Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
June 06, 2017

Do Not Trust The Intercept or How To Burn A Source

Yesterday The Intercept published a leaked five page NSA analysis about alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections. Its reporting outed the leaker of the NSA documents. That person, R.L. Winner, has now been arrested and is likely to be jailed for years if not for the rest of her life.


Intercepted source - R.L. Winner

FBI search (pdf) and arrest warrant (pdf) applications unveil irresponsible behavior by the Intercept's reporters and editors which neglected all operational security trade-craft that might have prevented the revealing of the source. It leaves one scratching one's head if this was intentional or just sheer incompetence. Either way - the incident confirms what skeptics had long determined: The Intercept is not a trustworthy outlet for leaking state secrets of public interests.

The Intercept was created to privatize the National Security Agency documents leaked by NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The documents proved that the NSA is hacking and copying nearly all electronic communication on this planet, that it was breaking laws that prohibited spying on U.S. citizen and that it sabotages on a large scale various kinds of commercial electronic equipment. Snowden gave copies of the NSA documents to a small number of journalists. One of them was Glenn Greenwald who now works at The Intercept. Only some 5% of the pages Snowden allegedly acquired and gave to reporters have been published. We have no idea what the unpublished pages would provide.

The Intercept, a subdivision of First Look Media, was founded by Pierre Omidyar, a major owner of the auctioning site eBay and its PayPal banking division. Omidyar is a billionaire and "philanthropist" who's (tax avoiding) Omidyar Network foundation is "investing" for "returns". Its microcredit project for farmers in India, in cooperation with people from the fascists RSS party, ended in an epidemic of suicides when the farmers were unable to pay back. The Omidyar Network also funded (fascist) regime change groups in Ukraine in cooperation with USAID. Omidyar had cozy relations with the Obama White House. Some of the held back NSA documents likely implicate Omidyar's PayPal.

The Intercept was funded with some $50 million from Omidyar. Its first hires were Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill and Laura Poitras - all involved in publishing the Snowden papers and other leaks. Its first piece was based on documents from the leaked NSA stack. It has since published on this or that but not in a regular media way.  The Intercept pieces are usually heavily editorialized and tend to have a mainstream "liberal" to libertarian slant. Some were highly partisan anti-Syrian/pro-regime change propaganda. The website seems to have no regular publishing schedule at all. Between one and five piece per day get pushed out, only a few of them make public waves. Some of its later prominent hires (Ken Silverstein, Matt Taibbi) soon left and alleged that the place was run in a chaotic atmosphere and with improper and highly politicized editing. Despite its rich backing and allegedly high pay for its main journalists (Greenwald is said to receive between 250k and 1 million per year) the Intercept is begging for reader donations.

Yesterday's published story (with bylines of four(!) reporters) begins:

Russian military intelligence executed a cyberattack on at least one U.S. voting software supplier and sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials just days before last November’s presidential election, according to a highly classified intelligence report obtained by The Intercept.

The NSA "intelligence report" the Intercept publishes alongside the piece does NOT show that "Russian military intelligence executed a cyberattack". The document speaks of "cyber espionage operations" - i.e someone looked and maybe copied data but did not manipulate anything. Espionage via computer networks is something every nation in this world (and various private entities) do all the time. It is simply the collection of information. It is different from a "cyberattack" like Stuxnet which are intended to create large damage,

The "attack" by someone was standard spearfishing and some visual basic scripts to gain access to accounts of local election officials. Thee is no proof that any account was compromised. Any minor criminal hacker uses similar means. No damage is mentioned in the NSA analysis. The elections were not compromised by this operation. The document notes explicitly (p.5) that the operation used some techniques that distinguish it from other known Russian military intelligence operations. It was probably -if at all- done by someone else.

The reporters note that the document does not provide any raw intelligence. It is an analysis based on totally unknown material. It does not include any evidence for the claims it makes. The Intercept piece describes how the document was received and "verified":

The top-secret National Security Agency document, which was provided anonymously to The Intercept and independently authenticated, ...
...
The NSA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence were both contacted for this article. Officials requested that we not publish or report on the top secret document and declined to comment on it. When informed that we intended to go ahead with this story, the NSA requested a number of redactions. The Intercept agreed to some of the redaction requests.

The piece quotes at length the well known cyber security expert Bruce Schneier. It neglects to reveal that Schneier is a major partisan for Clinton who very early on, in July 2016, jumped on her "Russia hacked the Democratic National Council" claim for which there is still no evidence whatsoever.

The Intercept story was published on June 5. On June 3 the FBI already received a search warrant (pdf) by the U.S. District court of southern Georgia for the home, car and computers of one Reality Leigh Winner, a 25 year old former military language specialist (Pashto, Dari, Farsi) who worked for a government contractor. In its application for the warrant the FBI asserted:

19. On or about May 24, 2017, a reporter for the News Outlet (the "Reporter") contacted another U.S. Government Agency affiliate with whom he has a prior relationship. This individual works for a contractor for the U.S. Government (the "Contractor"). The Reporter contacted the Contractor via text message and asked him to review certain documents. The Reporter told the Contractor that the Reporter had received the documents through the mail, and they were postmarked "Augusta. Georgia." WINNER resides in Augusta, Georgia. The Reporter believed that the documents were sent to him from someone working at the location where WINNER works. The Reporter took pictures of the documents and sent them to the Contractor. The Reporter asked the Contractor to determine the veracity of the documents. The Contractor informed the Reporter that he thought that the documents were fake. Nonetheless, the Contractor contacted the U.S. Government Agency on or about June 1, 2017, to inform the U.S. Government Agency of his interaction with the Reporter. Also on June I. 2017, the Reporter texted the Contractor and said that a U.S Government Agency official had verified that the document was real. ...

