consulting activities can present a conflict of interest that leads to security
compromise. Morison was another one who thought he knew better than the U.S. Government
what was best for the United States.
Led to Espionage
Samuel Loring Morison worked at the Naval
Intelligence Support Center in Suitland, Md., from 1974 to 1984. The grandson of the
famous naval historian Samuel Elliot Morison, he was an intelligence analyst specializing
in Soviet amphibious and mine-laying vessels.
At the same time, Morison earned $5,000 per
year as a part-time contributor and editor of the American section of Jane's Fighting
Ships, an annual reference work on the world's navies published in England. There
were repeated complaints about Morison using office time and facilities to do his work for
Jane's and warnings to him about conflict of interest between the jobs.
In 1984, conflicts with his supervisors led
Morison to seek a full-time position with Jane's in London. At this time, he
began overstepping the boundary of permissible information that could be sent to Jane's.
The case came to a head when Morison took three classified photographs from a neighboring
desk. These were aerial surveillance photographs showing construction of the first Soviet
nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. The photographs were missed. Soon thereafter, they
appeared in Jane's Defence Weekly and were traced back to Morison.
Morison was motivated by a desire to curry
favor with Jane's to increase his chances of being offered a job. He also had a
political motive for passing classified information to the media -- to influence American
public opinion in favor of a stronger defense posture. He believed that the new
nuclear-powered aircraft carrier would transform Soviet capabilities, and that "if
the American people knew what the Soviets were doing, they would increase the defense
Morison was sentenced to two years in prison
for espionage and theft of government property. As a result of the Morison case, policy
guidelines for adjudicating security clearances were changed to include consideration of
outside activities that present potential conflict of interest.
Related Topic: Reporting Outside Activities,
How Spies Are Caught.
1. P. Weiss, "The quiet coup: U.S. v. Morison - a victory for
secret government," Harpers, September 1989.