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September 16, 2004
Are The Taiwanese Running A Spy Ring In US?

The possibility that the Taiwanese may have an espionage system in the United States has increased, as a career officer in the State Department faces up to five years in prison for illegal travel and contact in Taiwan:

A former top-level State Department official illegally took a secret, unauthorized trip to Taiwan last year and met with Taiwanese intelligence officers, according to a criminal complaint.

Donald W. Keyser, a 30-year veteran at the State Department, was charged Wednesday with deliberately concealing from his superiors that he took a four-day trip to Taiwan last September. Federal law requires an individual with Keyser's security clearances to report all foreign travel.

Keyser would not have been permitted to travel to Taiwan on official business because the United States and Taiwan do not have formal diplomatic relations, according to court papers. ...

FBI agents monitoring Keyser's activity in recent months found that he frequently met two Taiwanese intelligence officers, including the officer he met in Taiwan, at Washington-area restaurants, where they would exchange papers.

FBI agents stopped the two Taiwanese officials after a Sept. 4 lunch meeting in Alexandria, and found one of the officers carrying a six-page document titled "Discussion Topics." State Department analysts who reviewed the document said some of its contents were derived from material to which Keyser had access while at the State Department, according to the complaint.

In fact, federal law makes it clear that anyone with any kind of security clearance has to get permission to travel abroad, especially to certain countries. The security agency with jurisdiction must be notified before departure and immediately after return for briefing and debriefing, respectively. Everyone with a security clearance gets reminded of these requirements at least one time a year during security reviews. Someone who has been around for 30 years in sensitive areas cannot possibly be ignorant of these rules, even for "sight-seeing" tours.

Nor is this the first time Keyser has run afoul of security procedures:

In 2000, Keyser was disciplined and reassigned by then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright as part of an investigation into a missing laptop computer that contained classified information.

The AP gives no word as to the type of classified information that the missing laptop held. Anyone want to guess it had something to do with an island nearby China?

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 16, 2004 9:49 PM

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