Former CIA Employee Says He “Was Prepared to Burn Down the United States Government”
In what was considered as the “the Biggest Leak in Agency History,” Federal prosecutors have already set a trial for Joshua Schulte, the CIA coder who had leaked confidential government files on the internet.
The prosecution claimed that Schulte was “prepared to do anything” to betray the agency. Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Laroche describes the defendant as “an angry and vindictive man,” and was “was prepared to burn down the United States government.” Schulte was accused of sending information on the CIA hacking tools to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks. The tools which were used by the government to conduct “espionage operations overseas” are used in government operations to hack into an overseas target. The leak had revealed the extent to which the agency could access information from smartphones to using television as listening devices.
The incident is known as the Vault 7 Leak and is identified as the largest breach of classified CIA information. As a result, officials claimed that the leaks were extremely devastating for the agency as it endangered national security, and even left allied countries to wonder if the U.S. is capable of holding sensitive information.
A few years ago, Schulte worked as a computer engineer for the agency which had given him access to the hacking tools. The prosecution believed that Schulte was just a disgruntled employee who stole confidential information to get back to the agency after he felt that his workplace complaints were not taken seriously.
The workplace incident started in the summer of 2015 when Schulte had a feud with one of his colleagues in the CIA. The feud escalated in which the former CIA employee eventually had to file a complaint to the management, accusing his co-worker of making death threats. Eventually, both Schulte and his colleague were both assigned to different teams.
Due to the reassignment, Schulte has lost the privilege of being an elite coder of the organization as well as his access to confidential information. Schulte tried to recover the previous projects he had, however, the Management at the Center for Cyber Intelligence discovered his plan and revoked it. The agency had changed all the credentials except for one computer network which Schulte used to steal massive quantities of information which he later uploaded to WikiLeaks.
Four months before the site disclosed thousands of pages of classified information, Schulte had already resigned from his position.
Government officials claimed that what Schulte did was a “betrayal of trust.” In his opening statement, David W. Denton, Jr., an assistant United States attorney claimed that “For the C.I.A., it was the ultimate act of betrayal from one of their own.”
In his statement, William F. Sweeney Jr., the assistant director-in-charge of the FBI’s New York Field Office also expressed his disappointment “As alleged, Schulte utterly betrayed this nation and downright violated his victims. As an employee of the CIA, Schulte took an oath to protect this country, but he blatantly endangered it by the transmission of Classified Information.”
While Schulte’s defense claimed that he was just a scapegoat and that the federal officials should. His attorney, Sabrina Shroff claimed that CIA employees have been accessing the same site and that “the prosecution here simply has it wrong.”
However, the CIA claimed that Schulte had left a trail of evidence despite his best efforts to erase his digital fingerprints. As Laroche said, “He was the only one who had the motive, the means and the opportunity to steal the information. He was prepared to do anything to get back at the CIA.”