The strongest indicator that Israel was the planned recipient of what the Toebbe’s stole is the silence over who the target might have been. An intriguing though fragmentary espionage story made headlines eleven days ago and then disappeared abruptly, suggesting that some folks in high places in the government and media were fearing that the full tale would prove to be embarrassing to someone. I am referring to the report of the arrest made by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service of an American government employee who worked in nuclear engineering. Jonathan Toebbe and his wife Diana apparently had stolen highly sensitive information on nuclear propulsion systems and the stealth hull designs of the next generation U.S. Navy Virginia class attack submarine fleet and had been caught after several times seeking to sell their wares to what they thought to be a foreign power. Two days after the arrest, the Toebbes appeared in court in Martinsburg West Virginia and were ordered to remain in jail as they were considered a flight risk. So far, so good but the interesting part of the story is that the intended purchaser was apparently not obvious adversaries like Russia and China, but rather an ostensibly friendly country, which was not identified. The Toebbes clearly thought they were offering their technology to a foreign country’s intelligence service, one presumes, but they were in fact in contact with the FBI, which allowed them to arrange dead drops in Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia and paid them to continue providing new material on small digital computer cards before closing the trap and making the arrest.
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