CBS News first reported a manhunt inside the Central Intelligence Agency in search of the source who provided thousands of top secret documents to Wikileaks, published in its “Vault 7” — which revealed the clandestine agency’s hacking tools and surveillance practices.

“Sources familiar with the investigation say it is looking for an insider — either a CIA employee or contractor — who had physical access to the material,” CBS reported Wednesday evening. “The agency has not said publicly when the material was taken or how it was stolen.

“Much of the material was classified and stored in a highly secure section of the intelligence agency, but sources say hundreds of people would have had access to the material. Investigators are going through those names.”

Investigators surmise the source of the massive leak was either an agent of the CIA or a contractor with the agency — someone with physical access — rather than an outside hacker.

In a statement coinciding with the Vault 7 release, Wikileaks announced,


“The archive appears to have been circulated among former US government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive […]

“In a statement to WikiLeaks the source details policy questions that they say urgently need to be debated in public, including whether the CIA’s hacking capabilities exceed its mandated powers and the problem of public oversight of the agency. The source wishes to initiate a public debate about the security, creation, use, proliferation and democratic control of cyberweapons.”

Unnamed sources from inside the U.S. Intelligence Community told Reuters less than 24 hours after Wikileaks published the first selection of the damning cache of documents the agency had expected their public disclosure since 2016.

Officials from the CIA and FBI quickly reviewed the case and, within one day, initiated a joint investigation of the release — including the internal manhunt in question.

Wikileaks — itself, fraught by rumors of enemy State collusion and political opportunism — was lambasted by CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who also had choice words for the pro-transparency organization’s founder, Julian Assange, in his first public comments since taking that role:

“It is time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is: A non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia.”

Wikileaks founder and editor Julian Assange — incidentally deemed a “demon” by Pompeo — responded to the wholly unproven accusation, stating,

“In fact, the reason Pompeo is launching this attack is because he understands we are exposing in this series all sorts of illegal actions by the CIA, so he’s trying to get ahead of the publicity curve and create a preemptive defense.”

Former CIA Deputy Director Mike Morell claimed within days of the Vault 7 disclosure it had to be an ‘inside job.’

“This data is not shared outside CIA,” Morell said. “It’s only inside CIA. It’s on CIA’s top secret network, which is not connected to any other network. So, this has to be an inside job.”

Investigators continue to pour over the hundreds of names of hundreds of contractors and agents who would have had physical access to the high-security area, urgently seeking the unknown person or persons who could have managed such a devastating theft of information.

Given the nature and scope of Wikileaks’ trove — estimated of greater impact than spying practices revealed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden — whoever was behind the breach is likely to become a transparency and anti-surveillance folk hero.

Thus far, the CIA has not commented on the ongoing probe — nor on the authenticity of documents in the Wikileaks trove.

Assange, in the same statement released in tandem with Vault 7, noted the content of the cache,

“The disclosure is also exceptional from a political, legal and forensic perspective.”

Claire Bernish began writing as an independent, investigative journalist in 2015, with works published and republished around the world. Not one to hold back, Claire’s particular areas of interest include U.S. foreign policy, analysis of international affairs, and everything pertaining to transparency and thwarting censorship. To keep up with the latest uncensored news, follow her on Facebook or Twitter: @Subversive_Pen.

    Hundreds? Probably thousands of government and non-government persons going through our private information and files like a pack of hounds through a garbage can. How much of our information has been sold or misused by various law enforcement and others?How do we keep these Authoritarian despots out of our business? I would call the whistleblower a patriot and a hero to the American people and world citizen. They should dedicate a statue of him in the city park..

  • littlelambseativy

    May the individual remain hidden and safe, how can it be right for we the ppl not to know how our govt’ by the ppl for the ppl ‘ is trampling our right to privacy?? We are a nation of laws with a Bill of Rights.

    • Heretic Jones

      And who makes the laws? The very people who have shown themselves to be the enemy of privacy and freedom.

