Au­thor­i­ties: In­tel­li­gence mem­ber leaked to Wiki Leaks

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY GUY TAY­LOR AND AN­DREW BLAKE Dan Boylan con­trib­uted to this re­port.

Fed­eral law en­force­ment au­thor­i­ties be­lieve it was a vet­ted mem­ber of the U.S. in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity — ei­ther an of­fi­cial CIA em­ployee or a con­trac­tor — who supplied WIK­ILEAKS with a trove of doc­u­ments that the anti-se­crecy group pub­lished last month pur­port­ing to ex­pose the agency’s vast clan­des­tine cy­ber­op­er­a­tions.

While the CIA has re­fused to com­ment on an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the mat­ter, in­tel­li­gence sources who spoke anony­mously with The Wash­ing­ton Times on Thurs­day did not push back against the ve­rac­ity of news re­ports that the agency and the FBI are en­gaged in a man­hunt for the sus­pected leaker within the U.S. govern­ment.

CNN re­ported Thurs­day night that fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors are sep­a­rately weigh­ing whether to bring crim­i­nal charges against mem­bers of the Wik­iLeaks or­ga­ni­za­tion, tak­ing a sec­ond look at a 2010 leak of diplo­matic ca­bles and mil­i­tary doc­u­ments as well as last month’s CIA leak.

The net­work cited un­named sources be­hind the claim, but noted that At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions had said at a news con­fer­ence Thurs­day that the ar­rest of Wik­iLeaks founder Ju­lian As­sange, who has been holed up in­side the Ecuado­ran em­bassy in London since 2012, is a “pri­or­ity.”

CBS News had re­ported Wed­nes­day, cit­ing sources fa­mil­iar with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, that a fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tion has found that the clas­si­fied CIA cy­ber-doc­u­ments pub­lished by Wik­iLeaks last month were orig­i­nally stored in a highly se­cure sec­tion of the agency. Au­thor­i­ties are re­port­edly search­ing for an in­di­vid­ual from among the hun­dreds who had phys­i­cal ac­cess to the ma­te­rial.

On March 7, Wik­iLeaks be­gan re­leas­ing a stream of doc­u­ments de­tail­ing the CIA’s al­leged of­fen­sive cy­ber­op­er­a­tions — in­clud­ing the agency’s pur­ported ca­pa­bil­ity of turn­ing smart­phones, lap­tops and in­ter­net-con­nected TVs into lis­ten­ing de­vices and spy cam­eras.

Wik­iLeaks said in a state­ment at the time that the thou­sands of doc­u­ments were tied to pro­grams tied to the CIA’s Cen­ter for Cy­ber In­tel­li­gence.

The doc­u­ments show the global scope of the CIA’s covert hack­ing op­er­a­tions and “weaponized ex­ploits against a wide range of U.S. and Euro­pean com­pany prod­ucts, in­clud­ing Ap­ple’s iPhone, Google’s An­droid, Mi­crosoft’s Win­dows and even Sam­sung TVs,” Wik­iLeaks claimed.

The leak is seen to have ran­kled the CIA, whose of­fice of pub­lic af­fairs has pushed back, but re­fused to com­ment on the ma­te­ri­als.

In light of this week’s CBS re­port, Heather Fritz Hor­niak, a CIA spokesper­son cir­cu­lated a state­ment to re­porters as­sert­ing that the agency “has no com­ment on the au­then­tic­ity of pur­ported in­tel­li­gence doc­u­ments re­leased by Wik­ileaks or on the sta­tus of any in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the source of the doc­u­ments.”

“The Amer­i­can pub­lic should be deeply trou­bled by any Wik­ileaks dis­clo­sure de­signed to dam­age the In­tel­li­gence Com­mu­nity’s abil­ity to pro­tect Amer­ica,” Ms. Hor­niak said. “Such dis­clo­sures not only jeop­ar­dize U.S. per­son­nel and op­er­a­tions, but also equip our ad­ver­saries with tools and in­for­ma­tion to do us harm.”

“It is im­por­tant to note that CIA is legally pro­hib­ited from con­duct­ing electronic sur­veil­lance tar­get­ing in­di­vid­u­als here at home, in­clud­ing our fel­low Amer­i­cans, and CIA does not do so,” she added. “CIA’s ac­tiv­i­ties are sub­ject to rig­or­ous over­sight to en­sure that they com­ply fully with U.S. law and the Constitution.”

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