To verify the leaked document the reporter contacted a person working for the government. He used insecure communication channels (SMS) that are known to be tapped. He provided additional meta-information about the leaker that was not necessary at all for the person asked to verify the documents.

It got worse:

13. On June I, 2017, the FBI was notified by the U.S. Government Agency that the U.S. Government Agency had been contacted by the News Outlet on May 30, 2017, regarding an upcoming story. The News Outlet informed the U.S Government Agency that it was in possession of what it believed to be a classified document authored by the U.S Government Agency. The News Outlet provided the U.S. Government Agency with a copy of this document. Subsequent analysis by the U.S. Government Agency confirmed that the document in the News Outlet's possession is intelligence reporting dated on or about May 5. 2017 (the "intelligence reporting"). This intelligence reporting is classified at the Top Secret level, ...
...
14. The U.S. Government Agency examined the document shared by the News Outlet and determined the pages of the intelligence reporting appeared to be folded and/or creased,suggesting they had been printed and hand-carried out of a secured space.

15. The U.S. Government Agency conducted an internal audit to determine who accessed the intelligence reporting since its publication. The U.S. Government Agency determined that six individuals printed this reporting. These six individuals included WINNER. A further audit of the six individuals' desk computers revealed that WINNER had e-mail contact with the News Outlet. The audit did not reveal that any of the other individuals had e-mail contact with the News Outlet.

The source that provided the document had no operational security at all. She printed the document on a government printer. All (color) printers and photo copiers print nearly invisible (yellow) patters on each page that allow to identify the printer used by its serial number. The source used email from her workplace to communicate. Ms. Winner is young, inexperienced and probably not very bright. (She is also said to be Clinton partisan.) She may not have known better.

But a reporter at The Intercept should know a bit or two about operational security. Sending (and publishing) the leaked documents as finely scanned PDF's (which include (de) the printer code) to the NSA to let the NSA verify them was incredibly stupid. Typically one only summarize these or at least converts them into a neutral, none traceable form. Instead the reporters provided at several points and without any need the evidence that led to the unmasking of their source. Wikileaks is offering $10,000 for the exposure and firing of the person responsible for this.

It is also highly questionable why the Intercept contacted the NSA seven days(!) before publishing its piece. Giving the government such a long reaction time may lead to preemptive selective leaks by the government to other news outlets to defuse the not yet published damaging one. It may give the government time to delete evidence or to unveil leakers. The Intercept certainly knows this. It had been burned by such behavior when the National Counterterrorism Center spoiled an Intercept scoop by giving a polished version to the Associate Press. Back then the Intercept editor John Cook promised to give government agencies no longer than 30 minutes for future replies. In this case it gave the NSA seven days!

Besides the failure(?) of The Intercept there are other concerns to note.

  • Why has a 25 year old language specialist for Afghanistan access to Top Secret NSA analysis of espionage in the U.S. election? Where was the "need to know"?
  • Could this espionage -if it happened- have been part of a different plan by whomever? Consider:
@mattblaze
Simple way to hack elections: Compromise some county offices & systems. Do nothing. If election doesn’t go your way, reveal that you hacked.
10:52 PM - 5 Jun 2017

More additional question are asked in this thread.

The lessons learned from this catastrophic -for the source- leak:

  • Start thinking of good op-sec before you think of leaking.
  • Computer access gets logged. Do not leave any suspicious (log) trace at your workplace (or anywhere else).
  • Do not provide any trace from your immediate workplace or any personal metadata with the leaked material.

And last but certainly not least:

  • Do not trust The Intercept.

Posted by b on June 6, 2017 at 06:09 AM | Permalink

Comments
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PavewayIV @ 97 Iranian would be right for these languages too - from a later branching of Indo-Iranian to Indic and Iranian. As far as location, you're probably thinking of Pasta-nia :)

Posted by: Marym | Jun 6, 2017 7:19:36 PM | 101

@101 Actually Paveway's comment was borderline racist. Expect a law suit from the PDG (Pashtun Defamation Group)

Posted by: dh | Jun 6, 2017 7:35:16 PM | 102

@87 karloff

Megyn Kelly: Many Americans hear the name, Vladimir Putin. And they think, ”He runs a country full of corruption, a country in which journalists, who are too critical, could wind up murdered, a country in which dissidents could wind up in jail or worse.“ To people who believe that, what is your message?
stop watching nbc with megyn kelly? my question is, what the hell was this propagandist doing in st. petersberg? who invited her? and why? i have to believe that the people who did so are atlanticists trying to destroy putin. she turned the whole public relations show for the st. petersburg conference into an american anti-putin, anti-russia propaganda exercise. what the hell was she doing there, and who the hell was responsible for presence?

it's true that putin can handle himself well ... but nbc edits the 'product'. whose idea was it to have an american propagandist at st. petersburg and to give same such a central role in the public relations of same? this is just so nuts. it is clear that the americans have done to this russian conference what they claimed the russians did to their election, they hacked it. and clearly they had help from the atlanticist 5th column in doing so. belies the 'narrative' of the dictatorial putin in total control of russia, doesn't it?

Posted by: jfl | Jun 6, 2017 7:52:11 PM | 103

Uncle $cam @ 24

Still here. Today, again, I am astonished that one person can gather all this information and report it so clearly in their second language. This is getting way above my old pay grade and experience. Watching a soft coup unfold first hand, the restart of the Cold War, and F-16Cs crashing in your neighborhood are unsettling. Topped off by the corporate media glossing it over.

