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Professor Gets 4 Years in Prison for Sharing Drone Plans With Students 354

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the read-before-you-sign dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Retired University of Tennessee Professor Dr. John Reece Roth has been sentenced to four years in prison after he allowed a Chinese graduate student to see sensitive information on Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones. In 2004, the company Roth helped found, Atmospheric Glow Technologies, won a US Air Force contract to develop a plasma actuator that could help reduce drag on the wings of drones, such as the ones the military uses. Under the contract, for which Roth was reportedly paid $6,000, he was prohibited from sharing sensitive data with foreign nationals. Despite warnings from his university's Export Control Officer, in 2006, Roth took a laptop containing sensitive plans with him on a lecture tour in China and also allowed graduate students Xin Dai of China and Sirous Nourgostar of Iran to work on the project. 'The illegal export of restricted military data represents a serious threat to national security,' says David Kris of the US Department of Justice. 'We know that foreign governments are actively seeking this information for their own military development. Today's sentence should serve as a warning to anyone who knowingly discloses restricted military data in violation of our laws.' During his trial, Roth testified that he was unaware that hiring the graduate students was a violation of his contract. 'This whole thing has not helped me, it has not helped the university,' said Roth. 'And it has probably not helped this country, either.'"
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Professor Gets 4 Years in Prison for Sharing Drone Plans With Students

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  • by russotto (537200) on Friday July 03, 2009 @04:43PM (#28574917) Journal

    Presumably because the students weren't the ones who signed the reams of paperwork acknowledging they were being given access to sensitive data and shouldn't be sharing it with foreign nationals. Unless procedures have changed a lot, you don't get legitimate access to such information without being told ad nauseum who you should and shouldn't be sharing it with and what the penalties are for breaking those rules.

  • Guilty. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Petersko (564140) on Friday July 03, 2009 @04:43PM (#28574921)
    He knew he wasn't supposed to do it, he was warned not to do it, he did it anyway. He pled guilty.

    If he didn't read his contract that's his problem. I also find it very unlikely.

    Why is this on slashdot?
  • Not long enough (Score:5, Insightful)

    by m509272 (1286764) on Friday July 03, 2009 @04:45PM (#28574943)

    Should have been 40 years, idiot. Just bringing the laptop to China is shear stupidity.

  • Lying or stupid? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 03, 2009 @04:49PM (#28574977)

    Let's see, he signed a contract saying he was prohibited from sharing sensitive data with foreign nationals, then he shared it with forign nationals. Now he says "he was unaware that hiring the graduate students (to do work in the project) was a violation of his contract"? He's either too stupid to be a professor, or he's lying.

    Have fun in prison bub.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 03, 2009 @04:54PM (#28575013)

    You can't work on a top-secret project without signing very serious agreements with Uncle Sam. It just doesn't happen. Therefore he knew damned well he wasn't allowed to share this information, but did so anyway. What the fuck did he expect? What the fuck would *you* expect? If you expected to get away with something like that without consequence, you're a fucking moron.

  • Re:Not long enough (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wrath0fb0b (302444) on Friday July 03, 2009 @04:57PM (#28575047)

    Especially after being told not to...

    I don't truck much with "being told" what to do.

    I do truck with signing a contract that lays out very explicitly what obligations and restrictions to which you you are voluntarily agreeing. He knew (or absolutely should have known) that when you sign a contract to consult for the DOD, you are accepting these restrictions.

    This is about as much YRO (which has meant YR for a long time now anyway) as any other mundane contractual disputes that turn up.

  • Re:Guilty. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thomasw_lrd (1203850) on Friday July 03, 2009 @04:59PM (#28575065)

    Because it's another crybaby story the govt. is evil, copyright is evil, and all nerds should be allowed free access to any information that is in the entire world. I'm surprised they didn't try to tie the iphone and google into it.

