No Trial: Submariner Pleads Guilty (Weinmann Part IV)
Molten Eagle has keenly followed this story in three earlier posts, so today's news certainly comes as no surprise, because the case has been handled with such unusual secrecy.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Ariel J. Weinmann was scheduled for a court-martial next week but will instead plead guilty in a Norfolk Naval Station court to some of the six charges against him, Weinmann's civilian attorney said Monday. "Pre trial negotiations have been going on and have been met with some success," said the attorney, Phillip Stackhouse of Jacksonville, N.C.
In fact, it is time to discuss Weinmann's sentence:
"The Navy at one point had considered the death penalty against Weinmann but rejected it for undisclosed reasons. The maximum punishment for espionage under military code is life in prison."
Weinmann passed classified information to a foreign government representative in Vienna, Austria, and Mexico City. The Navy has not disclosed what information was passed, nor has the foreign government officially been named. Israel was not Weinmann's recipient, according to the Navy. CNN, has named Russia as the foreign government, but Time magazine, citing anonymous military sources, reported in August that the Navy had not confirmed Russia as having received anything from Weinmann.
Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) special agent Kevin Burke, who questioned Weinmann over nine days after his arrival in Norfolk from Dallas, said the sailor was found with dozens of computer files containing biographical information "at the classified level." Crew biographical data possibly. Examples of basic, biographical data are found on ID (dog) tags.
In Molten Eagle's opinion, the worst possibility here would have been for the sensitive classified biographical information to have included the religious preferences of thousands of active duty submariners, and for Weinmann to have passed same along to a potential recruiter of Islamic terrorists. Such a security breach would obviously have to be treated with utmost sensitivity and the unusual secrecy that U.S. journalists have reported.
The U.S. has never shied from admitting or harshly punishing spying by Israel (the Rosenbergs, Jonathan Pollard) and Weinmann's family are certainly not Jews. So what sentence will Weinmann receive? Judging by his shipmate's (Lt. Loomis) ultra-light sentence for desertion during war, Weinmann must agree to serve no more than 10-15 years in the brig and thereafter to hold his silence about this crime for life.