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Alert Employee Thwarts Overt Intelligence Collection Attempts By A Chinese National
From: InfoSec News <isn () c4i org>
Date: Fri, 28 Sep 2001 07:23:43 -0500 (CDT)


September 2001 

A major US aerospace corporation had a booth at the American Institute
of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and Ballistic Missile Defense
Organization (BMDO) Technology Conference and Exhibit on July 23-26,
2001 at Williamsburg, Virginia, as part of the technical exhibits.
Part of the aerospace marketer's task at the conference was to staff
the booth when the exhibits were open. Attendees at the conference
were required to have a Secret level clearance. The unclassified
exhibits were open daily from 0930-1600 hours and from 1730-1900
hours, but included material that was SBU (sensitive but
unclassified). Typically, attendance was low in the exhibits area
while technical papers were being presented at the conference.

On Tuesday, July 24, around 1030, a company employee who was manning
the aerospace corporation booth noticed an oriental male approaching
the booth from the area of an adjacent booth at the rear of the hall.
The man was displaying neither a badge-the photo ID that indicated the
required secret clearance/ conference attendance- nor the AIAA
exhibitor badge that permitted other personnel to enter the exhibit
hall. The man proceeded to collect a copy of each of the aerospace
corporation's brochures without addressing the company employee. After
greeting him, the company employee asked what organization he was with
and whether he had a badge. The man replied that he was not attending
the conference but was a journalist covering the conference. The
employee then asked the man if he had an invitation to be in the
exhibit hall, as AIAA had provided written invitations for exhibitors
to give their customers. The man replied that he had no invitation but
that he often attends AIAA and other organizations' technical
exhibits. The company employee then asked the man which publication he
represented, and, after several nonresponsive answers, he said he was
with the Beijing Daily News. At this point, the aerospace
corporation's representative took all the documents the man was
carrying and asked him to follow him to the security stand outside the
exhibit hall. Although he complied, the man obviously was not very

At the security booth, the company employee explained the situation to
the BMDO personnel, and they carried on a brief dialog with the man.
Since this exhibit was not open to the general public, the aerospace
corporation's employee told the BMDO reps that he objected to having
persons in the exhibit hall who were not attending the conference nor
invited by one of the exhibitors. Only after being questioned by BMDO
security did the "visitor" show what appeared to be a press
credential. After listening to his complaints about being removed from
the exhibits, the BMDO security personnel directed the man to the AIAA
booth across the lobby. The man never reappeared at the event, either
that day or the next.

In a subsequent discussion with the BMDO security personnel that
afternoon, they thanked the company employee for his actions. They
said they had placed personnel at the rear entrance of the exhibit
hall leading from the kitchen/service area (which was evidently not
monitored previously) to prevent anyone from entering through that

Upon the company employee's return to his company, he notified his
security office about the incident. Subsequently, the information was
passed to both Defense Security Service Counterintelligence and the
FBI. The 902nd Military Intelligence Group then became involved, and
the agencies followed through with an investigation.

An investigation revealed that the oriental visitor was in fact a
Chinese national who is known to target US technical information.

NCIX Comment: This article was received after the National
Counterintelligence Executive's quarterly CI News and Developments
newsletter published and placed on the NCIX unclassified Web site in
September 2001. This article clearly demonstrates the responsibilities
and actions of an employee who is aware of counterintelligence issues
thwarting overt collection. We are grateful for being allowed to
publish this article for our readers' information, and we solicit
similar types of articles and information demonstrating the success of
a strong counterintelligence posture and awareness.

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