  • by Dolphinzilla (199489) on Friday July 03, 2009 @05:00PM (#28575067) Journal

    while it is certainly unfortunate that they got sensitive data - the violation of the ITAR was the professors alone and I am glad he was found guilty - aside from the obvious security issues giving away technology weakens our economic and business advantages as well - part of doing business in this country is playing by the rules - if you don't want to play by these rules, then work on non ITAR technologies instead

  • by pla (258480) on Friday July 03, 2009 @05:01PM (#28575077) Journal
    "Openness", both ideologically and in the FOSS sense, forms one of the core requirements of successful academia.

    I don't blame or absolve the professor - He had a contract, and I suppose the legal details of this boil down to a matter of contract law (though I most certainly do have a problem with prison time rather than monetary damages for breach of contract). But I do blame both his university and the government itself.

    I blame the university for undermining any sense of credibility by selling out to the highest bidder at the expense of discrimination against an arbitrary list of students - Students who paid the same tuition as every other student, yet cannot experience the same intellectual freedoms as their peers all because some magic list-of-the-week says their Fearless Leader (whom in many cases they came to the US because they don't like the policies or education climate back home) pissed in our Cheerios.
    And I blame the government for foisting their homework onto a domain that largely considers secrecy either beneath consideration or outright contemptible. Don't want foreign students to have access to military projects? Simple - Give those projects to standard military-industrial contractors familiar with paranoid levels of obfuscation and mistrust such as Lockheed, Grumman, Boeing or the like. And if they do decide to tap academia for parts of their research, I blame them for not taking care to prevent any one group from having "enough" information to do anything useful with.


    You don't spank a baby for giggling at butterflies, and you don't hold it accountable if you give it a gun and someone gets hurt. Simple as that.
  • Plasma actuator (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bromskloss (750445) <auxiliary@address@for@privacy.gmail@com> on Friday July 03, 2009 @05:03PM (#28575087)

    Forget the prison sentence, I want to learn about the "plasma actuator that could help reduce drag on the wings of drones". (This is a tech site, remember?) So, how do these work?

  • by Kell Bengal (711123) on Friday July 03, 2009 @05:05PM (#28575099)
    He made a poor choice, for sure, but a lot of academics live and work in a 'publish freely, collaborate frequently' mind-set that helps share knowledge and advance human understanding. The whole culture of scientific openness, testability and peer review is strongly at odds with the secrecy-is-paramount function of military endeavours. The two must work together if militaries are to benefit from the latest scientific knowledge but the goals of academics and military are not the same and I'm not surprised it leads to such mistakes.

    I'm a university UAV researcher myself; I know lots of folks who work with the military to get funding to do research they think is important. It comes with the territory, and most of us are pretty cluey about the defense applications of what we do. I have been to plenty of conferences where the guys from Iran and China are presenting trivial results or not bothering to present at all, only to attend every potentially valuable seminar they can. We know they're trying to use our stuff, they know they're trying to use our stuff, but we feel that sharing knowledge and putting it out there is crucial for the science.

    For that reason people are careful about the alliances they make with the military. Working on national security stuff generally means you can't publish anything valuable you come up. I know a few collegues well who can't say what they did between years X and Y when they go for a job interview - it can be kryptonite to your career.

    I don't think this guy was necessarily stupid or foolish - I think he was careless after being so used to the routine of publish or perish that he forgot who his collaborators were, and that was his mistake.

  • Re:Guilty. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by samkass (174571) on Friday July 03, 2009 @05:09PM (#28575129) Homepage Journal

    If he didn't read his contract that's his problem. I also find it very unlikely.

    Agreed. ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) is something that all defense workers are trained in. It's also explained very carefully that if there's a violation it's not the government program's fault, it's not the company's fault, but it's the employee that's going to prison. It's a pretty strict standard. Even discussing things in the public domain for the wrong purposes can land you in hot water-- giving a citation (book name, page number) of public domain information can violate ITAR if it's in response to, say, a question about missile technology. In essence what you exported there was your expertise in leading the foreign national to that source of information.

