Samuel Morison
bullet  Outside 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.

Morison: Consulting
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 budget." 1

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 a 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," Harper’s, September 1989.