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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Everybodys All American's picture

And our reality may be that the NSA is making an excuse to hold new elections and invalidate the 2016 elections. You can also place a good bet they are going to try to have the states thrown out of the election process altogether and have the dept of homeland security run and certify the elections. If that happens grab your coat and get the hell out of the country. Where you go I don't know.

Takemine2go's picture

"Where you go, I don't know." That pretty much sums it up.  Do you go to Western Europe, Canada or Australia? Nope, they're further down the shit hole than we are.  Iceland? Maybe, except I (and probably most others) can't speak Icelandic, but they can speak English so that's good.  Russia?  Well they might get attacked like Germany in WW2. China? Maybe. South America?  Who do you think they're going to attack when the economy blows up? That's right, the Gringo. Eastern Europe? Not a terrible choice.

How many of us have job skills that are applicable internationally? How many of us have families here?  What is the wait time for immigration to those countries? 

Bottom line is there isn't anywhere "safe" in a zombie apocalypse, there is only "safer". 

Ex-Oligarch's picture

Put aside the fishiness of this story for a moment, if you can.

Supposedly the Big Bad Russkies were going after a voting company that had equipment in these states:  California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, North Carolina, New York and Virginia.

California, Illinois, New York and Virginia all voted for Clinton. 

That leaves Indiana, North Carolina and Florida. The first two were almost certain to go to Trump without any nudging.  And only Florida held enough delegates to swing the outcome to Clinton. 

So, is the theory that the Reds were only aiming for Florida?  Or do the geniuses at NSA think the Russians were trying to tamper with deep blue democratic strongholds, and just hoping nobody would notice when they suddenly went red? 

Give me a theory that makes sense, please.

subversion's picture

Snowden she is not. Maybe she'll get a sex change in prison instead.

scoutshonor's picture

They could use the tissue from her forehead reduction surgery for the sex change--should be at least a "spring roll" lurking there.

subversion's picture

Her online profiles are popping up now everywhere with classics like:

"If you voted for this piece of shit explain this (referring to Trump)"

"He's blatantly lying"

Sounds more like a liberal cry bully than a patriot.

nmewn's picture

Now this is exactly the kind of person an Obama mole...errr, ahhh, public servant patriot trusted with authoritah...would give access to top secret material they go to great lengths to secure!

We're really in good hands here! ;-)

So It Goes's picture

George Webb asserted that the CIA uses "win" in peoples' names as a sort of quick code for who is on the inside.

Crowdsource would do well to look up this person's true identity.

RICKYBIRD's picture

She should change her middle name to "Checked".

hannah's picture

she is a female...she will get home arrest for one week and then be given her job back......any bets...?

N0TME's picture

If that is her real name, her parents must have hated her.

migra's picture

Herr reality is going to be Danbury Federal Correctional Institute for the next decade or two. What a dumb cunt.

Pigeon's picture

She didn't do anything HIllary and Huma didn't also do.

booboo's picture

Yea, reality will be like a brick in the chops when she finds out she ain't in that club either. This is just a lot of bullshit to further the narrative so she will probably got off scott free or do time and get a nice check.


Mazzy's picture

While I appreciate the leaks guys, it's no longer feasible.  If you're a patriot please help out in other ways.

Here's how it's done: High level Schmoes create Document X.  Give access to Jon.  Change 1 word, give access to Steve.  Change a different word, give access to Melissa.  Move some commas around, give access to Bill. 

See how that's done?  They'll getcha.

animalspirit's picture

> If you're a patriot please help out in other ways.

Like defunding them all.

Use Gold, Silver, and Bitcoin.

Handful of Dust's picture

Did they indict Susan Rice yet?

Endgame Napoleon's picture

No, they found their fall guy. This time it is a girl.

Just Another Vietnam Vet's picture


BO .... ridiculing Trump re : concerns about hacking / rigging.




BO ....Stop whining........ about a rigged election..........



MasterControl's picture

Wait so leaks against the president good.
Leaks against the lakers bad.
Got it.

Budnacho's picture

*Dismissive Wanking Motion*

freedogger's picture

Sounds like a honey pot operation.

IndyPat's picture

Drudge is saying they snatched this dumbass up within an hour of the Intercept posting the story.

Village-idiot's picture

Now, THIS is false news!

booboo's picture

Name sounds brownish

Lemmings For All's picture

Close. But she is yiddish.

IndyPat's picture


booboo's picture

there be a pecan in the woodpile somewhere

IndyPat's picture

Shame her name wasn't 'Irony'.

That would fit.

Ed Jobb's picture

Distraction from Seth Rich.

buzzsaw99's picture

Thumbs up their asses. Thumbs up their asses. [/Michael Bolton, Office Space ]

booboo's picture

THE Michael Bolton was in Office Space? s/

wisehiney's picture

That bulldyke will be very happy in the fed pen.

In reality, a winner.

koan's picture

This is interesting.

"And it felt incredibly safe. As I made my own way to the tram, I wrote in my Apple Notes app, "Helicopter hovering overhead," which to me signified that the fans were being watched over.

Then two policemen stopped me and asked me who I was with and whether I'd written anything about a helicopter into my phone, without explaining the technology of how they'd read my Notes app.

After a friendly back-and-forth, they looked through my bag, checked my ID and business card and determined I wasn't a threat.
"You have to understand, tensions are running high," one of the men said with a smile and a handshake, allowing me through the gate. Manchester was secure tonight."


philosophers bone's picture

Frightening. Indoctrinating the youth through someone the young girls look up to. Future Soccer Mom voters who will sell out what last freedoms we may have, if any.

Sad but so telegraphed if one wants to read between the lines.

Pumpkin's picture

"Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate actors … executed cyber espionage operations against a named U.S. company in August 2016,"


Actors??  WTF are we talking about here??

RICKYBIRD's picture

It just means people working with, for, or on behalf of them. From the Latin "doer". It's another word for "agent" which is from the same root.

Lemmings For All's picture

How does a 25 year old get that security clearance?

847328_3527's picture

It was a set-up...they needed a dumb white patsy to throw to the sheeples.

"See! We caught her!! A Russian spy!!!"

PacOps's picture

25? Plenty of time.

I joined the USN @ 17. Had a Secret by 18. Worked as a contractor in Nam @ 24. Most of us had a TS/SI before we left the states. Could have had it years sooner if needed.

The FBI does the background checks.

jimsoong25's picture

The FBI probably doesn't do the clearances unless something changed very recently.  That function was contracted out long ago.  I think one company may have lost the contract around 2000 and another took a long time to spin up so everyone needing a clearance or reinvestigation was in limbo.  I got an extension on mine because I was active duty.   

To rebut another comment above.  Clearances don't need to be extended when one gets out.  If someone doesn't have a job, the clearance is put in some sort of status, I don't know, maybe cancelled.  But if one already has a firm job lined up for when they separate from the military, their clearance stays active and they just cruise on into the new job.

sheikurbootie's picture

I held a TS at 22 years old and was in charge of 40 million dollars worth of equipment. 

Not everyone sits around on their ass.  :)