Investigators Suspect Contractors are to Blame for CIA Leak

The Wall Street Journal reports that FBI investigators will likely turn their attention to outside contractors as they try to determine who gave thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks – documents that reveal more about the CIA’s cyber-capabilities than the agency wanted the world to know. Sources also told the New York Times that FBI agents believe that a disgruntled insider is behind the leaks, as opposed to a state-sponsored hacker.

In the Times story, it was revealed that the FBI could interrogate more than a thousand people as they search for the culprit. The investigation will include interview with CIA employees and outside contractors who may have had access to the information published by WikiLeaks.

That information, which revealed that the CIA has backdoor access to widely-used technology such as smart phones and television sets, has caused a PR headache for several tech companies as well as the agency itself. According to WikiLeaks, the CIA can turn many popular devices and software programs into digital recorders, though there is no evidence that they have used those capabilities to violate the civil rights of American citizens.

Addressing just such a scenario, a CIA spokesperson said last week that the agency “does not do so.”

WikiLeaks has said that more information regarding the specifics of the CIA’s methods could be forthcoming, so the agency could be treading cautiously when it comes to denials and confirmations. They are doubtlessly eager to do some damage control, but they don’t want to say something definitive that inspires Julian Assange to reach into his treasure trove and pull out something to the contrary: “What was that you were saying?”

The Trump administration condemned the leaks in a statement Wednesday. White House press secretary Sean Spicer said, “This is the kind of disclosure that undermines our country, our security, and our well being.”

But Americans concerned about Big Brother suspect that it is not the disclosure that undermines our security but rather the CIA’s practices which are revealed by the disclosure. The publication of these documents will no doubt inspire another national debate about the line between privacy and security – a debate that we had after the Edward Snowden revelations of 2013.

In the meantime, it is perhaps a reminder that “privacy” and “secrecy” are largely illusory concepts in modern-day America, regardless of how we may feel about it. The surveillance state may not be as comprehensive as the hardcore conspiracy theorists believe, but it’s almost certainly broader than your average citizen would like to think.


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