The Intercept burned its reported source of leaked NSA documents by neglecting to strip evidence showing where the documents originated.
In particular, not only did Intercept reporters fail to remove creases from the documents revealing they were printed, but they also neglected to strip ID numbers showing which printer the documents came from.
That easily allowed federal investigators to determine that only six individuals printed the leaked report from that particular printer, including 25-year-old Reality Winner who’s since been charged.
“A further audit of the six individuals’ desk computers revealed that WINNER had e-mail contact with [The Intercept,]” according to a FBI search warrant. “The audit did not reveal that any of the other individuals had e-mail contact with the news outlet.”
Additionally, Winner’s correspondence to the Intercept was over unsecure email which further exposed her to the FBI.
That’s a little strange considering that The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald famously used encrypted email to contact NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Winner now faces years of prison.
WikiLeaks issues a US$10,000 reward for information leading to the public exposure & termination of this ‘reporter’: https://t.co/W9wijCk5d3
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) June 6, 2017
“FBI search and arrest warrants 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,” reported Signs of the Times. “It leaves one scratching the head if this was intentional or just sheer incompetence.”
But how could The Intercept fail so badly when it was primarily created to publish leaked NSA documents?
Did they simply not know how to protect sources since Snowden became a household name?
Do they expect all their leakers to flee the US and seek asylum in Russia?
But what’s even worse about this whole situation is that the report Winner leaked turned out to be a nothingburger.
“The NSA ‘intelligence report’ the Intercept publishes along 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,” stated Signs of the Times. “The ‘attack’ by someone was standard spearfishing and some visual basic scripts to gain access to accounts of local election officials. Any minor criminal hacker uses similar means.”
In other words, the reported operation was a generic data collection scheme.
“No damage is mentioned in the NSA analysis,” Signs of the Times continued. “The elections were not compromised by this operation.”