WikiLeaks Is Publishing the CIA Director’s Hacked Emails

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WIKILEAKS MAY DESCRIBE itself as an outlet for whistleblowers, but it’s never hesitated to publish stolen documents offered up by a helpful hacker, either. So it’s no surprise that it’s now leaked the pilfered files of the CIA’s director, John Brennan.

CIA Director John Brennan
CIA Director John Brennan

On Wednesday, the secret-spilling group published a series of selected messages and attachments from a trove of emails taken from Brennan’s AOL account. Though WikiLeaks hasn’t revealed its source, there’s little doubt the files were handed off by the self-described teen hackers calling themselves CWA or “Crackas With Attitude,” who claim to have hacked Brennan’s AOL account through a series of “social engineering” tricks.

“Today, 21 October 2015 and over the coming days WikiLeaks is releasing documents from one of CIA chief John Brennan’s non-government email accounts,” WikiLeaks writes in a simple statement. “Brennan used the account occasionally for several intelligence related projects.”

For now, the group has published only six documents, but they range from the highly personal to the strictly political and policy-oriented. The leaked documents include a draft of Brennan’s SF86 form, which is an application for secret clearances that includes everything from contact with foreigners to medical information to criminal record and history of drug use. (Brennan has nothing listed in either of the last two categories.) Also among the documents are a guide to the political outlook for the future of the intelligence community, recommendations on Iran diplomacy, communications about a legal spat with a contractor called the Analysis Corporation, and two letters from former Senate Select Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Christopher Bond in 2008 listing types of torture that should be forbidden for US personnel.

At a glance, it’s not clear if any of the leaked documents represent much of an explosive scoop. But with WikiLeaks promising to publish more of the emails, there may be more to come. CWA has told WIRED that they had full access to Brennan’s AOL account for multiple days—easily long enough to copy its entire contents.

One of the CWA hackers told WIRED Monday that he engaged in a prolonged cat-and-mouse game with the CIA director that ended in Brennan deleting his account altogether. At one point Brennan asked the hackers what they wanted, and the hacker tells WIRED he responded, “We just want Palestine to be free and for you to stop killing innocent people.”

The FBI has said it’s investigating the hack. But WikiLeaks’ ongoing release means that even if the feds capture the teens behind the theft, Brennan has little hope of keeping his secrets safe.