from the bucket-full-of-holes dept.
Barely an hour after a news organization published an article about a Top Secret National Security Agency document on Russian hacking, the Justice Department announced charges against a 25-year-old government contractor who a senior federal official says was the leaker of the document.
The May 5, 2017 intelligence document published by The Intercept, an online news organization, describes new details about Russian efforts to hack voting systems in the U.S a week prior to the 2016 presidential election. While the document doesn't say the hacking changed any votes, it "raises the possibility that Russian hacking may have breached at least some elements of the voting system, with disconcertingly uncertain results."
Even as the document was ricocheting around Washington, the Justice Department announced that a criminal complaint was filed in the Southern District of Georgia charging Reality Leigh Winner, 25, a federal contractor, with removing classified material from a government facility and mailing it to a news outlet.
Source: NBC News
Once investigative efforts identified Winner as a suspect, the FBI obtained and executed a search warrant at her residence. According to the complaint, Winner agreed to talk with agents during the execution of the warrant. During that conversation, Winner admitted intentionally identifying and printing the classified intelligence reporting at issue despite not having a "need to know," and with knowledge that the intelligence reporting was classified. Winner further admitted removing the classified intelligence reporting from her office space, retaining it, and mailing it from Augusta, Georgia, to the news outlet, which she knew was not authorized to receive or possess the documents.
Source: Department of Justice
While the document provides a rare window into the NSA's understanding of the mechanics of Russian hacking, it does not show the underlying "raw" intelligence on which the analysis is based. A U.S. intelligence officer who declined to be identified cautioned against drawing too big a conclusion from the document because a single analysis is not necessarily definitive.
Source: The Intercept
WikiLeaks tweet #1: "Suspected Intercept reporter gave US government NSA whistleblower Reality Leigh Winner's post code, printout and her report number" and tweet #2: "WikiLeaks issues a US$10,000 reward for information leading to the public exposure & termination of this 'reporter'".
Reality Winner, a former NSA contractor accused of leaking a document to The Intercept, has had her interrogation by the FBI detailed in a transcript filed by federal prosecutors:
A National Security Agency contractor accused of leaking a classified report on Russian hacking aimed at the 2016 election told FBI agents she smuggled the document out of a high security intelligence facility in her pantyhose. That and other details appear in a transcript federal prosecutors filed in court Wednesday detailing the interrogation of 25-year-old linguist Reality Winner by the FBI as they carried out a search warrant at her home in June.
[...] Winner appears to say she believed the contents of the report — which described Russian spearfishing cyberattacks aimed at U.S. voter registration databases — should be in the public debate. "I saw the article and was like, I don't understand why this isn't a thing," she said. "It made me very mad ... I guess I just didn't care about myself at that point. ... Yeah, I screwed up royally."
[...] The transcript hints at possible political motivations for the leak. Winner says she objected to her workplace tuning the TV to Fox News. She also had a signed photo of CNN Anchor Anderson Cooper, although she said the signature was fake. "I wasn't trying to be a Snowden or anything," Winner said, referring to NSA leaker Edward Snowden and his massive disclosures of details on U.S. government surveillance. "I guess it's just been hard at work because ... I've filed formal complaint about them having Fox News on, you know? Uh, at least, for God's sake, put Al Jazeera on, or a slideshow with people's pets. I've tried anything to get that changed." Despite Winner's statement to the FBI agents, prosecutors say that in a Facebook chat in March with her sister, Winner said she was on the "side" of both Snowden and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
On pages 4-5 of the transcript, the FBI agents discuss letting Reality Winner (RW) put groceries in her fridge and leash up her dog. Do they teach them that technique at the Academy?
Following Winner's arrest and subsequent charging, the security researcher has submitted a pull request to the PDF Redact Tools, a project for securely redacting and stripping metadata from documents before publishing.
[...] "The black and white conversion will convert colors like the faded yellow dots to white," Szathmari told Bleeping Computer in an interview.
FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds asserts Pierre Omidyar decided to create The Intercept to not only take ownership of the Snowden leaks but also to continue his blockade against WikiLeaks and create a "honey trap" for whistleblowers.
WikiLeaks, the transparency organization known for publishing leaked documents that threaten the powerful, finds itself under pressure like never before, as does its editor-in-chief, Julian Assange. Now, the fight to silence Wikileaks is not only being waged by powerful government figures but also by the media, including outlets and organizations that have styled themselves as working to protect whistleblowers.
As this three-part series seeks to show, these outlets and organizations are being stealthily guided by the hands of special interests, not the public interest they claim to serve. Part I focuses on the Freedom of the Press Foundation, The Intercept, and the oligarch who has strongly influenced both organizations in his long-standing fight to silence WikiLeaks.