President Donald Trump's administration
levelled fresh criticism at the CIA Thursday
after WikiLeaks published a trove of
documents describing the US spy agency's
cyber espionage operations.
Hours after WikiLeaks founder Julian
Assange accused the Central Intelligence
Agency of "devastating incompetence" for
failing to protect its hacking secrets,
Trump's spokesman echoed that, branding its
Trump has "grave concern... about the
release of national security and classified
information that threatens and undermines
our nation's security," White House press
secretary Sean Spicer said.
"He believes that the systems at the CIA
are outdated and need to be updated."
The White House terminology was milder
than earlier this year when the president
blasted US intelligence agencies over media
leaks, and accused them of playing politics
with their findings on Russian interference
in last year's election.
But it added new pressure on the CIA and
its incoming chief, Mike Pompeo, as US
intelligence agencies continue to suffer
losses of top secret materials -- most
famously with Edward Snowden's 2013 exposure
of NSA spying.
- Assange: CIA was 'careless' -
On Tuesday, WikiLeaks published nearly
9,000 documents it said were only part of a
huge trove leaked from the CIA.
WikiLeaks said the leaked archive
represented the CIA's entire arsenal of
cyber-attack plans, guides and malware
programs -- though it held back the programs
themselves from release.
"This extraordinary collection, which
amounts to more than several hundred million
lines of code, gives its possessor the
entire hacking capacity of the CIA," it
On Thursday Assange gave a press
conference on the leak, which again put the
crusading anti-secrets group in the midst of
Speaking via streaming video from
Ecuador's embassy in London, where he has
been living as a fugitive from justice since
2012, he waved off criticism of WikiLeaks
while blasting the CIA for its poor
"This is a historic act of devastating
incompetence, to have created such an
arsenal and then stored it all in one
place," Assange said.
BEN STANSALLSpeaking via streaming video
from Ecuador's embassy in London, where he
has been living as a fugitive from justice
since 2012, Julian Assange, seen in 2016,
waved off criticism of WikiLeaks while
blasting the CIA for its poor controls
"It is impossible to keep effective
control of cyber weapons... If you build
them, eventually you will lose them."
The documents show that, using a tool
chest of malware like viruses and trojans,
CIA hackers can turn a TV into a listening
device, bypass popular encryption apps, and
possibly control people's cars.
Assange called the CIA "careless" for
losing control of its cyber weaponry, which
WikiLeaks suggested had reached it via
private contractors that the US agency hires
to develop hacking tools.
He said it might already have circulated
into the hands of criminals and US enemies.
"It's quite possible numerous people
already might have it," Assange said.
He claimed that WikiLeaks possesses "a
lot more information" about the CIA's
hacking, but would refrain from publishing
it until it can speak to tech manufacturers
Much of the agency's cyber operations
focused on exploiting vulnerabilities in
popular networking equipment, consumer
electronics, and software, including Apple's
iPhones and smartphones running the Android
"We have decided to work with them to
give them some exclusive access to the
additional technical details we have so
fixes can be developed and then pushed out,"
"Once this material is effectively
disarmed by us we will publish additional
details about what has been occurring."
- CIA questions Assange 'integrity' -
The CIA defended itself while criticizing
the WikiLeaks founder.
"As we've said previously, Julian Assange
is not exactly a bastion of truth and
integrity," said spokeswoman Heather Fritz
"Despite the efforts of Assange and his
ilk, CIA continues to aggressively collect
foreign intelligence overseas to protect
America from terrorists, hostile nation
states and other adversaries."
NICHOLAS KAMMUS Vice President Mike Pence
(R) swears in Mike Pompeo as CIA director as
his wife Susan looks on in the Vice
President's Ceremonial Office at the
Eisonhower Executive Office Building on
January 23, 2017 in Washington, DC
She reiterated that cyber operations are
an integral part of the CIA's job, rebuffing
Assange's suggestion that the agency had
quietly gone into competition with the main
US signals intelligence body, the National
Hacking is a normal part of its mission
"to be innovative, cutting-edge, and the
first line of defense in protecting this
country from enemies abroad," Horniak said.