Leaked NSA Documents Reveal the Extent of Russian Electoral Hacking


The case of Russia’s interference in the 2016 US presidential election continues to unfold with the latest NSA link revealing the rather overt involvement of Russian military intelligence. On Monday, June 5th, The Intercept published an article detailing the targeted nature of Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU, in their attempt to compromise US voting systems in the days leading up to the November election. Unlike earlier revelations, the new leaked documents show the methods and extent of electoral tampering on the part of an official Russian government agency.

At least 100 election officials were targeted in coordinated phishing emails meant to acquire the login credentials needed to access secured voting machine networks. Given the overt nature of the Russian operation, the leaked NSA documents are being described as “evidence for the public now to see yet another example of quite a coherent operation [by the Russians],” according to CIA veteran and former spy, Glenn Carle.

The new leaked documents lay to rest many doubts the public had regarding claims Russian tampering made by the then outgoing Obama administration. In the place of doubts, the conversation has shifted to larger questions of whether the hacking efforts qualify as a cyber-attack on US infrastructure, and the access of private intelligence contractors have to classified information.

Soon after the article was released by the Intercept, the FBI announced the arrest and official confession of federal intelligence contractor, Reality Leigh Winner, in the release of classified intelligence. The 25-year-old Winner from Augusta, Georgia is an Air Force veteran known on social media to be an outspoken opponent of the Trump administration.

Private contractors like Winner are used through the intelligence community to process and manage the storage of massive amounts of private data gathered by various US intelligence agencies. Past leaks of classified documents have been shown to originate from similar private contractors, such as in the case of Edward Snowden who released documents detailing the domestic spying programs of the government intelligence agency.

The impact of the newest leak may reverberate across the private intelligence community due to the ever growing concerns leaked classified intelligence data.

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