US Indicts Hal Martin — But Offers No Hint He’s the Source for Shadow Brokers, Or Anyone Else

After David Petraeus shared notebooks full of code word intelligence with his girlfriend (and boxes of other classified information), then lied about it to the FBI, the government let Petraeus off with two years of probation.

DOJ just indicted Hal Martin — the Booz Allen contractor who allegedly stole terabytes of NSA information — with 20 charges each carrying up to 10 years of punishment. The indictment includes no hint that Martin did anything but hoard the files he stole. There’s no allegation he shared them with anyone (though, like Petraeus, he definitely kept very sensitive documents in highly insecure fashion).

Significantly, there’s no mention of the Shadow Brokers or even a description of the hacking tools Martin allegedly stole (though that’s likely because DOJ would draw up the indictment to avoid confirming that NSA even has hacking tools, much less the ones released to the public).

The only description of a document specifically targeting an adversary akin to the one described to the WaPo seems to target a terrorist organization, not Russia (meaning that they’re not presenting evidence Martin preferentially collected information on Russia, though again, if he were, they might hide that).

And the indictment alleges that Martin continued to steal documents up until 12 days before he was arrested, and significantly, three days after the first Shadow Brokers post on August 13.

It would be the height of folly for someone who knew he was the source for the Shadow Brokers to keep stealing documents after Shadow Brokers had gone public (though at that point, it wasn’t clear precisely what Shadow Brokers was going to release).

Certainly, the way in which DOJ has charged this — larding on 20 different charges — suggests they’re trying to coerce him into cooperating. The case against Chelsea Manning, which was partly an attempt to coerce Manning to testify against Julian Assange and Wikileaks, was very nearly parallel in the charging of many documents. In Manning’s case, there was no way for her to cooperate to implicate Assange except to lie; there’s nothing Assange did to elicit the files. That may be the case for Martin, too.

The big difference here is there’s absolutely no hint that Martin shared any of this. Given the Petraeus and Hillary precedents, the government will have a difficult time coercing Martin further, given that Petraeus didn’t even do prison time for hoarding and then sharing equally classified documents (albeit not as many of them).

Nevertheless, it appears that that DOJ is trying to coerce Martin to get information it offers no proof he even has.

Update: As it happens, DOJ indicted Hal Martin just over 4 hours before Jeff Sessions, who has refused to recuse himself in investigations of the Russian hack of the DNC, was confirmed as Attorney General. Again, there’s no evidence whatsoever that DOJ has any evidence Martin was a source for Shadow Brokers, who are presumed to have a tie to the DNC hack. But if they suspect it, indicting Martin with such extensive charges before Sessions comes in will make it hard for Sessions to reverse what seems to be an effort to coerce Martin to reveal any tie to the hack.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

2 replies
  1. lefty665 says:

    How does this work? Is it left over from Obama, a Lynch equivalent of the Yemen raid?  Is it running on autopilot with no one at DOJ to change course?  Has authoritarian Trump doubled down on charges to be tough?

    What happened to the other guy they popped for taking classified information around the same time Martin was surfaced? He seemed a lot likelier prospect for an actual bad guy, and that has had a far lower profile.

     

  2. Evangelista says:

    The indictment of Martin should provide an active precedent for like action in Hillary server and estranged Weiner maintaining access to Hillary server/State communications via his laptop case, where the Weiner-controlled laptop was found with classified State files beyond when Abedin estranged him.

    I omit Abedin from suggested chain here because the access via the laptop appears to have been by Weiner when the laptop was in his possession but he was not in Abedin’s

    [The elements of the Weiner laptop access to and content from the Clinton server actually indicate high probability of foreign state access to State materials via Weiner as a foreign state agent with the Clinton server playing the part the pumpkin was alleged to have in the Hiss Case, the Clinton server being the ‘drop’  where State Department Classified Documents reposed for agent pick-up.]  Will something be done about the Clinton server Weiner ‘leak’?  Or will the questions continue to be kept under the carpet?

    Will the foreign state involved, in this and so many additional abuses of trust being a ‘beloved’ of those in power in the current U.S. and Hillary having “suffered enough” (for some delicacy attributed to those ‘softened’ by money and power, which the abusable masses are perceived to not enjoy) provide rationale for pushing under the carpet?

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