WikiLeaks Releases Trove Of CIA Cyber-Espionage Documents
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
WikiLeaks has published what it says are the CIA's secrets for hacking into computers, phones and even smart televisions. It's the site's first dump of U.S. intelligence documents since Donald Trump became president. NPR national security correspondent Greg Myre has more.
GREG MYRE, BYLINE: The WikiLeaks claim is startling. It says it now possesses CIA software that can be used to break into almost any electronic device. Just one example is what the CIA apparently calls Weeping Angel, which involves a Samsung TV that connects to the Internet. The owner thinks the TV is turned off, but in reality, it's still on and is being used as a listening device.
WikiLeaks also says the CIA has developed the ability to bypass popular encryption apps such as Signal and Telegram. The CIA declined to comment on the documents which allegedly came from the agency's center for cyber intelligence. And here's what White House Spokesman Sean Spicer said.
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SEAN SPICER: I'm not going to comment on that. I think obviously that's something that has not been fully evaluated, and if it was, I would not comment from here on that.
MYRE: But given the WikiLeaks track record, many are taking the claim seriously. Here's former CIA Director Michael Hayden speaking on MSNBC.
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MICHAEL HAYDEN: If it is what it pretends to be, it would be very, very damaging.
MYRE: WikiLeaks says the CIA material was circulating among hackers and former U.S. government contractors. One of them came to WikiLeaks saying he wanted to launch a public debate about cyber weapons. That scenario has echoes of Edward Snowden, a contractor with the National Security Agency who unveiled details of its surveillance program four years ago.
WikiLeaks said it's still evaluating the documents and plans additional disclosures in what it's calling Vault 7. However, WikiLeaks did not release the actual hacking software and left open the question of whether it ever would.
This episode has the potential to add to the already complicated relationship between President Trump and the intelligence community. During the presidential campaign, Trump and his team cheered on WikiLeaks as it dribbled out Democratic Party emails. Now the president will have to deal with the potential fallout from WikiLeaks revelations about his own CIA. Greg Myre, NPR News, Washington.
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