Two indicted on espionage charges, linked to supremacist groups

Seattle Times/February 6, 2003
By Mike Carter and Ray Rivera

A former Washington Army National Guard intelligence officer arrested earlier this week on espionage charges had a top-secret clearance and had drifted toward the radical right in recent years, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

Rafael Davila, 51, and his ex-wife, Deborah Davila, 46, are suspected of providing white supremacists and other radical organizations with sensitive materials involving the strategic response of the Guard to a variety of emergency situations, both foreign and domestic, according to a Department of Justice source.

Military officials confirmed Rafael Davila's clearance level but would not comment on what information he allegedly provided.

The two were arrested Tuesday after a grand jury in Spokane indicted them on unlawful possession of "documents related to the national defense of the United States" in 1999 - the year Rafael Davila retired from the Guard with the rank of major.

Rafael Davila is named in a single felony count while Deborah Davila is named in three counts, including providing false statements to the FBI in April 2000. According to the indictment, she lied when she told agents she did not know Kirk Lyons a firebrand North Carolina lawyer who has defended the Ku Klux Klan and White Patriot Party and who has advocated for "Southern ethnic cleansing."

A federal law-enforcement source said some of the national security documents were passed on to Lyons.

Lyons has not been charged with a crime. He told The Associated Press he barely knew Deborah Davila but that she had attended his wedding, which was performed by Aryan Nations founder Richard Butler at the group's former compound near Hayden Lake, Idaho.

He denied having anything to do with spying. "That's the most hilarious, funny, ridiculous thing I've heard in my life," Lyons said. "It sounds like flaky people."

He also dismissed Deborah Davila as a candidate for espionage. "Deborah is a nice girl, but she doesn't have the brains to be a spy," Lyons said.

Davila was attached to the 341st Military Intelligence Batallion based in Tacoma, which specializes in linguists whose wartime duties would include foreign intelligence and bilingual interrogations. His home station was in Spokane with the 341st's B-company.

The Guard had only partial records on him yesterday. But from those, it appeared he served in the active Army as an enlisted soldier from 1969 to 1972, then went into the Army Reserves. He attended ROTC training at Gonzaga University and received his commission in 1982, Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Rick Patterson said.

He apparently remained in the Reserves as an infantry officer until 1990, when he joined the Washington National Guard. He changed his specialty in the mid-1990s to military intelligence, attending training in Arizona.

He was promoted to major in 1996 and became a military intelligence officer in 1997, Patterson said. Clearances are provided in three basic levels: confidential, secret and top secret.

Patterson said he didn't know what information would have been available to Davila but that his clearance didn't necessarily mean unfettered access. That's because intelligence is provided on a "need-to-know" basis.

"A clearance doesn't mean you can just waltz in and take anything you want," Patterson said.

Davila left the Guard in 1999 with an honorable discharge. His records did not show any disciplinary actions against him, Patterson said.

The Davilas are scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Spokane today.

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