Secrets Travel Fast in DC

To paraphrase Napoleon's "secrets travel fast in Paris," secrets travel fast in D.C., as we learned this week with the indictment of James A. Wolfe, a 30-year veteran staffer of the Senate Intelligence Committee indicted for lying to the FBI about leaking to, among others, his former paramour, Ali Watkins, an NYT reporter. 

On December 15th, according to the indictment, the FBI investigators were aware of four specific journalists, "reporters", who participated in the leak material.  The FBI likely had more to choose from, but selected those four reporters – with specific intents and purposes – during the interview with Mr. Wolfe.  The four reporters are not named, but their activity is outlined enough to make it possible to determine who is who.

From the indictment [Note Male-1 is Carter Page]:

  • Reporter #1 is likely Manu Raju of CNN.
  • Reporter #2 is definitely Ali Watkins of New York Times.
  • Reporter #3 is likely Marianna Sotomayor of NBC[.]
  • Reporter #4 is likely Brian Ross of ABC[.]

Accepting there has been a great deal of work on the leak investigation; and accepting the purpose therein; the Wolfe indictment appears strategic in that it captures four of the largest media outlets within the net.  Four mainstream media enterprises are now on notice.  With more than six months of investigation, and with the timing of the indictment becoming public, it's likely the FBI leak task-force caught more than just Wolfe. ...

 We suspected a sting operation because it was entirely too coincidental how the media were getting false information[.] ...

There is no doubt the operation to catch the DC intelligence leakers is a carefully executed FBI task-force effort. 

Lastly, notice the direction of all the stories.  Each leak, and the subsequent story therein, was/is designed to undermine the Trump presidency and reinforce opposition to the president.  Notice how no leaks ever flow in the other direction; all leaks frame a narrative against the administration.

Wolfe's position was significant, as Andrew McCarthy explains.  He was responsible for "receiving, maintaining and managing all classified intelligence shared with the committee by U.S. spy agencies (or is it informant agencies?)."

Along with the massive breach of security in the still unresolved case of the Awan brothers, who had access to the email accounts of dozens of Democratic congressmen despite never having had a security clearance and who transferred that information to others, perhaps Pakistani intelligence, this breach shows that Congress may be the weakest link in protecting national secrets.  This week, we learned that key evidence in this matter was stolen from congressional offices

In a behind-closed-door briefing to the House leadership in September 2016, the inspector general said their activity was suspicious in part because the IT workers had taken steps to conceal their identities.

"Excessive logons are an indication that the server is being used for nefarious purposes and elevated the risk that individuals could be reading and/or removing information," reads a presentation by the inspector general that was not released to the public.

The inspector general also warned of the risk that the server could be used as a repository to store documents "taken from other offices or evidence of other illicit activity."

The investigation had uncovered Dropbox accounts installed on at least two Democratic Caucus computers used by the IT workers, against House IT policy.

The two accounts associated with the Dropbox accounts on the computers each contained thousands of files.

"We have not been permitted to view content of the files on these workstations.  However, based on the file names, some of the information is likely sensitive," the presentation says.

The inspector general also warned House leadership that the accounts could have been used to exfiltrate information.

"While file-sharing sites, such as Dropbox, have legitimate business purposes, use of such sites is also a classic method for insiders to exfiltrate data from an organization." ...

The Democratic Caucus server, which had been identified by the inspector general as ground zero of the suspicious activity, had disappeared at that time.

Three senior government officials with knowledge of the situation told the Daily Caller News Foundation last year that it had been physically stolen.

Last week we learned that the Capitol Police had "accidentally" given evidence about the Awans to their counsel instead of to the prosecutors handling the case. 

Looks as if Congress is desperate to keep this enormous breach from becoming public in a trial setting.

Curiously, Wolfe had  retained his position, and presumed security clearance, even after having been charged on June 25, 2004 with domestic violence against his then-wife, along with another case in June 2003 that resulted in a protective order being placed against him.  (June is not a good month for him, it seems.)

On the other hand, Congress is not alone. 

The State Department, doubtless still riddled with Obama-era holdovers, is also being investigated for leaks of national security information: 

Top State Department officials recently launched a crackdown on suspected leakers, with spokeswoman Heather Nauert leading the charge in grilling possible culprits.

