NSA Braced for New Leaks

Foreign security firm uncovered cyber spy methods

National Security Agency / AP


The National Security Agency, still reeling from massive leaks caused by Edward Snowden, is preparing to be hit with another major loss of secrets, according to U.S. intelligence officials.

The leaks are expected to be published in the near future by a news outlet that was not further identified by the officials familiar with details of the compromise. The NSA is aware of the news outlet’s forthcoming disclosures and is taking steps to try and minimize any damage they will cause.

According to the officials, the latest NSA disclosure of secrets is not the result of an insider stealing documents, as occurred in the case of fugitive NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Instead, the leaks will reveal certain NSA technical cyber intelligence gathering capabilities. The officials did not provide details about the leaks.

Certain techniques used by the NSA in cyber operations became known to technicians at a non-U.S. cyber security firm operating from Mexico. The company then contacted a news outlet with the details it uncovered.

A report detailing the breach could be made public as early as this weekend.

NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines declined to comment.

The agency is still reeling from the massive theft of internal documents obtained by Snowden, who as a network administrator was able to penetrate networks and copy reports, memos, and briefing slides outlining some of the NSA’s most significant secret operations.

Snowden, currently under temporary asylum in Russia, has sought to expose what he and other critics assert has been illegal electronic surveillance by NSA.

However, most of the disclosures of the Snowden documents are not related to domestic U.S. surveillance, but foreign intelligence activities by the Fort Meade, Maryland-based spy agency.

Snowden, in a video interview broadcast by the New York Times on Thursday, said he intentionally left "a trail of bread crumbs" for the U.S. government after he fled to Hong Kong from work in Hawaii for NSA in a bid to explain that his leaks were not a "hostile action."

"This is public interest work, which obviously [the government] still contested to some degree," he said, adding that he was the "initial mechanism for disclosure" that triggered a public debate on NSA surveillance.

"The surveillance disclosures of 2013 are not an attack on the intelligence community," Snowden said.

"If anything, they are a mandate … for reform, a mandate to fix these problems."

Snowden said he was frustrated that President Obama has not halted NSA surveillance.

The Snowden leaks, described by officials as among the most damaging disclosures in the agency’s history, are continuing.

Germany’s Der Spiegel on Jan. 17 disclosed an NSA project code-named GENIE that conducts electronic spying and cyber attacks on foreign networks. One document related to the project warned that the "next major conflict will start in cyberspace" and NSA must prepare to be digitally armed.

Bill Gertz   Email Bill | Full Bio | RSS
Bill Gertz is senior editor of the Washington Free Beacon. Prior to joining the Beacon he was a national security reporter, editor, and columnist for 27 years at the Washington Times. Bill is the author of seven books, four of which were national bestsellers. His most recent book was iWar: War and Peace in the Information Age, a look at information warfare in its many forms and the enemies that are waging it. Bill has an international reputation. Vyachaslav Trubnikov, head of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, once called him a “tool of the CIA” after he wrote an article exposing Russian intelligence operations in the Balkans. A senior CIA official once threatened to have a cruise missile fired at his desk after he wrote a column critical of the CIA’s analysis of China. And China’s communist government has criticized him for news reports exposing China’s weapons and missile sales to rogue states. The state-run Xinhua news agency in 2006 identified Bill as the No. 1 “anti-China expert” in the world. Bill insists he is very much pro-China—pro-Chinese people and opposed to the communist system. Former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld once told him: “You are drilling holes in the Pentagon and sucking out information.” His Twitter handle is @BillGertz.

Get the news that matters most to you, delivered straight to your inbox daily.

Register today!
  • Grow your email list exponentially
  • Dramatically increase your conversion rates
  • Engage more with your audience
  • Boost your current and future profits