back to article Angst in her pants: Alleged US govt leaker Reality Winner stashed docs in her pantyhose

Reality Winner smuggled a top-secret NSA dossier out of her office at a US government IT contractor by hiding it in her pantyhose, she told special agents. That's according to a transcript, released this week, of her interview with investigators who showed up at her house in Georgia, USA, to grill her. If you've ever wondered …

  1. Youngone

    Too late now

    Don't talk to the Feds without your lawyer.

    If they can't charge you with anything, they will charge you with "Lying to a Federal Agent" instead.

    1. NoneSuch Silver badge
      Coffee/keyboard

      The Obvious

      "Winner sighed at one point, and agreed leaking the file would likely reveal the NSA's sources and techniques to its enemies."

      It would also reveal illegal surveillance to the American people. A much larger crime in their eyes.

      1. Jeffrey Nonken

        Re: The Obvious

        As is "not being a general".

  2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    A certain Kirsten Dunst look about her

    But of course you can guess the USG will try to throw the book at her (and probably most of the library).

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Terminator

      Re: A certain Kirsten Dunst look about her

      there's a YUGE stink regarding all of the rebellious "leaking" going on in the security branches of the U.S. gummint. Trump had to apologize to your PM over it a few months back...

      I think she'll be used as an example. A mid-20's decent looking female, who probably had a really good career in front of her at the NSA, and might've married well and had a family... and who NOW won't get out of the Iron Bar Hotel until she's close to FORTY. Say buh-bye to your "youth", there, girly, because you just FLUSHED IT DOWN THE CRAPPER!

      [when she gets out she'll probably write a book, but that's no guarantee of income]

  3. Blahblig

    10 Years? Fck!

    She may have broken the law, but I can’t help but feel for someone who only wanted the truth be known (whatever that may be). Being subjected to Fox News all day every day would have driven some people to a lot worse!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 10 Years? Fck!

      While punishment for disclosing secrets may not be taken lightly (or you'll have very little secrets), I wonder if being subjected to Fox News all day is a violation of the VIII amendment...

      1. Jeffrey Nonken

        Re: 10 Years? Fck!

        "He won't break. Shall we bring out the Leroy Neiman paintings?"

        "No, we can't risk violating the Geneva Conventions."

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: 10 Years? Fck!

          "He won't break. Shall we bring out the Leroy Neiman paintings?"

          play Barney 7/24 until he cracks. (like in 'Men who stare at goats')

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: 10 Years? Fck!

      That's getting off light. Espionage is a potential CAPITAL offense (see the Rosenbergs), plus the federal prison system doesn't believe in parole.

      1. kain preacher

        Re: 10 Years? Fck!

        Only during war time.

        1. Les Matthew
          Mushroom

          Re: 10 Years? Fck!

          Hasn't The U.S.A. been at war with somebody or other for the last 50 years?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: 10 Years? Fck!

            Actually, the USA has been at peace for less than 10% of its entire lifetime (which is probably headed toward a catastrophic close).

            https://www.globalresearch.ca/america-has-been-at-war-93-of-the-time-222-out-of-239-years-since-1776/5565946

          2. kain preacher

            Re: 10 Years? Fck!

            Those are labeled as policing actions not actual wars.

      2. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Megaphone

        Re: 10 Years? Fck!

        "That's getting off light."

        yes.

        When I was in the military, I got a clue when it comes to classified information, why something that doesn't seem like it should be 'Secret' is classified 'Secret'.

        Think of it like this (my interpretation):

        'for official use only' - disclosure might embarrass the government or create diplomatic problems

        'confidential' - disclosure might give advantage to a potential enemy in war, or compromise our advantage

        'secret' - disclosure might get spies or informants killed, or greatly compromise intelligence gathering

        'top secret' - disclosure might cause war or otherwise get a lot of people killed

        and it goes up in importance and consequence from there, I'm sure.

        The point is, if you're trusted with classified information, it's NOT your job to determine whether or not you should or can disclose it. You probably do not have the "need to know" of just how important (or unimportant) that information is, nor the implications of actually disclosing it. And the penalties for disclosure _SHOULD_ be very very high, because if they're not, you won't be able to trust ANYONE.

        1. hellwig

          Re: 10 Years? Fck!

          I agree most people couldn't make a determination on the scope of a documents affects in isolation. However, some of the information we received from Manning, Snowden, and Winner (? honestly don't remember which specific tidbit came from her) shows that the government is NOT operating with the nation's best interests in mind.

          When congress passes laws dictating what these organizations can and cannot do, and these organizations take it upon themselves to break those laws and then hide the facts behind "state secrets", who is acting immorally here?

          From your own rankings, a lot of this "Secret" and "Top Secret" information is actually just "for official use only". The fact that we bugged the offices and phones of foreign leaders? How was that a danger to life and limb and not just something we really didn't want those countries knowing about? Someone might ask WHY we even did that, but these agencies only exist to "fish" for information. And by doing so much of this in secret EVEN from the intelligence committees setup by Congress leads to bad things. We invaded Iraq on "credible evidence from the CIA". Maybe someone else should have reviewed that evidence before getting us into such a quagmire?

          Not saying Wikileaks is the right place to go, but it's troublesome that even Congress (the people WE the People elect to represent us) don't even know these things are happening.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 10 Years? Fck!

      She may have broken the law, but I can’t help but feel for someone who only wanted the truth be known (whatever that may be)

      Well, that's then where you and I differ of opinion. Whistleblowing and leaking should not be a default, but an exception. Why leak details of an ongoing investigation? So the perpetrators get a heads up and stop before enough evidence is collected?

      I have handled some rather shocking stuff, but I have never left the urge to post it to a member of the Press. Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I gave my word (which matters to me more than a signature on a piece of paper).

      Some leaks have bettered society, but they are far and few between. I prefer better transparency, which results in a more managed process. No government should be allowed to keep secrets so long that the actors in any misdeeds can escape the consequences, but operational secrecy has its place.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 10 Years? Fck!

        Not to mention our employers do run operations to find weak minded fools with false information to see who leaks. I'm just saddened that sometimes old pensioners come out with information on their death beds that are just the result of some long defunct false flag op. Operational Security usually means past the actors lifetime, in most cases.

      2. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: 10 Years? Fck!

        Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I gave my word (which matters to me more than a signature on a piece of paper).

        You are about several centuries old fashioned - your government no longer values the word of it's citizens.

        They like hard evidence; a signature, a DNA sample, your first molar for the bureau of identification....

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 10 Years? Fck!

          You are about several centuries old fashioned - your government no longer values the word of it's its citizens.

          True. But the upside is that they are quite sensitive to quid pro quo. Who would you trust: someone who has had very dangerous data in his hands and didn't immediately go to the press or someone who dropped it on the street the moment it looked like they could get some publicity from it (which I call the Assange approach to protected information: only safe if publication is not of benefit to the recipient)?

          Secrets have their place. The screts most people are worried about are not addressed by leaking operational data, they're addressed by better transparency and accountability. Sometimes the one leads to the other, but not without damage along the way.

    4. Naselus

      Re: 10 Years? Fck!

      "Being subjected to Fox News all day every day would have driven some people to a lot worse!"

      Also, the idea that an agency who's main purpose is to find out and report true things has Fox News on permanently is more than a tad worrying. Their numerous bungled operations over the last few years are probably because half the department is too busy gathering intelligence in the War on Christmas and trying to get to the bottom of the Bowling Green Massacre.

    5. macjules Silver badge

      Re: 10 Years? Fck!

      Got off lightly.

      It is the poor bastards at the NSA watching 24/7 reruns of The Apprentice USA that I feel sorry for.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 10 Years? Fck!

      "Being subjected to Fox News all day every day would have driven some people to a lot worse!"

      Like voting for Trump?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    stooge

    See title then think about it for a bit.

    1. DainB Bronze badge

      Re: stooge

      SAG: Is there anything at the-at your desk at work that I should be worried about?

      RW: I have an Anderson Cooper photo that is signed. It's not legit. Uhm.

      She should plead mental incapability to understand her actions.

