More spying charges brought against Regan

Bowie man is accused of asking Hussein to pay $13 million for secrets

February 15, 2002|By Laura Sullivan | Laura Sullivan,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

WASHINGTON - Brian P. Regan, a retired Air Force master sergeant from Bowie, wrote a letter to Saddam Hussein offering to sell him state secrets in exchange for $13 million, federal prosecutors charged yesterday.

A federal grand jury in Alexandria, Va., indicted Regan, who worked for the super-secret National Reconnaissance Office, on four charges of attempting to sell Iraq, Libya and other countries secret information gleaned from satellite imagery. He could face the death penalty on two charges.

Regan, 39, pleaded not guilty in November to a single count of conspiring to sell classified information to a country that was not identified. He will be arraigned in federal district court in Alexandria today. His lawyer, Nina Ginsberg, did not return phone calls.

In the new indictment, prosecutors provided portions of two letters Regan allegedly wrote between 1999 and 2001 to Iraqi President Hussein and Libyan leader Col. Muammar el Kadafi. It is unclear whether either letter reached its destination.

Regan allegedly said in the letter to Hussein that the $13 million demand was "a small price to pay to have someone within the heart of [a] U.S. intelligence agency providing you with vital secrets."

The letters paint a picture of a man who seems at times like a car salesman, offering Hussein the "chance of a lifetime," and someone consumed with avoiding the cliched traps prevalent in spy movies, saying he will talk on the phone only for "two minute intervals" to avoid the call being traced.

Regan was arrested Aug. 23 at Dulles airport as he tried to board a flight to Zurich, Switzerland. FBI agents zeroed in on Regan after observing him accessing classified information at work and using the Internet in the Crofton library three times last year to obtain information about the embassies of Iraq, Iran, Libya and China.

In an airport search of his belongings, investigators said, they found coded notes, the addresses of foreign embassies, latex gloves, adhesive tape and garbage bags.

Yesterday, Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson called Regan's alleged activities a "calculated plan to damage U.S. security." He would not say how successful Regan had been.

The government said in the affidavit filed in August that investigators were alerted sometime in 2000 that a country they did not identify had received a number of classified defense documents as well as separate messages - some coded - that offered to provide additional documents.

Those messages coincided with the letter Regan allegedly wrote to Hussein that, in addition to seeking $13 million, contained sample documents.

The letter explains out in detail and with numerous spelling errors how to transfer money to an offshore bank and how an Iraqi agent should pass documents using the closet of a hotel room.

Regan allegedly offered Hussein information about the location and operation of U.S. satellites, early warning systems and defense strategy, explaining the information would provide Iraq with "scheduled times [U.S.] satellites will be overhead and collecting information against your country."

"There are many people from movie stars to [athletes] who are [receiving] tens of millions of dollars a year for their trivial [contributions], if I am going to risk my life, I am going to get paid a fair price," the letter said.

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