In 1984, Stu Nozette spoke to the San Diego Evening Tribune about a NASA study regarding the possibility of building a colony on the Moon. “The conclusion is we could be doing this by 2010 on the moon, ” said Nozette. Later in the same article, Nozette repeated his belief that a base could be built by 2010 and said, “maybe even by 1995 you could have a small outpost … with three to six people…”
It’s October, 2009, and Stewart David Nozette, a 52-year-old MIT grad and former member of the White House National Space Council to the Executive Office of the President (specifically Bush 41), has left dreams or theories of a moon colony far behind. Nozette has been arrested for attempted espionage.
According this DOJ Arrest Warrant uploaded by Politico, Nozette allegedly wanted to give classified information to someone whom he believed was working for the Mossad. Nozette, like pedophiles who get busted for sexy chatting with what they think are 13-year-olds on the Web, forgot a good rule of thumb for folks seeking to do some kind of dirty deed that requires an extra dose of secrecy: he forgot that IT’S ALWAYS A COP. Or in this case, an undercover FBI agent.
What could make a legendary scientist like Nozette do something so stupid? Money? Infamy? Politics?
The money he was supposedly seeking wasn’t major. From the Arrest Warrant:
There was, however, a note of cockiness, a kind of screw it attitude in quotes from Nozette in the document that made me wonder if it was more about some kind of cloak-and-dagger fantasy:
You can almost smell the cheap cigarettes and the sweatband from the inside of a dashing porkpie hat.
And what could Stu Nozette allegedly provide the “Mossad,” in this instance? Just one example, from the legal docs: “‘Answers’ provided by NOZETTE contained information classified as SECRET [...] which related to the national defense, in that it directly concerned classified aspects and mission capabilities of a prototype overhead collection system, which disclosure could negate the ability to support United States military and intelligence operations.”
A question that’s surely already being asked, though, given that Nozette’s alleged actions leading to his arrest began in January this year, is whether or not there might have been some political motive in Nozette’s alleged willingness to sell his country’s secrets to Israel (which, mind you, was never actually involved). This might be a good reason to suspect as much. It’s NewsMeat’s listing of Nozette’s campaign contributions between 1999 and 2007.
Nozette was clearly a Republican:
So it’s hard to not wonder if some political motivation may have played a part in such a highly-regarded scientist allegedly turning on his country – in favor of a friendly nation whose issues are often a cause celebre for American conservatives.
Politics may have no role in this case at all. It may be all about purely apolitical self-interest, in the end. But Nozette’s history of campaign contributions will be fodder for discussion in days to come, and the discussion will be anything but non-partisan, I can guarantee you that.