The move was prompted by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's frustration over several news articles after he took over the department from Rex Tillerson.

Reports revealing a six-month role extension of Brett McGurk, a Special Presidential Envoy appointed by former President Barack Obama and allegations of the State Department "slow-rolling Palestinian funding," were among the leaks that ticked Pompeo off the most.

A senior State Department official tells Axios that preventing sensitive information from getting out prematurely is crucial.

Even the president's National Security Council fell victim to sloppy security measures by one of its contractors this week. 

A man employed as a contractor for the national security council was arrested outside the White House on a charge of attempted first degree murder yesterday as he turned up for work.

Martese M Edwards, 30, had also previously been charged with second degree assault in Maryland in 2015, public records showed.  The details of the attempted murder for which he was wanted had not yet emerged, but federal officials revealed that a warrant for his arrest had been issued by the state of Maryland last month.

And then there's the Navy – or rather, a contractor working for it:

Chinese government hackers have compromised the computers of a Navy contractor, stealing massive amounts of highly sensitive data related to undersea warfare – including secret plans to develop a supersonic anti-ship missile for use on U.S. submarines by 2020, according to American officials.

The breaches occurred in January and February, the officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.  The hackers targeted a contractor who works for the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, a military organization headquartered in Newport, Rhode Island, that conducts research and development for submarines and underwater weaponry. 

In the meantime, instead of protecting our nation's legitimate secrets and us, our "top men" were spending a great deal of time in partisan political skullduggery, as the Federalist details.   

The CIA and FBI clearly used agents to try to compromise the Trump campaign team.

Glenn Simpson of "the dossier" fame worked to set up the campaign regarding the Trump Tower meeting, about which the media lifted their skirts and pretended it was shocking for campaign staff to demonstrate any interest in hearing dirt about an opponent.

Sally Yates concocted a fake violation of the all but defunct Logan Act to mischaracterize Michael Flynn's perfectly legitimate conversation with a Russian ambassador during the presidential transition.

The FBI's McCabe tried to set up Reince Priebus, who asked that since the FBI didn't believe the Russian collusion story, the agency would publicly say so, only to see a CNN report that the White House was trying to "obstruct" the investigation. 

Former CIA Director John Brennan, who may have been the U.S. intelligence official to first push an investigation into the Trump campaign, briefed then-Sen. Harry Reid on the Clinton-funded dossier in August 2016.

The briefing did two things: First, it lent some legitimacy to the dossier, and second, it got Reid to pressure the FBI to not drop the investigation.  The briefing had the added bonus of allowing Reid to speak publicly about Trump's ties to Russia, as if he had just gained access to groundbreaking proof of collusion, which was of course covered by the media.

James Comey and James Clapper lied to the president about the contents of the dossier and its provenance and spread it to the press and Harry Reid. 

Al Franken manipulated a brief, official, and innocent public greeting into a "secret consultation," causing the too scrupulous attorney general to recuse himself.

Then:

"Rosenstein recommended Comey's firing, and then – overseeing the investigation that stemmed from that firing – appointed Robert Mueller as special counsel. Mueller, a former FBI Director, happened to be a close associate of Comey and Rosenstein, and would surely want to protect the interests of the FBI and the Justice Department." 

You think so much coordinated skullduggery leaves any time for much else?

It's almost as laughable as Angela Merkel's claim at a beer-tent election rally that Europe should "play a more assertive role in global affairs":

To give the region more political heft, she called for joint action on security and migration, saying the bloc should "Europeanize" its presence on the United Nations Security Council.  A rotating group of about 10-member states could work with veto-power France and the European Commission in order to "speak with one European voice" on the global stage, the chancellor said.

This as Italy, Eastern Europe, and the U.K. are fleeing the corrupt, inefficient governance of the E.U.

Robert Chandler asks, "How can Europe create a 'world order' when they are disarmed, having chosen to let America attend to most of their defense for 3/4 of a century?  Tiny armies, if any, with navies smaller than our Coast Guard?  No strategic air or space forces and weighed down with an unelected EU bureaucracy?"

Is Merkel's fantasy very different from our notion that a large, lavishly funded intelligence bureaucracy using its enormous technological capabilities to spy on us all and manipulate the press keeps us safer from foreign intrusions and leaking of vital national security matters?

