Sunday, April 10, 2016

US Navy Lt. Commander Charged with a lot of Espionage

About 8 months ago, Lieutenant Commander Edward Lin of the U.S. Navy was arrested on suspicion of espionage on this past Friday, April 8th, he was "charged with two counts of espionage, three counts of attempted espionage and five counts of communicating defense information."
Lt. Cmdr. Lin
Mr. Edward Lin was native born in Taiwan and moved to the United States at the age of 14.  He worked with the EP3-E Aries II signals intelligence aircraft, according to Reuters, and reportedly shared information with his home country of Taiwan or even China, but it was reportedly still under investigation.  Lin was also charged with one count of prostitution and one count of adultery.  

Same dude.

The details of the case have not been released but Mr. Lin's position in the Navy and his activities could cost a lot of jail time.  The last big case of espionage in the Navy was when John Anthony Walker was sentenced to three life sentences back during the Cold War in 1985.  He led an operation that sent information to the Soviet Union and it was considered one of the biggest security breaches of the Cold War.  What do you think should be done with treasonous U.S. Military officials?  Is there a difference between wartime espionage (or quasi wartime) and peacetime espionage?  Does it depend on the information being leaked or should all types of spying be punished harshly?  Is this hella hypocritical for the U.S. to crack down on spying when they spy on its citizens secretly (until Ed Snowden)?


Horace He said...

There's definitely a huge difference between wartime espionage and semi-wartime espionage. Information during wartime more directly leads to deaths of American troops. There's also more crucial information being leaked.

As for how harshly he should be punished, I really think it depends on what "spying" really is. Did he deliberately leak sensitive information to the Chinese government because the Chinese government asked him to? Or did he accidentally let something slip while drinking alcohol when on a vacation in China.

Anonymous said...

At the very minimum, those who have spied should be kicked out and banned from working for the government. This means not only militarily, but politically as well. Also, I think they should have some sort of mark on their record that will follow them for the rest of their lives. Similar to the list of sex offenders, there should be a list of spies and those who have committed treason. Of course, I believe that the punishment should depend on the type of spying, how much information was shared, and the nature of the information shared. I also think that the court should look to see if the spy was coerced or threatened by the country he/she spied for.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Horace that there is a difference between wartime and semi wartime espionage. I think that if he did actually share aircraft information with Taiwan without any permission by our military, the punishment he receives is deserved. I think that the type of spying that the government does on its people is very different from the espionage that military officials may be doing because they could potentially put our nation and military at risk. Like Emma said, I think that those who leak information should be kicked out but there is a grey area when it comes to exposing government misconduct.

Virginia Hsiao said...

Like most of the other posters, I agree that there is a difference between espionage during wartime and semi-wartime. What is interesting is to then consider what standards he must be held to, assuming that the evidence holds up and that he is guilty of what he has been charged with. I’m under the impression that such military trials are held under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. If that’s true, then as the current code states (, certain acts of espionage, such as those that concern information regarding nuclear weapons or communications intelligence are punishable by death. Given the different possibilities, I think it makes sense to have the punishment fit the action.

On a slightly tangential note, I think depending on how you look at it, the ramifications of the information going to China as opposed to Taiwan are very different given their different political ties. That doesn’t discount the fact that he allegedly shared information he was not supposed to, but I do wonder whether the country to which he shared the information should have an effect on his overall punishment.

Anonymous said...

Kinda of going with the flow here, I think that there is a tremendous difference between peaceful time espionage and wartime espionage. Also, if you think about he was a native Taiwanese citizen, it is a little understandable if his loyalty is more towards his home country. However, it still does not excuse him (if) he purposefully gave away information that he was trusted not to do. I think he will deserve his punishment if proven guilty, however I think based on his place of birth and the circumstances of the time he gave away the information, that a more suiting form of punishment (such as being banned from governmental work) is required.

Sameer Jain said...

Regarding your last question about whether it's "hella hypocritical for the U.S. to crack down on spying when they spy on its citizens secretly," I think that it is important to understand the reasoning that the US government states for its spying. The type of spying that Lieutenant Commander Edward Lin did is likely to be harmful for Americans and in some way compromises national security to a degree. The government's spying is (supposedly) for the benefit and protection of American citizens. So from the government's perspective, it isn't necessarily hypocritical to punish espionage.