Monday, September 12, 2005


The Associated Press reports today that an FBI Intelligence Analyst, a Leandro Aragoncillo, assigned to the US Army facility at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, has been charged with providing classified information to agents and officials of the Philippines government. Most of the material, classified “secret” seems to have involved Filipino leaders. The hundred or so documents in question appear to relate in part to information on Filipino leaders gathered by US intelligence. Details have not been disclosed.

Mr. Aragoncillo has been charged with conspiracy; with acting as an unregistered foreign agent, which carries a sentence of ten years in prison, and a $250,000 fine, as well as unauthorized use of a government computer, which carries identical penalties. His Filipino contact, Michael Aquino, a former Deputy Director of the Philippine National Police, has also been charged with conspiracy, and acting as an unregistered foreign agent. He investigation apparently began after Mr. Aquino was arrested last March for overstaying his tourist visa.

It is not clear just what is involved here, and on whose behalf Mr. Aquino was collecting US intelligence information. I am intrigued about the tidbit in the AP story saying the matter involved was classified information on Filipino leaders. Was Mr. Aquino running some scheme of his own, or working for his old bosses in the National Police, or for some other intelligence organization ? Whatever the truth is, the Filipino government will no doubt make the proper embarrassed noises, and deny any wrongdoing. Be interesting to see if they deny any knowledge whatever of Mr. Aquino’s activities.

At the least, Mr. Aquino was certainly stupid: receiving sensitive US intelligence, yet trying to operate in the post-9/11 environment with an expired visa. If he was working for Filipino intelligence, somebody in that operation needs to be shot for incompetence.

At bottom, if Mr. Aquino was working for the Philippine government, doing his duty as an intelligence officer for his country, I don’t care much about him. He doesn’t seem to be a US national; and friendly governments spy on each other as a routine matter. The Philippines ambassador can be called in, given a talking to, and somebody expelled. We can even give them back Mr. Aquino in a few years. However, I find the other possibility: that Mr. Aquino was free-lancing for non-governmental persons or entities pursuing their own agendas – much more troubling.

As for Mr. Aragoncillo, a US citizen and employee of the FBI, if he’s guilty of the charges, I find it an atrocity that all they can do is fine him and throw him in the pokey for 40 years. I don’t like people who spy on their own government, it’s not cricket at all, and if Mr. Aragoncillo is guilty, he ought to dance on the end of a rope, or get the cigarette and blindfold.

No comments: