[Photo: National Security Agency, Ft. Meade, MD via Wikimedia]

Reality Winner Claims NSA’s Collection on Russians Had Already Been Compromised

I guess today is Reality Winner day.

As Trevor Timm describes, Winner is trying to get comments she made in an interview with the FBI thrown out, arguing she was for legal purposes in custody yet did not receive a Miranda warning. In support of that argument, she submitted a declaration describing what happened to her that day — basically how 10 male FBI agents showed up to search her house, with two taking her to a back room to interrogate her.

In addition to all the details about how many male FBI agents there were and how they had her stand in the fenced yard when they were done interrogating her, she describes how she answered when they asked whether she believed she had compromised sources and methods.

16. Law enforcement specifically asked me whether I believed the disclosure of the document compromised the “sources and methods” contained in the document, to which I advised that it was likely those “sources and methods” had already been compromised.

17. I specifically told law enforcement that, “whatever we were using had already been compromised, and that this report was just going to be like a one drop in the bucket.”

Critics will argue that this wasn’t Winner’s operational judgment to make, though it does reveal that even in this interview, she attested that she didn’t think her leak would damage intelligence.

But I’m interested in her claim that these collection points were already burned.

While many people complain that the IC has withheld too much information about the Russian hack, there are some details that have been released that are downright surprising. Sure, we don’t know who leaked the Steele dossier, but it may have led to the exposure (and possible execution) of his sources. We do know, however, that DOJ itself revealed (in the Yahoo indictment) that it collected email conversations of FSB officers among themselves. We’ve heard vague reporting, too, that Russians figured out they were tapped and went silent accordingly. One early report I got about Russia’s involvement in the DNC hack explained that the suspected hackers rolled up a good deal of their infrastructure after it was exposed.

But Winner (who’s an analyst, remember, not a technical person) claims, that “whatever we were using had already been compromised” with apparent confidence.

Which raises questions whether that’s based on actual knowledge of how Russians were responding to our spying.

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 Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, 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 in Grand Rapids, MI.

10 replies
  1. Desider says:

    Seth Abramson 200-tweet megathread on 2013 Moscow Tower deal worth reading as background context – https://mobile.twitter.com/SethAbramson/status/903693399114612736
    As Russian consulate in Frisco holds its August bonfire, reminds me how their other shut down properties had enough time to clean house before. Monster story in front of us, but it’s taken a few acts of cutting against decorum – Winner’s, Buzzfeed’s, even half crazy sounding Mensch’s – to get the obvious out there as obvious. Trump was never subtle, but the slow plodding FBI and NSA and dense-acting “nothing to see here” media have all created what was a perfect storm lasting 4 years, not 1 as believed.
    So in that megadeal Putin played Trump with, just what hidden Russian resources were at play and how come it’s taking us so long to document them?

    • orionATL says:

      re desider

      “Monster story in front of us, but it’s taken a few acts of cutting against decorum – Winner’s, Buzzfeed’s, even half crazy sounding Mensch’s – to get the obvious out there as obvious.”

      indeed.

      it’s a damned wonder we know much of anything. and what we do know has been fuzzed over by goofball left and right conspiratorialists constructing fairy castles from the vocabulary of espionage – ” deep state”, “dnc mole”, seth rich murder, “cut-outs”, IC collusion, double-agent. good grief! grease alll over the glasses.

  2. Alan says:

    This is all background noise…you’re chasing the wrong squirrel up the wrong tree. The real story is how/why “Reality Winner” ended up in this situation, not what’s happening now.

    • Evangelista says:

      Alan (and bmaz),

      I can’t say that “how/why “Reality Winner” ended up in this situation” is “The real story”, but it is the primary point of interest in legitimate analysis of the “Reality Winner Story”.

      Winner’s assertion, that the ‘leaked’ document was ‘compromised’, old-hat, already known, already public-domain, common knowledge, and therefore not secret, wherefore the document, itself, was not a secret document, is provably true:  The “information” (assertion) of the document (which “information” appears to be gossip and based on “common-knowledge” gossip which may be asserted ‘headered’ by the DNC off-the-cuff prior-to-any-investigation designation that “The Russians Did It”) has been since then, was at the time of the alleged “Winner release” and still is without evidenciary foundation.  A basic internet search for chronistic references readily confirms this, that the “information” on the “leaked” document was not new.