    Incidentally, these are the same regulations that kept the old PowerMac G4's from being exported and led to the "tank" commercial at the time.

  • Re:Guilty. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Vellmont (569020) on Friday July 03, 2009 @05:11PM (#28575161)


    He knew he wasn't supposed to do it, he was warned not to do it, he did it anyway. He pled guilty.

    Wrong, maybe, and wrong. In his trial (he didn't plead guilty, that was a different party) he said he didn't think it was illegal (see below).
    (from the article and the summary, which apparently you either didn't read or comprehend)

    During his trial, Roth testified that he was unaware that hiring the graduate students was a violation of his contract, otherwise he would not have participated since his plasma research also has non-military applications.


    If he didn't read his contract that's his problem.

    Have you ever read a real contract? Even lawyers have difficulty interpreting many of them.

  • Yes, I'm replying to myself...

    It's kind of funny (or pathetic) but many advanced technologies (like stealth and hypersonics) start out this way. Some guy in some academic lad has a weird idea that actually works. The DOD then takes the concept black and tries to wipe out all traces of the idea's prior existence. They weren't very good at that back in the 70s and 80s and there's no way they are going to be able to do that today, given the power of the Web.
  • Re:Guilty. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dummondwhu (225225) on Friday July 03, 2009 @05:29PM (#28575301)
    Those of us who work in defense are trained until we're blue in the face about how to handle sensitive information, what is and is not releasable, and what an "export" is in defense terms (it's more than it sounds). My company trains us extensively on that, and maybe the company he founded didn't bother to pound these things into the heads of the people in the company, but it's just not a good excuse. If we are to be trusted to handle classified information, it's up to us to make sure we understand proper safeguarding of that info. Can I recite all the rules and regs? Hell no, but I guarantee I'm not taking any information anywhere or giving information to anyone without running it through proper channels first. That's not just common sense, but what we're trained to do on an ongoing basis.
  • by Beardo the Bearded (321478) on Friday July 03, 2009 @05:46PM (#28575415)

    I work on NATO military things.

    They're pretty clear what you can talk about and with whom. Moreover to your point, if someone takes a strong interest in your work, you shall document and report it as a potential security breach.

    Roth is getting a pretty light slap with four years.

  • by Petersko (564140) on Friday July 03, 2009 @06:02PM (#28575533)
    "he didn't plead guilty, that was a different party"

    That's true, I'll grant you that. My fault for skim-reading.

    "In his trial...he said he didn't think it was illegal (see below). (from the article and the summary, which apparently you either didn't read or comprehend)"

    I read that. Sorry, I don't buy it. He's claiming ignorance, but there's no way that's true. It specifically states in the article that he took that laptop to China "despite warnings from his University's Export Control Officer". Even if he somehow missed the boat in the "what not to share" session that was undoubtely provided for him, he knew then. He's guilty.
  • by Red Midnight (1440977) on Friday July 03, 2009 @06:05PM (#28575561)
    Why are we even talking about this? The prof was either a complete idiot (and should put his Ph.D. back in the cereal box he got it from) or intentionally broke the law as some act of defiance. What is unclear? He knows he's working on a "secret" project used by the military. He probably got told 6 ways through Sunday he can't talk about it. And he goes to jail because he did what he was told to not do. To say he should not get jail time, or that he's from an academic world, defies logic and COMMON SENSE. Gee, this is a secret military project, I think I'll not only take the data/laptop to China, but I'll share it with Chinese and Iranian students. Gimme a break. It makes no sense. It's much more likely, IMHO, that he was giving a one-finger salute to the US. Even if he weren't, he's a moron, and ignorance of the law is not a valid defence.
  • Re:Guilty. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Vellmont (569020) on Friday July 03, 2009 @06:07PM (#28575573)


    Those of us who work in defense are trained until we're blue in the face about how to handle sensitive information, what is and is not releasable

    He doesn't work in "defense", he's a retired University professor who works for a company doing work with plasma. Comparing him to yourself is disingenuous at best.

