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Tag: media

How FBI Easily Tracked Down Leaker of Top Secret Russia Document

Reality Leigh Winner, via Facebook.

Reality Leigh Winner, via Facebook.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Federal investigators often struggle to uncover national security leakers, but not in the case of Reality Leigh Winner, a government contractor arrested for allegedly sending a top-secret document to a news outlet.

The Washington Post reports that Winner was easy to track down – it took just a few days – because the 25-year-old Georgia woman left behind plenty of clues. 

An unidentified news outlet, presumably The Intercept, called federal officials for a comment on one of the “most detailed U.S. government account of Russian interference in the election that has yet come to light.” The news agency, seeking comment for a story, showed authorities a copy of the printed materials, according to an affidavit.

“The U.S. Government Agency examined the document shared by the News Outlet and determined the pages of the intelligence reporting appeared to be folded and/or creased,” the affidavit reads, “suggesting they had been printed and hand-carried out of a secured space.”

Authorities determined that six people had printed out the top-secret materials, and one of those was Winner, who worked for Pluribus International at a facility in Georgia.

A review of Winner’s work computer revealed that she had searched the agency’s classified system for the report and printed it on the same day. 

A reporter who received the documents said they were mailed in an envelope postmarked “Augusta, Georgia.”

“The Contractor informed the Reporter that he thought that the documents were fake,” the affidavit reads. “Nevertheless, the Contractor contacted the U.S. Government Agency on or about June 1, 2017, to inform the U.S. Government Agency of his interaction with the reporter.”

After Winner was arrested Saturday, the FBI said she admitted “removing the classified intelligence reporting from her office space, retaining it, and mailing it from Augusta, Georgia, to the news outlet,” court documents read.

Trump to Comey: Jail Journalists Who Refuse to Identify Anonymous Sources


typewriter-reporterBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump continued his attack on the free press by asking then-FBI Director James Comey to jail journalists who refuse to disclose the names of anonymous government sources responsible for leaking embarassing information about his administration.

It was the same Feb. 14 meeting in the Oval Office in which Trump is accused of asking Comey to drop the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Saying he was tired of news leaks detailing his private conversations with several leaders worldwide, Trump asked Comey to aggressively pursue the leakers.

When Comey advised the president that it would be difficult to identify the leaks without the cooperation of journalists, Trump told the FBI director to send reporters to jail if they refused to help provide information.

The unusual request was written in a memo by Comey, who kept meticulous notes on his meetings with Trump.

A press freedom advocacy group came to the defense of journalists, saying Trump’s comments “cross a dangerous line.”

“The comments attributed to President Trump cross a dangerous line. But no president gets to jail journalists,” Bruce Brown, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said in a statement.

“Reporters are protected by judges and juries, by a congress that relies on them to stay informed, and by a Justice Department that for decades has honored the role of a free press by spurning prosecutions of journalists for publishing leaks of classified information.”

USA Today Urges FBI to Investigate Millions of Fake Facebook Accounts

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The USA Today has been swamped with so many fake users on Facebook that the newspaper is asking the FBI to investigate.

The newspaper, owned by Gannett Co., estimated that half of its Facebook follower are automated. Even after the social media giant removed more than a third of USA Today’s 15.2 million followers, millions more are fake as an average of 1,000 fake users “like” the page, the newspaper revealed

What remains unclear is why spam operators are targeting the USA Today.

“The continued presence of phony accounts hasn’t checked the social network’s user growth, but they can cause confusion and havoc for individual users and companies,” the USA Today wrote. “Fake profiles that masquerade as real people have also caused tragedy, such as the torture and killing of a university student in Pakistan after someone set up a fake Facebook account in his name that allegedly contained blasphemous content.”

“We don’t know why the scope of impact on USA Today’s Facebook Page appears greater than any other publisher,” said Shabnam Shaik, technical program manager on Facebook’s protect and care team.

In flings with the Securities and Exchange commission, Facebook estimated about 1% of its active users are “misclassified” accounts, which includes both fake accounts and those that violated its terms of service, such as pet accounts.

