News

by Tim Cushing


Filed Under:
cia, doj, encryption, hacking tools, joshua schulte, leaks, vault 7

Companies:
wikileaks



Gov't Says Accused CIA Hacking Tools Leaker Leaking Even More Classified Info From Behind Bars

from the I-guess-he's-just-on-a-roll... dept

The DOJ is still waiting for accused Vault 7 leaker Joshua Shulte's trial to begin, but that's not stopping it from adding to the long list of charges he already faces. The former NSA/CIA operative's house was raided last year by the feds who were looking for evidence of Shulte's leak of CIA hacking tools to Wikileaks. It found some of that, but also found 10,000 child porn images in the 5+ terabytes of data seized.

The child porn alone will likely see Shulte put away for a long time if the prosecution can secure a conviction. Leaking top secret tools isn't likely to be greeted with a wrist slap -- not with the forever War on Leakers still in progress. For some reason, the government felt compelled to add copyright infringement to the list of charges after discovering a few pieces of pirated content on Shulte's personal server.

Shulte -- who is locked up in a New York detention facility until he goes to trial -- must figure he has nothing to lose. That's one conclusion that can be drawn from the latest set of charges being brought by the DOJ. (via Slashdot)

According to new court documents filed late Wednesday, October 31, US prosecutors plan to file three new charges against Joshua Schulte for allegedly leaking more classified data while in detention at the New York Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC).

The filing [PDF] is quite the read. According to the allegations, Shulte had access to multiple smuggled cellphones and was using them to disseminate classified info to "third parties" outside the prison walls. It appears the info Shulte smuggled out of the prison came from classified documents released to him as part of his pre-trial discovery. The DOJ has now stripped him of access to classified documents, restricting him to unclassified info released by the FBI.

A flurry of paperwork and a search of Shulte's housing unit turned up a number of things, including a new form of encryption.

In or about early October 2018, the Government learned that Schulte was using one or more smuggled contraband cellphones to communicate clandestinely with third parties outside of the MCC. The Government and the FBI immediately commenced an investigation into Schulte’s conduct at the MCC. That investigation involved, among other things, the execution of six search warrants and the issuance of dozens of grand jury subpoenas and pen register orders. Pursuant to this legal process, in the weeks following the Government’s discovery of Schulte’s conduct at the MCC, the FBI has searched, among other things, the housing unit at the MCC in which Schulte was detained; multiple contraband cellphones (including at least one cellphone used by Schulte that is protected with significant encryption); approximately 13 email and social media accounts (including encrypted email accounts); and other electronic devices.

Given the FBI's recent history, it probably should be more careful when it discusses encryption. A few years of "going dark" narrative was upended by the agency itself, which revealed it could not competently count physical devices in its possession. The ever-inflating number of impenetrable devices was suddenly, and embarrassingly, converted to an asterisk on multiple FBI/DOJ webpages with footnotes stating an updated number would be provided at the agency's convenience.

Now, there's this: a DOJ prosecutor relaying the FBI's message about "significant" encryption -- whatever the hell that is -- to the federal judge presiding over the case. What makes this particular encryption "significant" isn't explained, but it does seem to make this encryption appear far more nefarious than the regular, insignificant encryption used by citizens not currently under federal indictment.

Three more charges are headed Shulte's way, all of them related to unlawful disclosure of classified documents. This isn't charge stacking -- not if the government's allegations are true -- but it could definitely nudge Shulte towards a plea deal that will save the DOJ a lot of time, energy, and arguments over presenting sensitive information in open court.

Then again, Shulte appears to be anything but cooperative. Leaking classified documents directly under the fed's nose while in supervised detention is a bold move that bears a lot of resemblance to a middle finger extended in the direction of the government. This may end up being a very fun trial to watch.


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2018 @ 11:01am

    I doubt that this was a security lapse. The feds probably set up the whole thing (and closely monitored his every move) in order to find out who else was involved and what else was breached. That's not to say that such "sting" operations don't blow up in their faces. They often do.

    And that's besides the fact that most prisons have video cameras everywhere, cellular communications jammed or Stingray'd and there's basically no privacy of any kind. And such a high-value prisoner is going to get plenty of extra attention on top of that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2018 @ 11:11am

      Re:

      It's definitely interesting that the government kept giving him classified information while he was in jail for allegedly leaking classified information... and then only suspended his clearence when they thought he leaked the new information.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2018 @ 12:45pm

        Re: Re:

        I like the fact that people would even consider believing the CIA for any accusation they make. Not only that, but to even care about this one guy when they sanction their own leaks and classified information when it suits their needs.

