Reality is, she’s a loser

This level of incompetence is guarding national secrets?

Reality Winner, source of yesterday’s NSA leaks, was caught within an hour of the leaked document’s publication. Or perhaps much sooner, but the Department of Justice announcement of her capture came within an hour of the publication.

This post is not about the morals of leaking classified information. Rather, it is about the competence of the people entrusted with guarding this information.

Catching Reality Winner was so easy that one could expect a just-out-of-college trainee to achieve it, even a high school kid.

So how was Reality caught?

Firstly, the FBI reviewed the leaked document. It appeared to have been printed, folded (presumably to make it smaller and more easily concealable to enable somebody to remove the document undetected from the secure printing area within the NSA building) and scanned.

Secondly, the FBI reviewed the system audit log to determine who had recently printed the document. This narrowed down the suspect list to six people.

Thirdly, the FBI reviewed the six people’s computers and discovered that only Reality Winner had e-mail communications with the news outlet that received the leaked document.

Incredible. National secrets are entrusted to somebody who didn’t apply even a modicum of effort to conceal her tracks. How can we be confident in her ability to maintain adequate protection over the materials that she does not want to be leaked?

Even more incredibly, she had been assigned top secret clearance. One must question the competence of the staff responsible for assessing an employee before assigning a clearance level.

Whether Winner is a heroine or a villain, the story must make it a little harder for people to sleep at night wondering how many more people with high levels of security clearance are as careless or incompetent as Winner.

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