NSA Leaker Told FBI That She Was Triggered By Fox News Being On At Her Workplace
The National Security Agency contractor who leaked a top secret report about Russian activities during the election told FBI agents that she was upset with her employer because Fox News was played on TVs at her office.
“I’ve filed formal complaints about them having Fox News on, you know?” Reality Winner, the contractor, told FBI agents during a June 3 interview at her home in Augusta, Ga. “Uh, just at least, for God’s sake, put Al Jazeera on, or a slideshow with people’s pets. I’ve tried everything to get that changed.”
Federal prosecutors have charged Winner with mishandling classified information for leaking a top secret report that laid out evidence that Russian hackers had targeted U.S. voter registration databases. Winner, who faces at least nine years in prison if convicted, printed the document from her NSA office at Fort Gordon and then sent it to reporters at The Intercept. (RELATED: Reality Winner Is A Bernie Supporter Who ‘Resists’ Trump)
The website published the document on June 5. The Justice Department announced hours later that Winner had been arrested.
Winner, who held a Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information clearance, initially denied to agents that she took the document out of the NSA building. After being pressed by the FBI agents, Winner eventually acknowledged that she printed out the document, though she claimed at that point that she kept it on her desk for several days before placing it in a burn bag.
But the transcript shows that agents let Winner know that they had more information about the leak than they were letting on. She finally acknowledged taking the document out of the NSA building and then sending it to The Intercept.
Asked how she was able to leave Fort Gordon with the document, Winner said that she left with it “folded in half in my pantyhose.”
“Let’s be straight, there’s little to no security on documents. Nobody pats you down,” Winner told the agents.
Winner’s social media postings suggest that politics may have contributed to her decision to leak the report to The Intercept, a left-leaning website. Winner’s Facebook page showed that she was a supporter of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and various left-wing causes. She also called Trump a “piece of shit” online.
In her interview, Winner suggested that in addition to her frustration over Fox News airing at her office, she was upset with her job situation.
“NSA Georgia was the only job I could get,” Winner told her interviewers, adding that she wanted to be a Pashto linguist at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.
Instead, Winner was working at the NSA facility in the Iranian Aerospace Forces Offices translating documents from Farsi to English.
“I had, you know, seven, eight months left of a job that didn’t mean anything to me because it’s Iran, and I’m a Pashto linguist. Like, what am I doing translating Farsi?” Winner complained.
Winner also suggested that she believed the NSA was sitting on evidence of Russian meddling in the presidential campaign. The report that Winner leaked had been finalized just days before she printed it and sent it to The Intercept.
“I felt really hopeless…seeing that information that had been contested back and forth, back and forth in the public domain for so long, trying to figure out, like, with everything else that keeps getting released and keeps getting leaked — why isn’t this getting…why isn’t this out there? Why can’t this be public?” she said of the top secret report that she would go on to leak.
“I saw the article and was like, I don’t understand why this isn’t a thing.”
Despite that admission, Winner denied that she was “trying to be a whistleblower.”
“I wasn’t trying to be a Snowden or anything,” she said at one point in the interview, referring to Edward Snowden, the former NSA analyst who stole a trove of highly classified documents and released them to reporters.