Global intelligence clearing house WikiLeaks on Friday released its latest batch of hacked CIA documents which reveal the agency has developed the capability to turn some “smart” TVs into electronic surveillance devices.
As reported by CBS News, the website released a 31-page “users guide” for a spy program known as “Weeping Angel,” which can purportedly transform some Samsung televisions into tools of surveillance by hijacking the TV’s built-in mic to record audio.
The documents posted over the weekend are the latest in a series of classified data stolen from the U.S. government’s spy agencies, primarily the CIA and the NSA. Earlier document troves were provided by former Army soldier Chelsea Manning (a.k.a. Bradley Manning) and former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Manning was sentenced to prison for her role in obtaining top secret documents; Snowden was provided asylum by Russia.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is currently living at the Ecuadorean embassy in London has defied U.S. efforts to hold him accountable for publishing the classified information. The Obama administration examined ways to prosecute him, but ultimately decided against doing so. However, the Trump administration, under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has reopened the case and is reportedly considering charges.
“We’ve seen too many breaches, and hopefully we’ll be able to strike back against those who violate our systems,” Sessions said recently, CBS News reported. (RELATED: Read Assange: Russia did NOT give WikiLeaks DNC, Clinton data; Obama trying to “de-legitimize” election.)
But prosecuting Assange will be legally and politically tricky. The government says it has information suggesting that Assange coordinated with Snowden, and possibly others, to obtain sensitive U.S. intelligence data. Also, the Trump administration has accused Assange of colluding with Russian intelligence.
For his part, Assange has denied that WikiLeaks is anything but an information clearing house, and that he is given sensitive data by others who have already stolen it. And he has repeatedly stated he has not been given any sensitive information about U.S. intelligence operations by Russia.
And in fact, as CBS News noted, the CIA and FBI believe the latest theft of data was also an inside job:
Investigators say the materials were stolen from a highly secure section of the intelligence agency where it takes two people to access information. But even that security measure was apparently not enough to stop the leaks.
“We can’t keep all of the information in one place. We need to spread it out,” said Michael Morrell, former acting director of the CIA. “We have to have better rules about need-to-know, and if you don’t have a need to know you don’t get access to the information.”
CBS News said that a former top Justice Department official it did not name said that Assange could be prosecuted under several statutes, but that any prosecution would be “messy.”
That’s because Assange, most likely, isn’t doing anything differently than the Washington Post, The New York Times, CNN, The Guardian and others whose reporters have all received and then publicized highly classified intelligence information, ostensibly under the protection of the First Amendment.
WikiLeaks has argued that it, too, is just a media organization as well, whose activities are also protected by the U.S. Constitution. (RELATED: Read Encrypted Apps Not As Secure As You Think: CIA Can Bypass Signal, Telegram, WhatsApp And Confide, Reveal Bombshell Leaked Documents.)
Whether it is or it isn’t may not be the real question, however. If Assange is merely publishing what he is given – and is not in cahoots with anyone to actually steal the information – then there doesn’t appear to be much the U.S. can do, legally, to him.
After all, even if Assange has had assistance from the Russian government, how, exactly, is the Justice Department going to hold the Kremlin accountable?
And while justice should not depend on polling data, clearly there are many Americans who are heartened by the publishing of information showing that the U.S. intelligence community has, for years, been conducting illegal domestic spying operations, including mass collection of electronic data, The National Sentinel reported.
Still, Assange appears to have finally pushed the U.S. government to action. Whether it can hold him accountable legally – or somehow “get to him” behind the scenes – remains a mystery.
Learn more at NationalSecurity.News.
J.D. Heyes is a senior writer for NaturalNews.com and NewsTarget.com, as well as editor of The National Sentinel.