FBI Arrests NSA Contractor Who Leaked Top Secret "Russian Hacking" Document To The Intercept

Tyler Durden's picture

Earlier this afternoon, the Intercept reported that according to a "top secret NSA document", 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 days before election."

The NSA document, reportedly dated May 5, analyzes recently acquired intelligence about "a months-long Russian intelligence cyber effort against elements of the U.S. election and voting infrastructure." The document notes that investigation only began in the last few months. The document claims the investigation was spurred by "information that became available in April 2017."

According to the Intercept, the report is "the most detailed U.S. government account of Russian interference in the election that has yet come to light. It is said to reveal that that Russian hacking may have penetrated further into U.S. voting systems than was previously understood" and "states unequivocally in its summary statement that it was Russian military intelligence, specifically the Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate, or GRU, that conducted the cyber attacks described in the document." This is what the document alleges:

Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate actors … executed cyber espionage operations against a named U.S. company in August 2016, evidently to obtain information on elections-related software and hardware solutions. … The actors likely used data obtained from that operation to … launch a voter registration-themed spear-phishing campaign targeting U.S. local government organizations.

While the manufacturer victimized by the attack has its name masked throughout the report, the Hill suggests that it might be VR Systems. The email account used to spear-phish customers is listed as vr.elections@gmail.com, and the attack made use of malware-infected files with titles that reference to the EViD poll book system. The report makes reference to voter-registration themed phishing attacks against third parties possibly using information from the account, making it likely the company is somehow related to registration or voter roles. VR's website says EViD products were used in California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, North Carolina, New York and Virginia. The company is based in Florida.

The NSA document alleges the GRU hacked the voting systems company using a false Google alert requiring a target to enter login credentials. According to the report, it also attempted a parallel campaign using a false email account meant to be confused with a second company.  And yet, despite all that "sophistication", Russia's smartest, government hackers somehow left a trail so obvious that it would allow the NSA to conclude in under a month, that Russia's GRU was behind it. Which is also where the story become questionable because at roughly the same time, another set of alleged Russian hackers, the Shadow Brokers, was in possession (and trying to sell) weaponized CIA methods, allowing any potential hacker to adopt the identity of anyone else, even the CIA or NSA.

Lack of coherent narrative aside, according to the official report, on one hand the NSA summary judgment conflicts with Vladimir Putin’s ongoing denials that Russia had interfered in foreign elections: “We never engaged in that on a state level, and have no intention of doing so.” The NSA report, the Intercept claims, "displays no doubt that the cyber assault was carried out by the GRU."

That said, the report does not claim that voting machines were hacked, a once-popular post-election theory from Democrats, nor does it state whether the information pertaining to the voting systems could be used to hack those systems. 

On the other hand, the same Intercept article notes that  "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." Still, the assessment concluded with high confidence that the Kremlin ordered an extensive, multi-pronged propaganda effort “to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency.”

It is not immediately clear how Russian GRU hackers would make the leap between a spear-phishing campaign of election officials to successfully "denigrating Secretary Clinton, and her electability and potential presidency" unless of course that is merely the biased assessment of the original report's author, in which case it is no different, or "useful", than the intel report released in January which "found" Russian involvement (much like this one allegedly did).

Since the document is confidential, and is only held by the Intercept, and since it will not be unclassified, nothing that is contained inside it can be verified, aside from the Intercept's own summary take. Furthermore, according to the author, not even the leaked document "shows the underlying “raw” intelligence on which the analysis is based." In other words, just like the January Russian hacking report, it is yet another allegation. At that point, it once again devolves to "he said, she said" mutual allegations.

Where the story gets more interesting, however, is that  just hours after the Intercept reported on the top secret document, the FBI arrested and charged the woman (with the peculiar name Reality Leigh Winner) they say leaked a Top Secret document to The Intercept.

This is what the DOJ released moments ago:

Federal Government Contractor in Georgia Charged With Removing and Mailing Classified Materials to a News Outlet


A criminal complaint was filed in the Southern District of Georgia today charging Reality Leigh Winner, 25, a federal contractor from Augusta, Georgia, with removing classified material from a government facility and mailing it to a news outlet, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 793(e).


Winner was arrested by the FBI at her home on Saturday, June 3, and appeared in federal court in Augusta this afternoon.


“Exceptional law enforcement efforts allowed us quickly to identify and arrest the defendant,” said Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein. “Releasing classified material without authorization threatens our nation’s security and undermines public faith in government. People who are trusted with classified information and pledge to protect it must be held accountable when they violate that obligation.”


