Monday, May 20, 2013

The Government Tracks a Leaker and a Reporter; The One Asterisk, Two Asterisk Code System

An affidavit recently obtained by WaPo reveals fascinating details of how the Department of Justice tracked Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, a State Department adviser, and James Rosen, the chief Washington correspondent for Fox News. From WaPo's reporting:
The Kim case began in June 2009, when Rosen reported that U.S. intelligence officials were warning that North Korea was likely to respond to United Nations sanctions with more nuclear tests. The CIA had learned the information, Rosen wrote, from sources inside North Korea.[...]

FBI investigators used the security-badge data, phone records and e-mail exchanges to build a case that Kim shared the report with Rosen soon after receiving it, court records show.

In the documents, FBI agent Reginald Reyes described in detail how Kim and Rosen moved in and out of the State Department headquarters at 2201 C St. NW a few hours before the story was published on June 11, 2009.

“Mr. Kim departed DoS at or around 12:02 p.m. followed shortly thereafter by the reporter at or around 12:03 p.m.,” Reyes wrote. Next, the agent said, “Mr. Kim returned to DoS at or around 12:26 p.m. followed shortly thereafter by the reporter at or around 12:30 p.m.”

The activity, Reyes wrote in an affidavit, suggested a “face-to-face” meeting between the two men. “Within a few hours after those nearly simultaneous exits and entries at DoS, the June 2009 article was published on the Internet,” he wrote.

The court documents don’t name Rosen, but his identity was confirmed by several officials, and he is the author of the article at the center of the investigation[...]

Using italics for emphasis, Reyes explained how Rosen allegedly used a “covert communications plan” and quoted from an e-mail exchange between Rosen and Kim that seems to describe a secret system for passing along information.

In the exchange, Rosen used the alias “Leo” to address Kim and called himself “Alex,” an apparent reference to Alexander Butterfield, the man best known for running the secret recording system in the Nixon White House, according to the affidavit.

Rosen instructed Kim to send him coded signals on his Google account, according to a quote from his e-mail in the affidavit: “One asterisk means to contact them, or that previously suggested plans for communication are to proceed as agreed; two asterisks means the opposite.”

He also wrote, according to the affidavit: “What I am interested in, as you might expect, is breaking news ahead of my competitors” including “what intelligence is picking up.” And: “I’d love to see some internal State Department analyses.” [Side note: Sorry anti-IPers looks like we have another case of information being valuable. This time to a FoxNews reporter-RW] 
[...] In the hours before Rosen’s story was published, Kim was one of more than 95 people who saw the intelligence report through a classified database, according to court documents.

Kim’s phone records showed that seven calls lasting from 18 seconds to more than 11 minutes were placed between Kim’s desk telephone and Rosen’s cellphone and desk phone at the State Department, according to the court documents. Investigators pulled at least two months of phone records from Kim’s desk and found 36 calls with numbers associated with Rosen.

Investigators also scrutinized computer records and found that someone who had logged in with Kim’s user profile viewed the classified report “at or around” the same time two calls were placed from his desk phone to Rosen, according to the documents.

Two months later on an August evening, diplomatic security secretly entered Kim’s office and found a copy of Rosen’s article next to his computer. Kim, who worked in a secure facility, was subject to daily office inspections. The Fox News article was also in “plain view” during follow-up visits in late September.

Kim initially told the FBI in an interview that month that he had met the reporter in March but had not had contact since. Later, Kim admitted to additional contacts, according to the affidavit.

1 comment:

  1. I haven't read Kinsella's views on IP. But either Wenzel is misstating Kinsella's views or Kinsella is goofy. Of course information can be valuable. In fact, if something had no value no one would want to possess it hence no IP protection would be needed. (keeping in mind that value is subjective, which Wenzel seems to forget or at least ignores on occasion} Isn't the question when people should have to pay for the information and what they can do with it once they have obtained it? This information has no value is the silliest straw man I have ever seen.