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Posted at 3:45 PM ET, 10/14/2010

Doxer case: Boston spy yarn with an unhappy ending

By Jeff Stein

The government isn’t saying for which country Elliot Doxer allegedly volunteered to spy, but clues in court papers filed in Boston last week barely disguise that it was Israel.

Other hints in the government’s indictment suggest something even more intriguing: that Doxer got caught up in one of the oldest games in the espionage trade -- the dangle.

Israel is not named in the Oct. 6 indictment of Doxer, 42, an employee of Akamai Technologies Inc., a Web content delivery company in Cambridge, Mass. whose clients include the departments of defense and homeland security, Airbus and “some Arab companies from Dubai,” according to an e-mail Doxer wrote that was presented as evidence in the case.

But it does say that Boxer identified himself as "a Jewish American who lives in Boston" when he wrote to the local consulate of "Country X," and that he told an FBI undercover agent that his chief desire “was to help our homeland and our war against our enemies.”

Doxer’s alleged dalliance with espionage began in June 2006, when he e-mailed the consulate saying “I know you are always looking for information and I am offering the little I may have.”

A year later, according to the indictment, an undercover FBI agent posing as an intelligence operative contacted Doxer and asked him if he was still interested in spying.

The answer was yes, according to the feds, whereupon, over an 18-month period, Doxer unwittingly supplied documents to the FBI undercover agent and visited a pre-arranged dead drop -- a hiding place for documents and cash -- 62 times.

All he asked for, according to his e-mails, was "a few thousand dollars" and information about his son and the child's mother, "a terrible human being" who lived in "a foreign country."

"Not enough bad things can happen to her if you know what I mean," he added.

The FBI referred an inquiry to the Justice Department, which is not commenting on the case. Doxer's lawyers also did not respond to a request for comment. If convicted on a wire fraud count of illegally releasing Akamai's proprietary information, he faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

But how did Doxer’s alleged offer to spy for “Country X” get into the hands of the FBI?

According to Reuters, "Prosecutors said the foreign government cooperated with the investigation and the complaint against Doxer did not accuse that government of seeking or obtaining the sensitive information."

Indeed, veteran counterintelligence agents strongly suspect that Israeli intelligence officials smelled something fishy and ratted out Doxer to the FBI.

“There are two possibilities, of course” said a longtime CIA counterintelligence veteran, who discusses such sensitive matters only on terms of anonymity.

One, he said with sarcasm, is that “the GOI [government of Israel] forwarded the volunteer e-mail to the Bureau because they want to play by the rules.”

He laughed. As everyone in the spy trade knows, Israel and the United States spy on each other as much as they cooperate against targets like Iran, despite their rock-hard alliance.

As for Doxer, the counterintelligence veteran said, it’s more likely the Israelis “suspected the volunteer letter was sent by a double agent set up by the FBI. “

“One thing that any intel service reading a volunteer letter or e-mail would ask themselves is whether the volunteer is crazy and must be avoided…or whether the lack of common sense by the sender is an indicator that the ploy is a [counterintelligence] initiative.”

In short, they thought he might be a dangle, defined in the espionage lexicon as “a spy who poses as a walk-in to penetrate the other side.”

Or just “a dope,” as the counterintelligence veteran put it, a James Bond wannabe dimwitted enough to e-mail an espionage offer to a diplomatic outpost that is surely monitored by U.S. intelligence.

In any event, if this scenario is correct -- and three counterintelligence veterans aver that it is -- the Israelis got a two-fer from dropping a dime on Doxer: the solution to a headache and a thank you, no matter how surly, from the FBI.

By Jeff Stein  | October 14, 2010; 3:45 PM ET
Categories:  Intelligence, Justice/FBI, Lawandcourts  
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That's exactly what the Russians thought in 1993 when R. Philip Hanssen appeared at their embassy and demanded asylum. They vociferously complained about the FBI's tactics in attempting to embarass them.

Posted by: blasmaic | October 14, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Hanssen did not contact the Russians seeking asylum. Hanssen was extremely sophisticated, and approached the Russians with a proffer (sensitive information of the type he could provide) and waited. He was in it for the money and the excitement.
How you could not know this and still post is beyond me.

Posted by: ccalhoun1 | October 14, 2010 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Poor guy probably read too many John le Carré novels. lol. No one just "walks in" anymore, people get handpicked because of their specific skill-sets and background, and then inducted into those agencies' "by invitation only" clubs, irrespective of which agency is doing the recruiting. If they don't need you they'll avoid you...;-).

Unfortunately, since "Black Water" tried to "privatize" information gathering out here in the Third World, and gave birth to whole new generation of copycat illegal operations conducted by Micro-Credit N.G.O.s, the James Bond wannabees out here on all their payrolls stick out like sore-thumbs, and have become the butt of jokes for people just trying to lead a quiet life and find some peace while trying to stay out of the rat-race they left behind in the West. lol.

Maybe somebody should refer this guy to "Black Water" (now Xe) or Micro-Credit N.G.O.s (out here in the Third World) - they'll take anybody, walk-ins no problem, and they pay well for any old totally useless nonsense, or so I hear. lol. Plus, he could live out his James Bond fantasy in a totally safe environment, and never fall foul of counter-intel out here because no one bothers to do any, its the boonies out here man, quite literally - I don't know why I even bothered to look at what those idiots out here are doing, never amounts to anything useful or even remotely amusing anyway. lol.

Posted by: darkasnight1234 | October 14, 2010 9:26 PM | Report abuse

Assuming this guy wasn't a setup and was actually trying to be a spy...
I wonder what exactly could he deliver?

Akamai hosts lots of content from lots of companies and agencies, but if any of them are placing confidential or classified data on Akamai's servers (at least without encryption, and maybe even with it) then that would be a problem that needs to be fixed.

Of course, to convict the guy the FBI would have to reveal that information, which the government wouldn't want to do, so they might come to some out of court agreement which would just reinforce the suspicion that it was all a setup to begin with...
Ah, espionage!

Posted by: iMac77 | October 15, 2010 1:47 AM | Report abuse

If you want a major Western agency to lose interest in you just pretend they're a beautiful woman and chase after them and act all crazy and watch them run away from you, on the other hand if you want a major Western agency to take an interest in you (can't imagine why you would) act like a little girl and say, "I am innocent, I have nothing to hide", and watch them go, "Aha!", and then camp-out in your neighborhood. lol.

Now, a combination of the two will shake even the veterans off your tail, where you find some hapless introverted/shy individual as your decoy (girl or guy doesn't matter) who seeks attention and tries to be overly social to hide their natural shyness from people and let her/him act like a little girl and say, "I am innocent, I have nothing to hide" (which they will do when they get all that extra attention;-) while you pretend the Western agency you want to shake is a beautiful woman and chase after them and act all crazy, and then watch the Western agency run away from you and start chasing the decoy instead. Never fear, since you decoy is actually innocent, after running after your decoy for a few years Forrest Gump Style ("You Can Go Your Own Way") the Western agency will realize the decoy is actually innocent, and then they will feel guilty and try to make it up to the decoy - its the best counter-intel tactic ever, "they sure don't make 'em like they used to" (I am sure the boys at Langley are laughing their butts off if they are reading any of this). lol.

If a Western agency actually wants to talk to you they will join you for drink of scotch like gentlemen. Otherwise, they are just snooping for no valid reason, so feel free to shake 'em off. lol.

Posted by: darkasnight1234 | October 15, 2010 1:51 AM | Report abuse

Is it just on my computer, or is EVERYTHING in that "court papers" link in the first paragraph redacted?

Posted by: sr12345 | October 15, 2010 3:04 AM | Report abuse

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