October 6, 2005
Written by C.N.
ABC News reports that Filipino American Leandro Aragoncillo, a U.S. Marine formerly assigned to Vice President Cheney’s staff, has been arrested and charged with passing sensitive information and documents to operatives in the Philippines:
Officials say the classified material, which Aragoncillo stole from the vice president’s office, included damaging dossiers on the president of the Philippines. He then passed those on to opposition politicians planning a coup in the Pacific nation. . . .
According to a criminal complaint, Aragoncillo was arrested last month and accused of downloading more than 100 classified documents from FBI computers. Since that arrest, officials say Aragoncillo has started to cooperate. He has admitted to spying while working on the staff of Vice President Cheney’s office.
First, we need to remember that people are (theoretically) presumed innocent until proven guilty. We should also remember that there are several documented cases where Asian Americans were accused of spying for a foreign country but in the end, virtually all charges were dropped against them (Wen Ho Lee, Katrina Leung, James Yee), with many of these cases involving the prosecution being chastised by the judge for misconduct and being overzealous.
Having said that, if in fact Aragoncillo has admitted to the charges brought against him, it strikes me that he was not actually spying against the U.S. Instead, it sound like he is accused of only passing information about Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to her critics and opposition leaders. In other words, the information does not seem to be of vital national importance or sensitive to national security.
Yes, what he allegedly did was in fact illegal, but it did not involve passing along names of American secret agents to our enemies, or technical information on building weapons, or any other type of sensitive information that could be used to harm Americans.
Nonetheless, it is almost inevitable that the same kind of anti-Asian hysteria that accompanied these previous accusations of spying will once again surface against us Asian Americans, and that our loyalty and status as “true” Americans will once again be called into question, based on the alleged acts of one individual.
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Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Filipino American Spy at the White House" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2005/10/filipino-american-spy-at-the-white-house/> ().
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