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When "Smart" People do REALLY Dumb Things

What possesses someone who knows they are in possession of sensitive national security information to be willing to compromise our nation's security is beyond comprehension. But on September 3rd, 2009, that is just what happened. Stewart David Nozette was contacted by someone purporting to be an agent of the Mossad. In that first phone conversation Nozette apparently said he was willing to work for Israeli intelligence. The following day, he met with the undercover FBI employee and admitted that he no longer had direct access to the classified material but could remember the information. He asked for payments of less than $10,000 so he would not have to report the money.

According to the FBI release, on subsequent days, Nozette received "questions" as well as money.

On or about October 1, 2009, Nozette was filmed on videotape leaving a manila envelope in the post office box. Later that day, FBI agents retrieved the manila envelope left by Nozette and found a second set of answers from him. The answers contained information classified as both Top Secret and Secret that concerned U.S. satellites, early warning systems, means of defense or retaliation against large-scale attack, communications intelligence information, and major elements of defense strategy.

The motivations of people with access to classified information is astounding. He needed money so badly that he was willing to sell secrets to another country? During the period of 2000 to 2006, Nozette held positions at DARPA, Naval Research Laboratory and the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

It is a sacred trust when you receive clearance. Allegedly he was quoted as saying to undercover FBI agents, "Well I should tell you my first need is that they should figure out how to pay me ... they don't expect me to do this for free."

Why do "smart" people do dumb things? Among his list of credentials, Novette holds a Ph.D. in Planetary Sciences from MIT in 1983. It must be the money. If convicted, he faces up to life in prison. OK.

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