[Photo: National Security Agency, Ft. Meade, MD via Wikimedia]

FBI Seems to Be Collecting Offers to Spy for Russia

In late August, alleged aspiring spy Jareh Dalke told someone he believed to be a Russian spy that he had already reached out on the “SVR [Russia’s foreign intelligence service] TOR site.”

In addition, in two emails on or about August 23 and 24, 2022, DALKE requested that the OCE take steps to verify that the person DALKE was communicating with was truly a member of Foreign Government-1. DALKE claimed that he had reached out through “multiple published channels to gain a response. This included submission to the SVR TOR site.”3 DALKE sought assurances that the OCE truly was a “[Foreign Government-1] entity rather than americans [sic] trying to stifle a patriot.” DALKE requested that the OCE provide verification of the association with Foreign Government-1, through a posting on an official website or through a report in one of the “media services associated with the government.”

That may provide useful insight into why Dalke was arrested on the same day as Anna Gabrelian and her spouse, Jamie Lee Henry, also for attempting to spy for Russia. Gabrielian told the undercover officer she wanted to support Russia, including its war in Ukraine.

During that meeting, GABRIELIAN told the UC she was motivated by patriotism toward Russia to provide any assistance she could to Russia, even if it meant being fired or going to jail.

Like Dalke, Gabrielian allegedly reached out to Russia at some unspecified time in the preceding months. Like Dalke, an undercover FBI officer had followed up on that outreach and gotten the aspiring spies to reconfirm an interest in working with Russia (they’re not the same undercover employee, though; one is referred to with female pronouns and the other is referred to with male pronouns).

On or about August 17, 2022, an FBI Undercover Agent (“UC”) approached GABRIELIAN and introduced herself by name. The UC told GABRIELIAN she was asked to contact GABRIELIAN about the assistance she offered a couple of months ago. GABRIELIAN asked if the UC was from the Russian Embassy, and the UC confirmed that she was.

The entirety of the case against Gabrielian and Henry was put together during a few weeks in August, during a period between the time when Dalke first shared fragments of three documents in early August and a period in early September when Dalke’s undercover officer was trying (unsuccessfully) to lure him to DC. It appears to have sat, largely wrapped up, until former Mueller prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky presented it to a grand jury on Tuesday.

Ultimately, the FBI set up an electronic dead drop for Dalke at Denver’s Union Station for a four hour window on Wednesday.

In Gabrielian and Henry’s case, the couple only provided medical records from Fort Bragg and Johns Hopkins (though each HIPAA violation carries a potential ten year sentence). Dalke is accused of sharing Top Secret NSA information and documents from two other agencies.

And his case is far more alarming for the way that he seems to have gotten hired at the NSA with the intent of stealing documents he could use to pay off his debt.

He was in the Army from 2015 to 2018. The next year, he got an online Bachelors in cybersecurity, and what is probably another online degree, a Masters, sometime after that. He bought a place with his partner in Colorado Springs in 2020. In June, he took a job at the NSA, but only remained there for 25 days, from June 6 until July 1. He claimed he left because of a family illness that would require nine months away, but then he applied for a new NSA job on August 11, after setting up the cryptocurrency account he would use to get paid by the presumed Russian spy.

The affidavit describes two reasons, besides debt, why Dalke might have considered spying. His arrest affidavit describes him expressing dissatisfaction with the US, particularly how it treated members of the military. “This country it is not as great as it thinks it once was. It is all about the businesses and their money, not anything about the people or those that serve it to include the military.” And he, “recently learned that my heritage ties back to your country, which is part of why I have come to you as opposed to others.”

But in 2017, he filed for bankruptcy, reporting over $80,000 of debt. And in a conversation with the presumed spy, he described even more extensive debts than reflected in his bankruptcy filings (though that may reflect the mortgage on his home).

In addition, according to court filings, on December 12, 2017, DALKE filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which was granted on March 29, 2018. At that time, DALKE reported that he had approximately $32,809.52 in student loan debt and $50,987.34 in other non-secured debt, primarily credit card debt. At the time of the bankruptcy filing, DALKE also reported that he had approximately $8,373.12 in total assets.