      The “leaked document”, itself, proofs that the “information” of the “leaked document” was not proof.  It was/is not proof of anything.  The document is, in fact, a reiteration of previously issued allegation, with no proving substantiation, anywhere, even yet.

      So why was what appears, in cold analysis, nothing but another reiteration of known-to-be-bullshit 1. released for hype as if it was a revelation, 2. released as if surreptitiously snuck out of NSA secret-files, and 3. released at all?  The “information” on the document is, after all the government’s ‘party-line’, which has been brayed repeatedly by every jackass in government seeking to assure security for his or her paycheck.

      The single answer to all three points of question is that the “release” was an orchestrated action.  That Reality Winner was, knowingly or unknowingly (I suspect knowingly) acting for her employers, the NSA, to plant another iteration of the same old bullshit in a manner that might make it seem (to the asleep at the switch and already true-believing) like “documentation” for the yet to then (and still to now) proofless assertion that the manipulator-class has been busting their butts trying to push across as if “fact”.

      No one with the slightest analytical ability, which would include reality Winner, unless she was only hired to put a woman in the office, can read the allegedly leaked document for its actual information content and assign it to be “leak-class” information, or revelation.

      In fact the whole case smells very much like a ploy to try to -finally- sell the government party-line, by giving it lots of publicity and a twist of being ‘revealed’ and “outraging” the government.

      The case has ‘con-game’ written all over it.  And the perpetrators, the NSA and FBI, are two of the most self-confident and incompetent con-gamers in the eternal competition for biggest bullshitters-of-the-public in America and the world.

      • bmaz says:

        Because the Trump Admin had made quite clear they were head hunting for “leakers” and Reality Winner, despite her name, was an opsec nightmare idiot who waltzed right into their clutches with, despite her intentions, some of the most glaringly ignorant actions ever.

        The rest of your comment, as almost always, is total gibberish.

        • Evangelista says:

          I agree, except with the “almost” part;  er, I mean, with the “gibberish” part…

          My question is, and throughout the Winner business always has been:  Could anyone capable of honestly displaying the fundamental lack of intelligence and being in reality, as you note “most glaringly ignorant” as Ms Winner’s actions would suggest her having been in the in-question incident, hold the position of Analyst for the NSA (through or not through a contractor) for any length of time?   The contrast between the requirements for the position Ms. Winner held and the indicated ignorance displayed by her “leak” action, occurring in the same person, would suggest an “idiot-savant”, except that analysis (outside of narrow mathematic or logic application parameters) is outside of idiot-savant parameters (which are computer-logic and math parameters).  Analysis requires field-thinking, at simplest levels, correlative field-thinking at extension levels, which is non-random random correlating, for which it is the banes of “artificial intelligence” (simulating human intelligence from an in-logic start).

          So far Ms. Winner has not displayed that dingy;  and if she is to be played to be, then the NSA is, too, having made the serious political mistake of putting a female forward to be displayed a ding-bat in the 21st century U.S.A. (they deeded to have fielded a male “absent-minded professor” outside his field, which would preclude him working for the NSA if leaking “intelligence”).

          The answer to this question being “unlikely”, and the answer to the question, “Would the so-called “Intelligence Community” be likely to imagine it could put any kind of game, however cheap and improbable, across on the public?” being “yes”, those kinds of bureaucrats having an inflated imagination of their own intelligences and seeing the public as a mass of bipedal animals, the likelihood that the so-called “IC” perpetrated the Winner Game as a cozzen.  A little “Yip!  Yip!  Hi! Hi!” to herd the public to the loading-chute, to get them “on  board”.  That would explain the legal carelessness, too, since a way out for the Winner-part player  would have to be provided.

          Look for Winner to be cleared in the end, and to collect “back-pay”, for ultimate confirmation.

  3. Rugger9 says:

    OT, but interesting anyhow.  Apparently there is another tarmac discussion related to the Comey letter (I’ll cross-post this to the Comey entry as well).  While the Clinton visit in AZ gets a lot of raised eyebrows (quite rightly, I would think) there was the one before Comey was fired at Andrews.  TPM has the goods, and it implicated all of the key players:

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/stephen-miller-james-comey-and-the-mystery-of-the-secret-hour

Comments are closed.