To paraphrase Napoleon's "secrets travel fast in Paris," secrets travel fast in D.C., as we learned this week with the indictment of James A. Wolfe, a 30-year veteran staffer of the Senate Intelligence Committee indicted for lying to the FBI about leaking to, among others, his former paramour, Ali Watkins, an NYT reporter. 

On December 15th, according to the indictment, the FBI investigators were aware of four specific journalists, "reporters", who participated in the leak material.  The FBI likely had more to choose from, but selected those four reporters – with specific intents and purposes – during the interview with Mr. Wolfe.  The four reporters are not named, but their activity is outlined enough to make it possible to determine who is who.

From the indictment [Note Male-1 is Carter Page]:

  • Reporter #1 is likely Manu Raju of CNN.
  • Reporter #2 is definitely Ali Watkins of New York Times.
  • Reporter #3 is likely Marianna Sotomayor of NBC[.]
  • Reporter #4 is likely Brian Ross of ABC[.]

Accepting there has been a great deal of work on the leak investigation; and accepting the purpose therein; the Wolfe indictment appears strategic in that it captures four of the largest media outlets within the net.  Four mainstream media enterprises are now on notice.  With more than six months of investigation, and with the timing of the indictment becoming public, it's likely the FBI leak task-force caught more than just Wolfe. ...

 We suspected a sting operation because it was entirely too coincidental how the media were getting false information[.] ...

There is no doubt the operation to catch the DC intelligence leakers is a carefully executed FBI task-force effort. 

Lastly, notice the direction of all the stories.  Each leak, and the subsequent story therein, was/is designed to undermine the Trump presidency and reinforce opposition to the president.  Notice how no leaks ever flow in the other direction; all leaks frame a narrative against the administration.

Wolfe's position was significant, as Andrew McCarthy explains.  He was responsible for "receiving, maintaining and managing all classified intelligence shared with the committee by U.S. spy agencies (or is it informant agencies?)."

Along with the massive breach of security in the still unresolved case of the Awan brothers, who had access to the email accounts of dozens of Democratic congressmen despite never having had a security clearance and who transferred that information to others, perhaps Pakistani intelligence, this breach shows that Congress may be the weakest link in protecting national secrets.  This week, we learned that key evidence in this matter was stolen from congressional offices

In a behind-closed-door briefing to the House leadership in September 2016, the inspector general said their activity was suspicious in part because the IT workers had taken steps to conceal their identities.

"Excessive logons are an indication that the server is being used for nefarious purposes and elevated the risk that individuals could be reading and/or removing information," reads a presentation by the inspector general that was not released to the public.

The inspector general also warned of the risk that the server could be used as a repository to store documents "taken from other offices or evidence of other illicit activity."

The investigation had uncovered Dropbox accounts installed on at least two Democratic Caucus computers used by the IT workers, against House IT policy.

The two accounts associated with the Dropbox accounts on the computers each contained thousands of files.

"We have not been permitted to view content of the files on these workstations.  However, based on the file names, some of the information is likely sensitive," the presentation says.

The inspector general also warned House leadership that the accounts could have been used to exfiltrate information.

"While file-sharing sites, such as Dropbox, have legitimate business purposes, use of such sites is also a classic method for insiders to exfiltrate data from an organization." ...

The Democratic Caucus server, which had been identified by the inspector general as ground zero of the suspicious activity, had disappeared at that time.

Three senior government officials with knowledge of the situation told the Daily Caller News Foundation last year that it had been physically stolen.

Last week we learned that the Capitol Police had "accidentally" given evidence about the Awans to their counsel instead of to the prosecutors handling the case. 

Looks as if Congress is desperate to keep this enormous breach from becoming public in a trial setting.

Curiously, Wolfe had  retained his position, and presumed security clearance, even after having been charged on June 25, 2004 with domestic violence against his then-wife, along with another case in June 2003 that resulted in a protective order being placed against him.  (June is not a good month for him, it seems.)

On the other hand, Congress is not alone. 

The State Department, doubtless still riddled with Obama-era holdovers, is also being investigated for leaks of national security information: 

Top State Department officials recently launched a crackdown on suspected leakers, with spokeswoman Heather Nauert leading the charge in grilling possible culprits.