  5. Schultz Silver badge

    Fed agent: "feel a little better knowing that we don't have a real serious problem here"

    Ooops, what he meant to say is "feel a little better knowing that w̶e̶ ̶d̶o̶n̶'̶t̶̶ ̶h̶a̶v̶e̶ ̶a̶ ̶r̶e̶a̶l̶ ̶s̶e̶r̶i̶o̶u̶s̶ ̶p̶r̶o̶b̶l̶e̶m̶ ̶h̶e̶r̶e̶ I will have a great career based on your admission of guilt"

    10 years, is that considered serious?

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Fed agent: "feel a little better knowing that we don't have a real serious problem here"

      For espionage, that's getting off light. Life's always a possibility. So is death.

  6. Mark York 3 Silver badge
    Coat

    Made Up Name Surely - Is Her Name Considered Serious (& Don't Call Me Shirley)!

    When naming her, the parents obviously liked Big Brother (or one of it's ilk) & especially as they came equipped with a suitable surname, I hope that didn't give her middle names of Tracey Vera.

    Reality T.V. Winner.

    1. gotes

      Re: Made Up Name Surely - Is Her Name Considered Serious (& Don't Call Me Shirley)!

      I don't think "Reality TV" was a thing back in 1992.

      1. muddysteve

        Re: Made Up Name Surely - Is Her Name Considered Serious (& Don't Call Me Shirley)!

        Reality TV has been going since the 40s, with things like "Queen for a Day". Didn't really kick off until the late 90s, though with Big Brother.

      2. 404

        Re: Made Up Name Surely - Is Her Name Considered Serious (& Don't Call Me Shirley)!

        Wasn't Reality Winner a racing horse back in the day? Kentucky Derby/Triple Crown horse.

        EDIT: Yes, she was named after a horse.

        http://www.pedigreequery.com/reality+winner

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Made Up Name Surely - Is Her Name Considered Serious (& Don't Call Me Shirley)!

        Guess you never watched "Real World" on MTV back in 92?

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Real_World_(TV_series)

    2. phuzz Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Made Up Name Surely - Is Her Name Considered Serious (& Don't Call Me Shirley)!

      I keep thinking that her name is actually an NSA codename; OPERATION REALITY WINNER has a pretty cool 'covert' ring to it eh?

      1. Alistair Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Made Up Name Surely - Is Her Name Considered Serious (& Don't Call Me Shirley)!

        @ Phuzz.

        That operation has been public knowledge since the last American Presidential election.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thought

    there was something fishy about it.

  8. Hans 1 Silver badge

    She used her work PC ? Ouch ... why print it out and scan it ? Winner, you know you can print to PDF, don't you ?*

    Then, she admits, ok, no choice, but denies being a whistle-blower, her only defense.

    Then she pleads not guilty, although they have all the proof and she admitted to doing it.

    Hm, not the brightest star in sky, are you, love ?

    * Makes me think of that customer of mine ... Windows admin, asked him to email me a screenshot ... the guy printed out the screenshot, scanned it in, then sent me the PDF ... thanks, sir ... next time, you simply "paste" it into your email, makes it much more readable.

    1. gotes

      Given that the document is "Top Secret" I don't think it would have been as simple as copying the file to a flash drive and sticking that in her underwear. Though as (I assume) none of us work there we have no idea what restrictions were in place. Clearly printing top secret documents is ok.

      I hope she didn't take all 81 pages in one go...

      1. John H Woods Silver badge

        I hope she didn't take all 81 pages in one go...

        on a decent laser printer, 4-up is readable: Print in duplex and ditch the title page and you've got exactly 10 sheets of A4 - max 1mm thickness of 80gsm paper.

        1. Eddy Ito

          Re: I hope she didn't take all 81 pages in one go...

          The transcript of her interview with the feds is 81 pages. The report she copied was only 5 pages.

        2. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: I hope she didn't take all 81 pages in one go...

          A4 is a metric size - in the USA, we still use inches (8.5x11)

    2. Naselus

      "Hm, not the brightest star in sky, are you, love ?"

      I believe her specialty was in linguistics, particularly dialects of Persian and Pashtun. So not exactly dense; just a bit naive about everything directly outside her own special subject.