        I hate hypocrisy a whole lot. If people would refuse to work with, or believe hypocrites the world would be such a radically different place. Apparently lies and deceit are so well loved that the only people that get attacked first is anyone revealing the actual truth.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2018 @ 2:51pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Exactly, and I remain extremely skeptical of the CP charge, since ones they have the media, they can "find" anything they want on it, and that smacks of demonizing the leaker and thus hindering their defense.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Bergman (profile), 3 Nov 2018 @ 12:57pm

      Re:

      That's assuming he leaked anything at all. It strikes me as very convenient that they can now disallow him discovery because a phone they allege was in his possession was used to leak classified material.

      Was the phone ever actually in his possession? If he did have contraband cellphones, was the leaky phone one of them before or after the seizure of phones from him?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      nerd bert (profile), 5 Nov 2018 @ 7:30am

      Re: "Video cameras everywhere"

      And that's besides the fact that most prisons have video cameras everywhere, cellular communications jammed or Stingray'd and there's basically no privacy of any kind.

      That's actually not true. The market for cellphones in prisons is notorious, and guards find them all the time. It's a constant battle that isn't won by jamming. As for Stingrays, they're not cheap and typically require personnel to monitor so they're expensive and not typically used.

      And as for "cameras everywhere", that's again not true. The administration always manages to leave a few areas uncovered where particularly abusive inmates always seem to "trip and fall" in guards' custody, nor are there cameras in the cells themselves.

      Shulte probably wasn't set up. The Constitution and the courts guarantee him the right to see the evidence against him. The DoJ likely gave him some of the less classified evidence against him and monitored his actions to see what he did with it, found he'd violated the law again, and dropped this hammer. It's not so much a sting in that the DoJ was required to give him the material in the first place, nor was Shulte in particular targeted to try and get him to do something he normally wouldn't, at least if you believe the allegations against him in the first place. This is more like the DoJ being legally obligated to hand him an explosive package with a button saying "Don't push me" and then observing as he pushed it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 2 Nov 2018 @ 12:30pm

    Feds unable to use all of them fancy tools we've paid billions for to notice an employee is a pedophile.
    Feds unable to secure detention facilities.
    Feds unable to notice detainee posting to multiple social media accounts while detained.
    Feds unable to file anything until much later when they allowed the 'damage' to be magnified.

    One does wonder if the super secret info he leaked to his family was just him mentioning the things they alleged against him. I haven't heard anything in the media about Vault7 in a really long time so one does wonder about the veracity of these statements about him trying to leak it to the media.

    Considering how much & how often the government likes to lie and shade the facts, perhaps they just want to pile on so this doesn't go to trial & questions that could be damaging to them & their methods won't be asked where anyone can hear.

    This whole case as been a cluster looking for a fsck...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 2 Nov 2018 @ 12:57pm

      Re:

      Feds gave him classified information as part of discovery.

      What, they didn't notice it was classified? They didn't notice that the person they gave the classified iformation to was accused of disseminating classified information? They were unsure about or ignorant of the ability of anyone being able to secure classified information in a jailhouse? Did they think there was a 'cone of silence' in there?

      Then there is the question as to whether the classified information given during discovery was the same as the classified information he was accused of disseminating? Were they verifying that it was classified? Were they claiming ownership for the purposes of prosecution? Or did they in fact give him different classified information?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2018 @ 2:01pm

        Re: Re:

        Feds gave him classified information as part of discovery.

        It might be difficult to mount a proper defense without it, but when has that ever stopped the feds from witholding information? (They have been known to avoid prosecuting some cases to avoid the possibility of things getting into the public record.)

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Coyne Tibbets (profile), 3 Nov 2018 @ 12:56am

        Re: Re:

        Bet it wasn't classified when they gave it to him. They classified it after delivery so they can add to his list of charges.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Smartassicus the Roman, 2 Nov 2018 @ 2:45pm

    Justa Thought

    To Uncle Fed "significant encryption" would be a password protected PDF or a *.zip file with a one character password.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2018 @ 3:48pm

    While I grant it's possible he just happened to be a pedo with a massive stash of sick shit, considering it was the intel agencies which he angered, some reasonable doubt seems, well, reasonable.