    Universities (especially physics) works very differently than a company with regard to "classified" information. Here's how it works. You want research money. You apply for a grant from the DOE for said research money where you check "yes this has potential weapons applications" (because hey, what doesn't?). The DOE grants your request. In reality your research only meets the barest minimum for a qualification of "weapons potential". Yah, there's some kind of nonsense restriction on what you can do with it, but remember it never really had defense implications in the first place.

    So, if we're talking about environments here, that's quite a different environment than the one you're describing.

  • by physicsphairy (720718) on Friday July 03, 2009 @06:07PM (#28575577) Homepage

    I blame the university for undermining any sense of credibility by selling out to the highest bidder at the expense of discrimination against an arbitrary list of students - Students who paid the same tuition as every other student, yet cannot experience the same intellectual freedoms as their peers

    We are talking about a project funded by DOE grant money, not student tuition, and usually the way these things work is that the university skims a whole lot off of that and effectively the DOE subsidizes the tuition of the foreign nationals by providing these projects.

    But I don't think the argument holds water anyway. I mean, I pay my taxes the same as anyone else, but would you honestly say this merits my having equal access to nuclear missile silos and chemical weapons laboratories as any other citizen? Should any shareholder of Intel be able to come prancing about in the chip fabrication facility? Should the banker I mortgaged my house to be able to drop in for breakfast whenever he wants? It appears fairly intuitive to me that making an investment in something does not automatically mean you should be able to run in and grab whatever you feel is an equitable share of the benefits.

    because some magic list-of-the-week says their Fearless Leader (whom in many cases they came to the US because they don't like the policies or education climate back home) pissed in our Cheerios.

    Yes, and why do you think Fearless Leader was willing to let them go in the first place, hmm? Maybe he's just a real swell guy... but any realistic effort at national security requires considering other possibilities.

    And I blame the government for foisting their homework onto a domain that largely considers secrecy either beneath consideration or outright contemptible. Don't want foreign students to have access to military projects? Simple - Give those projects to standard military-industrial contractors familiar with paranoid levels of obfuscation and mistrust such as Lockheed, Grumman, Boeing or the like.

    That is a nice generalization about academics, but maybe the ones who voluntarily work on military projects which require secrecy don't exactly fall into your blanket description. We aren't talking about the draft here. And I think you grossly underestimate the entrenchment of academics in military research. Why don't you lookup who worked on the Manhattan project and see how many of them were "standard military-industrial contractors." Los Alamos labs (and other labs) are run by universities on the military's behalf.

    I blame them for not taking care to prevent any one group from having "enough" information to do anything useful with.

    Why would you give them information they couldn't do anything useful with? What would be the point of giving them information at all?

    I doubt there is much I can say to dissuade you that it is not the military's fault, since hey they're the bad guys right? But there are a vast number of practical justifications for their present interactions with academics, and I assure you that no one is forcefully compelled to accept these grant-funded projections (by contrast, you generally must fight to get them). You don't have to like it, but acting like this is a case of an innocent guy getting caught up in the system is myopic at best.

  • by bzipitidoo (647217) <bzipitidoo@yahoo.com> on Friday July 03, 2009 @06:23PM (#28575695) Journal

    Thank you for saying all that.

    The punishment doesn't strike me as particularly useful either. Seems too severe, especially when considering that he likely didn't mean to hurt the US. Do they want to scare off everyone? At the least it will cost more money to persuade others to work with them. I sure wouldn't go for a pitiful $6000 to face risks like that. Now we have one scientist locked up for 4 years where he probably can't do anything useful at all. And his career is toast. Maybe that part doesn't matter so much since he's retired, but for a young person it could be a life wrecker. It strikes me rather like the threat to shut down the Blackberrys in RIM vs NTP, or telling Vonage they can't sign up new customers, or the way the RIAA has forced a few alleged file sharers to drop out of college. Or the quaint fundamentalist Islamic custom of amputating the right hands of thieves. We shouldn't cause excessive damage when trying to achieve justice. Why not instead hit him with a fine, take away his access, and let him work on something else? Are scientists who are willing to bear the costs of working with the military as plentiful and disposable as all that?

