Dramatic release appears to expose CIA’s surveillance capabilities and interest in high-tech assassination methods.
After months of teasing, the whistleblowing organization finally revealed what’s in ‘Vault 7’. The 8,000+ page release details CIA spying operations and has been described by one source as the ‘entire hacking capacity of the CIA‘.
At 9 am Eastern Time, Wikileaks tweeted the passphrase to unlock the torrent distributed the night before:
According to heavy.com, the passphrase is a quote from President John F. Kennedy published after his death:
The quote was given to a Times journalist in the 1960s by a Kennedy administration official and published in the New York Times on April 25, 1966 in an article titled “C.I.A.: Maker of Policy, or Tool?”
The 8,761 documents and files came from a source with access to an ‘isolated, high security network’ at the CIA’s headquarters, according to Wikileaks’ press release, which you can read here.
Detailing surveillance capabilities beyond anything that was previously known, the release has been hailed as potentially more significant than the Edward Snowden revelations of 2013, showing the intelligence agency acting as ‘its own NSA’ and infecting popular smart phones and even televisions with malware:
The increasing sophistication of surveillance techniques has drawn comparisons with George Orwell's 1984, but "Weeping Angel", developed by the CIA's Embedded Devices Branch (EDB), which infests smart TVs, transforming them into covert microphones, is surely its most emblematic realization.
The attack against Samsung smart TVs was developed in cooperation with the United Kingdom's MI5/BTSS. After infestation, Weeping Angel places the target TV in a 'Fake-Off' mode, so that the owner falsely believes the TV is off when it is on. In 'Fake-Off' mode the TV operates as a bug, recording conversations in the room and sending them over the Internet to a covert CIA server.
The release also describes a darker application for these capabilities, namely ‘undetectable assassinations’:
As of October 2014 the CIA was also looking at infecting the vehicle control systems used by modern cars and trucks. The purpose of such control is not specified, but it would permit the CIA to engage in nearly undetectable assassinations.
Twitter users were quick to link the suspicious death of journalist Michael Hastings in a fiery high-speed car crash in Los Angeles in 2013, including one of Hastings’ own friends:
Interestingly, Hastings had contacted Wikileaks hours before he died in 2013, and shortly after publishing his final piece ‘Why Democrats Love to Spy on Americans’:
While the FBI denied Hastings was the subject of any investigation, a FOIA request did in fact unearth a file and Hastings had told a neighbor he believed his Mercedes C250 had been tampered with.
The Wikileaks documents can be read in full here and are apparently only ‘Part 1’ of the Year Zero release...