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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S Spade's picture

unless they've got hard evidence that Russia (or anyone else) actually altered the vote, i say drop it.

Crush the cube's picture

Chelsea Mannings twin sister.  Really Long Wiener comes next in prison.

VWAndy's picture

 Now that they saved the world from that Blond girl? Maybe they could focus on Seth Rich?

Herr Deux's picture

total bullshit CIA psyops.

why the fuck are The Tylers even bothering with this crap?

is this the best they can do to obfuscate everything George Webb and crowdsoursethetruth has been exposing?

I'm losing respect for the Tylers on a daily basis, as they continue to Ostrich the George Webb investigations.

YHWH is greater's picture

Actually her full name is Tee Vee Reality Winner.

navy62802's picture

Reality Winner? Seriously?

DarthVaderMentor's picture

I bet the intelligence source that said it was a fake who then reported it to security is breathing a sigh of relief but the other source who talked to the reporter (and the reporter too) is sweating bullets because they both broke the law and the reporter is legally exposed.

This does look like a honeypot operation. It's almost as if the FBI was waiting for a bite on the line, ready to pounce. Notice that the warrant was all nicely typed? This appears to have been prepared.

If this is a honeypot operation, my hats off to the CI officers for shaking the bushes and flushing out the leakers!

GoldHermit's picture

Too da loo toots

American Snipper's picture

When will Hilliary be arrested?

Stormtrooper's picture

Hopefully not arrested but "Seth Riched".

Jethro's picture

Id rather see Hillary stroke out and live as a vegetable for a couple of decades.  That woukd be more cruel.

Oberst-Gruppenfuhrer's picture

The reality is, this sounds all made up.  She learned 3 languages in about 2-3 years in the military?  Come on.  That is suspect, at best.  I'd like to see her interviewed in all three languages other than English, just to see if its true.  Then we can go from there to see if this truly is, reality.


Smart enough to supposedly learn 3 languages, yet dumb enough to email 'leaked secret' docs from her work computer?  Come on now/

Jethro's picture

Dari and Farsi are really close.  Dont know where Pashto falls in the mix, but I'd suspect that it's a cousin.

Jethro's picture

That part about not being smart with classified materials does not surprise me.  If you were suddenly tasked with finding a furry in the military, you could probably find a pack of them at DLI.

Moustache Rides's picture

top secret faked hacking document.. FIFY

KFBR392's picture

dumb liberal (oxymoron coming) bitch. hanf her high and well see the leaks come to screeching halt.

shimmy's picture

Smells fishy. The name seems too fake to me unless she legally changed it to that reality shit and the comment before the election seems too convenient for her to know Trump was going to win and the whole Russia narrative was going to be played after that. 

Then there is how quickly she was arrested yet these same people can't even find white house leakers after 5 months?

I wish I was omnipresent so I could see just what really goes on with all this shit and just how rigged and corrupt everything is. I have a feeling that reality would make House of Cards seem like amateur hour. 

z89101's picture

This distraction further affirms the need to remain focused on Seth Rich, Awan Bros, and ED Braverman, to name a few.

Yars Revenge's picture

His name was Seth Rich.

THORAX's picture

And the others killed in defense of the rat lines. 

truthseeker47's picture

So now Winner is a Loser.

pc_babe's picture

If only she had used a personal server and locked it in her bathroom ...

THORAX's picture

I should stop reading now! :)

Zero-Hegemon's picture

If Hillary could leak classified info in violation of the law with no repercussions, she could too.

FALSE. Laws are for little people.

Sheople's picture

It appears that Winner is a Loser, she's out of touch with Reality, but ... I still have yet to determine what the 'Leigh' means unless it's a reference to something cryptic in 'GWTW'

onmail1's picture

NSA & CIA create false intelligence to misguide the whole world
(using their agents in MSM like in CNN)

moorewasthebestbond's picture

Female military intelligence bitchez are demon cats!


I dated a few of them back in the day.

ken's picture

Real, or fake?

ozzzzo's picture

Limited hangout. She still works for them.

i poop pink ice cream's picture

The report sounds bogus. Reality seems like a convenient patsy. 

PeterLong's picture

Do I have this right? The young lady with top secret security clearance, working for a government security contractor in GA, comes across a top secret report from a "Intelligence Community Agency ( the "U.S. Government Agency). She saves ( somehow) this report and manages to forward (somehow) a copy to an "online news outlet (the "News Outlet").  The "News Outlet" then contacts the "U,S, Government Agency" for some reason, informs them they are in possession of this top secret report, and forwards (somehow) a copy of the report to them. Using the copy of the report which at some point was folded, ( how they knew what copy of a copy of a copy was folded?) the crack detectives narrowed down the place and person who printed the report out. Arrest made. So, if I accept that the "News Outlet" is The Intercept, why would they contact the suspected 'U.S. Government Agency" source of the report, informing them they have the report, and asking what, for the Agency to confirm that this is their own top secret report? They thought the "U.S, Agency" would confirm the validity of their own leaked top secret report? I was wondering if the report is fake and sent out as some sort of "click bait" for potential leakers of top secret reports but have no idea how that could affect any prosecution. As most things are, that is over my pay grade.

And our high school grad speaks all these strange tongues.

Victor999's picture

So now we are being manipulated to believe a suspect document because it was supposedly leaked.  Critical point - still no evidence.


Gotta admit, however, the NSA does not give up easily.

sevensixtwo's picture

>allowing any potential hacker to adopt the identity of anyone else, even the CIA or NSA.


WOW you mean that README.txt that said, "We are the official Putin hackers.  In Soviet Russia, computer hack you!," might have been planted?!?!?!?!?!

blindfaith's picture




For the RECORD: 

1) You can only get a voter ID in Florida if you come IN PERSON to register.  That and a second ID is needed to vote and your signature is on file and compared.

2) All voting machines in Florida ARE NOT on line.  The tally is made and the results are phoned in.  There may be a follow up by sending those tallies by internet or FAX, but the machines are NOT ON LINE.


Si I am suspect of this drama being reported.

Perhaps the NSA should do a better job of screening, unless there is a secondary purpose not to.

oncemore's picture

What a funny game.

She leaks to wrong media. She is a tool.


the French bitch's picture

Show us your perp walk pics!  None of this posed "up yours!" photos that look like they were all taken on the same day.  Let's see the mother, the home, what were her duties at Pluribus, her work in the military?  When did she learn Pashto, Farsi and Dari.  Someone intelligent enough to learn 3 languages and given top secret clearance is not this immature girl spouting hackneyed progressive cliches and giving Trump the finger.  She would be smart enough to have figured what she chose to expose was worthless as a smoking gun as it really proved nothing