The complaint also details how agents say they tracked the leak back to Winner. The news org contacted the National Security Agency and said they were “in possession of what they believed to be a classified document.” The news organization then sent that document to the NSA, presumably for verification. “The U.S. Government Agency examined the document shared by the News Outlet and determined the pages of the intelligence reporting appeared to be folded and/or creased, suggesting they had been printed and hand-carried out of a secured space,” the complaint continues.
Given what is in the public record from the FBI complaint, Winner was almost certain to get caught, and some have argued that The Intercept could not have prevented that. Obviously, the NSA monitors and records who prints what documents. There’s an audit trail there, which one imagines an NSA contractor would know.
That’s why many in the computer security have deemed the way the leak was made and handled to be a terrible example of “operational security,” or as you’ll see it relentlessly abbreviated, “opsec.”
The Intercept released a statement today, however, reminding people not to take the FBI’s complaint as fact.
“While the FBI’s allegations against Winner have been made public through the release of an affidavit and search warrant, which were unsealed at the government’s request, it is important to keep in mind that these documents contain unproven assertions and speculation designed to serve the government’s agenda and as such warrant skepticism,” they wrote. “Winner faces allegations that have not been proven. The same is true of the FBI’s claims about how it came to arrest Winner.”