Air Force Vet Admitted To Leaking NSA Documents, But Her Confession Might Not Count In Court

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Reality Winner
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An Air Force veteran told FBI agents that she had leaked classified U.S. documents, but a legal technicality may prevent prosecutors from using the confession as evidence in her upcoming trial, the Associated Press reports.


Reality Winner, a 25-year-old former Air Force linguist, stands charged of copying a classified report and mailing it to a leak-friendly news site. Winner was working as a government contractor in Augusta, Georgia, when the leak occurred in early May. She held a top secret security clearance at the time.   

Winner later admitted to a pair of FBI agents that she had leaked the documents, according to a criminal complaint filed June 5 in the U.S.’s Southern Georgia District Court. The two agents were executing a search warrant at Winner’s apartment when the confession was made.

“[Winner] admitted removing the classified intelligence reporting from her office space, retaining it, and mailing it from Augusta, Georgia, to the news outlet, which she knew was not authorized to receive or possess the documents,” according to a Department of Justice statement released on June 5.   

Winner’s defense attorneys are now asking a federal judge to suppress any comments she made during the interview because the agents never gave her a Miranda warning, which law enforcement officials must read to criminal suspects in custody. But Winner had not been formally arrested at that point.   

However, according to the AP, in a court motion filed on Aug. 29, an attorney for Winner said that she believed she was under arrest as she was being questioned in her apartment, noting that the agents were standing in front of the door.

“Winner was never told she was free to leave, nor was she advised as to her arrest status,” Winner’s attorneys wrote. “Indeed, when she specifically asked whether she was under arrest, the agents told her they did not know the answer to that ‘yet.’”  

As of Aug. 31, the judge had not yet ruled on the defense motion, nor had prosecutors filed a reply. But on Aug. 30, U.S. Magistrate Judge Brian K. Epps agreed to postpone Winner’s trial, which was due to begin in October. The case has now been rescheduled for March 2018.   

According to the AP, Winner has pleaded not guilty to charges that she illegally retained and transmitted national defense information. And while authorities have not publicly discussed what that information was or to whom Winner transmitted it to, it seems fairly obvious.

The Intercept reported in May that it had obtained a classified National Security Agency report suggesting “Russian military intelligence executed a cyberattack on at least one U.S. voting software supplier and sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials just days before last November’s presidential election.”   

The Intercept said the NSA report was dated May 5, which is the same date that appeared on the document Winner is charged with leaking.

Soon after Winner’s arrest, The Intercept announced that its parent company, First Look Media, had decided to provide independent support for her legal defense, and argued that the leak highlighted “vulnerabilities in the U.S. election system and [provided] vital context for the current debate over Russian interference in the election.”

Winner could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

(New Line Cinema)

The Marine Corps has tapped a new Silicon Valley defense firm to develop a "digital fortress" of networked surveillance systems in order to enhance the situational awareness of security forces at installations around the world.

Marine Corps Installations Command on July 15 announced a $13.5 million sole source contract award to Anduril Industries — the two-year-old defense technology company and Project Maven contractor founded by Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey and several former Palantir Technologies executives — for a new Autonomous Surveillance Counter Intrusion Capability (ASCIC) designed to help secure installations against "all manners of intrusion" without additional manpower.

This is no standard intrusion system. Through its AI-driven Lattice Platform network and 32-foot-tall autonomous Sentry Towers, Anduril purports to combine the virtual reality systems that Luckey pioneered at Oculus with Pentagon's most advanced sensors into a simple mobile platform, enhancing an installation's surveillance capabilities with what Wired recently dubbed "a web of all-seeing eyes, with intelligence to know what it sees."

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The Marine Corps' dune buggy drone jammer may have downed two Iranian drones in the Strait of Hormuz, U.S. military have officials announced.

The amphibious assault ship USS Boxer was transiting the Strait of Hormuz on July 18 when two Iranian drones came dangerously close, according to U.S. Central Command.

"This was a defensive action by the USS Boxer in response to aggressive interactions by two Iranian UAS [unmanned aerial systems] platforms in international waters," CENTCOM spokesman Army Lt. Col. Earl Brown said in a statement. "The Boxer took defensive action and engaged both of these platforms."

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On July 17, Army Sgt. 1st Class Richard Stayskal briefly met with President Donald Trump at a rally in Greenville, North Carolina to discuss the eponymous legislation that would finally allow victims of military medical malpractice to sue the U.S. government.

A Green Beret with terminal lung cancer, Stayskal has spent the last year fighting to change the Feres Doctrine, a 1950 Supreme Court precedent that bars service members like him from suing the government for negligence or wrongdoing.

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The Pentagon is no longer topless. On Tuesday, the Senate voted to confirm Mark Esper as the United States' first permanent defense secretary in more than seven months.

Esper is expected to be sworn in as defense secretary later on Tuesday, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told reporters.

"We are grateful for the Senate leadership and the Senate Armed Services Committee's willingness to quickly move through this process," Hoffman said.

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(Paramount Pictures via YouTube)

The new trailer for Top Gun: Maverick that dropped last week was indisputably the white-knuckle thrill ride of the summer, a blur of aerial acrobatics and beach volleyball that made us wonder how we ever lost that lovin' feeling in the decades since we first met Pete "Maverick" Mitchell back in 1986.

But it also made us wonder something else: Why is Maverick still flying combat missions in an F/A-18 Super Hornet as a 57-year-old captain after more than 30 years of service?

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