Posted by: VietnamVet | Jun 6, 2017 7:54:40 PM | 104

@103 "belies the 'narrative' of the dictatorial putin in total control of russia, doesn't it?"

Maybe that is the point. American hypocrisy is clearly on display. Russians have a good chuckle.

Posted by: dh | Jun 6, 2017 8:04:55 PM | 105

There may be a Russian involved in the hacking but I think he gets a paycheck from crowdstrike and probably uses the DNC NGPVAN Bellwether file to do it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_ugbKnUk9s Rice a Roni Bellwether Phone Call

Posted by: terry | Jun 6, 2017 8:43:30 PM | 106

Even the talking head at PBS said this was sloppy on both accounts - the leaker and the Intercept. The rest of the media loved having this free ammunition to use on the Trumpster.


And where is the defense of our electronic voting machines as being secure? They want to have it both ways. Tell us we can trust them with our votes but then say they're vulnerable to Russian hacking. Which one is it?

Posted by: Curtis | Jun 6, 2017 8:43:38 PM | 107

The Russisn hacking satire is only lacking the cone of silence and Himmey the robot but in every other aspect the US intelligence agencies are doing a mighty fine episode of Get Smart - both Control and KAOS - And loving it.

Posted by: Giap | Jun 6, 2017 8:49:40 PM | 108

We're supposed to believe this woman risked it all to expose the very public already establishment narrative of Russia hacking. This psyop has Deep State skid marks all over it.

Posted by: no winner | Jun 6, 2017 8:59:56 PM | 109

about Reality Winner (real name?!)
shes been spreading White helmets propaganda

https://twitter.com/2flamesburning1/status/872203308567379968

Posted by: brian | Jun 6, 2017 9:06:52 PM | 110

@105 dh

putin did it on purpose? ... i think you're trying to make lemonade out of atlanticist lemons and treachery. mk destroyed the media presentation of putin's conference in his hometown. i think it was obvious russian on russian treachery. the atlanticists may be in the minority in russia, but they control the media. oligarchs looking for payday.

@107 curtis

the atlanticists at khao sod english here in thailand ran the ap's fake-news account of the reality winner debacle, Report Suggests Russia Hackers Breached US Voting Software Firm. looking at the map you'd be hard-pressed to see the atlantic shoreline in thailand ... but its here. someone named todd ruiz sees that atlanticist views get exposure at khao sod english. i imagine the bkk based farangs eat it up.

Posted by: jfl | Jun 6, 2017 9:26:07 PM | 111

to "Anon" @75:

Glenn Greenwald is HOT.

Posted by: anon | Jun 6, 2017 9:26:10 PM | 112

@100 JerseyJeffersonian.. i think that is standard procedure for any mafia type organization which would include the cia... i think you are correct on that line of thinking, but no way of proving it..

Posted by: james | Jun 6, 2017 9:34:02 PM | 113

@11 Yes but I imagine the average Russian is just as suspicious of the media as the average USian. Putin probably knew it was a set up but he let it run it's course.

Posted by: dh | Jun 6, 2017 9:42:06 PM | 114

I wonder if it is possible that this Winner kid wanted to martyr herself for the #Resistance? Perhaps she was influenced by Chelsea Manning? Of course the #resistance is mostly stupid and Manning is on a whole other level where actual altruism exists, but hey-I would not put anything past a Clintonite at this point. I wonder if Winner thinks she will get a pardon?

Posted by: Scylla | Jun 6, 2017 10:26:15 PM | 115

Snowden has commented on this here, https://freedom.press/news/edward-snowden-trump-administrations-recent-arrest-alleged-journalistic-source/

jfl @103--

Don't have the answers. I read mostly Russian, EU, and Asian sources for my info about most everything, never watch MSM, and only read the sports, comics and work puzzles in our local newsrag. The result being, I haven't read anything negative about the SPIEF or Putin's participation. Escobar has his entertaining take on the affair and others that occurred about the same time, http://www.atimes.com/article/eurasian-integration-meets-america-first/

Posted by: karlof1 | Jun 6, 2017 10:35:28 PM | 116

Winner is an inside player. Keep the RU hacking story in play. The Merkin ppl are becoming quite disinterested in the RU hacking.

Her face resembles that of Jessica Lynch.

The Merkin public will rally to her defense. And get extra angry about Trump and RU hacking. The Merkin public is being lead to focus its attention span (kindergarten level) on Trump's dirty RU misdeeds. Much performance is expected from Comey and the clown car.

Deep State wants Pence whom it can control quietly and completely.

In what areas is Trump bucking them or potentially will buck them?

Posted by: fast freddy | Jun 6, 2017 10:40:03 PM | 117

@53

I have a lot of respect for Glenn Greenwald, but like you, I'm troubled by his association with The Intercept, although I still enjoy the occasional pieces he publishes there. (Back in the day at Salon, he used to post almost daily and still managed to write a couple of books.)

One thing is clear: After this episode, the next Snowden is *not* going to leak to The Intercept. If Glenn wants to be the journalist he/she leaks to, he should get the hell out of there to maintain his credibility.

Posted by: dave | Jun 6, 2017 11:13:06 PM | 118

Thank you, karlof1@87

Putin: ...I just find it amazing how you created a sensation where there wasn't anything at all. And proceeded to turn that sensation into a tool for fighting the sitting president. You know, you're just very resourceful people there, well done, probably your lives there are boring..."

Posted by: juliania | Jun 6, 2017 11:22:11 PM | 119

karlof1 @ 87: Thanks for the link. The more I read about Putin, the more I respect him.

