Keeping Track of the US Intelligence Community's Leakers

By Bruce Schneier
Monday, April 20, 2015, 8:13 AM

It's getting hard to keep track of the U.S. intelligence community leakers without a scorecard. So here's my attempt:

    • Leaker #1: Chelsea Manning.
    • Leaker #2: Edward Snowden.
    • Leaker #3: The person who leaked secret documents to Jake Appelbaum, Laura Poitras and others in Germany: the Angela Merkel surveillance story, the TAO catalog, the X-KEYSCORE rules. My guess is that this is either an NSA employee or contractor working in Germany, or someone from German intelligence who has access to NSA documents. Snowden has said that he is not the source for the Merkel story, and Greenwald has confirmed that the Snowden documents are not the source for the X-KEYSCORE rules. This might be the "high-ranking NSA employee in Germany" from this story -- or maybe that's someone else entirely.
    • Leaker #4: "A source in the intelligence community," according to the Intercept, who leaked information about the Terrorist Screening Database, the "second leaker" from the movie Citizen Four. Greenwald promises a lot from him: "Snowden, at a meeting with Greenwald in Moscow, expresses surprise at the level of information apparently coming from this new source. Greenwald, fearing he will be overheard, writes the details on scraps of paper." We have seen nothing since, though. This is probably the leaker the FBI identified, although we have heard nothing further about that, either.
    • Leaker #5: Someone who is leaking CIA documents.
    • Leaker #6: The person who leaked secret information about WTO spying to The Intercept and the New Zealand Herald. This isn't Snowden; The Intercept is very careful to identify him as the source when it writes about the documents he provided. Neither publication gives any indication of how it was obtained. This might be Leaker #3, since it contains XKEYSCORE rules.
    • Leaker #7: The person who just leaked secret information about the U.S. drone program to The Intercept and Speigel. This also might be Leaker #3, since there is a Germany connection. According to The Intercept: "The slides were provided by a source with knowledge of the U.S. government's drone program who declined to be identified because of fears of retribution." That implies someone new.

Am I missing anyone?

Harvard Law School professor Yochai Benkler has written an excellent law-review article on the need for a whistleblower defense. And there's this excellent article by David Pozen on why government leaks are, in general, a good thing. I wrote about the value of whistleblowers in Data and Goliath.

Way back in June 2013, Glenn Greenwald said that "courage is contagious." He seems to be correct.