Silver as an investment

WikiLeaks Offers $10,000 To Get Intercept Reporter Behind NSA Story Terminated

Once upon a time Wikileaks was the go to service for any aspiring leakers. Also, once upon a time Wikileaks was on (somewhat) friendly terms with the Intercept, a website which reportedly focuses on government security in the name of protecting the public interest. All that ended overnight, when in the ongoing drama over anti-Trump NSA contractor Reality Winner, who leaked a top secret document allegedly “exposing” attempted GRU interference in the US election not to Wikileaks but to the Intercept, Julian Assange’s organization offered a $10,000 reward aimed at getting the reporter behind The Intercept’s story fired, after it was revealed that the source behind the story has been arrested.

As reported last night, the DOJ announced that it had arrested Reality Leigh Winner, a 25-year-old government contractor (who was very clearly not a Donald Trump fan) for leaking the classified documents to the Intercept.  Investigators were able to find Winner in part, according to a government court filings, because of clues gained when an Intercept reporter showed the leaked report to the government.

WikiLeaks tweeted late Monday night it would pay a $10,000 bounty “for information leading to the public exposure & termination of [the] ‘reporter’ who asked a government agency to verify a leaked report without removing possibly incriminating evidence about its leaker. 

It was not clear which reporter purportedly showed the document to the government, and thus, who the WikiLeaks bounty would target. Four reporters have bylines on The Intercept story.

According to the DOJ, the reporter showed an Augusta, Ga.-based intelligence contracting company leaked documents he had received postmarked from Augusta, believing that firm might have been the source. The documents were also provided to a federal agency, which contacted the FBI. Evidence from the documents was used to identify Winner as the leaker, according to an FBI affidavit filed with the charges; when confronted by the FBI, Winner subsequently confessed to being the source of the leak.  

It is unclear if anything the reporter could have done would have prevented Winner from getting caught, although something more troubling emerged in the affidavit, which also said that “the U.S. Government Agency determined that six individuals printed this reporting. Winner was one of these six individuals. A further audit of the six individuals’ desk computers revealed that Winner had e-mail contact with the News Outlet.” In other words, Wikileaks anger appears misplaced: a cursory check of outbound email history would have immediately led investigators to Winner.

Which brings up a separate question: was Winner – who had Top Secret clearance – so unclear about communication protocol that she emailed the Intercept from her own workstation? If so, perhaps Wikileaks should offer another $10,000 bounty for information on just what are the intelligence cutoffs required to obtain Top Secret clearance inside the US intelligence community.

As for Wikileaks it had some additional comments on the Intercept story on twitter today, among which that “press reports today claiming NSA report shows vote machine hacking. False. Report claims attempts to phish voter registration outfits” and – in a tweet that will not generate Wikileaks more fans among the US intel community – adding that “If yesterday’s NSA report is accurate it is not unusual; US+MI6 set up a front to steal all of Pakistan’s voters archive”