I know people can say anything, but, if what he says about raising wages and pensions are true, that, speaks volumes.That's so much more than our "leaders" can brag about...

Posted by: ben | Jun 6, 2017 11:40:11 PM | 120

>>>> crone | Jun 6, 2017 12:52:30 PM | 55

2 yrs of college, a couple of years in 'the field' (Air Force in this case)

Her service in the air force was a bit more than a couple of years according to her lawyer and court documents:

He said his client has served in the Air Force for six years, including a recent assignment at Fort Meade, home of the NSA. According to court documents, Winner had a top-security clearance as an active-duty member of the Air Force from January 2013 until February of this year, when she began working for Pluribus International Corporation, a government contractor, at a facility in Georgia.

So she was a linguist in the Air Force, which is pretty self-explanatory. She was a translator for the NSA who could be shipped abroad at any time.

>>>>> PavewayIV | Jun 6, 2017 3:37:14 PM | 77

It's not like she's a high-level analyst preparing briefings for the National Intelligence director - she's a damn low-level translator (no offense to NSA translators out there).
Sorry but you really don't understand how critical security is for translators with the NSA/GCHQ/etc. An analyst would see her product so she would have had access to the absolute crown jewels of the NSA/GCHQ/etc., the original documents and decrypted products of intercepts. The information she had access to would be priceless for the counter intelligence services of any countries she worked on. With that information they could identify any agents or any hacks into their secure communications systems. She had access to stuff that no analyst would ever be allowed near so she would have high levels of security clearance and from what I can make out, (see SST) she would keep that level even if she quit government service, which explains why she could access the material she did. As for the reasons for forwarding the documents to The Intercept, it could have been a plot to discredit The Intercept to discourage others from leaking to the Intercept with her as patsy but it could also be as an ardent Clintonist she felt it was important enough for the document about Russia's alleged illegal behaviour to reach the public to risk imprisonment. That she owned up straight away suggests it was the latter. Unfortunately for her the staff of The Intercept probably thought it was the former.

Posted by: Ghostship | Jun 6, 2017 11:44:50 PM | 121

@118 dave..you might enjoy @110 JerseyJeffersonian's comment which i commented on @113.. that would explain a few things here.

Posted by: james | Jun 6, 2017 11:52:37 PM | 122

the new bozos at the daily press briefings from the us state dept.. same as the old bozos...

most of the talk circles around qatar... but also includes this crazy talk related to the thread at hand and the topic of trump tweeting which i share at the very bottom... give the new spokesperson an A for evasiveness on this one...

" QUESTION: Does the United States – does the State Department share concerns from the Congress over allegation of Russia’s interference on the U.S. democratic process? What should the U.S. do to stop the Russia from doing that again?

MS NAUERT: So the Secretary has talked about this himself. He’s spoken about it in various interviews. And he said this, so I can’t do any better than quote from what the Secretary said himself: “It’s been well-documented. I don't think there’s any question that Russians were playing around in our electoral process. The real impact here is that it serves, yet again, to undermine the trust between the United States and Russia.” So we have a lot of work to do. "

"QUESTION: But is the U.S. taking sides, given the President’s tweet?

MS NAUERT: Look, the Secretary has addressed this and eventually, guys, let’s move off this social media thing, because there are a lot of other important regions around the world that we need to talk about."

QUESTION: -- Sadiq Khan has suggested he does not want the President to come to London. Do you have a comment on that?

MS NAUERT: I’d have to refer you to the White House on that.

QUESTION: Heather, you said – in response to the previous question you said let’s move away from this social media stuff.

MS NAUERT: Yeah.

QUESTION: Well, we would love to, but it’s not us that’s focusing the attention on social media. It’s not us that are tweeting these things. So that’s the issue, so I think it’s --

( wait for it, lol)
MS NAUERT: Understood, but we have a lot of people here. "

Posted by: james | Jun 7, 2017 12:15:12 AM | 123

At first I thought this was a distraction for something else so I started poking around, and I think I've identified what I think is the real shit that Washington is up to at the moment and there really is nothing deep state about it. And it's not to do with al tanf which is probably a distraction for what is really happening in Syria

The evidence - an AP article in Stars and Stripes which explains the American involvement, an article in Almasdar News which details Russia's response, and a few days later all hell breaks lose in Deir Ez-zor with ISIS making major attacks (where have we seen that before) which if successful solves the US' problem with the SAA in Deir Ez-zor.
Once the SAA reaches the border of Deir Ez-zor Governorate from outside Palmyra it has a contiguous "de-confliction" zone stretching from their to Deir Ez-zor and the west bank of the Euphrates is no longer available for the US/SDF/YPG to advance to Al Bukamal and while the SAA holds Deir Ez-zor, the US has a 35 km radius SAA "de-confliction" zone across and along the Euphrates Valley in front of it.

So just like the Obama regime, the Trump regime is "wilfully" using ISIS for regime change in Syria. Nothng changes in Washington.

Posted by: Ghostship | Jun 7, 2017 12:51:18 AM | 124

This girl, Snowden and TI are all likely Deep State actors. The leaks all have a purpose (Big Brother is watching, Russia threat is real), and the exiles and arrest are to show legitimacy. Pretty impressed with the level of sophistication to influence what I have to imagine is a minority of people not entirely fooled by the MSM propaganda. Frankly I almost wonder if Putin is part of the Deep State and all this is scripted by writers in Hollywood, but I am not there, yet. ( < ;


There probably are only a handful of places on the internet that arent Deep State influenced to some degree or another. It really is becoming a Matrix

Posted by: Pft | Jun 7, 2017 1:26:38 AM | 125

I went to see Greenwald give a speech at my alma mater. His security was being provided by a group of gay Brazilian guys *did not look like professional security people at all*. This gives you an idea of the level of professionalism involved in his operation.