  • Re:Not long enough (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 03, 2009 @06:26PM (#28575713)

    The real stupid part was that it mattered at all.

    Some people on some island don't want some guys on another island to know their super secret plans.
    Who gives a shit really.

    The whole thing is stupid.

    That we even give respect to these people building killing machines is stupid.

  • by timlyg (266415) on Friday July 03, 2009 @06:36PM (#28575779) Homepage

    Thanks to some fanatic patriots (who are actually cowards), geniuses such as Dr. Roth have to suffer.

    Any how, it is a good suffering.

    Eventually, the state of a country depends on the love of such suffering geniuses. We know from Einstein's life, such love has its limit.

  • by Mad Quacker (3327) on Friday July 03, 2009 @06:50PM (#28575859) Homepage

    Since I actually bothered to read more than just the first link - Looks like he had already done research on plasma actuation, after which he decided to work on a government project using this technology, which seems to have cancerously made everything on the topic classified, and he honestly didn't feel this the right thing to happen. The contracts were probably worded such that this was the case (what is right versus how to hide as much information as possible, even if previously not used for military applications), so he was tried on this basis.

    I'm surprised to see slashdoters' knee jerk reactions to this story. There's obviously a lot of technical details here that are missed.

  • Re:An marican hero (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BZ (40346) on Friday July 03, 2009 @07:13PM (#28576017)

    That worked really well in 1914!

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Friday July 03, 2009 @07:14PM (#28576025) Journal
    The reason for classifying it is that, without the DoD's extra work, it's difficult to know which ideas really work. There are lots of ideas coming out of academia that look great on paper but won't actually work due to engineering limitations or overlooked variables. If you know which are worth investigating further (because someone else has already done the feasibility analysis) then your R&D costs are much lower. Considering the fact that modern war basically boils down to economics, it's a legitimate concern.
  • Re:Guilty. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Vellmont (569020) on Friday July 03, 2009 @07:16PM (#28576047)


    The trouble with your argument

    The trouble with my argument is that it isn't an argument. You've taken it out of context, which was a refutation of the environment imposed on this guy.

    Everyone seems to think they understand exactly what happened here from one crappy ass article written by some journalist. Presumably nobody here was at the trial, hasn't read anything else about what was disclosed, or any real specifics. This kind of case is far from simple, and making assumptions with almost nothing to go on about what compromised what, what the law states, etc is extremely misleading. I simply argue for ignorance here, not knowledge.

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Friday July 03, 2009 @07:17PM (#28576049) Journal
    More likely, it will serve as a warning to any academics thinking of taking a DoD contract. $6K and risk a prison sentence? Not really worth it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 03, 2009 @07:21PM (#28576075)

    I am getting a PhD in mathematics and I can tell you this kind of story significantly influences my decision of whether to work for the government. There is plenty of other places to work where there aren't onerous restrictions placed on me and where I don't run the risk of being jailed for showing a powerpoint presentation of what amount to publicly available information to the bad guys of the decade.

    No thanks.

    Interestingly enough, captcha = morphism

  • by abigsmurf (919188) on Friday July 03, 2009 @08:00PM (#28576315)
    The punishment will serve it's purpose well. You do not share state secrets, even if your intentions are innocent. You do not treat them so lightly as to absent mindedly give them out. This is an incredibly important message for the government to send out. If you send out a message of "oh you silly sausage, I'll let it go this time" you'll have leaks left right and center. It doesn't matter how innocous the person you're revealing it to seems. Spies go out their ways to be innocuous, or will try to get information from people you've told (which is even worse as it makes the spies much harder to identify). Giving out military secrets costs lives. Freedom of information is all well and good until people then use that information too kill (not just in warfare but innocent civilians, political opponents etc.)
  • Re:Not long enough (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ScrewMaster (602015) * on Friday July 03, 2009 @08:01PM (#28576317)

    Contractual or not, four years for sharing some plans seems tad excessive.

