Spy In The White House
The FBI is investigating whether a former Marine took classified information from the White House when he worked in the vice president's office and passed it to Filipino officials, U.S. government officials said.
Leandro Aragoncillo, 46, a 21-year Marine veteran who became an FBI intelligence analyst last year, already has been charged in New Jersey with passing classified information about Filipino leaders to current and former officials of that nation. Aragoncillo worked at the White House from 1999 to 2001 and was assigned to the vice president's office under both Al Gore and Dick Cheney. White House officials said they were aware of the investigation but would provide no details. "It is an ongoing investigation and as such all questions should be directed to the FBI," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said. "We are cooperating fully with the investigation." Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said the department would not comment on an ongoing investigation. A law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case, said investigators were examining all of Aragoncillo's postings where he had access to classified information, including the White House. Aragoncillo was hired to work at the Army's Fort Monmouth, N.J., in July 2004 and began sending classified information and documents in January, according to an FBI complaint made public last month. The documents' contents have not been made public. From May to Aug. 15 of this year, he printed or downloaded 101 classified documents relating to the Philippines, of which 37 were classified "secret," according to the criminal complaint. He sent some of the material to Michael Ray Aquino, a former deputy director of the Philippines national police who lives in New York City, the complaint said. Both men were arrested Sept. 10 at their homes and ordered held without bail following an appearance before a federal magistrate. After his arrest, Aragoncillo "essentially admitted that he took classified information," Assistant U.S. Attorney Karl H. Buch told the magistrate. Officials say 46-year old Leandro Aragoncillo is a naturalized American citizen from the Philippines who worked undetected at the White House for almost three years.Aragoncillo is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in the Phillipines. He had top secret clearance. A Philippine opposition senator has acknowledged that he received information from Aquino. Sen. Panfilo Lacson, a former national police chief under whom Aquino served, said he and "many others" received information passed by Aquino, but he played down the value of the reports, describing them as "shallow information." Last month, Newark U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie said there was no evidence that the administration of Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was involved, but he would not say if the suspects were in contact with opposition factions. The Asian nation has been beset by persistent coup rumors since Arroyo was accused of rigging last year's elections.