Feds intensify probe into leaks of classified data related to Stuxnet computer virus
By The Washington Post
Published: Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013, 6:44 p.m.
Federal investigators looking into disclosures of classified information about a cyberoperation that targeted Iran's nuclear program have increased pressure on current and former senior government officials suspected of involvement, according to people familiar with the investigation.
The inquiry, which was started by Attorney General Eric Holder last June, is examining leaks about a computer virus developed jointly by the United States and Israel that damaged nuclear centrifuges at Iran's primary uranium-enrichment plant. The U.S. code name for the operation was Olympic Games, but the wider world knew the mysterious computer worm as Stuxnet.
Prosecutors are pursuing “everybody — at pretty high levels, too,” said one person familiar with the investigation. “There are many people who've been contacted from different agencies.”
The FBI and prosecutors have interviewed several current and former senior government officials in connection with the disclosures, sometimes confronting them with evidence of contact with journalists, according to people familiar with the probe. Investigators, they said, have conducted extensive analysis of the email accounts and phone records of current and former government officials in a search for links to journalists.
The people familiar with the investigation would speak only on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. The Justice Department declined to comment.
The Obama administration has prosecuted six officials for disclosing classified information, more than all previous administrations combined. But the Stuxnet investigation is arguably the highest-profile probe yet, and it could implicate senior-level officials. Knowledge of the virus was likely to have been highly compartmentalized and limited to a small set of Americans and Israelis.
The proliferation of email and the advent of sophisticated software capable of sifting through huge volumes of it have significantly improved the ability of the FBI to find evidence. A trail of email has eased the FBI's search for a number of suspects recently, including John Kiriakou, the former CIA officer from New Castle who was sentenced Friday to 30 months in prison for disclosing to a journalist the identity of a CIA officer who had spent 20 years under cover.
Holder appointed Rod J. Rosenstein, the U.S. attorney for Maryland, to lead the Stuxnet inquiry after a New York Times article about President Obama ordering cyberattacks against Iran using a computer virus developed in conjunction with Israel. Other publications, including The Washington Post, followed with similar reports about Stuxnet and a related virus called Flame.
At the same time, Holder named Ronald C. Machen Jr., the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, to head a criminal investigation into leaks concerning the disruption of a bomb plot by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. Holder's action followed complaints from members of Congress, including the heads of the intelligence committees, about both leaks.
Machen is examining a leak to the Associated Press that a double agent inside al-Qaida's affiliate in Yemen allowed the United States and Saudi Arabia to disrupt the plot to bomb an airliner using explosives and a detonation system that could evade airport security checks.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Wyatt Earp gun sells for $225K at auction
- Obama administration delays decision on Keystone XL pipeline
- SpaceX supply ship makes Easter cargo delivery to space station
- Wyoming evacuees wary of slow landslide
- Probation officer of suspect in slaying of North Allegheny graduate resigns
- Study says regular pot use affects the brain
- GAO finds just 1 percent of large partnerships audited by IRS
- Heroin-related deaths set record in Ohio
- Colorado deaths stoke marijuana worries
- Recovery expert believes wreckage of missing plane located
- Denver wife killed 12 minutes into 911 call, sparking inquiry