    Oh well. I guess you have to be American to understand the American judicial system.

    What? My goodness, that anti-American commentary is become less and less rational on a daily basis.

    Look, there's a lot of technology that could be used to kill a lot of people if the wrong hands get access to it. The American taxpayer paid for that R&D, and it should be used in our interests, not to aid an inimical foreign power like China (no, they're not our friends, and probably never will be.) I understand that you're just trying to get in a jab at the hated Americans, but ask yourself how the Russians, or the Iranians, or the Israelis, or the Chinese or ... well, pretty much ANY country that has made a significant investment in military technology would (and have) handled similar cases. Compared to some of those countries, this is a slap on the wrist. I mean, after all the agreements he signed, just taking that laptop to CHINA, of all places, should have earned him a lot more than four years. I suspect the Feds cut him some slack.

    I'm sorry that you're ignorant of such matters, but you know, that is a curable condition.

  • Re:Guilty. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kencurry (471519) on Friday July 03, 2009 @08:20PM (#28576437)

    Everyone seems to think they understand exactly what happened ... I simply argue for ignorance here, not knowledge.

    the article clearly stated that he was warned not to disclose, and did it anyway. So yeah, I think that I understand exactly what happened here. You may want to "argue for ignorance" but c'mon already.

  • Re:An marican hero (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ScrewMaster (602015) * on Friday July 03, 2009 @09:28PM (#28576831)

    The professor did the world a favor. Sharing defense technology means conflicting powers are on equal strength and are less likely to go to war.

    My god, I think he really believes that. What makes people less likely to go to war is having wealth and prosperity ... something to lose, in other words. Giving away advanced military technology just makes it that much easier for a nation that has imperialistic tendencies to try and make something of it. You really need to have a better grasp of history than what you're displaying here.

    The unfortunate truth is that being merely at technological parity, militarily-speaking, is not sufficient to dissuade some people from going to war anyways. You have to have demonstrably superior capabilities to have any chance at a deterrent effect. And that isn't counting the pathological types who simply don't care if you kill them or not so long as they can take you with them. Regardless, you want your enemies to know, beyond the slightest shadow of a doubt, that if they try anything they're going to take an awful pasting. And that means making damn sure they can't equal your ability to wage war without making at least the same investment. Granted, that also means that you shouldn't give them too much reason to want to make that investment, but in either case you don't make it easy for them.

    So far as I'm concerned this "well, heck, they're going to get it anyways" attitude is damn near treasonous. I hope that our military R&D types don't share your relative ignorance, because we need to deny our enemies access to our most significant advances. Put it this way: it cost us a lot of money and time: we should see to it that it costs them the same. If it takes China or any other hostile power 'x" number of years to equal our current capabilities, well, that's 'x' years of relative peace we're going to have, because they won't be tempted to try anything. Put them on equal footing, and there's no telling what might happen.

  • by ScrewMaster (602015) * on Friday July 03, 2009 @09:32PM (#28576865)

    I am not saying the guy acted intelligently here, but the government is using him to make a point.

    And given the recent reports of security problems at a number of major military research facilities (and given the Chinese' investment in espionage and near-takeover of many of our Universities research departments), if you're right, all I can say is:

    GOOD!

  • Re:Guilty. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hawk (1151) <hawk@eyry.org> on Friday July 03, 2009 @09:43PM (#28576913) Journal

    Oh, you cynic.

