WikiLeaks began releasing government documents on Wednesday from CIA Director John Brennan’s recently hacked private email account. Claiming to be an American high school student, the hacker also broke into the Comcast account of the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security and plans to target a top Defense Department official next.
In an interview with The New York Post on Sunday, a hacker with the Twitter account, @phphax, admitted to using social engineering techniques to gain access to CIA Director Brennan’s private email account. After conducting a reverse lookup of Brennan’s mobile phone number, the hacker posed as a Verizon employee and tricked the telecommunications company into providing Brennan’s account number, his four-digit PIN, the backup mobile number on the account, his AOL email address, and the last four digits on his bank card. Armed with Brennan’s personal info, the hacker and his accomplices gained access to Brennan’s AOL account on October 12.
Unbeknownst to the hacker, Brennan had forwarded government documents, including an application form with Brennan’s personal information, geopolitical strategies for Iran, and positions concerning the legalities of torture, from his government work email address to his personal AOL account. Other emails contained the personal information and Social Security numbers of over a dozen top U.S. intelligence officials as well as Brennan’s own personal info, including his home address, date of birth, phone numbers, etc.
For three days, the hackers had access to Brennan’s AOL account. Brennan reportedly reset his password three times, but the hackers hijacked it each time while prank-calling the CIA Director.
“[I]t was like ‘Hey…its CWA (Crackas With Attitude).’ He was like ‘What do you want?’ We said ‘2 trillion dollars hahhaa, just joking,’” the hacker recounted to WIRED.
Brennan, the hacker says, replied, “How much do you really want?”
They told Brennan, “We just want Palestine to be free and for you to stop killing innocent people.”
On October 16, the hacker tweeted that Brennan had finally deleted his AOL account after failing to stop the multiple security breaches. The hackers also took credit for breaking into Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson’s Comcast account and announced plans to target Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work’s Verizon account next. After the hacker recently tweeted an image of a spreadsheet containing the Social Security numbers, phone numbers, and emails of Brennan and several national security officials, Twitter suspended his account.
WikiLeaks announced on Wednesday that they have obtained Brennan’s hacked emails and began releasing documents, including a sensitive 47-page SF-86 application that Brennan had filled out to obtain his top-secret government security clearance, a memo concerning the U.S.-Iranian chessboard along with recommendations for potential presidential envoys to Iran, and a letter from the Senate Intelligence Committee discussing the legal limitations of torture.
In a memo titled “The Conundrum of Iran,” Brennan wrote, “The World Wars of the 20th Century and their aftermath made Iran a pawn of global politics, as illustrated by the CIA-engineered overthrow of Prime Minister Mossadegh in 1953, which allowed the pro-U.S. Shah to return to power and rule with an iron hand for the next 25 years.”
Although the Justice Department refused to file charges against the CIA for hacking into computers belonging to the Senate Intelligence Committee during their review of the Agency’s rendition and torture programs, the Justice Department continues to investigate Hillary Clinton’s emails due to her conducting work on a private server.
After losing his job, Brennan’s predecessor, former CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus, pleaded guilty in federal court to unauthorized removal and retention of classified information for giving his mistress access to his work email. With so many top U.S. intelligence officials unable to maintain basic security over sensitive data, the hackers continue to successfully point out that the wrong people have been leading this country for far too long.