Posted by: mischi | Jun 7, 2017 1:41:23 AM | 126

much ado about nothing

Posted by: From The Hague | Jun 7, 2017 2:25:39 AM | 127

Ghostship@121 - "...Sorry but you really don't understand how critical security is for translators with the NSA/GCHQ/etc..."

Oh, really? OK, let's go with that.

"...An analyst would see her product..."

First, she has no need to know WHAT happens to her product. It might get cataloged and stored for reference, or it might go directly to an analyst tasked with analyzing that specific kind of Iranian traffic, or it might go directly to the Director of National Intelligence. If someone was regularly looking at her product, then it would probably be a low-level analyst consolidating it for higher-level analysts.

"...so she would have had access to the absolute crown jewels of the NSA/GCHQ/etc.,"

How does this assertion follow from the previous statement that an analyst sees her work? The two are completely unrelated. (I noted TTG's remarks on SST a few paragraphs down)

Translators see their tasking, nothing more. They often don't even know who is consuming/analyzing it or for what reason. They don't automatically have any need or privileges to even SEE that analysis if it's even done. It's not produced for the translator's consumption. That's how it normally works, regardless of their clearance.

Furthermore, translators mostly don't get to see product of OTHER translators unless it has some specific relevance to their current tasking. She does not automatically have privileges or clearance to see ALL Iranian source or translations, much less that of Russian translators.

Regardless of what translation-related stuff she does see, she most certainly DOES NOT get to see ALL top secret analysis produced in her agency. Why would an Iranian translator be privy to ANY analysis related to the GRU? Why would that agency give an Iranian translator or analyst access to 'to the absolute crown jewels of the NSA/GCHQ/etc.' Doesn't that sound just a bit silly to you? She doesn't need to know about the GRU so she would never have access to it no matter what the clearance level.

TTG paints a much different picture of information access in intelligence agencies today and (if I'm reading it right) says they don't stovepipe information or use 'need to know' basis anymore, suggesting that she DID have access to this memo. We'll have to disagree on that one - that's not my understanding of .gov information security today at all. Maybe we're talking about different things.

"...The information she had access to would be priceless for the counter intelligence services of any countries she worked on..."

Maybe, but a lot of, say, CIA analysts do nothing but translate newspaper articles. An NSA linguist may do nothing but translate mostly innocuous phone calls. And she only has access to what she's tasked with translating right at that moment. She can't download ALL Iranian documents, raw or otherwise. Why would she be able to ever see analysis of Russian or GRU-sourced material? Iranian translators don't need to know that.

"...She had access to stuff that no analyst would ever be allowed near so she would have high levels of security clearance and from what I can make out,.."

Jesus... she's a translator as far as we know - not even an analyst. She has access to her immediate tasking, that's it. If she was an analyst, then she has access to more product from other Iranian translators, but certainly not universal access to all top secret Iranian analysis in the agency, much less Russian-sourced analysis.

"...she would keep that level even if she quit government service, which explains why she could access the material she did..."

You're confusing 'clearance' with 'access'. My clearance level from thirty years ago does not allow me to access ANY classified information ANYWHERE for ANY REASON today. That's why I have to use Russian hackers! Clearance is a precondition that you must meet before someone ELSE is allowed to grant you certain kinds of access.

"...but it could also be as an ardent Clintonist she felt it was important enough for the document about Russia's alleged illegal behaviour to reach the public to risk imprisonment. That she owned up straight away suggests it was the latter..."

'Owned up'? Wasn't she arrested and her house raided? Hard not to own up to it when she in cuffs and being interrogated. She knows everything is logged and recorded and they're probably waving the doc in front of her face. Kind of a circumstantial hero, no?

I'll give you this: she may have been the agency's most naive, incompetent, generally-dim-witted translator that somehow figured she would get away with it despite the agency's security. Bu then you also have to assume the agency she worked for had equally naive, incompetent, generally-dim-witted information security people who were unable to restrict, or subsequently detect her inappropriate access to or printing of material she had no need to know. Furthermore, they were oblivious to this breach of security for weeks on end until their stooges at the Intercept called them with proof.

If that's the case, then it would explain a lot about U.S. policy based on incompetent, sieve-like intel agencies. We should really outsource to Russia - they seem to have the best hackers.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Jun 7, 2017 5:24:36 AM | 128

Bit off topic, but sort of expected news:
Gunfire/suicide bombing in Iranian Parliament and gunmen attack at the Imam Khomeini Mausoleum in Tehran.

https://southfront.org/gunfire-in-iranian-parliament-casualties-reported/
http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960317000442
http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960317000367

Posted by: maningi | Jun 7, 2017 5:25:07 AM | 129

The reporters note that the document does not provide any raw intelligence. It is an analysis based on totally unknown material. It does include any evidence for the claims it makes. The Intercept piece describes how the document was received and "verified":

Do you mean "..does not.."?

Posted by: Bolt | Jun 7, 2017 5:29:11 AM | 130

Here real name is Sara Winners

Posted by: Anonymous | Jun 7, 2017 8:01:56 AM | 131

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13960317000918

FARS reporting the groups supported by Saudis are fighting against groups supported by Qatar in Idlib area.

I do wonder just what The Donald said to the Saudis he talked with that they --or he himself-- made into a green light that anything goes that the Saudis want to do....

