CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY

1998

Douglas F. Groat

"DOUGLAS F. GROAT, former CIA officer, was arrested on 3 April [1998] and charged with passing sensitive intelligence information to two foreign governments and attempting to extort over $500,000 from the CIA in return for not disclosing additional secrets. Groat had been placed on a three-year paid administrative leave in the spring of 1993 after the agency felt he posed a security risk, reportedly involving a discipline or job performance issue.

"Apparently Groat first attempted to extort money from the CIA in May 1996 and was fired the following October. During a 16-year career at the CIA, Groat participated in intelligence operations aimed at penetrating the secret codes and communication systems employed by foreign governments. Groat, a cryptographic expert, was reported to have revealed classified information to two undisclosed governments regarding the targeting and compromise of their cryptographic systems in March and April 1997. For Groat, it was 'very much a case of pure revenge,' said a federal official, explaining that the former intelligence officer had long felt slighted and abused by the CIA because he had never been given the assignments he thought he deserved.

"Groat is reported to have not received any money from the foreign governments for the information passed. The former CIA employee pleaded guilty to one count of attempted extortion 27 July, and was sentenced 27 September to five years confinement followed by three years probation. According to news reports, the sharp reduction from the original four-count espionage charge and the limited penalties reflected the government's desire to avoid a trial in which damaging classified information might have been disclosed." U.S. Department of Defense, Defense Security Service, Recent Espionage Cases, 1975-1999 at http://www.dss.mil/training/espionage -- not found 3/10/09.

Materials arranged chronologically.

Risen, James. "Ex-CIA Agent Charged With Betraying U.S." Los Angeles Times, 4 Apr. 1998. [http://www.latimes.com]

Douglas F. Groat was indicted on 3 April 1998 on espionage and extortion charges. The CIA fired Groat in 1996 after a 16-year career. Groat worked for the Agency's Science and Technology Directorate's "top secret 'black bag' unit that breaks into foreign embassies to steal code books." The story gives considerable background detail on the Groat case.

See also, Bill Gertz, "Former CIA Officer Charged with Spying," Washington Times, 4 Apr. 1998, A1, A5; Roberto Suro and Peter Slevin, "Fired CIA Operative Accused of Spying," Washington Post, 4 Apr. 1998, A1, A9; and Tim Weiner, "C.I.A. Charges Dismissed Spy Yielded Secrets," New York Times, 4 Apr. 1998, A1, A9.

Meckler, Laura. "Ex-Wife: CIA 'Punished' Alleged Spy." Associated Press, 4 Apr. 1998. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

"The former CIA spy now charged with espionage and extortion was sometimes overzealous about his work and had policy disputes with his superiors that led to his downfall, his ex-wife," Madeline Libre, said on 4 April 1998. "Libre agreed that the official reason [Douglas F.] Groat was fired was involvement in a compromised operation and his refusal of the polygraph test afterwards. She said he did that because he feared the results would be manipulated and used against him."

Jonkers, Roy K. [COL/USAF (Ret.)] "CIA Officer Charged with Treason." AFIO Weekly Intelligence Notes 13-98 (6 Apr. 1998). [http://www.his.com/~afio/]

Gertz, Bill. "Accused Spy Sought Immunity." Washington Times, 7 Apr. 1998, A3.

Pincus, Walter. "CIA Handles Disgruntled Workers with Caution." Washington Post, 7 Apr. 1998, A10.

Waller, Douglas. "The Strange Case of the Spy in the Winnebago." Time, 13 Apr. 1998. [http://www.time.com]

"The CIA does not yet know how much damage it has suffered from [Douglas] Groat's alleged spying. Investigators do not think it is as extensive as the havoc caused by CIA mole Aldrich Ames.... But the agency's code-breaking capabilities are among its most guarded secrets.... A nation hostile to the U.S. that learned of the penetration would quickly change its codes."

Weiner, Tim. "Bail Denied for Ex-C.I.A. Officer Accused as a Spy." New York Times, 17 Apr. 1998, A19 (N).

"All signs at [a 16 April 1998] hearing suggested that Mr. Groat was ready to go to trial.... A trial could pose huge headaches for the Government, which would have to prove that Mr. Groat revealed secrets, but would try to do so without revealing what those secrets were."

Diamond, John. "Ex-CIAer Pleads Guilty to Extortion." Washington Post, 27 Jul. 1998. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

On 27 July 1998, Douglas Groat pleaded guilty to trying to extort a million dollars from the Agency, avoiding a trial for espionage.

Counterintelligence News and Developments. "Former CIA Officer Cuts a Deal." Sep. 1998. [http://www.nacic.gov]

Former CIA officer Douglas F. Groat's plea bargain "eased prosecutors' concerns that a trial on all the charges might have forced them to disclose sensitive information in open court."

Miller, Bill, and Walter Pincus. "Ex-CIA Agent Given 5 Years in Extortion Case." Washington Post, 26 Sep. 1998, A2. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

On 25 September 1998, "[f]ormer CIA covert operative Douglas F. Groat was sentenced to five years in prison ... after admitting attempts to extort money from the agency.... Groat's sentence, which follows the terms of the plea agreement, calls for the prison time to be spent in a minimum-security facility. Upon his release, he will be put on three years of supervised probation. As part of the plea, Groat promised that he would never disclose any classified information learned during his CIA career or offer secrets to any foreign government."

Wise, David. "The CIA Burglar Who Went Rogue." Smithsonian (Oct. 2012). [http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/The-CIA-Burglar-Who-Went-Rogue-169800816.html]

The author provides background on the Douglas Groat spy case (concluded with a guilty plea of extortion), on Groat personally, and on Groat's work in "a secret CIA unit that ... specialized in stealing codes, the most guarded secrets of any nation."

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