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FBI says compulsive “hoarder” stole thousands of classified documents

Eric Pfeiffer
The Sideshow

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A NGA satellite photo of Islamabad, Pakistan (af.mil)

The FBI is investigating a government employee with top-security clearance whom they say stole thousands of classified documents. Even more interesting, the compulsion to steal the classified material is being attributed to a "hoarding" condition, rather than any threat of high-risk espionage.

The Smoking Gun reports that when government employee Robert Harwin was arrested last month, he described himself as a "hoarder" to authorities. Compulsive hoarding, the "excessive acquisition and inability or unwillingness to discard large quantities of objects that would seemingly qualify as useless or without value," has been popularized on the TLC reality show, "Hoarding."

FBI agents searched the man's home and found a "large cache" of classified documents and computer disks. At the time of his arrest, Harwin was working as an analyst with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), the agency responsible for creating high-tech, top-secret maps and interpreting data collected by unmanned drones. The NGA is said to have played a significant role in the capture of Osama bin Laden.

In an affidavit sworn by FBI counterintelligence agent Thomas Shea, the agent said, "I know that Hoarding is the excessive collection of particular items, along with the inability to discard items."

One of Harwin's co-workers told the FBI they had seen him leaving the NGA facilities "carrying a heavy plastic bag," on "three to four different occasions." While another employee said Harwin confessed he had "accidentally taken classified documents" home with him multiple times, "but always brought the documents back the next day."

You can read more about how the FBI closed in on Harwin and his subsequent arrest here.

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