      She may even get off, since the FBI broke some fairly important procedural rules in the arrest.

    3. hellwig

      re: but denies being a whistle-blower...

      I don't think that you can claim to be a whistle-blower when state secrets are involved. The government, by it's own definition, can't do something wrong, so there's nothing to blow.

      When the president reveals classified information to a Russian embassador, that simply makes it no longer classified. The Westfall Act essentially makes legislators and judges immune to prosecution for slander and libel.

      The laws don't apply to the government, the government is no longer "of, by, and for the people". It's made itself into it's own separate entity begrudgingly tasked with having to cater to us for re-election every few years.

    4. Dave Lawton
      FAIL

      Good practice

      "next time, you simply "paste" it into your email, makes it much more readable."

      No, don't encourage incompetents, please teach them how to attach such files,

      not "paste it" into the email. Yes I know it's more steps but...

  9. 2+2=5 Silver badge
    Holmes

    Constant Fox news?

    Wow. I hope to God the real analysts get a bit of peace and quite to (a) concentrate and (b) not have their subconscious biases unsubtly re-written.

    All the Russians/Norks/ISIS/$other_groups_are_available have to do is influence Fox News and they're influencing the whole of the NSA.

    1. MacroRodent Silver badge

      Re: Constant Fox news?

      > All the Russians/Norks/ISIS/$other_groups_are_available have to do is influence Fox News and they're influencing the whole of the NSA.

      Never mind the NSA, they would be influencing President Trump, who is widely known to get his news mainly from Fox.

  10. Nimby
    Trollface

    Have monkey, need typewritter...

    I sure hope that when one day the NSA nabs and interrogates me, the transcripts of my captivity read a tad more intelligently than hers. Surely she does not talk like that in real life? The NSA injected her with something, right? Or maybe it was the nonstop Fox...

  11. myhandler

    I bet that's a name she gave herself, by deed poll or however they do it in the US

    .. and when she didn't win she did something silly to find fame

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    TOR

    Interesting that on page 64 they start questioning her use of TOR. Even she says it "probably looks bad".

    Also a poor choice of password for her pc!

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Erm?

    "and was charged with espionage"

    So charged with pointing out the Russian connection then that they appear to want to keep quiet about.

  14. Inachu

    We worry about the Russians but do not do a dang thing with mossad agents run amok in any of our US GOVT agencies.

    To make all the top tier tech companies in USA hr dept be run by mossad agents AKA peoples blood line from Israel so that the quick hiring of agents from Israel can be pushed out with unprecedented speed when needed.

    I prefer to worry how USA is being manipulated for eternal wars instead.

  15. Aodhhan

    True Value of Information

    It's not just the main information it's about how it was obtained.

    The document contained source and method information.

    Do you realize how many agents and informants have lost their lives because of someone believing it was in the best interest of the public? People steal information without a clue to its true value in labor and lives.

  16. RareToy

    I don't feel sorry for her at all. When you take high security positions, you are entrusted with sensitive materials that are not designed/intended to be openly released. You sign documents before you even get your badge stating you will not behave this way. I'm so tired of people feeling that THEIR values are more important. When you work at that level, you do not get to see the big picture.

    Granted, there are provisions for whistle blowers. But this was not the case. I would have given her 20 years if it was up to me.

  17. JCitizen Bronze badge
    Devil

    What were they thinking??

    When they hired a person with the name "Reality Winner"??? So you are going to trust all you secrets to a person who's parents were nuts? Come on now! I think she was a plant with the expectation to leak all the secrets, so they didn't have to.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: What were they thinking??

      "When they hired a person with the name "Reality Winner"???"

      I'm tempted to say "Obaka-era quota hire" but I won't. (oops, too late)

  18. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    But, but ...

    Doesn't everyone in the US believe that Russian involvement was Fake News ... so why was this "Top Secret" if it's only Fake News?

  19. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge
    WTF?

    Elephant in the room

    Why is a government spy agency with access to sensitive information on Americans enjoying a television show targeting an audience having rational thought impairments? The leak is her confession, not the documents. This is the best argument ever against domestic spying powers.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020