After former Raytheon employee James Schwietizer told the minister at his church that he planned to shoot up government buildings, police stopped by his house to have a little chat. According to court documents from a criminal complaint against Schwietizer recently unsealed, he told officers that “he had a dark fantasy of committing violence against a conservative U.S. political organization because it sent out so much hate into the world…he only had a one percent chance of acting out his dark fantasy, but he felt a strong temptation to act it out.”
According to the FBI, Schwietzer allegedly made threats against the government and leaked classified material online in a bid for revenge against Washington. Why? The feds pulled his security clearance for smoking medical marijuana.
As first reported by The Daily Beast, Schwietizer was a Senior Software Engineer at the defense contractor Raytheon from 2003 to 2016 where he worked on missiles. According to the unsealed charges, Schwietizer lost his security clearance in 2014 because he was smoking medical marijuana. In 2010, he informed Raytehon that he would soon begin smoking medical marijuana to treat an unspecified medical condition. Schwietzer lived and worked in California, where medical marijuana was completely legal.
“The [facility security officer told Schwietzer that his security clearance would be unaffected provided that he complied with state law,” court documents said.
The security officer was wrong and in 2014, the federal government discovered someone with a security clearance was smoking the reefer. Security clearances aren’t eternal, and the government frequently investigates those that have them to make sure they’re complying with its various restrictions.
“The Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals (“DOHA”) notified Schweitzer that the [security officer’s] erroneous advice mitigated past use, but that he needed to stop using marijuana,” court documents said. “Schweitzer continued to use marijuana and, as a result, lost his security clearance.” He resigned from Raytheon in 2016.
After he resigned, Schweitzer began to file complaints to the Pentagon’s Inspectors General through an unclassified portal. According to the FBI, he was uploading classified documents into this unclassified portal.
“A week later, a DoDIG investigator contacted Schwietizer via telephone and told him that his complaint had been received and to not send classified information through unclassified networks,” court documents said. “That same day, Schweitzer sent an email to the DoDIG and two media outlets, stating that he apologized for ‘contamination’ of the office computers and being ‘more aggressive’ than the recipient would have liked. He further stated he was getting nervous about his next ‘free speech stunt.’”
According to court documents, Schweitzer continued to send classified material across the internet, claiming it was the only way he could get anyone to pay attention to him. “Back when I submitted my complaint almost three years ago, I would have never even considered using military secrets as bait,” he allegedly said in an email to media outlets and Pentagon employees. “Last summer, it became my primary tactic. Lordy, how times change.”
Schweitzer allegedly continued to send classified information, both electronically and via mail, to media outlets and Pentagon employees throughout 2018 and 2019. “I will continue to use your classified info as bait,” he said in one email revealed in court documents. “I will keep pulling stunts until I am vindicated or incarcerated…I personally soiled your inbox with classified data last year. Has that cleaned up yet?”
The years went on and local and federal authorities repeatedly warned to stop sharing classified material. According to the FBI, his threats escalated and he promised to give secrets to Wikileaks or sell them to a foreign government. He also began telling people in his life about fantasies of mass violence. “I am going to start developing materials for the August 2020 classified package,” he allegedly said in an email sent to media outlets and Pentagon employees. “If you want to delay the package (and feel free to call this extortion,) you will need to give me something real this time…I’m done playing. If someone finds my postings and pulls off an attack…I will be thrilled that someone finally took some form of action.”
Schweitzer is charged with malicious mischief and destruction of government property. He’s due back in court on December 28 and, if convicted, faces upwards of 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.