WASHINGTON – The United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was scrambling Wednesday to assess and contain the damage from the release by WikiLeaks of thousands of documents that cataloged the agency’s cyberspying capabilities, temporarily halting work on some projects while the F.B.I. turned to finding who was responsible for the leak.
The New York Times reported, investigators say that the leak was the work not of a hostile foreign power like Russia but of a disaffected insider, as WikiLeaks suggested when it released the documents Tuesday. The F.B.I. was preparing to interview anyone who had access to the information, a group likely to include at least a few hundred people, and possibly more than a thousand.
An intelligence official said the information, much of which appeared to be technical documents, may have come from a server outside the C.I.A. managed by a contractor. But neither he nor a former senior intelligence official ruled out the possibility that the leaker was a C.I.A. employee.
The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation into classified information. The C.I.A. has refused to explicitly confirm the authenticity of the documents, but it all but said they were genuine Wednesday when it took the unusual step of putting out a statement to defend its work and chastise WikiLeaks.
The disclosures “equip our adversaries with tools and information to do us harm,” said Ryan Trapani, a spokesman for the C.I.A. He added that the C.I.A. is legally prohibited from spying on individuals in the United States and “does not do so.”
The leak was perhaps most awkward for the White House, which found itself criticizing WikiLeaks less than six months after the group published embarrassing emails from John D. Podesta, the campaign chairman for Hillary Clinton, prompting President Trump to declare at the time, “I love WikiLeaks.”
Sean Spicer, the White House spokesman, said the release of documents “should be something that everybody is outraged about in this country.”
There was, he added, a “massive, massive difference” between the leak of classified C.I.A. cyber-spying tools and personal emails of political figures.
The documents, taken at face value, suggest that American spies had designed hacking tools that could breach almost anything connected to the internet — smartphones, computers, televisions — and had even found a way to compromise Apple and Android devices. But whether the C.I.A. had successfully built and employed them to conduct espionage remained unclear on Wednesday. Continue Reading….