The move was prompted by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's frustration over several news articles after he took over the department from Rex Tillerson.

Reports revealing a six-month role extension of Brett McGurk, a Special Presidential Envoy appointed by former President Barack Obama and allegations of the State Department "slow-rolling Palestinian funding," were among the leaks that ticked Pompeo off the most.

A senior State Department official tells Axios that preventing sensitive information from getting out prematurely is crucial.

Even the president's National Security Council fell victim to sloppy security measures by one of its contractors this week. 

A man employed as a contractor for the national security council was arrested outside the White House on a charge of attempted first degree murder yesterday as he turned up for work.

Martese M Edwards, 30, had also previously been charged with second degree assault in Maryland in 2015, public records showed.  The details of the attempted murder for which he was wanted had not yet emerged, but federal officials revealed that a warrant for his arrest had been issued by the state of Maryland last month.

And then there's the Navy – or rather, a contractor working for it:

Chinese government hackers have compromised the computers of a Navy contractor, stealing massive amounts of highly sensitive data related to undersea warfare – including secret plans to develop a supersonic anti-ship missile for use on U.S. submarines by 2020, according to American officials.

The breaches occurred in January and February, the officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.  The hackers targeted a contractor who works for the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, a military organization headquartered in Newport, Rhode Island, that conducts research and development for submarines and underwater weaponry. 

In the meantime, instead of protecting our nation's legitimate secrets and us, our "top men" were spending a great deal of time in partisan political skullduggery, as the Federalist details.   

The CIA and FBI clearly used agents to try to compromise the Trump campaign team.

Glenn Simpson of "the dossier" fame worked to set up the campaign regarding the Trump Tower meeting, about which the media lifted their skirts and pretended it was shocking for campaign staff to demonstrate any interest in hearing dirt about an opponent.

Sally Yates concocted a fake violation of the all but defunct Logan Act to mischaracterize Michael Flynn's perfectly legitimate conversation with a Russian ambassador during the presidential transition.

The FBI's McCabe tried to set up Reince Priebus, who asked that since the FBI didn't believe the Russian collusion story, the agency would publicly say so, only to see a CNN report that the White House was trying to "obstruct" the investigation. 

Former CIA Director John Brennan, who may have been the U.S. intelligence official to first push an investigation into the Trump campaign, briefed then-Sen. Harry Reid on the Clinton-funded dossier in August 2016.

The briefing did two things: First, it lent some legitimacy to the dossier, and second, it got Reid to pressure the FBI to not drop the investigation.  The briefing had the added bonus of allowing Reid to speak publicly about Trump's ties to Russia, as if he had just gained access to groundbreaking proof of collusion, which was of course covered by the media.

James Comey and James Clapper lied to the president about the contents of the dossier and its provenance and spread it to the press and Harry Reid. 

Al Franken manipulated a brief, official, and innocent public greeting into a "secret consultation," causing the too scrupulous attorney general to recuse himself.

Then:

"Rosenstein recommended Comey's firing, and then – overseeing the investigation that stemmed from that firing – appointed Robert Mueller as special counsel. Mueller, a former FBI Director, happened to be a close associate of Comey and Rosenstein, and would surely want to protect the interests of the FBI and the Justice Department." 

You think so much coordinated skullduggery leaves any time for much else?

It's almost as laughable as Angela Merkel's claim at a beer-tent election rally that Europe should "play a more assertive role in global affairs":

To give the region more political heft, she called for joint action on security and migration, saying the bloc should "Europeanize" its presence on the United Nations Security Council.  A rotating group of about 10-member states could work with veto-power France and the European Commission in order to "speak with one European voice" on the global stage, the chancellor said.

This as Italy, Eastern Europe, and the U.K. are fleeing the corrupt, inefficient governance of the E.U.

Robert Chandler asks, "How can Europe create a 'world order' when they are disarmed, having chosen to let America attend to most of their defense for 3/4 of a century?  Tiny armies, if any, with navies smaller than our Coast Guard?  No strategic air or space forces and weighed down with an unelected EU bureaucracy?"

Is Merkel's fantasy very different from our notion that a large, lavishly funded intelligence bureaucracy using its enormous technological capabilities to spy on us all and manipulate the press keeps us safer from foreign intrusions and leaking of vital national security matters?