from the what-were-her-parents-thinking? dept.
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?
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'".
A former National Security Agency employee who worked at Tailored Access Operations has pleaded guilty to willful retention of national defense information, the same charge Harold T. Martin III faces:
A former National Security Agency employee admitted on Friday that he had illegally taken from the agency classified documents believed to have subsequently been stolen from his home computer by hackers working for Russian intelligence.
Nghia H. Pho, 67, of Ellicott City, Md., pleaded guilty to one count of willful retention of national defense information, an offense that carries a possible 10-year sentence. Prosecutors agreed not to seek more than eight years, however, and Mr. Pho's attorney, Robert C. Bonsib, will be free to ask for a more lenient sentence. He remains free while awaiting sentencing on April 6.
Mr. Pho had been charged in secret, though some news reports had given a limited description of the case. Officials unsealed the charges on Friday, resolving the long-running mystery of the defendant's identity.
Mr. Pho, who worked as a software developer for the N.S.A., was born in Vietnam but is a naturalized United States citizen. Prosecutors withheld from the public many details of his government work and of the criminal case against him, which is linked to a continuing investigation of Russian hacking.
Related: "The Shadow Brokers" Claim to Have Hacked NSA
The Shadow Brokers Identify Hundreds of Targets Allegedly Hacked by the NSA
Former NSA Contractor May Have Stolen 75% of TAO's Elite Hacking Tools
NSA Had NFI About Opsec: 2016 Audit Found Laughably Bad Security
Reality Winner NSA Leak Details Revealed by Court Transcript
Submitted via IRC for Fnord666
Reality Winner was expected to plead guilty to leaking NSA data, and she's done just that. The whistleblower has officially pleaded guilty to a charge of unlawful retention and dissemination of national defense information. Sentencing will have to wait, but the felony carries a maximum penalty of 63 months (5.25 years) with up to three years of supervised release.
Winner faced the charge after giving The Intercept NSA documents that showed Russia's military intelligence wing, the GRU, attempting to hijack the computers of 122 local election officials ahead of the 2016 American vote. The NSA had determined that Russia wanted to collect information about election-related hardware and software in what could have been a precursor to manipulating the vote itself.
Reality Winner, the intelligence contractor who leaked to The Intercept and was quickly caught in June 2017 thanks to microdot printing, was sentenced to 63 months in prison on Thursday. She had pleaded guilty on June 21 to a single count of unlawful retention and transmission of national defense information.
The information that Winner provided to The Intercept resulted in this June 5, 2017 news story: "Top-Secret NSA Report details Russian hacking effort days before 2016 election."
Previously: Feds Arrest NSA Contractor in Leak of Top Secret Russia Document
Reality Winner NSA Leak Details Revealed by Court Transcript
Reality Winner Pleads Guilty to Leaking NSA Election Hacking Data