From July 2016 to May 2019, Izaak Kemp worked as a contractor at the Air Force Research Laboratory and National Air and Space Intelligence Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.
During his time at the base, which oversees the development of advanced laser and hypersonic weaponry, military satellites, and space vehicles, Kemp enjoyed a Top Secret clearance. This would seem to mesh with his educational background of a master’s degree in physics and a doctorate in electrical engineering.
And then it got weird.
Kemp recently pleaded guilty to taking 2,500 pages of classified data from 112 different documents to his home in Fairborn, Ohio. This is despite numerous training sessions related to the proper safeguarding of classified material.
And the only reason this came to light is because local law enforcement, when executing a search warrant for an illegal marijuana growing facility, discovered documents labeled as “Special Access Programs.”
Kemp has been accommodating during the investigation, never denying that he brought the documents home for storage. There are also no indications that Kemp intentionally or inadvertently leaked or misused the information.
While it’s not known exactly what the files contained, the label indicates that they should have been stored in a highly protected environment. No charges have been filed for marijuana-related activities.
So, how did a contractor get all this sensitive information off an Air Force base and into his home? Simple — he had the right color badge.
Mark Zaid, a national security attorney in Washington, D.C., told the Dayton Daily News, “When you’re an employee or contractor, and you have a green or blue badge, that gives you open access. No one checks your bags or folders or anything when you leave the office.”
So forget the Oceans 11 or Mission: Impossible tactics — it turns out that an arts and crafts kit might just be all you need to get the latest and greatest on everything from rail guns to the Mars rover.
On a more serious note, Kemp’s unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents is punishable as a federal crime, and he could get up to five years in prison.