In a shocking turn of events, a former U.S. Army sergeant, Joseph Daniel Schmidt, has been arrested for allegedly attempting to provide classified national security information to China. This act of betrayal has sent shockwaves through the nation, highlighting the vulnerability of our defense systems and the potential consequences of insider threats.
Joseph Daniel Schmidt, 29, was apprehended at a San Francisco airport upon his arrival from China. The U.S. Department of Justice revealed that Schmidt began his efforts to provide Chinese intelligence with critical U.S. defense information after leaving the military in January 2020. He then proceeded to travel to Hong Kong in March 2020, where he continued his illicit activities.
According to the indictment in Seattle federal court, Schmidt now faces two felony counts: attempt to deliver national defense information and retention of such information. If convicted, he could spend up to 10 years in prison and face a hefty $250,000 fine.
Schmidt’s actions have not only shaken the foundation of our national security but have also betrayed the trust placed in him as a former military member. As part of the 109th Military Intelligence Battalion, Schmidt had access to sensitive classified information, including “Secret” and “Top Secret” materials.
After leaving his service, Schmidt retained a device that allowed him to access secure military networks. Shockingly, he reached out to the Chinese Consulate in Turkey and Chinese security services via email, offering them the information he retained. Such a blatant disregard for his military oath and duty to protect our country and its interests is both deeply shocking and unsettling.
The arrest of Joseph Daniel Schmidt serves as a stark reminder that individuals entrusted with national defense information have an ongoing responsibility to protect that information even after leaving government service. The betrayal of our country’s secrets, especially to foreign adversaries, poses a grave threat to our national security and undermines the very foundations upon which our defense systems rely.
Matthew Olsen, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, emphasized the severity of Schmidt’s alleged actions, stating, “Individuals entrusted with national defense information have a continuing duty to protect that information beyond their government service and certainly beyond our borders.” The ramifications of such breaches extend far beyond the immediate consequences, potentially endangering the lives of countless individuals and compromising vital defense networks.
As Schmidt awaits further court proceedings, he will be transported from San Francisco to Seattle, where the indictment was filed. It is imperative that justice is served swiftly and sternly. The egregiousness of his actions demands a firm response from our legal system to deter others who may consider similar acts of betrayal.
Tessa Gorman, the acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington, expressed her shock and disappointment at Schmidt’s actions, stating, “In that context, the alleged actions of this former military member are shocking — not only attempting to provide national defense information but also information that would assist a foreign adversary to gain access to Department of Defense secure computer networks.” Let this case serve as a stark reminder and warning that our nation will not tolerate such acts of betrayal.
The arrest of Joseph Daniel Schmidt has exposed a deeply unsettling reality – the vulnerability of our national security and the potential dangers of insider threats. Schmidt’s alleged actions have not only compromised our defense systems but have also betrayed the trust placed in him by the United States Army and the American people. As the legal proceedings unfold, it is crucial that justice is served to send a strong message that such acts of betrayal will not be tolerated. Safeguarding our national security should always remain a top priority, and every individual entrusted with classified information must recognize their duty to protect it at all costs.