Joshua Schulte: The Alleged Vault 7 and CIA Election Spying Leaker?

I’m preparing a post showing that the government is preparing to lay out WikiLeaks as a decade-long ongoing conspiracy (whether or not they’re planning on charging anyone with that).

Before I do, I wanted to correct an error I’ve made throughout my coverage of accused Vault 7 source Joshua Schulte. That’s how I’ve always referred to him, as the guy who stole CIA’s hacking tools and leaked them all to WikiLeaks.

But that’s almost certainly not all the government believes he leaked.

Weeks before the actual Vault 7 leak, remember, WikiLeaks published a one-off file purporting to show CIA “espionage” on the 2012 French election. It purported to show that CIA had conducted both SIGINT and HUMINT on France’s political parties, with an emphasis on the left and the right.

All major French political parties were targeted for infiltration by the CIA’s human (“HUMINT”) and electronic (“SIGINT”) spies in the seven months leading up to France’s 2012 presidential election. The revelations are contained within three CIA tasking orders published today by WikiLeaks as context for its forth coming CIA Vault 7 series. Named specifically as targets are the French Socialist Party (PS), the National Front (FN) and Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) together with current President Francois Hollande, then President Nicolas Sarkozy, current round one presidential front runner Marine Le Pen, and former presidential candidates Martine Aubry and Dominique Strauss-Khan.

But what the document actually showed is analysis of what might happen in the upcoming election, with some questions to ask, but questions that could easily be answered by wandering around the campus of Science Po, and would likely not be answered by infiltrating a campaign.

Nevertheless, in the wake of the Russian hack of the US, critics of America who took note of this thoroughly uninteresting document might misrepresent it as proving that the US still does what Russia did, even to our close allies.

WikiLeaks, significantly, claimed that this document provided context for the upcoming Vault 7 drop, even though it did no such thing.

The document, which as I said, the government likely will argue also came from Schulte, is significant for two reasons.

According to several documents in his case, he stole the Vault 7 files in May 2016, in a fit of anger over not getting his way.

But then, in August 2016, he started searching on WikiLeaks.

Around this time, Schulte also began regularly to search for information about WikiLeaks. In the approximately six years leading to August 2016, Schulte had conducted one Google search for WikiLeaks. Beginning on or about August 4, 2016 (approximately three months after he stole the Classified Information), Schulte conducted numerous Google searches for WikiLeaks and related terms and visited hundreds of pages that appear to have resulted from those searches.

Also in August 2016, he researched how to use throwaway emails and how to use Tails again.

It seems likely the government believes — though may not have proof — that the French election file also came from Schulte, but that he stole it in August, after WikiLeaks had released the DNC emails. If so, it seems that this file was something Schulte stole to help WikiLeaks justify its DNC dump. Perhaps even, as some files charged in the Assange indictment, this was something WikiLeaks requested.

The government is going to show that Schulte was closely involved in the way WikiLeaks released the Vault 7 files. And WikiLeaks and Schulte continued to cooperate closely after that. But it also now seems clear they plan to argue that Schulte stole files precisely to make WikiLeaks’ 2016 cooperation with Russia look less damning.

25 replies
  1. Eureka says:

    Wow, that’s really interesting. The funny thing is, when I started to read your related post the other day, the question flashed to mind whether there is any indication that Schulte’s August 2016 WL/tools-related searches were a form of communication (cf. a variant of “foldering” for anyone with (near-)concurrent access to his search terms*) — as opposed to his merely satisfying his own curiosity.

    Perhaps not, but this update certainly puts a different spin on what he — or they– were actively doing.

    *variety of ways one can imagine this could have occurred, whether on the terminal end of the search, or via access to a hypothetical google account of Schulte’s to have visibility, etc.

    • Savage Librarian says:

      Definitely interesting. Assange is linked to so much. It sure will be a relief when there is some resolution about the interconnections of various situations.

  2. Cathy says:

    “Schulte stole files precisely to make WikiLeaks’ 2016 cooperation with Russia look less damning. (@ew)”

    I’m continuously amazed at how much effort went into gaining apparently slight advantage. The margins these players worked with must be razor thin. Or the intended effect is more properly like aerial countermeasures – each discrete unit doesn’t need to be elaborate as long as there are a enough of them and it’s the advantage in aggregate that becomes significant.

    • orionATL says:

      this is a very interesting analogy, though i can’t say i understand it. it assume it is based in military planning.

      • Cathy says:

        Indeed. Each flare is not considered adequate defense on its own but the deployment pattern has the desired effect. Such as…

        Courtesy of Airman 1st Class Carly Kavish as published on the AiirSource Military YouTube channel: “Video of C-17s popping aerial IR countermeasure flares” ( The video is 1:43 minutes, deployment begins around 0:13.

        At least that’s how I’m trying to understand the pieces in Wikileaks strategy to distance themselves from Russia. :-)

        • Cathy says:

          IT’S SO COOL [bounces up and down in chair, gets concerned look from dog]. Vortices and vortex shedding are God’s gift to fluid mechanics. They are skittish and rarely kind, but make up for all those freakish dimensionless numbers.

        • orionATL says:

          if you are reading this and wonder, as i did, what vortex shedding entails, there is nice little cartoon here:

          the “whipping” action is like a flag flapping in a breeze.

          as well, there is a fascinating picture of cloud formation (or re-formation) as the fluid passes (i assume) a high volcanic peak on heard island.

          thanks, cathy.

        • Cathy says:

          From the article:

          “Nature is full of vortices, and the animals and plants use them wisely. The role of the alula in avian flight is just one example.”
          – Dr. Haecheon Choi, corresponding author of the study conducted by a research team of biologists and mechanical engineers at the Seoul National University.

          Those who seek to work with the wind do seem to fare better than those who seek to confront it.