Posted by: jawbone | Jun 7, 2017 8:25:55 AM | 132

>>>> PavewayIV | Jun 7, 2017 5:24:36 AM | 128

Ghostship@121 - "...Sorry but you really don't understand how critical security is for translators with the NSA/GCHQ/etc..."

Oh, really? OK, let's go with that.

"...An analyst would see her product..."

First, she has no need to know WHAT happens to her product. It might get cataloged and stored for reference, or it might go directly to an analyst tasked with analyzing that specific kind of Iranian traffic, or it might go directly to the Director of National Intelligence. If someone was regularly looking at her product, then it would probably be a low-level analyst consolidating it for higher-level analysts.


Did I mention she knew what happened to her product? No, so this is smoke.

"...so she would have had access to the absolute crown jewels of the NSA/GCHQ/etc.,"

How does this assertion follow from the previous statement that an analyst sees her work? The two are completely unrelated. (I noted TTG's remarks on SST a few paragraphs down)


The crown jewels of any intelligence agency are the raw materials, the documents, intercepts, and HUMINT, and if there are none then there is no analysis and that agency might as well pack up and go home. By the way TTG didn't comment on pl's original post on this subject so are you referring to his latest post.

Translators see their tasking, nothing more. They often don't even know who is consuming/analyzing it or for what reason. They don't automatically have any need or privileges to even SEE that analysis if it's even done. It's not produced for the translator's consumption. That's how it normally works, regardless of their clearance.
So what? Did I say anything about this? No. But according to TTG with clearance comes access, so she probably was not restricted to just her tasking. And until we know her role at the NSA, we don't know whether she had access to "HUMINT operational data and designated SAPs."
Furthermore, translators mostly don't get to see product of OTHER translators unless it has some specific relevance to their current tasking. She does not automatically have privileges or clearance to see ALL Iranian source or translations, much less that of Russian translators.
See TTG again - "Very little remains behind the walls of need-to-know besides HUMINT operational data and designated SAPs."
Regardless of what translation-related stuff she does see, she most certainly DOES NOT get to see ALL top secret analysis produced in her agency.
Did I suggest that she would "get to see ALL top secret analysis produced in her agency" No. She might not need it but according to TTG in his current post she could have.
Why would an Iranian translator be privy to ANY analysis related to the GRU? Why would that agency give an Iranian translator or analyst access to 'to the absolute crown jewels of the NSA/GCHQ/etc.' Doesn't that sound just a bit silly to you? She doesn't need to know about the GRU so she would never have access to it no matter what the clearance level.
So the US IC is not interested in any interactions between the GRU and the Iranians? That sounds very silly to me. It's highly likely the GRU interacts with elements of the Iranian government including the Iranian IC, so she might properly have had access to GRU-related material. Again see TTG.
TTG paints a much different picture of information access in intelligence agencies today and (if I'm reading it right) says they don't stovepipe information or use 'need to know' basis anymore, suggesting that she DID have access to this memo. We'll have to disagree on that one - that's not my understanding of .gov information security today at all. Maybe we're talking about different things.
No comment!
"...The information she had access to would be priceless for the counter intelligence services of any countries she worked on..."

Maybe, but a lot of, say, CIA analysts do nothing but translate newspaper articles. An NSA linguist may do nothing but translate mostly innocuous phone calls. And she only has access to what she's tasked with translating right at that moment. She can't download ALL Iranian documents, raw or otherwise. Why would she be able to ever see analysis of Russian or GRU-sourced material? Iranian translators don't need to know that.


Why bring in the CIA when she worked for the NSA. As for the low level stuff, I quite agree she might only have handled the low-level stuff but she was cleared for the high-level stuff. Without knowing her exact role at the NSA (which we'll probably never will) we don't know what see handled but she might even have worked on an SAP.
"...She had access to stuff that no analyst would ever be allowed near so she would have high levels of security clearance and from what I can make out,.."

Jesus... she's a translator as far as we know - not even an analyst. She has access to her immediate tasking, that's it. If she was an analyst, then she has access to more product from other Iranian translators, but certainly not universal access to all top secret Iranian analysis in the agency, much less Russian-sourced analysis.


Read TTG's post, and without knowing what her role was at the NSA, we don't know that she didn't have access to "HUMINT operational data and designated SAPs."

"...she would keep that level even if she quit government service, which explains why she could access the material she did..."

You're confusing 'clearance' with 'access'. My clearance level from thirty years ago does not allow me to access ANY classified information ANYWHERE for ANY REASON today. That's why I have to use Russian hackers! Clearance is a precondition that you must meet before someone ELSE is allowed to grant you certain kinds of access.


From reading SST, clearance has to be renewed once a year and that's only allowed if there is a need for it. Leaving the IC doesn't mean clearance is revoked unless there are special reasons but clearance is cancelled after at most a year by failure to renew.
Read TTG again. With clearance comes access to almost everything, maybe particularly so with external contractors which is why it may be really stupid to privatise your IC.

"...but it could also be as an ardent Clintonist she felt it was important enough for the document about Russia's alleged illegal behaviour to reach the public to risk imprisonment. That she owned up straight away suggests it was the latter..."

'Owned up'? Wasn't she arrested and her house raided? Hard not to own up to it when she in cuffs and being interrogated. She knows everything is logged and recorded and they're probably waving the doc in front of her face. Kind of a circumstantial hero, no?