FBI Begins Restricting Media Access to the Bureau Following News Leaks

FBI Director James Comey

FBI Director James Comey

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI rolled out a new media policy that restricts contacts between the news media and bureau employees following controversies over recent leaks.

The policy was announced this week at a Washington conference attended by FBI agents in charge of 56 field offices, CNN reports. 

Under FBI Director James Comey, the bureau has improved media access to the bureau. But the new policy endangers that transparency.

The new restrictions follow leaked information for news stories about contacts between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russian operatives.

Under the new policy, only leaders of the field offices and PR employees are allowed to talk with the media. There are exemptions when proper authorization is given to bureau employees,

The FBI declined to comment.

Love Lost? Trump Administration Prepares to Charge Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange

Julian Assange on Fox News

Julian Assange on Fox News

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Donald Trump praised the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks while he was running for president.

Now, his administration is preparing charges against the group’s founder, Julian Assange, according to CNN

The charges may include conspiracy, violating the Espionage Act and the theft of government property.

The decision to charge Assange, who revealed troves of damaging e-mails from the Hillary Clinton campaign, belongs to the Justice Department.

U.S. authorities are responding to WikiLeaks releasing 8,000 documents last week revealing secrets about the CIA’s spying capabilities.

Attorney General on Thursday called Assange’s arrest a “priority.”

“We are going to step up our effort and already are stepping up our efforts on all leaks,” he said. “This is a matter that’s gone beyond anything I’m aware of. We have professionals that have been in the security business of the United States for many years that are shocked by the number of leaks and some of them are quite serious. So yes, it is a priority. We’ve already begun to step up our efforts and whenever a case can be made, we will seek to put some people in jail.”

Assange’s lawyer responded.

“We’ve had no communication with the Department of Justice and they have not indicated to me that they have brought any charges against Mr. Assange,” Barry Pollack said. “They’ve been unwilling to have any discussion at all, despite our repeated requests, that they let us know what Mr. Assange’s status is in any pending investigations. There’s no reason why WikiLeaks should be treated differently from any other publisher.”

Trump Slams FBI for Being Unable to Contain Leaks about His Administration

donald trump rallyBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump once again blasted the intelligence community, this time slamming the FBI for failing to prevent leaks inside the bureau.

“The FBI is totally unable to stop the national security “leakers that have permeated our government for a long time,” Trump tweeted Friday morning. “They can’t even find the leakers within the FBI itself. Classified information is given to media that could have a devastating effect on U.S. FIND NOW.”

Trump fired off the tweets a day after it was discovered that his administration tried to get the FBI to undermine evidence of ties between his campaign team and Russia during the presidential election.

This is just the latest round of attacks aimed at the intelligence community.

FBI Doubles Reward in Case of Chicago Journalist Killed in Belize

Anne Swaney, 39

Anne Swaney, 39

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI has doubled its reward for information in helping solve the 2016 murder of a Chicago journalist in Belize.

The FBI upped its reward to $20,000 in hopes of tracking down the killer of Anne Swaney, a 39-year-old Chicago resident who was murdered in western Belize on Jan. 14.

Swaney, executive producer of online operations for ABC7, was staying at a remote resort when she was strangled and sustained blunt force trauma to the neck and head.

Swan’s body was found in a river.

AG Candidate Jeff Sessions Won’t Commit to Protecting Journalists’ Sources

Jeff Sessions at the confirmation hearing.

Jeff Sessions at the confirmation hearing.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Sen. Jeff Sessions, who is Donald Trump’s choice for the next attorney general, said Tuesday at his confirmation hearing that he would not commit to keeping journalists from going to jail for refusing to leak information from anonymous sources.

By contrast, Attorney General Eric Holder said in 2015 that he would not jail reporters for doing their jobs, Huffington Post reports

“If confirmed, will you commit to following the standards already in place at the Justice Department and will you make that commitment not to put reporters in jail for doing their jobs?” asked Sen. Amy Klobuchar, R-Minn.

“I’m not sure,” Sessions responded. “I have not studied those regulations.”

Sessions said that information from journalists could serve as a “mechanism through which unlawful intelligence is obtained.”