DALKE further noted that he was in financial need and was seeking compensation via a specific type of cryptocurrency in return for providing information he had procured, stating, “[t]here is an opportunity to help balance scales of the world while also tending to my own needs.” DALKE requested payment in the specific type of cryptocurrency because “as in these things privacy is extremely important.”


On or about August 26, 2022, DALKE told the OCE that the total amount of his debt was $237,000, $93,000 of which was “coming due very soon.”

So, with his two online degrees, he started a job at the NSA on June 6. He either came in knowing — or soon learned — of a vulnerability that he used to access stuff for which he wasn’t cleared.

DALKE also noted that certain of the information he had access to was due to a misconfiguration in the system that granted him access to information beyond what he should otherwise have.

On June 17, June 22, and June 23 he printed out some of the documents he is accused of stealing. On June 28, the told the NSA he was leaving for a family illness, and left three days later. And then, after he had sent four documents to the guy pretending to be a Russian spy, Dalke applied for an external vacancy at the NSA, 8 months before he planned to return to the agency. (Update: The affidavit is not entirely clear whether Dalke would have taken a job earlier.)

In short, this was a guy who appears to have treated NSA like a quick fix for his debt woes. And at a time of heightened intelligence concerns and in the wake of Edward Snowden and Josh Schulte, he still wasn’t IDed during the vetting process.

27 replies
  1. Rugger9 says:

    Given the lax attitude of the prior administration combined with how much of this stuff is currently outsourced to cut costs, there certainly seems to be a serious vetting gap here.

    Background checks should have caught all of the BK stuff at least, and that alone should have shot down any access, so whoever cleared this guy should also be kicked out. Our stakes right now between Putin, Xi, Kim and Individual-1’s antics are too high to be complacent.

    The attention used to be more thorough, for example if someone in your family started a relationship with a Russian, the connection had to be reported and cleared even if said family member was not particularly close. This was true even after the Berlin Wall fell and the USSR dissolved. That kind of scrutiny seems to have been ditched as ‘inconvenient’ to the contractors that do this work now.

    I also saw in the news that Snowden has been granted Russian citizenship by decree, so we can start a pool on how long it takes before he’s conscripted.

    • Peterr says:

      This is where my head exploded:

      He bought a place with his partner in Colorado Springs in 2020. In June, he took a job at the NSA, but only remained there for 25 days, from June 6 until July 1. He claimed he left because of a family illness that would require nine months away, but then he applied for a new NSA job on August 11, after setting up the cryptocurrency account he would use to get paid by the presumed Russian spy.

      Presumably he had to explain to the new NSA folks that the family illness miraculously disappeared after only a month, rather than nine months, but at a minimum I would have expected that someone would have checked into this before welcoming him to job 2.

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        I assumed that he was only “cleared” for that second NSA job, mysterious family illness notwithstanding, because FBI already had him under surveillance and wanted him to walk into a trap. Otherwise, like you say, Peterr, it’s head-exploding.

    • cmarlowe says:

      >>The attention used to be more thorough, for example if someone in your family started a relationship with a Russian, the connection had to be reported and cleared even if said family member was not particularly close.

      This is still the case, not just for Russia, but any foreign country (including Canada).

  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The debt evaluations of candidates for security clearances probably just got harder.

    Facetiously, I would consider releasing Dalke, if he joined the Russian military and served in Ukraine. That might give him an up close and personal view of how well Putin really treats his military. His fantasies about that, possibly debt driven, may land him in prison for quite some time.

    • posaune says:

      I’m just astounded that the guy did this by working for NSA for only 3-1/2 weeks! I would have thought that a newbie would be picking up paper clips and cleaning the coffee pot for at least a month!

  3. Tech Support says:

    While I generally believe it’s a mistake to assume that institutions are smart and deliberate in their handling of low-level details, I can’t help but wonder if an “insecure” data repository that a new hire can stumble across in their first week on the job isn’t some sort of honeypot.

