Last weekend, the FBI arrested an employee of a corporation in Augusta, Georgia, that had a contract with the National Security Agency and charged her with espionage. Espionage occurs when someone who has been entrusted to safeguard state secrets fails to do so. In this case, the government alleges that the person to whom state secrets had been entrusted is 25-year-old Reality Leigh Winner, who had a top-secret national security clearance.
The government claims that Winner downloaded and printed a top-secret NSA report, removed the printed version of the report from her employer’s premises, and then mailed it to The Intercept, a highly regarded international media outlet that exposes government wrongdoing.
The government says it learned of this when folks from The Intercept called the NSA and told agents what they had received and what they planned to publish. After hearing agents describe the potential harm to their work if the full report were to be released, The Intercept agreed to redact certain portions, though it published the bulk of the report.
The report is startling, as it reveals that the NSA discovered that Russian hackers in late October and early November 2016 planted cookies (attractive, uniquely tailored links) into the websites of 122 American city and county clerks responsible for counting ballots in the
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presidential election. This means that if any employee of those clerks’ offices clicked onto any cookie, the hackers had access to — and thus the ability to interfere with — the tabulation of votes. This NSA report is at sharp odds with the denials of Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election made last year by…