall
specific information he gave Chinese attaches Col. Yang Qiming, Col. Yu
Zhenghe and other Chinese officers during his 22-year career in government.
But the statement said it included both "secret" and "top secret" data.
It also said he had close unauthorized relationships with the two officers.
The guilty plea was part of an agreement reached
Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria. The conviction can carry
fines of up to $250,000 and a prison term of up to 10 years. Sentencing
is set for Sept. 8.
A Pentagon official said Montaperto's value to China
included both the secrets he shared and his role facilitating Chinese deception
of U.S. intelligence by providing feedback on how those efforts were working.
A senior U.S. intelligence official bluntly stated,
"He was a spy for China."
During questioning by investigators in Hawaii in
2003, where he was dean of the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies,
Montaperto said he verbally gave Col. Yang and Col. Yu both "secret" and
"top secret" information, the statement said.
"He admitted to passing classified information to
military attaches who the FBI determined were Chinese intelligence officials,"
said a law-enforcement official involved in the case.
Montaperto, 66, joined the DIA in 1981 and eight
years later sought a post at the CIA that eventually led to suspicions
he was a spy for China. An investigation of his links to Chinese intelligence
in 1991 was dropped for lack of evidence.
He had been part of a DIA program involving authorized
contacts with Chinese embassy officials. However, the statement said Montaperto
failed to report his contacts, as required by security rules.
After leaving DIA, Montaperto continued in government
at the National Defense University and then became the dean of the Pacific
Command think tank until his dismissal in 2004.
A second investigation that led to his guilty plea was started
in August 2001 and led to the discovery of classified documents in his
Reached by telephone Monday at his home in Morehead
City, N.C., before the plea agreement was finalized, Mr. Montaperto declined
Investigators from the FBI and Naval Criminal Investigative
Service started a sting operation in July 2003 that involved asking Montaperto
to join a China-related intelligence program that required him to undergo
polygraph testing. Under questioning prior to the test, he made the admissions
about passing secrets to China, the statement said.
The information supplied to the Chinese included
top secret details of the sale of Chinese military equipment and missiles
to the Middle East, the statement said.
The plea agreement requires Montaperto undergo debriefings
and forbids him any contact with foreign agents. "He's already given a
lot of information," one official said.
According to U.S. intelligence officials, Montaperto
was among a number of U.S. intelligence officials who came under suspicion
of being informants following the defection of a Chinese intelligence official
in the late 1980s. The defector revealed that Beijing had successfully
developed five to 10 clandestine sources of information here.
Montaperto also was part of an influential group
of pro-China academics and officials in the U.S. policy and intelligence
community who share similar benign views of China. The group, dubbed the
Red Team by critics, harshly criticizes anyone who raises questions about
the threat posed by Beijing's communist regime.