      We shouldn’t expect governments, with their authoritarian rather than customary system of dispute settlement, to ever exhibit justice. The system – that is, a state with a small group of people who craft laws and cite founding documents – is inherently flawed and, no matter how constraining those founding document are intended to be, will always go down the path of injustice because laws are made to serve those who make them.

      I guess what I’m saying is, a civilized society wherein privacy, freedom, and justice are known can never arise from a state system, yet these qualities (as well as happiness) are infinitely feasible – and possibly even inherent in many cultures – without the state. History, including an assessment of the many cultures that came before our state-based system, shines some light on this.

  • Guy

    All Nations keep secrets both from it’s citizens and each other, wrapped in the guise of national security and rightly so for obvious reasons ! I sometimes wonder if the information that Wilkie Leaks and it’s sources has been releasing, is done in the true nature of freedom of information, so that we may be informed as to who is saying what about whom, and who is watching whom, while taking notes. Or, is this about his abilities to go through the trash collected by the various agencies, and hack it for his own proposed use, to be used to show the world what a great guy he is, while hiding out and avoiding his own personal problems ?

    To me this is not much more than what we give up as normal, considering the vast amount of information that is kept on the individual through our willingness to apply for credit cards, or to buy a car or house ! Amazing things can be done, if I know your SS #, Dr Lic # and very little else, that you give every time you apply for a job or credit ! With a few keystrokes, I can rob you blind, ruin your life, and do just about anything else I want to you, with you not being able to do much about it except to suffer !

    Sometimes I wonder if he is doing more harm than good, in the long run !

    • NCGran

      Guy, probably a little of both. The public, ever since 9/11 has surrendered a lot of their rights to the Patriot Act. It’s been renewed 3-4 times without a whimper out of “We the People.” I also have friends who are in Special Ops…I don’t like to see people who are doing their job at the risk of their lives outed by name thanks to Wilkileaks.

      • hang3xc

        I don’t like to see people who are doing their job at the risk of their lives outed by name thanks to Wilkileaks.
        Boo-fucking-hoo. When the powers that be abuse those powers, break our laws and our Constitutional rights, they SHOULD be brought to task

        • Guy

          I think there is much more going on behind the scenes that we will ever know, or need to for that to matter. How that affects us in are normal every days lives, is probably not a whole lot, and sure that some that must go on, does keep us warm and safe in our beds at night. Or perhaps you’re okay with what goes on in France or elsewhere, so we can have open borders, unfettered immigration and our main language will be spanish, with a little sharia law thrown in for good measure. What the hell do you want anyway. Total freedom with the illusion you are exactly that, or do you want ISIL marching down mainstreet ?

          • Steve Rusk

            So says the ostrich with it’s head in the sand, yes there are those who don’t want to know and they don’t speak for me. If our leaders believe that they need to hide something from us, it’s all the more important that we know about it. Only totalitarian governments need secrecy to operate effectively.

          • Guy

            Oh great ! Another one for open borders, no language and no culture of are own, just everything a mixed bag huh ? So in a perfect world, we will just all sing come by ya, and you can ignore that Russian Bomber flying a hundred miles off Kodiak Island Alaska ! Groovey man, have another toke and forget-about-it !

          • Steve Rusk

            My comment was about your remark stating to the effect there was no “need to know” what our so called leaders are up to, even when you suspect “there is more going on behind the scenes than we will ever know”. If they are hiding something, lying to us and misleading us, we do indeed need to know about it.

            The open borders, come by ya, Russian bombers, etc. are your own echo rattling around in your head. Regarding the Bomber though, obviously you missed the NATO tanks doing maneuvers within a few miles of Russia’s borders a month or so ago and the US missile strikes in Syria against Russian allies. This is just the tit for tat that usually precedes a more significant altercation. When we’re out in the world harassing and bombing whoever we want for little or no reason, it’s not surprising that we stepped on the toes of a power that has the means to retaliate.

