FBI opens investigation into CIA document theft, WikiLeaks release

(File: CBS DC)

(CBSN) — The FBI has opened an investigation into the theft and posting of the alleged CIA documents released on the WikiLeaks website, reports CBS News’ Andres Triay.

U.S. intelligence sources say the data released by WikiLeaks Tuesday is being examined to determine the authenticity of the alleged leak, which contained thousands of documents purported to be CIA secret files detailing hacking tools the government uses to break into users’ computers, mobile phones and smart TVs.

Sources say there is an effort to sift through the data to see what is real. So far, the intelligence community is reacting to the data as if it is authentic and as if it’s yet another embarrassing security breach. Officially, the CIA says it has no comment on the authenticity of the documents. A CIA spokesperson did point out that the CIA is “legally prohibited from conducting electronic surveillance targeting individuals here at home, including our fellow Americans, and the CIA does not do so.”

One key question for intelligence analysts now is the timing of the release.  Why did Wikileaks release the information Tuesday?  Investigators have pointed to other Wikileaks disclosures over the last eight months and note that they usually appeared to be timed to coincide with certain events during the 2016 campaign.

For example, some of the emails of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, were publicly posted on the same day that the “Access Hollywood” tape was released. On the tape, then-GOP candidate for President Donald Trump was captured on videotape making crude comments about women.

Wikileaks says the data was provided by a former U.S. government hacker or contractor, which suggests that this was an inside job. The investigation into the incident is expected to include the FBI, since there will likely be an examination into whether there was collusion between Wikileaks and others.  At this time, the CIA is not commenting on the authenticity of the data nor is the spy agency prepared to announce that an investigation is “officially” underway.  However, the effort to find the how, why and what has already begun.

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