According to the allegations contained in the criminal complaint:


Winner is a contractor with Pluribus International Corporation assigned to a U.S. government agency facility in Georgia. She has been employed at the facility since on or about February 13, and has held a Top Secret clearance during that time. On or about May 9, Winner printed and improperly removed classified intelligence reporting, which contained classified national defense information from an intelligence community agency, and unlawfully retained it. Approximately a few days later, Winner unlawfully transmitted by mail the intelligence reporting to an online news outlet.

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 ag


nts 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.


An individual charged by criminal complaint is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.


The prosecution is being handled by Trial Attorney Julie A. Edelstein of the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Solari of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia. The investigation is being conducted by the FBI.

Meet Reality Winner: the new Edward Snowden:

So another "Snowden"-type NSA contractor who went rogue, only this one wasn't smart enough to cover her tracks, and instead of seeking asylum in Russia, Reality Winner will now spend years in US Federal Prison. Also, perhaps notable, is that instead of approaching Wikileaks, the leaker decided to go with The Intercept this time.

As for the underlying allegation, that Putin lied not only in St Petersburg and to Megyn Kelly most recently, and that Russia somehow did try to hack a "named US company to obtain information on elections-related software and hardware solutions", even though the report does not reveal the underlying “raw” intelligence - i.e., evidence - on which the analysis is based, we look forward to this stirring up yet another round of media frenzy just as the Russian hacking narrative was slowly taking a back seat to the the upcoming featured spectacle, this Thursday's James Comey testimony about being strongarmed by Trump to stop investigating Mike Flynn, which among other things will hopefully explain how nearly a year after these alleged hacks, aside from the occasional leaked report without evidence, there is still no actual evidence - leaked or otherwise - confirming that Russia's GRU did indeed "hack" the election.

* * *

Update: some additional details have emerged about leaker Reality Leigh Winner, who for some inexplicable reason had a top security clearance.

According to the Guardian's John Swaine, Winner  is a former US Air Force linguist who speaks Pashto, Farsi & Dari

* * *

Here she is calling the president a "piece of shit" on Facebook over his handling of DAPL:

* * *

Winner posting an autographed photo of Anderson Cooper on facebook.

* * *

Her facebook post before the election in which she says "this Tuesday when we become the United States of the Russian Federation, Olympic lifting will be the national sport."

* * *

Here she is visiting the office of US Senator Perdue before leaking the classified docs.

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laser's picture

Why couldn"t she leak something that was true?

mkhs's picture

What exactly makes you think she was "true."

eatthebanksters's picture

I wonder if she'll let the tax payer pay for a sex change operation for her while she's in prison and if she'll change her name from Reality Winner to Fantasy Loser?

auricle's picture

Seems she was groomed for this leak. Someone as outwardly tilted as she was having access to such sensitive data?

Withdrawn Sanction's picture

Boy, this leak sure appears at a convenient moment, dont it?

NoDecaf's picture

Reality Winner the new NSA leaker

and the latest terrorist is Butt from Barking

This is like the Truman show, right?

revjimbeam's picture

I wonder how she'll feel when she realizes shes a patsy doing ten years to promote a narrative

new game's picture

i call bullshit on this whole russian story. don't believe any of it ever again.

cia could have put all this and planted the source as mentioned in the article.

she is just the stog they needed...

now they go after trump. russia is still evil. of course.

just fuken bullshit.


Giant Meteor's picture

It is so fucking bad, at this point even if it were 100% verifiable truth, I'd still have to call bullshit on principle alone ..

I mean, could any of this shit been handled any worse? Christ, it's gotten so bad we're giving banana republics a bad name ..


OverTheHedge's picture

I know we are all jaded here, and believe the worst about everyone, and I accept that this young lady is young, and idealistic (allegedly), but she has top secret security clearance, speaks an array of war-zone languages, and I assume has been party to some pretty interesting "facts" during her stint in the air force. And yet, she seems to be utterly taken in by the democrat anti-trump spin, which you would assume she knows to be at the very least questionable. Are the military not jaded, cynical and world-weary at this point? Do they still do wide-eyed adoration of people who send them off to get killed around the world? I don't mix in US military circles, but I would assume (yes, I know, and this could well be my zerohedge propaganda groupthink talking) that Ms Clinton and democrats generally were not well thought of in military circles (Benghazi et al).

Perhaps I am overthinking this....

Donald J. Trump's picture

Seems like she was set up.  Planted fake classified document and she took the bait.  Could be how she got caught, they were on to her.

Giant Meteor's picture

No shit. Imagine how bad it is for a guy like me, who consumes caffeinated coffee, intravenously...  ;)

No cream, no sugar .. 

caconhma's picture

It is difficult to think that Russians are so stupid.