According to the accounts I read, she started talking as soon as she was arrested and the FBI or whoever arrested her almost couldn't believe how she went on talking. Releasing the document to The Intercept was a political statement and talking openly straight away is probably the best way of reducing the crime. Can anyone accuse her of espionage. Maybe, but I doubt they could make it stick. So, it's stealing documents or whatever. I think she also took care to make sure that there was nothing that really compromised national security, which suggests that claims about intercepting GRE communications are probably bullshit.

I'll give you this: she may have been the agency's most naive, incompetent, generally-dim-witted translator that somehow figured she would get away with it despite the agency's security. Bu then you also have to assume the agency she worked for had equally naive, incompetent, generally-dim-witted information security people who were unable to restrict, or subsequently detect her inappropriate access to or printing of material she had no need to know. Furthermore, they were oblivious to this breach of security for weeks on end until their stooges at the Intercept called them with proof.

If that's the case, then it would explain a lot about U.S. policy based on incompetent, sieve-like intel agencies. We should really outsource to Russia - they seem to have the best hackers.


Until we know more these are just theories, but I think she knew what she was doing -making this political statement, and was prepared to accept the consequences which you must admit is rather rare among Americans. I think The Intercept failed to understand her motives and like you assumed it was some "black ops." IC operational shit, which is why they tossed the document back at the IC to see what happened.

Posted by: Ghostship | Jun 7, 2017 11:27:48 AM | 133

What has Glenn Greenwald to do with this?
Is Glenn Greenwald The Intercept's only reporter? No!
Was his name on the by-line? No.
So, shouldn't Glenn Greenwald be off topic here.

Posted by: Ghostship | Jun 7, 2017 11:31:44 AM | 134

The whole story is a red herring and a cheap psyop trying to exploit the expected moral outrage about the arrest of the "leaker" ... but the outrage serves to imply that there actually IS a "leaked" document proving "the Russians did it" which is completely false ...

The real big story is here: The CIA "prince of darkness" in action

http://www.voltairenet.org/article196613.html
http://www.voltairenet.org/article196623.html
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/iran-parliament-shooting-suicide-bomb-mausoleum-ayatollah-khomeini-gunman-shot-guards-killed-tehran-a7776411.html

Posted by: Mutter Courage | Jun 7, 2017 11:52:12 AM | 135

Assange is right. The Intercept probably did not just "accidentally" make a huge mistake.

The tone of the Intercept article is as bad as the so-called "evidence". It pushes for more NSA and more centrallized computer-control of elections. It's so crypto-fascist, and the writing is corny as hell.

and yes, it's not normal that the Winner girl confessed and is offline so fast.

Posted by: anon | Jun 7, 2017 12:16:03 PM | 136

Trump nominates former Bush official for FBI chief, gets support by Democrats
http://presstv.ir/Detail/2017/06/07/524499/US-Trump-Wray-FBI-Comey

What do we do about this guy now?

Posted by: Anon | Jun 7, 2017 1:14:09 PM | 137

Great reporting and very important questions!! To me, what's absolutely unconscionable about this whole incident -- over and above the egregious behavior of the Intercept reporters in outing their source -- is that the classified report isn't and never was worthy of being "top secret" status in the first place! It's the same old information-less, evidence-less propaganda piece that's been released to the mainstream media for the past year! And in this incident that worthless document was leaked NOT from the NSA, a government agency *supposedly* accountable to the People. It was leaked from a PRIVATE CONTRACTOR of the NSA. THAT fact is worthy of an expose' and discussion around national security, corruption, transparency, accountability and constitutionality. NOBODY should be charged with releasing what amounts to a documentation of public knowledge, let alone go to jail for it. This whole story stinks to high heaven. I believe it is just a publicity stunt by the NSA on behalf of the DNC and Hillary Clinton to resurrect interest and outrage over their groundless lie about Russia hacking our election in order to continue protecting the REAL criminals (Clinton and DNC) who committed blatant and massive election fraud during the Democratic Primary. I have yet to see a national media story or investigation into those very provable, documented and witnessed crimes...

Posted by: Sharon Dewey | Jun 7, 2017 2:32:09 PM | 138

LionelNation, the garrolous radiotalker, mentioned your article. See ' Reality Winner Betrayed: The Intercept Burns A Source and Megyn Kelly Is A Huge Nothing Burger' on youtube, @ 6:06

Posted by: ruralito | Jun 7, 2017 3:33:18 PM | 139

The same reporters were behind the leak prosecution against CIA whistleblower John Kirakuo

http://www.mintpressnews.com/reality-winner-arrest-tied-to-same-reporters-behind-cia-whistleblower-prosecution/228590/

Posted by: Les | Jun 7, 2017 3:42:03 PM | 140

And Russian hackers engineered the row between Qatar and KSA+UAE, wrecking "anti-terror coalition" while Putin plays tunes of his youth on the piano. This is something that even if it did not happen, it should happen.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jun 7, 2017 4:57:51 PM | 141

I'm finding access impossible to pluribusinternational.com. Not even via wayback machine. But link not broken or old, I think either GCHQ (from here in UK) and/or NSA are blocking Their slogan 'Integrity with Excellence' surfaced when claiming doc as fraud to FBI - hence the punishment. yet - at the Intercept report page I can no longer find the doc (check is maybe just me forgetting where), again Wayback machine not working. I think reason would be the printer locating dot codes must have been expunged from the public version of the doc.

Explanation? Given there is still display of the intercept's logo .. the Intercept are now in cahoots with the net archive organisation to block new access to documents as for Intercept this exposes that reporter(s)/editor must have known the dots would have disclosed too much (arstechnica.co.uk report shows how this determined the printer location and were themselves asked to help by FBI). (Probably the Kiriakou doxer/s who surely at best would have learnt the danger since).