    Why would anyone smart enough to get a Ph.D. even suspect that, after working on classified information, he shouldn't disclose that information to a student hand-selected to study with him by a totalitarian government with a history of using its military to take over others, repress dissent, and threaten other nations?

    hawk

  • everyone already (Score:1, Insightful)

    by markringen (1501853) on Friday July 03, 2009 @09:52PM (#28576949)
    everyone already knows everything government contractors do, no idea is original. it's just a sign of governmental stupidity.
  • Nuts (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 03, 2009 @10:26PM (#28577091)

    Big defense contractors have done this stuff and nothing happens to them, maybe a little fine. Presidents "authorizing" missile guidance tech transfers to china..zip, no impeachment or charges (example:clinton/loral) Supposedly allied nations (Israel) caught shopping mil gear we gave them, some missile, to china..nothing happens to them. Chinese and other foreign students all over every research establishment/university in the US..every single possible "crown jewel" tech and sensitive "IP" that exists...nothing, totally legal. A subsidiary of cheney's/halliburton, doing business in iran well past the so called embargo..nothing happens to them.

    The professors big crime? He isn't a connected fatcat, that's all.

  • Re:Guilty. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SanguineV (1197225) on Friday July 03, 2009 @10:56PM (#28577219) Homepage
    PhDs aren't granted for common sense.
  • Re:Not long enough (Score:4, Insightful)

    by shutdown -p now (807394) on Friday July 03, 2009 @11:06PM (#28577267) Journal

    Contractual or not, four years for sharing some plans seems tad excessive.

    I'm not an American, and I think that four years for a very real leak of sensitive military information is quite mild, and only shows to point out the difference between U.S. (and other Western countries), and, say, China - consider what would happen to a Chinese professor in a similar situation.

  • Re:Guilty. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by H0p313ss (811249) on Friday July 03, 2009 @11:25PM (#28577389)

    That might be his whole purpose in life.

    Oh STFU, you religious nut.

    Actually... I'm an atheist and I was referring to a slogan on a popular poster [despair.com]. Hope those meds work out for ya...

  • by jonaskoelker (922170) <jonaskoelker@ g n u .org> on Saturday July 04, 2009 @07:26AM (#28579195) Homepage

    Roth is getting a pretty light slap with four years.

    Yeah, just think of what could have happened if he had copied intellectual property!

    Or even worse, hosted a site which told visitors who had copies of the intellectual property they wanted to purch^Wacquire!

  • by Archtech (159117) on Saturday July 04, 2009 @08:00AM (#28579279)

    My friend went out and got another insurance guy. He started off by telling the guy, "I want every thing I own covered. Never mind the price -- cover everything. Just know that you are never, EVER to tell me something isn't covered. If you do, I will come after you personally and beat the living holy shit out of you and I'm big enough to do it thoroughly and well."

    So what was his premium? $10 million a month??

    Insurance doesn't work the way your friend (or any of us other mug punters) would like it to. Like banking and government, it aims to make a reliable, consistent net profit regardless of what happens. Its attitude to risk is to transfer the biggest risks from the individual mug punter to the aggregate mass of mug punters, while it stays high and dry on a risk-free island in midstream.

    And of course assaulting an insurance company employee because you were foolish enough to sign an agreement that didn't suit your needs would just get you locked up for a year and a day (or maybe even longer).

    Welcome to the Land of the Free to Make Unlimited Profits.

  • by Hal_Porter (817932) on Saturday July 04, 2009 @08:45AM (#28579449)

    I don't understand this point of view. He signed a bunch of documents that no doubt explained the dire consequences of leaking information in order to work on the project. Then he flew to China - which is very obviously not a free country to anyone who has spent more than a few days there or even read a few webpages - with that information on a laptop. And he explained the technology to Chinese and Iranian students. If he didn't agree with the concept of confidential information he shouldn't have signed up.

    He's lucky he only got 4 years - they could easily have charged him with espionage or treason.

If A = B and B = C, then A = C, except where void or prohibited by law. -- Roy Santoro

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