    Sexual impropriety accusations are a staple smear for the dirty tricks people. And yes, I am implying that our black ops fellas keep stashes of CP specifically for framing people.

    We anally violated prisoners in Abu Ghraib. We were complicit in the molestation of boys by adult men in Iraq. What's a li'l CP added to that?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2018 @ 4:03pm

      Re:

      The technical term for this is "orgy of evidence" (look it up)...
      This would be equivalent to finding a multi-million dollar stash of drugs in the home of a mid-level meth dealer - the very amount and lack of even the most basic of precautions makes such a "find" implausible, at best, to any reasonable person.

      That of course presumes prosecutors are 'reasonable', and recent history shows quite plainly that this is absolutely not the case.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2018 @ 4:10pm

        Re: Re:

        Assuming successful prosecution is the goal might be an error. A likely other goal would be getting the guy shanked to death in his cell before the trial's even over.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2018 @ 4:20pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Well, of course, that much is both obvious and implied, especially here.

          But the mere accusation would also serve to discourage legal counsel from taking up the case due to such an association clinging to them and hindering future business, which is the second shell in such a volley.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      MrTea, 3 Nov 2018 @ 3:54pm

      Re:

      Recall the brother of the Vegas mass shooter (who we are told did the worst shooting ever for no apparent reason?) started to talk to the press and then...wham busted for...child porn.

      I seem to recall other cases similar to this pattern though the particulars escape me. I wonder if the "Innocence Project" would ever look into one of these or--as I suspect--the charges make you so radioactive you are Instant Toast.

      Meanwhile the biggest guns in the media poured in en mass to debunk the "Pizzagate" scandal--which was approved by acclamation, Megan Kelly on Fox let the Comet Pizza owner on to deny everything including that he even had a basement..oops he had given an interview to the BBC a year before describing how they made their own organic pizza sauce and good thing they could store it in the..basement.

      Anyone who goes along with the mass media denial never looked at the Wikileaks Podesta material. Go see for yourself.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 5 Nov 2018 @ 12:09am

        Re: good thing they could store it in the..basement.

        How is that supposed to work, given the restaurant has no basement?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          The Wanderer (profile), 5 Nov 2018 @ 3:35am

          Re: Re: good thing they could store it in the..basement.

          I believe his point was that in that interview the owner indicated that the restaurant does have a basement, vs. the more recent claims (after/regarding the "Pizzagate" scandal) that it doesn't.

          Having not encountered that interview, I can't really speak to whether or not that point is accurate, never mind anything deeper about the whole matter.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2018 @ 5:35pm

    Let's see... the sap is already behind bars, with a bunch of charges that is likely to see him locked away for extended periods of time, not that he's actually free to walk around at the moment.

    And he's leaking more stuff than before he was arrested.

    ...Because we needed another reminder on how the CIA is fucking terrible at actually doing their job?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Jim P. (profile), 3 Nov 2018 @ 1:08pm

    Encryption

    For prosecutorial purposes, "A=1, B=2" and so on would be labeled as "serious encryption". Pig Latin would be insyant evidence of terror connections.

    Given some creative writing, you could make Braille look sinister in court.

    I'd not be surprised if they tried to pass off Zipped files as an attempt to conceal data too.

    You claim the sun would go out and kittens will burst into flame if person X was not convicted and let the defense try to argue things down to a sane level.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    MrTea, 3 Nov 2018 @ 4:08pm

    Probably most readers here have some familiarity with this episode but all should now the particulars regarding the revelations of Bill Binney ex-NSA and the fiasco regarding the programs "Thinthread" and "Stellar Wind"

    https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/government-elections-politics/united-states-of-secrets /the-frontline-interview-william-binney/

    If you look at the sequential events starting before 9/11 and devolving right up to today, it's striking how little whoever is in charge of the government seems to matter. Truth tellers like Mr. Binney and Tom Drake are a rare commodity, and one can discern a lot about what lies underneath it all through the lens of how these developments have been treated by the "name brand" corporate media.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2018 @ 8:39pm

    This headline is a trainwreck

    Gov't Says Accused CIA Hacking Tools Leaker Leaking Even More Classified Info From Behind Bars

    If your headline has a compound noun made up of five words that can possibly be nouns in a row, it's a bad headline.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Techdirt Logo Gear
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.