          The Architecture / Design sections of the following wiki entries for soaring accomplishments of a different kind show how such utilitarian measures can become signature features of beauty.

 (Uses same principle as a helical strake on a chimney stack)

 (I love the thought of the internal dampener having its own comic book)

          Thank you both for letting me indulge! You have definitely given this mouse a cookie. (Books Alive!

        • Cathy says:

          Both are intriguing, although the wing-tip phenomena is probably the more photographically dramatic and is the effect PJ calls out in the countermeasures video.

          Also: anyone who has overtaken a semi tractor-trailer on a two-lane highway may be familiar with the generic phenomenon. Recall as you have come close to the trailer, waiting your chance to pass, your vehicle behaving as though it is being rhythmically buffeted, side-to-side?

          But the shedding can also be tamed in industrial applications, used to take flow measurement in closed pipes where the process can’t afford the pressure losses across more traditional meters (such as orifice plates). I’ve never used an Omega branded meter, but theirs is the best explanation of the principle of operation I’ve found on short notice. Bonus: there’s a graphic-effects video; it’s 1:47 minutes, the principle of operation starting at about 0:37 (

          While watching the video think of the highway example: the semi acts as the shedder bar and the vehicle waiting to pass plays the part of the oscillating sensor. Just as the sensor location is carefully calculated in the meter, the passing vehicle will feel the buffeting effect at only a specific following distance.

        • orionATL says:

          ordinary experiences explained. fascinating.

          i certainly can relate to the example of the semi and the car :)


        • Cathy says:

          Aaaand finally found a video explicitly linking Galloping Gertie to crosswind vortex shedding. Last one, I promise, I’m done nerdsplaining after this :-)

          The following uses the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapse as part of a discussion of how something called structural shaping is used to combat the effects of crosswind vortex shedding: From the Imperial College of London YouTube channel, “Colour footage of the Tacoma Narrows bridge” ( The video is 1:50 minutes; at 0:20 the flexing of the bridge displays the alternating rhythm typical of the phenomenon; at 1:00 the flexing is related to vortex shedding.

          Thank you for your patience!

        • P J Evans says:

          The Wiki article on vortex shedding does mention the Tacoma Narrows bridge, but cites a different cause for the collapse. (I’m not sure what caused it. I met it in physics as an example of resonance, but that’s been shown to be wrong. Heck of a video, though.)

        • Cathy says:

          That’s fair. Each structure is designed to withstand a certain force from the wind. Vortex shedding at a wind speed that corresponds to the structure’s natural frequency is like a force multiplier. Since the calculations needed to model forces from vortex shedding were pretty daunting before computer analysis, the natural frequency explanation was a decent first pass theory.

          Fast forward to the development of aeroelasticity analysis: it’s allowed the forensic folks to finally model the mechanism that led the bridge to self-oscillation and failure.

          Nonetheless, the wind kicked off the bridge vibrations via vortex shedding and that’s important to the “structural shaping” part of design these days. It’s sort of like finding out that oral bacteria plays a role in heart attacks, but acknowledging that this revelation doesn’t release us from keeping a watch on our serum cholesterol. :-)

  3. JonKnowsNothing says:

    Curious whether the extradition from the UK for Assange will be able to continue now that the US Pres has indicated the Federal Death Penalty is back in force. Although the SCOTUS sent the case back to appeals the SCOTUS judges indicate a return within 60 days.

    iirc The Assange extradition from the UK was granted without consideration of potential death penalty because the US had not used it for 16 years. Now that it’s back and with a conservative US court, perhaps Assange will avoid extradition at least until after the upcoming BREXIT vote.

    If BREXIT Leave Means Leave wins, one might think that Assange will be renditioned on the next flight otherwise the EU courts might block any further attempt to send him to the US.

    Of course, legalities have never stopped a rendition.

    ht tps://
    (url fractured to prevent autorun)

  4. orionATL says:

    wherever else this leads, it surely seems to point in the direction of a conspiracy charge against julian assange that might avoid some of the “rights of the press” issues that can be invoked with his earlier work with chelsea manning.

    • bmaz says:

      Yes. And that has been the case for a while. That is why it was so curious that the EDVA complaint was framed only in terms of the old stuff, as they had continuing conspiracy through to Vault 7 in hand already when they got the Assange indictment return from the grand jury in March of 2018.

      • orionATL says:

        thanks for this clarification, bmaz.

        but things get murkier still when i read that a change in u.s. law on the death penalty could prevent assange from ever being extradited here due to british or e.u. law.

        surely to god the u.s. wouldn’t try to fry assange for distributing gov documents, no matter how damaging vault 7 computer hacks might be. plus there isn’t any wartime connection with these releases that i can see.

  5. jaango says:

    As many as approximately 20 years ago, I encountered Marcy over at the now defunct and thusly, she was ‘real’ in what she shared with the rest of us. To wit, she’s been the consummate “professional.” And in comparison, Wikileaks started out with an “amateur” status and has remained for so these past several years.

    Normally, I dismiss the circle of circumference that is Wikileaks. Therefore, the ‘value’ that is accorded Assange and his circle of friends has added little if anything worthwhile relative to our civic engagement, and in particular, for us, our particular behavior that is important to Chicanos and Native Americans and relevant to our ‘edumacation.’

    And to why the DOJ continues to address this ongoing ‘history’ of Assange and buds, is both a waste of time and money. In contrast, with 17 intelligence-gathering agencies, our time and taxpayer dollars are better spent since the ‘gathering’ is shared among the many agencies, and at times, made available to the general public for our consideration.

    Consequently, Assange and buds, are a waste of our time and which can be spent on more important subject matters that Marcy has deemed important, for us, her Readers. Respectfully Submitted.

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