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Contractor Charged With Leaking Classified Data On Russian Election Hacking

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Contractor Charged With Leaking Classified Data On Russian Election Hacking

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Department of Justice on Monday charged a federal contractor with sending classified material to a news organization that sources identified to Reuters as The Intercept, marking one of the first concrete efforts by the Trump administration to crack down on leaks to the media.

Reality Leigh Winner, 25, was charged with removing classified material from a government facility located in Georgia. She was arrested on June 3, the Justice Department said.

The charges were announced less than an hour after The Intercept published a top-secret document from the National Security Agency that described Russian efforts to launch cyber attacks on at least one U.S. voting software supplier and send “spear-phishing” emails, or targeted emails that try to trick a recipient into clicking on a malicious link to steal data, to more than 100 local election officials days before the presidential election last November.

The Justice Department declined to comment on the case beyond its filing. Federal Bureau of Investigation did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

While the charges do not name the publication, a U.S. official with knowledge of the case said Winner was charged with leaking the NSA report to The Intercept. A second official confirmed The Intercept document was authentic and did not dispute that the charges against Winner were directly tied to it.

The Intercept‘s reporting reveals new details behind the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russian intelligence services were seeking to infiltrate state voter registration systems as part of a broader effort to interfere in the election, discredit Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and help then Republican candidate Donald Trump win the election.

The new material does not, however, suggest that actual votes were manipulated.

The Intercept co-founding editor Glenn Greenwald did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Winter’s mother also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

While partially redacted, the NSA document is marked to show it would be up for declassification on May 5, 2042. The indictment against Winner alleges she “printed and improperly removed” classified intelligence reporting that was dated “on or about May 5, 2017.”

Classified documents are typically due to be declassified after 25 years under an executive order signed under former President Bill Clinton.

The NSA opened a facility in Augusta in 2012 at Fort Gordon, a U.S. Army outpost.

The FBI and several congressional committees are investigating how Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election and whether associated of President Donald Trump may have colluded with Russian intelligence operatives during the campaign.

Trump has dismissed the allegations as “fake news,” while attempting to refocus attention on leaks of information to the media.

Winner graduated from basic military training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio in 2011. Investigators determined she was one of only six individuals to print the document in question and that she had exchanged emails with the news outlet, according to the indictment.

U.S. intelligence agencies including the NSA and CIA have fallen victim to several thefts of classified material in recent years, often at the hands of a federal contractor. For example, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in 2013 disclosed secret documents to journalists, including The Intercept‘s Greenwald, that revealed broad U.S. surveillance programs.

(Additional reporting by John Walcott)

IMAGE: Reality Leigh Winner, 25, a federal contractor charged by the Department of Justice for sending classified material to a news organization, poses in a picture posted to her Instagram account.   Reality Winner/Social Media via REUTERS

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22 Comments

  1. Dominick Vila June 6, 2017

    Leaks of classified information are unacceptable, and constitute a crime, regardless of motive. This person is likely to be prosecuted, sentenced, and will serve time in jail for what she did. The larger issue, however, is having a President that releases classified information, willingly, to our adversaries, and an administration that goes as far as trying to use Russian communication resources to communicate freely with the Kremlin without U.S. intelligence agencies and the American people finding out what is being discussed. Leaks are bad, and must be punished. Treason is worse, and deserves a lot more than impeachment.

    Reply
    1. RichFromShowMe June 6, 2017

      I’m surprised to find someone on this blog who is so down on obamba, as he did every one of the things you listed, multiple times. 🙂

      http://www.dailywire.com/news/16533/5-times-obama-administration-leaked-classified-michael-qazvini

      1. Eleanore Whitaker June 6, 2017

        Do you lick Trump’s boots too Richie? I am so very certain that you already know that this “so called” leak is just Trump, Kushner, Contwat and Bannon figuring out their newest distraction.

        As for your Lard Ass, he is going down for his lies and obstruction of justice. If he was not colluding with Putin, why try to sabotage the investigation?

        You know why pigbrain. Because guilty men can’t shout their innocence to rafters, only innocent men can do that. As for your childish name calling of the finest, most intelligent, most effective president who is loved, admired and respected all over the world, while your boy can’t get respect from his own gaggle of grifters and is laughed at by our allies, you only prove how very low on the human social level your really are. Ant pus is more valuable than you.

        1. RichFromShowMe June 6, 2017

          Should I remind you the Left wanted comey’s head on a stick last October . . . what changed?

          Do you practice your prose or is it just natural?

          comey will “testify” Thursday so America will finally know what he knows, as far as (1) two scoops of ice cream and (2) Russian dressing on salads. 🙂

          1. Eleanore Whitaker June 6, 2017

            First of all, get off it. I hate Trump because I’ve lived with his antics for 4 decades. Sorry if you are a moron and can’t face the fact that ideology has nothing to do with why WE HATE Trump. He’s a liar. You love liars.

            If you were expecting me to wallow in the swamp of denial you Trujmp liars live in, give it up. Yes. We did all think Comey was helping the GOP. But then, some of us, just not dickfaces like you, did our homework. We learned after why he outed the Hillary emails.