Perhaps that would also need to involve the NSA, who may now want, on their reflection, to minimise access to the full nature of the completely unsubstantiated statements given.

But got to write that off haven't I? after all it's just another.. conspiracy theory.

Posted by: Eric | Jun 7, 2017 9:17:54 PM | 142

Two corrections to my last post, as I unfortunately can't edit them -
> of course the dot codes wouldn't be on the print of the NSA report, on the letter from Reality.
> I'd been looking at only a small screenshot of the search warrant Appendix, of course that Contractor wasn't Pluribus but the unnamed one.

Addition -
her address given by the Reporter 'Atlanta, Geogia' to that Contractor - perhaps even worse than neglecting the disclosed coded part of her letter https://d3vv6lp55qjaqc.cloudfront.net/items/1k2I053M3J2z0f473l3r/show_temp%20(66).pdf
Not difficult to work out the likely office location given the reporter. Don't understand why the location would have been given by her, as not sufficient for return to sender, but anonymous means anonymous.

Posted by: Eric | Jun 7, 2017 10:20:52 PM | 143

Correcting the incorrect correction -
I've checked with the site associated with confirming the location of the printer, arstechnica.co.uk, and sure enough it was the document itself that had watermark dots on it. But anyway a pdf version would have that on as not a .. print.
So still a net total of two mistakes of mine after all.

Posted by: Eric | Jun 7, 2017 10:49:14 PM | 144

.. wouldn't have watermark on it.

Posted by: Eric | Jun 7, 2017 10:50:08 PM | 145

'I want to burn the White House down': NSA leaker Reality Winner, 25,
she also apparently showed some support for Afghan warlords.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4586680/Reality-Winner-wanted-burn-White-House-down.html#ixzz4jVSYYrAG

Posted by: Anon | Jun 9, 2017 8:10:48 AM | 146

Posted by: Anon | Jun 9, 2017 8:10:48 AM | 146

Sounds like they try to find anything just anything to try to keep her in jail.

Posted by: somebody | Jun 9, 2017 8:21:56 AM | 147

Haven't read every post so this may have been mentioned already. Filmmaker Laura Poitras who along with Glen Greenwald "curated" the Snowden files recently released a new film slamming Julian Assange and Wikileaks.The Intercept is not to be trusted. Matt Taibi was wise to get out when he did.

Posted by: Temporarily Sane | Jun 9, 2017 10:18:17 PM | 148

@44 Ghostship

All these conspiracy theories are a waste of time and energy because there is so much real dangerous crap going on that needs to be attended to first.


People who spend most of their time dwelling on "conspiracy theories"* are usually lazy thinkers who have atrophied critical thinking skills. False flag operations, coverups and psyops designed to mindfuck people are real like the laws of physics. But there is a difference between acknowledging these things, and keeping it in mind when trying to pull coherent facts out of the info-flow, and buying into InfoWars style BS that is on par with the ramblings of a paranoid schizophrenic with a vivid imagination. (Or an attempt to shorehorn reality into a badly constructed ideological box, e.g. the climate change "hoax".)

Analyzing the words of our esteemed leaders, their media and think tank lapdogs, following the paper trail and the the money and asking cui bono? can give a person a pretty good idea of the power dynamics at play and the agendas various actors are pushing. The powerful don't really bother to hide their intentions all that well. Sure, they often won't come out and say it like it is but there is no need for them to run expensive and risky (or downright insane/impossible) black ops when the public already forgets what happened last week, let alone a decade ago.

The propensity for indulging in theories involving complex conspiracies is a result of three things: 1) a lack of congruence between the reality people are sold by their leaders and the media/propaganda of the day, and the reality they and people they know and trust experience, 2) the culture of anti-intellectualism that has led many people to shun critical thinking and learning and 3) decades of encouraging binary thinking, especially in terms of political ideologies and religion.

So...people do know that they are being lied to and being played for fools but because they latch on to an ideology and scorn critical thinking (the enemy of all ideologies) they can't make sense of the lies and reality gap they experience. The result is ideologically tinged fantasies about how TPTB are fucking with us secretly behind our backs, i.e. "conspiracy" theories. These let people keep their pet ideologies and since these theories can never be proven it "saves" them from having to re-evaluate their thinking and look, in their eyes, weak and foolish.

There is a fourth factor and that is a low-tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty. If people (all people) were honest with themselves and others they would say "I don't know" a lot more often because, really, we know a lot less than we pretend we do. But "I don't know" is a seldom used phrase. It's an ego thing and certainly not limited to people who spin improbable fantasies about world affairs.

Here's a tongue-in-cheek conspiracy theory for conspiracy theorists: the kindling and the spark for popular CTs are provided by the CIA, MI6, Mossad etc. to keep a segment of the population busy chasing ghosts rather than focusing on the verifiable words and actions of the powerful and the paper and money trail streaming out in their wake.


*I generally don't use 'conspiracy theory' because that term has become, thanks to the CIA, a smear that is used to discredit any POV that doesn't fit into the dominant narrative being pushed by TPTB and their media.

Posted by: Temporarily Sane | Jun 9, 2017 11:47:35 PM | 149

If anyone understood the consequences of exposing a source, it is the Intercept, which afterall, was founded on Snowden.

The Intercept always struck me as a payola to muzzle Greenwald, who was creating far too much damage to the deep state when he had the Gaurdian to use as a bullhorn.

Destroying Greenwald's reputation was always the plan, they just kicked out the stool with the Reality Winner "mistake".

Posted by: turk 151 | Jun 12, 2017 1:21:57 PM | 150

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