By Debbie Gregory.
On June 3, 2017, Air Force veteran and federal contractor Reality Leigh Winner was arrested on charges of leaking top-secret intelligence about an NSA report on Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election to The Intercept.
The document is the strongest public indication that Russia interfered in the U.S. presidential election. It states that Russian military intelligence launched an attack on at least one U.S. voting-software supplier and sent “spear-phishing” emails to at least 100 local election officials shortly before the election.
But how did the National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation trace the leaked report back to Winner, who held a top security clearance?
When the NSA started investigating the leak on May 30th after a journalist from The Intercept asked the agency to comment on the printed report, they knew that six people had printed out the document, thanks to an internal audit. Winner was among them. As a contractor for the NSA with Pluribus International Corporation, Winner had access.
After examining the document, it was determined the pages of the intelligence reporting appeared to be folded or creased, “suggesting they had been printed and hand-carried out of a secured space,” according to the criminal complaint.
After a search of her work computer, investigators for the NSA and FBI found that Winner had emailed the document to The Intercept from her private email and also printed out the classified document in the office.
“Because the NSA logs all printing jobs on its printers, it can use this to match up precisely who printed the document,” according to security expert Rob Graham. He explained that printed documents have small yellow dots that help track where they are printed.
WikiLeaks accused the journalists at The Intercept of helping the NSA track Winner down so fast, because they handed over the printed documents.
Winner has admitted to mailing the document and is in jail awaiting trial