On Wednesday, a federal grand jury indicted Harold ("Hal") Thomas Martin III, a former private contractor for Booz Allen Hamilton, of willful retention of national security information. The 20-count indictment describes his unauthorized retention of documents belonging to the National Security Agency, as well as the Central Intelligence Agency, U.S. Cyber Command, and the National Reconnaissance Office; the theft took place over a period as early as 1996 until August 27, 2016.
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Late Friday, word came out of NSA that the highly-respected Deputy Director Rick Ledgett would be retiring in the spring. Understandably, people wondered whether this was the first indication of trouble out of the intelligence community under President Trump. Was this a sign that principled career officials were resigning in protest; were they being pushed out in favor of political allies of the White House?
Some months ago, an attorney at the Department of Justice asked Ben about the ethical course of action for career lawyers who view President Trump as a dangerous threat:
In the extraordinary transparency that followed Edward Snowden’s 2013 revelations, one tantalizing mystery remained: how did the NSA persist until early 2009 in querying metadata under the now-replaced section 215 program with search terms (“identifiers”) that lacked a key requirement imposed by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC)? John DeLong and Susan Hennessey recently posted a comprehensive explanation of this serious compliance problem.
In 2009, the government notified the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) of a serious issue in the design and description of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) Business Records metadata program. In short, the NSA had implemented a part of that program using an erroneous interpretation of the term “archived data” that appeared in the court’s order. An inadvertent mistake in later reports to the FISC concealed the fact of the misinterpretation, which was incorporated into multiple reports over time.
New revelations about the NSA's knowledge of the Shadow Brokers compromise raise hard questions, once again, about the agency's commitment to its defensive mission.
Nick once again tries his hand at congressional oversight. The questions the SSCI and HPSCI should be asking NSA about the Shadow Brokers leak.
Monday was a tough day for those in the business of computer espionage. Russia, still using the alias Guccifer2.0, dumped even more DNC documents. And on Twitter, Mikko Hypponen noted an announcement on Github that had gone overlooked for two days, a group is hosting an auction for code from the “Equation Group,” which is more commonly known as the NSA. The auctioneer’s pitch is simple, brutal, and to the point:
Last week, Symantec and Kasperksy released a series of reports on a nation-state malware attacker that is almost certainly the NSA. What does that mean?