It was a deliberate fake news dissemination.

mofreedom's picture

She'll have cankles once some in-transition-Chelsea Manning-type impregnates her in prison.



crazzziecanuck's picture

They'll be a GoFundMe for her defense.  There will be attempts to make her the new Chelsea Manning, although what Manning did was way more important.  She's a white female.  That combination will likely prevent her from ever seeing the inside of a jail cell.

I suspect this "report" she leaked might have come from a company like Cloudstrike that is under "contract" to the NSA.  We all know that private entities are beyond reproach and totally ethical.

davidnv's picture

Stay with the group, dude. This is a painfully obvious distraction from what's going on with the Seth Rich murder cover up.

Crash Overide's picture

Probably, the Seth Rich murder was getting too much press time on the Internet

But hey it's all about Khuram Butt & Reality Winner for this news cycle.

My Spidysense bullshit meter is off the charts.

SMG's picture

This just seems a little too convenient for the deep state. UMBRAGE Vault 7 anyone?

 According to WikiLeaks, by recycling the techniques of third-parties through UMBRAGE, the CIA can not only increase its total number of attacks,[50] but can also mislead forensic investigators by disguising these attacks as the work of other groups and nations.

And I think this poor young girl is probably just a patsy.

GUS100CORRINA's picture

FBI Arrests NSA Contractor Who Leaked Top Secret "Russian Hacking" Document To The Intercept

My response: It is good to see that the FBI is on top of things. Now for the real question: What is that status of the HRC investigation?

My respect for the FBI would improve immensely if REAL CAREER CRIMINALS like HRC were arrested and charged!!!

Endgame Napoleon's picture

This girl is a baby who, in another stroke of genius by temp agency girls and/or HR momma-clique employees, had a temp job handling classified information. And she is also innocent until proven guilty.

null's picture

She has as much expectation of being considered innocent as the millions who want to consider her literally whatever. Due process has nothing to do with the court of public opinion.

Plus, how about the 'sleep with dogs, wake up with fleas'?

Spitball's picture

It's a risk you take when you work with slime.

radio man's picture

At what point does this Russian collusion goose chase become cartoonish enough for the dimmest among us? Now Mark Levin is on this story live.

Redistribution Of Relevance's picture

So there's a (supposed) tie to voting software used in these specific states, to go by the article above: 

California, 55(D)

Florida, 29(R)

Illinois, 20(D)

Indiana, 11(R)

North Carolina, 15(R)

New York, 29(D)

Virginia 13(D)


Now break that down by party for the 2016 tallies:

California, 55(D)

Illinois, 20(D)

New York, 29(D)

Virginia 13(D)

D total: 117: just over 50% of the 232 electoral votes Clinton got


Florida, 29(R)

Indiana, 11(R)

North Carolina, 15(R)

R total: 55: just under 18% of the 306 votes Trump got


So IF that software was rigged and those are the states involved, I don't think it was rigged for Trump. Maybe Trump should call for an investigation. 

B1G mNy's picture

Arrested? Toss her ass in jail like she was tossed in that van. No arrest warrant needed.

Mycroft Holmes IV's picture

It was a sting operation.

Fake story to get the leaker to leak it to fake news.


nmewn's picture

Her name is Reality...Winner? Really?...lol.

Any relation to Anthony?

espirit's picture


DIA must have rubber stamped that Top Secret Clearance.


My, how times have changed.


nmewn's picture

Its a pretty impressive pile of dog squeeze no doubt.

Mzzz Reality Winner (lol) is being charged under 18 U.S.C. Section 793...(e)...but here is...(d)...right above it that Hillary AND Huma were not charged under...complete and utter dog squeeze.


Whoever, lawfully having possession of, access to, control over, or being entrusted with any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, or note relating to the national defense, or information relating to the national defense which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation, willfully communicates, delivers, transmits or causes to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted or attempts to communicate, deliver, transmit or cause to be communicated, delivered or transmitted the same to any person not entitled to receive it, or willfully retains the same and fails to deliver it on demand to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it; or
847328_3527's picture

They had to catch sumthin to show to the sheeples so they tagged some small time, low income, cracka gal simply tyring to feed her family ... while throwing back all the Big Fish--Hillary, Huma, Weener, Pedo-podesta, Mills, etc.

Double standard of justice of the worst kind.

Mycroft Holmes IV's picture

She obviously isn't the only one, but I bet she had a handler of some kind.

Will be interesting if she gives it up.

Although I am getting impatient, I am hopeful that Susan Rice will be indicted. Once that happens, the sweater might actually unravel.

Where is Sessions!? Hands off my roach, bro!


Spitball's picture

Give it up on Rice. She's not getting indicted.


California Nightmares's picture

Who knows what the fuck really happened, anymore.  Maybe they're just trying to confuse us.


MAGA.  And lock 'em all up, HRC first. Then P the molesata. 