  4. Bobster33 says:

    My brother-in-law was a buyer for Northrup Grumman. Every couple of years one of his coworkers would get taken away in handcuffs for selling/revealing something to the Russians or Chinese. What used to amaze him was how little some of these people would sell out their country for. One guy did it for less than $15,000.

    • Rugger9 says:

      It’s almost as obscene as the ROI for a GQP Congresscritter. The other thing to consider following up on my outsourcing comment above is how many PCBs are outsourced as well by defense contractors to cut costs. It’s a cinch that many of them will have ‘back doors’ to exploit either in performance issues on the system or malware or data collection.

      Being able to get stuff like that compresses the design process timeline significantly for a country trying to catch up. Back in the day for example, the Yankee Class Soviet subs were so named because of how similar they were to ours. The source was determined (allegedly) to be a Revell model which was copied. Since the model didn’t show the shielding of the core, the first couple of iterations were rumored to have missed that design requirement. I’m sure it was low-reliability scuttlebutt.

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        My father designed historical models for Monogram, a Revell competitor. Most were military aircraft. Being a fanatic for authenticity (his signature as a designer), he traveled the world to see the originals where possible, often befriending their custodians, who would show him “stuff” he couldn’t include in the models. (He was an army veteran who didn’t violate their trust.) Luckily for national security he liked to brag instead about meeting Dale Earnhardt, whose car model he designed too.

        • Tom-1812 says:

          I probably built some of your father’s designs as I was a keen plastic model airplane builder when I was a kid. I recall that Monogram kits were generally better quality. Many was the afternoon I spent in my bedroom breathing in the fumes of model airplane glue and Testor’s enamel paints. When my fingertips and the end of my nose felt cold and tingly, I knew it was time to take a break.

          • Legonaut says:

            Oh, wow, that takes me back. I too spent a lot of allowance money on those kits. Lots of planes and ships, which usually seemed to be Revell, while the occasional car was usually Monogram. Our firefighter neighbor across the street collected the Monogram car kits, usually buying 3-5, building one (exquisitely) for display and storing the rest.

            Got my first X-Acto nick on a Monogram funny car model. Good times!

          • skua says:

            I finally realised my dream of suspending my model Fester Stauk (sp?) from the ceiling sometime in my midteens.
            Was it painted pink? Or is that a false memory?

        • Fran of the North says:

          I continue to build models to this day, primarily airplanes. While the molding technologies have improved a bit, many of your father’s models are likely still in the market. Every 10 years or so, somebody will do a rin from the original molds.

          • Ginevra diBenci says:

            He was still designing until he died in 2020. The molding technology was very much a concern, and he traveled to Seoul many times to check in on production there. Like I said, detailed authenticity was his goal, and technology that made that possible kept him in the game until the end.

            His side projects were radio-controlled planes–he was redesigning engines for them and used to judge contests. In his earlier days he designed the Bell & Howell camera that Zapruder filmed the JFK assassination with, and thus testified to Warren Commission about its technical capabilities.

  5. cmarlowe says:

    Don’t know what happened with this guy, but financial condition investigation has been part of all of my clearance investigations.

    Any lax attitude toward clearance requirements, to my knowledge, may have applied to Trump friends and family, but not regular people.

    • Jeffrey Gallup says:

      Just looked at the online SF-86, Questionnaire for National Security Positions, required for any security clearance. It is 130 pages, not including annexes. It authorizes the government to delve deeply into all your foreign contacts, finances, mental health, relatives, social media, etc. Surely Dalke’s financial woes would have been found during his security investigation and disqualified him, unless these days investigations are cursory or they are so desperate for cybersecurity folks that they ignore red flags.

          • Paulumba says:

            His company was called Gallup and Associates, and was located in the old Acheson Physicians building on University Ave next door to where Long Life Vegi House used to be (between Shattuck and Walnut).

  6. mospeck says:

    Historically interesting times — Khrushchev’s great grand daughter is expert/teaches on propaganda, is on CNN and comments on putin’s “incredibly insane” speech. vlad has killed 30 kids last couple of days and the Pope is begging him to end “this absurd war.” But right now looks like we’re into Doctor Strangelove situations and need for some good Russian joe to open a 5th story window and let some air into the room


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