More On The AWOL Submariner
The story of the submariner who deserted USS Albuquerque (SSN 706) last year, and has been held in the Norfolk brig since March, is getting curiouser. The Navy released some of the charge sheets today, and they tell a story of... well, stupidity:
The Navy's charges depict Petty Officer 3rd Class Ariel J. Weinmann as a sailor who stole a Navy laptop computer, deserted his ship for more than eight months and traveled the globe, both attempting to give and actually delivering classified defense information to an undisclosed foreign government...Let's face it; the odds that a young kid could successfully travel around the world trying to peddle secrets without running afoul of an American counterintelligence agent are fairly low (as shown by his capture); it'll be interesting to see if he actually delivered whatever secrets he had (since he's an FT, the immediate assumption is some sort of TLAM targeting data) to a foreign agent, or if all of his meetings were with Americans pretending to be foreigners.
...Arguably the most serious charges are three counts of espionage in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first count alleges that in March 2005, in or near Manama, Bahrain, Weinmann did "attempt to communicate, deliver or transmit" classified information relating to national defense to "a representative, officer, agent or employee of a foreign government."
The two subsequent charges allege that months later - after purportedly deserting his Connecticut-based submarine - Weinmann did "communicate, deliver or transmit" information classified as confidential and secret to a representative of a foreign government.
According to the charges, those events occurred in Vienna, Austria, around Oct. 19, 2005, and around March 19, near Mexico City, Mexico. Weinmann was picked up at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport days after the incident in Mexico, according to the charges.
So who was the foreign government to which he was trying to sell the stuff? A Saudi paper thinks they know -- you only get one guess who they think it is:
According to the navy, Weinmann was apprehended on March 26 "after it was learned that he had been listed as a deserter by his command." Though initial information released by the navy makes no mention of it, Al-Watan reported that he was returning from an undisclosed "foreign country." American sources close to the Defense Department told Al-Watan that Israel was the country in question.I suppose it could be Israel, but I doubt it, especially since the Navy is saying he returned from Mexico City when he was arrested -- no doubt the Saudi paper is basing their information on the Sailor's name. Ancestry.com says this about the surname "Weinmann": German and Jewish (Ashkenazic): occupational name for a viticulturalist or wine merchant, Middle High German wīnman, German Weinmann. When he gets to Leavenworth, though, he might as well be named "Pillowbiter" -- traitors don't do very well there, I've heard. So he has that to look forward to as he's thinking about how his money-making plan didn't quite work out like he expected.
Staying at PD...
Update 0627 09 Aug: Now a Virginia TV station is sayinging that Russia is the "country of interest":
According to the charges against him... While still stationed on board the sub... Weinmann tried to sell secret information to a foreign country in Bahrain. That was in march of 2005.This is the first time I've heard that he started trying to sell secrets while still on the boat. The reported timeline would match up with when the Albuquerque was on deployment to the Gulf in early 2005 with the Truman Strike Group. He should have just hung out at the Alcohol Support Unit like everyone else...
Two months later, investigators say he started copying confidential and secret information on board, possibly putting it on a navy laptop. This happened for two months. Then he and the computer allegedly disappeared.
A month later, investigators say he showed up in Vienna, Austria, giving the information to a person "not entitled" to have it. He was back there again on October 19th, when according to the charges, he did give the information to a foreign government.
His travels apparently continued the following year. In March he allegedly headed to Mexico City, where again the information was given to a foreign government. The navy says in the same month he traveled back to Vienna and destroyed the navy computer. He was arrested at the airport in Dallas, and brought here to the brig at Naval Station Norfolk, where a source says he is talking to investigators, and trying to avoid a potential life sentence.
Navy officials say Weinmann visited Bahrain, Austria and Mexico, but they aren't saying if he was dealing with those governments.
But a source tells us, one of the countries involved is Russia.
Update 1752 09 Aug: Weinmann's father speaks out; not surprisingly, he doesn't know how his darling little boy could have done such a thing:
The father of a Navy petty officer being held in Norfolk on espionage charges said today that his son, Ariel J. Weinmann, deserted the service last summer and lived for months in Vienna, Austria, after becoming disillusioned with the work his submarine was performing.See, Dad, that's what sets submarines apart from other parts of the Armed Forces; we do give young kids "really serious information" -- and hold them responsible when they don't take care of it (or try to sell it). The father has a point that the kid hasn't been convicted yet; still, what evidence we're seeing is fairly persuasive. The dad should maybe wonder how the kid came up with the money to live in Vienna for several month if he wasn't selling secrets.
Austria is one of three places the Navy has said Weinmann tried to or successfully transmitted classified information “to a representative, officer, agent or employee of a foreign government.” He’s also accused of providing information to a foreign government while in Manama, Bahrain, and Mexico City...
...“Don’t get me wrong, this thing is extremely serious. The very best we could wish for is about two years in prison and dishonorable discharge,” Weinmann said. “This whole thing is devastating. It’s beyond comprehension.”
Weinmann said he is worried that his son is “a pawn.” Weinmann said he urged his son through e-mails and international telephone calls to turn himself in after he went missing from the Albuquerque, a Connecticut-based nuclear submarine. But he doubts that Ariel was trying to sell classified information that would damage the U.S.
“It’s entirely possible that somebody got to him and manipulated him, but he was raised with a high sense of morals,” Weinmann said.
“If he changed his attitude, his allegiance, and I’m not saying he did, then somebody got to him, and who got to him? He’s on a dang submarine with 115 people, and he’s on military bases. He couldn’t have that much information. I can’t believe that the Navy is going to give a kid that age - that hasn’t had any experience, any track record - any really, really serious information.”
Update 2034 09 August: Time.com has a photo of Ariel Weinmann (added to the top of this post), plus some more comments from his father:
Robert Weinmann says he and his wife were startled when Ariel told them in October 2002 that he planned to join the Navy in July after he graduated from high school. Interested in art, classical music and history, Ariel "was very idealistic and spent a lot of time daydreaming about the great things he would do with his life," Weinmann says. After hearing the pitch from a recruiter that he could see the world if he joined the sea service, "Ariel was very focused and excited about the Navy," his father adds.I'm not sure who in the Navy is saying that the Albuquerque is the "most advanced vessel of its kind in the world", unless "its kind" includes only ships named Albuquerque. Don't get me wrong; there's nothing wrong with the boat, it's just that it's not any better or worse than the other re-fueled 688s. The dad's mention that his son became "disillusioned with Bush Administration's foreign policy" part is almost certain to turn him into a hero of the moonbats, though.
Ariel Weinmann was trained as a submarine fire control technician, whose job is to help track targets in the vessel's command center, and was then sent to the USS Albuquerque, based in Groton. The nuclear-powered Albuquerque is one of the Navy's fast-attack submarines, armed with torpedoes and cruise missiles. The sub can also creep close to shore to infiltrate special operations commandos or intercept electronic communications on land.
Robert Weinmann says his son did well in submarine training, but after a six-month tour aboard the Albuquerque in waters off Europe and the Middle East "he just got disillusioned" with the Navy and the Bush Administration's foreign policy. Weinmann says his son complained that the submarine's technology was old. (While commissioned in 1983, the Albuquerque is still considered by the Navy to be the most advanced vessel of its kind in the world.) Weinmann says his son also told him he became troubled by the submarine's collecting intelligence on U.S. allies, although he says Ariel never gave specifics.
Staying at PD...