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Catching an Air Force Spy

The U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. Jeffrey M. Carney spent 12 years here for espionage, desertion and conspiracy. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. Jeffrey M. Carney spent 12 years here for espionage, desertion and conspiracy. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. Jeffrey M. Carney spent 12 years here for espionage, desertion and conspiracy. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. Jeffrey M. Carney spent 12 years here for espionage, desertion and conspiracy. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Unfortunately, even some Air Force members have committed espionage against the United States. The case of Jeffrey M. Carney is a Cold War example of how people can be tempted to turn against their own country. Entering the Air Force in 1980, Carney became disillusioned with the USAF and intended to defect to East Germany. Instead of simply defecting, he allowed himself to be manipulated by East German agents into espionage and soon became an enthusiastic and willing communist spy.

Assigned as a linguist to Tempelhof Central Airport in Berlin, Carney copied documents and passed them to the East German Ministry for State Security, or Stasi. Later transferred to Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, Carney continued spying for the Stasi, and he completed his defection by fleeing to East Germany in 1985. He had passed more than 100 classified documents to the communists. Afterward, he further helped the communists by translating intercepted military and diplomatic communications, and he was given East German citizenship and a new name, Jens Karney.

In 1991 after the fall of the Berlin Wall and Germany's reunification, OSI agents apprehended Carney near his Berlin apartment and returned him to the United States for trial. Carney was sentenced to 38 years in prison at a court-martial, having plead guilty to espionage, desertion and conspiracy. After serving 12 years in the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., Carney was released and attempted to return to Germany. However, since East Germany had ceased to exist and Carney was guilty of espionage, German officials declined to allow him to live in Germany or have German citizenship. As of 2003, Carney was still living in the United States.

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