Does DOJ Take Corporate Espionage Seriously?

by Joe Bast on February 20, 2013

Today’s Wall Street Journal has a Page 1 story titled “U.S. Ups Ante for Spying on Firms,” describing how “top administration officials” are promising to get tough on hacking and the theft of confidential information from American businesses.

The new push comes on the heels of fresh allegations of Chinese cyberspying. … The Obama administration is casting trade-secret theft as a major threat to both economic and national security.

Why, then, hasn’t the Obama administration prosecuted a major case of corporate espionage involving wire fraud that took place more than a year ago, and in which it already has a confession from the culprit?

I speak, of course, of disgraced climate scientist Peter Gleick, who confessed to assuming a false identity to steal corporate documents from my organization, The Heartland Institute, with the express purpose of harming the organization.

In the 57-page “Criminal Referral of Dr. Peter Gleick Talking Points” presented to the U.S. Attorney’s Office following the crime, Heartland’s legal counsel described how Gleick committed his crime for a period of several weeks, then misrepresented the stolen documents as a “leak” from a “Heartland Insider” rather than a theft. He also circulated a fake memo, which he may have written himself, originally claiming it was from Heartland and later claiming to have received it “in the mail” from an “anonymous source.”

Heartland estimates Gleick’s act of corporate espionage cost it millions of dollars. The crime exposed its donors to attacks coordinated by the Center for American Progress – often called “Obama’s think tank” – and left-wing activist groups including Greenpeace and Union of Concerned Scientists.

Why won’t the Obama administration prosecute Peter Gleick? With a confession in hand, a lack of resources is no excuse. With millions of dollars in losses and a terrible precedent set – you can break the law and reveal the identities of donors to a nonprofit organizations without fear of prosecution – it cannot be argued that the case isn’t sufficiently important.

If the Obama administration wants to prove it is serious about cracking down on corporate espionage, it ought to start with a case that it has been carefully ignoring for the past year.

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