Who is to say it wasn’t an inside job facilitated by Russian HUMINT operations…
Last week WikiLeaks released the first tranche of the CIA’s foreign espionage tools for hacking into smart phones, televisions and other devices. This is potentially the largest leak in the history of the CIA, with the initial dump consisting of 7,818 pages with 943 attachments, according to the New York Times.
WikiLeaks also claims to have several million lines of code used by the CIA to hack into these devices and promises more information. As a result, the CIA’s cyber intelligence collection is now exposed to everyone, including enemies of the U.S. These tools have been directed at foreign espionage targets, such as terrorist groups, Russia, China and other foreign intelligence collection targets, not US citizens. Nor is the CIA vacuuming up all communications. These tools are used to target specific individuals not metadata.
Former CIA Deputy Director Mike Morell said that Americans don’t need to worry about the CIA monitoring their TV’s and phones, saying that the CIA focuses its activities overseas on foreign nationals. The CIA is not permitted by law to target Americans, so Americans should not worry.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that the CIA is doing its job and conducting espionage. That is its legal charter. The bottom line is this: there is nothing illegal or sinister inherent in this release of information, as much as WikiLeaks would have us believe. There is no shocking revelation of misdeeds.
SO– let’s be clear about this. The leak of the CIA’s hacking tools is designed to cripple the CIA’s cyber collection capabilities against such targets as Russia and China, and other countries, as well as non-state actors such as terrorist groups, and has nothing to do with transparency. The timing of the release is also interesting, as if WikiLeaks were trying to draw attention away from all the news stories about Russian hacking of the U.S. elections and the Trump Administration’s ties to Russia. I am sure that future releases of CIA information will be designed to embarrass the agency and the U.S. and have little to do with transparency and shedding light upon illicit activities.
Why is it that WikiLeaks seems to reveal information that is damaging to U.S. interests but never produces information on Russia or China? WikiLeaks and Julian Assange claim they are part of an organization that fights for truth and transparency for the benefit of the world. But why does WikiLeaks never release documents on countries that are truly intent on secrecy and anti-transparency? Both Russia and China spy on their own people and muzzle the press, and they are rife with corruption. They jail and murder their opposition. Why do we not see any documents on these countries rather than the US, which has some of the most stringent civilian oversight of its intelligence apparatus? Why only release documents on Hillary Clinton and not on Donald Trump? Isn’t WikiLeaks interested in impartiality? Why did it receive DNC hacked information from Russian intelligence without as much as a question on the intent behind this action?
Morell says this was an inside job because the information would have been kept on separate servers not connected to an outside source, thereby avoiding cyber hacking. Who is to say it wasn’t and inside job facilitated by Russian HUMINT operations, using a recruited source to obtain the information and then use it in an active measures or covert action campaign by passing it once again to WikiLeaks.
Either knowingly or inadvertently, Assange and WikiLeaks have become tools of Russian intelligence, focused on damaging U.S. national interests and promoting the interests of Russia. It is part of a Russian active measures program. It has nothing to do with democracy and transparency anymore.
Luis Rueda is an OpsLens Contributor and retired CIA Operations Officer with over 28 years of experience in the clandestine service. During his storied career with the CIA, Rueda served as Chief of Station New Delhi and Chief of Iraq Operations during Operation Iraqi Freedom.