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October 6, 2005
The White House Spy Scandal That Maybe Wasn't

Last night, ABC News broke a story that a spy had been discovered inside the White House, working for Dick Cheney's staff -- a headline that wound up at Drudge and rounded the blogosphere. ABC said that the arrest of Leandro Aragoncillo created the "first case of espionage in the White House in modern history."

Not so fast.

The New York Times provides important clarification this morning, noting that Aragoncillo did his spying after his security detail at the White House, and that no evidence exists (yet) of any such activity during his tenure as a security staffer for Al Gore and Dick Cheney:

The F.B.I. agent, Leandro Aragoncillo, 46, of Woodbury, N.J., an American citizen who was born in the Philippines, was charged Sept. 12 with passing classified information to government officials in Manila.

The charges filed against Mr. Aragoncillo relate only to classified information that officials say he took from F.B.I. computers after joining the agency in July 2004. ...

ABC News reported Wednesday night that Mr. Aragoncillo was accused of stealing classified material from White House computers at the vice president's office, including information damaging to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

On Wednesday, government officials said they had no corroboration that any material had been taken from the vice president's office, but they acknowledged that investigators had been focusing on Mr. Aragoncillo's work at the White House.

Once the FBI and CIA identify and detain an espionage suspect, a thorough investigation of his or her previous access takes place. This case only looks unusual because of his assignment at the White House under two administrations. That doesn't make it a "White House espionage case". Aldrich Ames may have been to the White House on a number of occasions as well, but he didn't do his spying from there, either.

Aragoncillo may well have been an active spy for a decade or more, but that isn't want the charges filed thus far claim, and the FBI and CIA specifically say that they haven't discovered any evidence yet to show otherwise. One wonders why ABC seems so anxious to tie Aragoncillo to the White House. Or, perhaps, it doesn't seem that mysterious at all.

and Michelle Malkin have more.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 6, 2005 6:45 AM

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» Something Smells . . . from Voice of the Taciturn
Ill let others deal with the political aspects of this case and focus on the two issues that are central to the problem: [Read More]

Tracked on October 6, 2005 8:08 AM

» Quick Hits from Ginasrantings
Over at Althouse she writes about the "professional disposition evaluation." a student in the College of Education at Washington State University, was informed he was in jeopardy of being removed from his program. over at balloon-juice still debat... [Read More]

Tracked on October 6, 2005 8:10 AM

» More On the Spy from Sensible Mom
Captain Ed wonders "why ABC seems so anxious to tie Aragoncillo to the White House." It's obvious, unless ABC misreported the fact that Aragoncillo admitted to spying while on Cheney's staff. Right now we only have a criminal's word since there isn't... [Read More]

Tracked on October 6, 2005 10:48 AM

» Spy At The White House from Iowa Voice
An ex-marine was arrested Wednesday for spying on the White House. There are several media articles about this online, so I won't give you an exact link (yet), but instead I am going to write about how one liberal media outlet is trying to show how thi... [Read More]

Tracked on October 7, 2005 6:55 AM

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