            Get an education slug. Comey is going to save his bombshell for Trump till the very last. Jerkoffs like you never pay attention to the patterns of Comey’s testimony in all of his prior appearances before Congress.

            AS for you, you are like the weasels Chaffetz and Nunes. But, do tell us just why you think your teeny weeny balls make you the fount of all knowledge?

            Try telling the truth for once in your pathetic ideologically obsessed life.

            Not all people give a rat’s ass about ideology. I was raised to know right from wrong. Those pigs who raised you brow beat you into believing Daddy’s lies and Mommy’s open legs were fine and dandy. Figures why you’d have a screwed up mind and think everyone but you was raised all wrong.

          2. RichFromShowMe June 6, 2017

            Better watch out . . . . you were starting to make sense, that is until you turned on your foul mouth, as usual.

            “We did all think Comey was helping the GOP. But then, some of us ” . . . ” did our homework. We learned after why he outed the Hillary emails.”

          3. Eleanore Whitaker June 7, 2017

            Men like you always have problems with authority. You wake up every morning wondering how you can possibly take control of others. How sick do you need to get?

            As to Comey, he is not supposed to be “loyal” to Trump. Nor, does he owe a shred of allegiance to the Executive branch of government other than to protect it from outside foreign influence.

            Oh gee…Guess that must be why your boy Lard Ass invited him to dinner to see if he could get Comey to do his bidding just like he invited Cotton and Gowdy 2 members of the independent investigation to dinner. oooooooh how I love it. What these invitations all prove is just how low Trump will go to stop these investigations by trying to turn those testifying or those on the investigation committees into his personal spies.

            Trump is like all CEOs. He has to know what is going on behind closed doors. Nope. Not when HE is the prime reason for these investigations.

            Now that the female military officer got hold of the only documents that prove there was not just Russian hacking but what the Russian hackers did and when, Trump’s obsessive curiousity is beginning to eat him alive.

            As GWB said, “If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to worry.” Trump has a shitload to hide or he wouldn’t be constantly trying to throw monkey wrenches into an investigation of his business deals, his financial status and his links to Putin. Worry Richie Bitchy…Worry worry worry for you and your slugs.

          4. RichFromShowMe June 7, 2017

            As for the “female military officer” who was caught leaking secrets to the media . . . she’s not in the military and she’s “small fry” in the grand scheme of the “leakers”, but investigations have to start somewhere.

            The Left has finally realized they can no longer press for impeachment just because President Trump likes Russian Dressing 🙂

            comey’s hearing tomorrow will tell the tale . . .

          5. Eleanore Whitaker June 7, 2017

            Smear, smear, smear, Smear Obama, Smear Hillary…Nice try jackass. Sorry but she was in the military according to her parents own statement.

            If you and your cockfaces had your way, the Republicans would be the ONLY party in this country. You’d get that majority permanently by rigging our elections.

            Comey’s hearing IS tomorrow and you boys will be eating your hearts out.

            Trump is already having dinner with Gowdy and Cotton two of your rabid dogs of the right whom Trump hopes he can provide with the questions “they” should ask.

            If these two weasels DARE to try to use that but “Obama and Hilllary” BS like they did to get Trump in the White House, both of them will be as guilty of obstruction of a federal independent investigation.

            Just eats Lard Ass’s heart out that he can’t open his big fat mouth to try and stop Comey’s testimony. If he even dared try, he might as well have resigned from office.

          6. RichFromShowMe June 7, 2017

            “she’s not in the military” (currently), but was in the military.

            And here I thought you were beginning to make a little sense, but your foul mouth returns when you’re stumped. 🙂

            Tomorrow morning will tell the story of comey and his memo’s, hope the ink is dry. 🙂

      2. John Falstrom June 6, 2017

        Follow your script, Rich! You skipped some steps.

        1. It didn’t happen, fake news.
        2. OK, it happened, but, it is no big deal!
        3. OK, it is a big deal, but, it is not illegal!
        4. OK, it’s illegal, but, Obama, Hillary, something something.
        5. OK, screw you libturds!

        1. Eleanore Whitaker June 6, 2017

          Excellent post. Thank you! It’s about time we take down these right wing extremists who lie and think wrong is right and right is wrong.

          When Trump said he would be “different” than any other president, what he was saying was that ALL 44 of his predecessors did it ALL wrong and ONLY HE knows how to do it right. Trump Translation: I’ll turn this government into my Trump Organization on taxpayer dollar if it’s the last thing I do.

    2. dpaano June 6, 2017

      So true, our illustrious president even told the Filipino president, Dutarde, that we had submarines in the waters off North Korea……VERY classified information and not something that a prudent person would give to a person like the Filipino president! Trump should be put in jail for “leaking” classified information himself!

      1. Johnny five June 6, 2017

        Just maybe it was true or just maybe it wasn’t. You are so dumb!

