"Game of Pawns": A Video Review

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Authored by: Steven Lindemuth, NSTi Intern

As security professionals in the defense industry, our goal is to help maintain a secure state of our country. As a global leader, the United States faces constant threats from enemies. We work diligently to defend against those threats. The “bad guys” are not only after information about our national defense; anything can be useful to them. Foreign governments unlocking the secrets to our energy technology and high-end equipment can be the first step in weakening the United States. They have many tactics which span from unsolicited emails to hacking to social engineering. One of the more dangerous ways they target our secrets is through the insider threat. They are infiltrating our systems and becoming better at it. This makes us substantially weak because, “a safe is only as strong as the guy with the key.” A more prominent area of insider threat that we need to be cautious of is Americans being recruited by foreign intelligence services. The main target is unsuspecting young travelers abroad. They are our weakest link because they have not yet become a “trusted insider”. This is exactly what happened to Glenn Shriver.

Game of Pawns” is a movie produced by the FBI portraying the events which lead to the arrest of Mr. Shriver, a college student who was studying abroad in Shanghai, China. He needed a job to continue to stay in the country and found one that called for him to write political essays. This was the first step in China's recruitment process, to lure Shriver in and build a relationship with him. Shriver met with a man named Mr. Tang who was higher up on the chain of command than the people he had been dealing with prior. Tang gave Shriver a substantial amount of money and called it a “scholarship” to continue his studies. Shriver decided to take a test to become a diplomat, but he failed twice. Both times he was paid by his employers. Soon after the last test Shriver met with another man named Mr. Wu who then encouraged Shriver to apply for a job with the CIA. As this was going on things started to become clear for Shriver and he understood the recruiting situation he found himself in, but he enjoyed having the money too much. His contacts explained that this could be beneficial for both countries and bring them closer together which helped justify it. He took some time, thought about it, and wanted $40,000. They agreed before he could finish his request.

Shriver had an interview set up at CIA headquarters but found himself withdrawing about half way through the polygraph test. Some of the questions in the polygraph were too real for Shriver and he felt trapped. He traveled down a slippery slope and found himself at the bottom with no way to get out. How can a young person say no to free money? He was later found out, arrested, and sentenced to four years in prison.

This is the perfect target for foreign governments, young Americans with greed. Glenn Shriver is just one example of the many students and travelers that are targeted to partner with Foreign Governments in efforts to weaken the United States. Infiltration is one of the most dangerous threats to the United States. It is hard to stop threats when the threats are people who are supposed to be on your side.