The U.S. intelligence community suffered yet another shock yesterday when a 13-year veteran of the FBI was arrested on charges of selling secrets to Moscow. The arrest of Earl Edwin Pitts, who joined the agency in 1983 and was employed most recently at the FBI’s training facility in Quantico, Virginia, came exactly one month after Harold Nicholson, a high ranking CIA officer, was also charged with spying for Russia. (See Monitor, November 19-21) One unnamed U.S. official said that he knew of no connection between the two cases. Other sources suggested that Pitts’ activities may have constituted a greater intelligence breach than those perpetrated by Nicholson — whose own damage to U.S. security has been described as considerable. U.S. law enforcement organs had suffered an additional embarrassment in November when pressure and threats of retaliation from Moscow compelled them to release a former Soviet spy who had been arrested at New York’s JFK airport. (See Monitor, November 6, 14, 18)
U.S. officials yesterday indicated that Pitts, who is the second FBI agent ever to be arrested on espionage charges, had probably begun his illegal activities in the late 1980’s when he was serving in a New York office of the FBI responsible for catching spies. In the early 1990’s he became a supervisory agent at FBI headquarters. Reports varied on the question of whether Pitts had been moved in 1995 to the position in Quantico because he was under suspicion, or whether he had requested the transfer. (Reuter, AP, December 18)
Duma Tries to Prevent Russia’s Regions from Breaking Up.