WikiLeaks Volunteer Was a Paid Informant for the FBI

Photo Credit: Sigurdur Thordarson

Photo Credit: Sigurdur Thordarson

By Kevin Poulsen. On an August workday in 2011, a cherubic 18-year-old Icelandic man named Sigurdur “Siggi” Thordarson walked through the stately doors of the U.S. embassy in Reykjavík, his jacket pocket concealing his calling card: a crumpled photocopy of an Australian passport. The passport photo showed a man with a unruly shock of platinum blonde hair and the name Julian Paul Assange.

Thordarson was long time volunteer for WikiLeaks with direct access to Assange and a key position as an organizer in the group. With his cold war-style embassy walk-in, he became something else: the first known FBI informant inside WikiLeaks. For the next three months, Thordarson served two masters, working for the secret-spilling website and simultaneously spilling its secrets to the U.S. government in exchange, he says, for a total of about $5,000. The FBI flew him internationally four times for debriefings, including one trip to Washington D.C., and on the last meeting obtained from Thordarson eight hard drives packed with chat logs, video and other data from WikiLeaks.

The relationship provides a rare window into the U.S. law enforcement investigation into WikiLeaks, the transparency group newly thrust back into international prominence with its assistance to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Thordarson’s double-life illustrates the lengths to which the government was willing to go in its pursuit of Julian Assange, approaching WikiLeaks with the tactics honed during the FBI’s work against organized crime and computer hacking — or, more darkly, the bureau’s Hoover-era infiltration of civil rights groups.

“It’s a sign that the FBI views WikiLeaks as a suspected criminal organization rather than a news organization,” says Stephen Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecy. “WikiLeaks was something new, so I think the FBI had to make a choice at some point as to how to evaluate it: Is this The New York Times, or is this something else? And they clearly decided it was something else.”

The FBI declined comment. Read more from this story HERE.


Photo Credit: Flickr

Photo Credit: Flickr

Under Obama, NSA Collected Bulk Email, Internet Data of Americans

By Kim Zetter. The National Security Agency collected bulk data on the email traffic of Americans under the Obama administration, according to new documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The program involved email metadata — the “enveloped” information for email that reveals the sender address and recipient as well as IP addresses — as well as web sites visited until 2011 when it ended, according to the Guardian.

The collection, which did not include the content of email, was actually part of a decade-long surveillance program launched under the Bush administration in 2001 called Stellar Wind that was initially conducted without oversight from a court. The program was first exposed in 2004 by a former Justice Department attorney who leaked the information to the New York Times.

The collection involved “communications with at least one communicant outside the United States or for which no communicant was known to be a citizen of the United States,” according to an NSA inspector general’s report the newspaper obtained.

The NSA subsequently was granted authority to “analyze communications metadata associated with United States persons and persons believed to be in the United States.” The NSA didn’t just focus on targeted individuals, but also studied the data of people who communicated with people who communicated with targets. Read more from this story HERE.


Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

NSA Leak Vindicates AT&T Whistleblower

By David Kravets. Today’s revelations that the National Security Agency collected bulk data on the email traffic of millions of Americans provides startling evidence for the first time to support a whistleblower’s longstanding claims that AT&T was forwarding global internet traffic to the government from secret rooms inside its offices.

The collection program, which lasted from 2001 to 2011, involved email metadata — the “enveloped” information for email that reveals the sender’s address and recipient, as well as IP addresses and websites visited, the Guardian newspaper reported today.

Mark Klein, a retired AT&T communications technician, revealed in 2006 that his job duties included connecting internet circuits to a splitting cabinet that led to a secret room in AT&T’s San Francisco office. During the course of that work, he learned from a co-worker that similar cabins were being installed in other cities, including Seattle, San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego, he said.

The split circuits included traffic from peering links connecting to other internet backbone providers, meaning that AT&T was also diverting traffic routed from its network to or from other domestic and international providers, Klein said.

That’s how the data was being vacuumed to the government, Klein said today.

Read more from this story HERE.