Publicus_Reanimated's picture

heavy.com reports she was a linguist in the Air Force.  They are all spooks and must have Top Secret clearances for their job.  Having only recently got out of the service, she would have been eligible for easy extension.

jcaz's picture

...A cunning linguist at that....

newdoobie's picture

Yeah, thats what I did.


makes sense forget my last post above

jimsoong25's picture

When I was in the USAF, the home for Stateside linguists was Ft. Meade.  Sound familiar?

HRH Feant2's picture

I had the same reaction. That is her name? Is this a fucking joke?

nmewn's picture

lol...its a lot like Josh Earnest as a WH purveyor of truth or Willow Brooks the weather babe or the Affordable Healthcare Act ain't it? ;-)

serotonindumptruck's picture

If a plausible report that implicates the Russians in an election tampering scheme doesn't exist...

...then leave it up to the NSA to manufacture such a report.

After all, the NSA's impeccable and sterling reputation is beyond raproach, and shall not be questioned under any circumstances.

Never One Roach's picture

Too bad she's not a muslim refugee ... then Starbucks would pay her legal defense fees.

She didn't hold Trump's cut-off head up to the world so you can rule out PR-seeking Gloria Allred to help this girl.

NAACP won't help her and Sharpton wont threaten to burn down a city cause she's not black.

ACLU won't defend her 'cause she's not an illegal.

Podesta Law Firm won't defend since she's not a member of the Klinton Krime Family.

No, she looks like some ordinary, white, blue coller, low IQ, poorly educated lower middle clas person trying to make a living in this screwed up post-Obamanomics economy and was a soft target for their scheme.

Small fries get fried is the Rule of Law these days. Best bet may be to hire a good PR firm instead of a lawyer nad scream as loud as possible things like Hillary is her role model since the case is very similar. Every firs tline she answers to any questions should begin, "Well, I saw Hllary Clinton...."



newdoobie's picture

disagree, if the GRU aint trying then they need to be fired.

but the proof is that the DNC files were copied not hacked. Inside job.


seek's picture

I suspect this is the case, given that it was on a political topic and supported the anti-Trump side. Basically, bait.

Regardless of one's belief on Snowden, his dumps were largely apolitical (though the reporting might not be) and focus on the violation of rights and privacy, not picking sides. Whether this woman was baited or leaked real intel, she's no Snowden due to motives and what was leaked.

Endgame Napoleon's picture

I am very pro-Trump and agree that this is likely not motivated by the same Constitutional principles as the Snowden leak, but she is still a kid....in a temp job.....handling the nation's top secrets after 4 months on the job.

Where is the responsibility of the bigwigs in the six-figure jobs who are hired to select employees and to oversee workplaces? Is it all about making sure that these people have cathedral-ceiling houses, babyvacations to Europe and kids all in private schools?

What is the reason for paying a few people 10, 20 or 30 times more than everyone else and, in fact, just churning low-wage temps to fill most positions? When moms are involved, they definitely are not paid so much more than the $10--$12/hr temps for working longer hours. They can leave work all morning, all afternoon, for weeks and even for months anytime they want, citing baby. Many family-friendly male managers can, too.

In cases where people lack high-level, technical skills, it is responsibility that is the reason for the high pay grade, right? But, somehow, all of the responsibility always falls on the people making too little to rent an apartment.

Six people apparently printed the same classified document. How did 6 people get hired who would do something so risky? Is this good staffing? Isn't staffing a key component of management?

When you apply for temp jobs, the temp agency girls or, in cases where companies actually still have an HR staff, the HR momma-clique workers put people through a lot for often just 6 weeks of work at a low pay rate.

They quiz you and make you jump through all kinds of hoops. Sometimes, they are catty and play games. Sometimes, they are apathetic. Sometimes, they are quite immature.

The last time I went through this stuff, I sat for over an hour, listening to temp staffing girls horsing around in the back after filling out the usual boatloads of information with everything in the world. The time before, I had to drive to the place three times to pick up a form, because one of the temp agents had to pick up her kid----three days in a row.

The leak problem they are having might have something to do with an unprofessional approach to hiring people that they have no intention of keeping--expendable employees, treated like junior high kids in the hallway. The workplaces are usually less professional than the temp agencies, however.

Perhaps, the nation's secrets should be handled by permanent staff who can afford to rent an apartment on the pay.

max2205's picture

She'll get a sex change and get out early

nmewn's picture

The ambidextrously gendered will cut your balls off for that ;-)

shovelhead's picture


Wouldn't that make him part of the club or do just balls not count?

This shit is confusing.

nmewn's picture

Its a jihadi-gender-fluidity-forced conversion thingy...lol...similar to ObaMaoCare being passed off as for the victims own good ;-)