National Security Administration (NSA)

Former NSA contractor pleads guilty to decades-long security breach

NSA logo on rug.
Photo: Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images)

Former National Security Agency contractor Harold Martin pleaded guilty on Thursday to willfully retaining classified national defense information, including NSA hacking tools.

The big picture: This is the largest known security breach in U.S. intelligence history, per CNN — for 20 years Martin had been stealing classified national defense information while working for 7 private companies and several government agencies. If the court accepts his guilty plea, he faces 9 years in prison. This would be the longest-ever sentence imposed for retaining secrets illegally, according to the U.S. attorney for Maryland, Robert K. Hur.

Peak China

Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty

China is beset by a trade war, pushback against its global infrastructure plans and allegations of industrial spying. Growth in factory production appears to be at its weakest in 24 years.

Parag Khanna, a Singapore-based global strategist, says that all of this may signal that, after years of forecasts of a Chinese juggernaut, we may have reached what he calls "peak China."