In 2018, a newly hired software engineer at a defense and intelligence contractor in the Washington, D.C., suburbs was assigned to a team led by a senior developer named Hatchet Speed.
At first, the new engineer, Richard Ngo, got along well with Speed. They sometimes went out to lunch together and socialized away from the office. “Speed was my mentor at Novetta as the software lead,” Ngo later said in court testimony. “We worked together every day.”
But after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, Ngo noticed that Speed, a longtime Navy reservist who had deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan as an intelligence analyst and held other sensitive cyber and intelligence posts in connection with Naval Special Warfare units, seemed to be changing. Ngo had always known that Speed was a gun enthusiast, but after the Capitol riot, he became more openly anti-government than he had ever been before. “He was just frustrated with just how everything was going,” Ngo testified, adding that Speed was “panic-buying” guns.
What Ngo didn’t realize was that Speed, who had legally changed his first name from Daniel to Hatchet in 2007, according to Utah court records, had been an apocalyptic far-right extremist long before January 6.
In fact, Hatchet Speed was a self-described member of the Proud Boys working deep inside the U.S. intelligence community. He joined other Proud Boys members to storm the Capitol on January 6, but he got away undetected and continued to work in sensitive jobs in the months after the insurrection, even as he amassed a huge arsenal of weapons and began to think about kidnapping Jewish leaders and others he considered an existential threat. He wasn’t arrested until 18 months after the insurrection, and no investigation has been conducted to determine whether he compromised classified information, a Navy spokesperson said. Officials at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment on any possible damage to U.S. intelligence resulting from Speed’s decadeslong access to classified information. [Continue reading…]