    3. Bill Thompson June 6, 2017

      While I would agree that leaking classified information is unacceptable. I would also want to inquire what the criteria is for classifying such information? The fact that this information was classified is troubling to me. This is knowledge that the American people should be aware of. I guess the real question is why these agencies are covering up under the guise of national security a blatant attempt to sway the democratic voting process. While I don’t consider myself a conspiracy theorist to me everything that has happened in this past election screams of a slow moving corporate coup. From NYPD’s involvement FBI’s involvement foreign government involvement and trump himself with all sorts of financial Business ties to Russian oligarchs. The only winners in this elections outcome are the kleptocrats.

      1. Dominick Vila June 6, 2017

        I agree with you. I worked in places where classified information existed, was discussed, and kept for safekeeping. As the holder of a security clearance, it was not my place to question why the information was classified, the merits for the classification, let alone why information that could be of great interest to the American people was kept away from the general public. People with clearances and access to classified information must honor and respect the confidence placed on them, and follow established guidelines. Yes, it is true that without leakers, some of who may be in the WH, we would have never known that the Russians interfered in our election, and that they went as far as hacking S/W companies that developed and were responsible for the systems used to tally our votes. That is very troubling, and we must all question why is such information is being kept away from us. Obviously, the people that sabotaged our election are very much aware of what they did, and why. Apparently, the only ones that must be kept in the dark is us.

  2. Eleanore Whitaker June 6, 2017

    This is just one more attempt by Trump and his liars to sabotage the investigation. One thing I find amusing. All these years Trump has never once gone to jail as others would have for money laundering and outright theft, and now, he is in the position where he either has to face what’s he’s done or he knows he goes down come hell or high water.

    Who votes for a guy with 150 lawsuits and a $25 million fine from the government for money laundering?

    You see the kind of Republican hypocrisy in trying to cover Trump’s Lard Ass like they did with Nixon. Too bad fall guy for Nixon John Dean is out there proving the cover up by Republicans with every interview he does.

    No, I don’t care if classified information was leaked if it means our elections are safe. Who leaked the classified CIA information about agent Valerie Plame?

    Would it have been better if the leaker saw the hacking, said nothing and the Republicans continued to rig more elections in their favor so they can do what they said in 2000? “We will have a permanent majority” and how were they going to do that if not by rigging elections using the Electoral college, hanging chads, the SC and their billionaire cronies big money.

    Reply
  3. rednekokie June 6, 2017

    To wholesale “‘classify” each and every bit of information which transpires in our government is insane. This wasn’t espionage — it was news — news, which, had it gotten it’s due recognition in time, may well have helped us in preventing a childish idiot from becoming the person with his tiny finger on the nuclear button.

    Reply
  4. Eleanore Whitaker June 6, 2017

    No matter how Trump or his right wing extremists try to frame this as a “leak,” what if it wasn’t leaked? What if the Russian hacking had not ever been discovered? What if all future elections became the total domain of the Republican majority?

    Sorry but when our constitutional right to free, open and transparent elections are seriously invaded by Putin, whose major aim is to cause as much chaos in the US Government as he can (and gee…let’s pretend Trump isn’t aiding and abetting him), this isn’t a leaker. This is something that traitor Trump will never be: a patriot.

    Reply
    1. Johnny five June 6, 2017

      What a nut!!!

  5. Eleanore Whitaker June 6, 2017

    When you go 4 decades of the Trump mug in the media, he screws over the state you live in and then tries to do the same to the entire country, what kind of monsters of the GOP would allow Trump to run wild in government when, for 8 lousy, miserable rotten years, they wouldn’t give Obama an inch to do HIS job?

    Bums are bums. Trump is a sleazy bum and has always been that way. But, the most galling thing is how often he was allowed to pay his way out of trouble.

    You launder money in a casino and see how fast the gaming commission slams you in a prison cell. Trump does it and gets a $25 million fine, paying his way out of jail as he always does.

    When does that “Get out of Jail” card expire?

    Reply
  6. ivory69690@yahoo.com June 7, 2017

    post from Washington post first the DUMPSTER leaks like a strainer NOW > Trump is a fighter, he’s a brawler and he’s the best counterpuncher in American !!! ohhh is he really ?????????? just a sec. let me see if this be true . hmmmm well as a fighter would he use for evidence the headlines of him being a 5 time draft dodging coward ? not my words headline news . was something missed here like maybe LACK of a fighter ? fits the clown better . ok lets go on . a brawler and counterpuncher another hmmmmmmmmmmm would he consider himself a brawler and a counterpunche at the time he beat up a women ripped patches of hair out of her head and then RAPED her again my response’s are only responding to what this clown text or stated here . who ever posted (Trump is a fighter, he’s a brawler and he’s the best counterpuncher in American ) either is a coward them self or didn’t research what he posted first . and if be it he did then what kind of person is this clown that made this statement a mirror image of THE DONNY DUMP CLOWN SHOW himself ? if the DUMPSTER told this clown he was going to pay him to stand up for him you better think many times of getting money from the DUMPSTER FRAUD ,CON &SCAMMER for he will have lawyers fight him in court and then screw the lawyers . see the DUMPSTER is an equal opportunity screw one screw all !

    Reply

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