Government Employee Indicted for Disclosing Classified Information on ‘Foreign Online Dating Platform’

A retired US Army officer who worked as a civilian employee of the US Air Force at US Strategic Command headquarters at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, has been arrested for “conspiring to transmit and transmitting classified information relating to the national defense (National Defense Information or NDI) on a foreign online dating platform.”

David Franklin Slater, a 63-year-old retired lieutenant colonel who worked in a classified space at USSTRATCOM, was arrested Saturday for divulging information classified at the SECRET level to a love interest he believed to be a woman living in Ukraine on an unnamed “foreign online dating platform.”

 It is alleged that Slater willfully, improperly, and unlawfully transmitted NDI classified as “SECRET,” which he had reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of a foreign nation, on a foreign online dating platform to a person not authorized to receive such information.
“As alleged, Mr. Slater, an Air Force civilian employee and retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel, knowingly transmitted classified national defense information to another person in blatant disregard for the security of his country and his oath to safeguard its secrets,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “The Department of Justice will seek to hold accountable those who knowingly and willfully put their country at risk by disclosing classified information.”

Some of the text exchanges revealed in the indictment are best appreciated if read in the voice of Natasha Fatale from the cartoon show “The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle.”

  • March 7, “American Intelligence says that already 100% of Russian troops are located on the territory of Ukraine. Do you think this information can be trusted?” 
  • March 11, “Dear, what is shown on the screens in the special room?? It is very interesting.” 
  • March 15, “By the way, you were the first to tell me that NATO members are traveling by train and only now (already evening) this was announced on our news. You are my secret informant love! How were your meetings? Successfully?” 
  • March 18, “Beloved Dave, do NATO and Biden have a secret plan to help us?” 
  • March 23, “Dave, it’s great that you get information about [Specified Country 1] first. I hope you will tell me right away? You are my secret agent. With love.” 
  • April 12, “Sweet Dave, the supply of weapons is completely classified, which is great!” 
  • April 14, “My sweet Dave, thanks for the valuable information, it’s great that two officials from the USA are going to Kyiv.” 
  • April 19, “Dave, I hope tomorrow NATO will prepare a very unpleasant “surprise” for Putin! Will you tell me?” 
  • April 21, “You have a job in the Operations Center today, I remember, I’m sure there is a lot of interesting news there?”

If the prosecutor doesn’t do a dramatic reading of the messages at trial, he’s missing a great opportunity.

There’s a lot to unpack here. The information Slater provided was classified at SECRET or lower level. He had access to better stuff but limited his betrayal of trust to chicken feed. This looks more like a guy trying to convince a girl that he’s important and “in the know” than any sort of transfer of classified information. In my experience, reading the front page of the New York Times gets you as much useful information as anything classified SECRET and definitely better than anything classified at a lower level.

I can’t imagine Slater didn’t know he was being recruited. The text messages above fairly scream, “I’m a spy.”

Slater popped on counterintelligence’s radar for some reason. We don’t know what that is. The NSA could have vacuumed him up. Maybe Sweet Thing was running multiple American sources and was already under surveillance. Equally possible is that Sweet Thing was burned by her own organization as a show of good faith for running a source inside a friendly country when the information gained was not worth the political damage of the operation going pear-shaped. The actions covered in the indictment end after the April 21 contact. Slater seems to have been left in his job but moved out of access to highly classified information about the time the charged conduct ceased. This raises the possibility that Slater thought better of his actions and was a walk-in to counterintelligence.

Finally, there is no word if he got laid, but he did get royally f***ed.

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