          • Guy

            I have always said we have plenty of blood on our own hands, and will be the first to admit it. You don’t have to go very far to see the many examples of are meddling in World affairs and the catastrophes as the results, with Vietnam, Iraq Wmd’s, Iran’s Shaw, and plenty more where they came from. Even on the domestic stage, we have shining examples of our mess that are created by our Government’s ineptitude, like Waco Tx and Ruby Hills for starters.

            But this conversation is not about that, it is about State Sponsored Secrets, and thouse who want to expose them as Wilkie Leaks is now doing, and the results of it ! Which I don’t agree with at all, but will go on record that I think that to call him enimie #1 is wrong too, along with Trump’s attempt to silence him, because he is embarrassing the administration, upsetting the apple cart by calling attention to what has been happening for years, and they don’t like it !

            America is the only country I’ve got, I have had family die as the result of defending it, so I can speak English and not German or Russian ! I don’t need someone airing our dirty laundry on a world stage, and putting thouse who work behind the scenes at risk, so a guy from another Country can have his 15 mineuts of fame, while hiding out in a foreign embassy. If he has something to say, fine, come on out in the daylight so I can see you, and say it loud and clear, so I can decide for myself if it’s the truth or not ! Borders, Language, Culture, without em, we are mud !

          • Steve Rusk

            So you believe in an America where the citizen lives for, fights, kills and dies for the lies of their leaders and to protect their secrets? And anybody who steps forward to expose these deceptions must be dealt with? A “culture” of deception, denial, betrayal and death?

            Sorry, not my vision for the future of this country.

          • Guy

            That’s nice ! Oh by the way there spunky, you can leave and take your dog (named spot) with you too ! Next !

          • Steve Rusk

            What was that supposed to mean?

          • Guy

            One other piece of information. Those Russian Bombers off Kodiak Island in Alaska, that you think are just made up fiction, like fake news. My kid lives in Alaska, not far from were they fly and has seen the F22’s flying after em to intercept, on more than one occasion. It’s pretty much normal routine operations, but the last four have got all of the Alphabet Stations making a lot of it, because they need to sell news print. It’s what you don’t see that you should be concerned about, like the Russian Sub’s that patrol off our two Coast Line’s just out of the limit line. Flight time to hit S.F. or New York 7 mineuts ! Have a nice day, and don’t burn your fingers holding onto that roach !

          • Steve Rusk

            So where do you think the US nuclear subs are? America’s citizens aren’t told, but our adversaries have a good idea. Very likely why there would be an adversary’s sub off our coast. Again the usual tit for tat until someone stumbles and the world goes up in flames.

          • Guy

            Right were our sub’s need to be, off their coast doing the same thing as they are ! That’s called detente and mutual destruction by the way ! Without it, you would have been made into a lampshade or speeking russian or chinese ! That’s why Israel has never been attacked by Iran, because they know if they had, there country would be turned into glass by the nukes we gave them ! And as far as palestine or hezbollah is concerned, a lot of false bravado and not much else, because they get their asses kicked every time they start shit, just like Egypt did in 66.

  • Andre Leonard

    The machine shows no sign of changing.

  • Raimundo Gant

    Need more leakers to check these corrupt agencies. Whoever you are and where ever you are spy, I support you!

  • Gordon Klock

    The CIA has always been blatantly malevolent, & obviously afraid of genuine exposure, as well as the FBI, NSA, etc,etc,etc…
    They sift through everyone’s personal information like some weird gang of crazed, neurotic, butt-sniffing, perverts, in order to surreptitiously punish, & blackmail, individuals, through a wall of secrecy, & financial & legal control…
    (As if they didn’t already have the populace “over the barrel”)…
    Note how the “crime” of whistleblowing is always treated as such a high priority problem for them, & how they try to demonize such behavior, into such cartoonish extremes….(I’m starting to suspect, that most people who go along with the “official” narratives, at this point, secretly know better, they’re really just showing self-destructive cowardice, for the infamous “illusion of security”)…..