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WikiLeaks claims to have the CIA director’s personal emails — and plans to release them

John Brennan, probably not a happy camper right now.
John Brennan, probably not a happy camper right now.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Zack Beauchamp is a senior correspondent at Vox, where he covers ideology and challenges to democracy, both at home and abroad. Before coming to Vox in 2014, he edited TP Ideas, a section of Think Progress devoted to the ideas shaping our political world.
  1. WikiLeaks claims to have obtained the contents of CIA Director John Brennan's personal AOL email account — and that they'll be released "shortly."
  2. Earlier this week, a teenage hacker claimed to have obtained Brennan's AOL emails. The hacker could very well have passed them off to WikiLeaks.
  3. We're not sure what's in Brennan's private emails, so it's hard to say how bad this is for him or for the US government. But, coming at the same time as the Hillary Clinton private email scandal, it definitely highlights the problem with public officials using private email addresses for official business.

The John Brennan email dump

Brennan's email hack was first reported by the New York Post on Sunday night. The Post spoke to the purported hacker, who identified himself as an American teenager. In a later interview with Wired, the hacker claimed to have two accomplices.

The hacker also said he's motivated by opposition to American foreign policy, particularly with respect to the Israel-Palestine conflict. "It was really because the government are killing innocent people, they also fund (Israel) for killing innocent people," he told CNN. His politics, then, would seem to generally align with WikiLeaks'.

Assuming the hacker and WikiLeaks are both telling the truth, the question now becomes how important the leaked emails are. The hacker described them a little in his conversations with the Post:

CIA Director John Brennan’s private account held sensitive files — including his 47-page application for top-secret security clearance — until he recently learned that it had been infiltrated, the hacker told The Post.

Other emails stored in Brennan’s non-government account contained the Social Security numbers and personal information of more than a dozen top American intelligence officials, as well as a government letter about the use of "harsh interrogation techniques" on terrorism suspects, according to the hacker.

However, an unidentified law enforcement official told CNN that no classified documents were obtained during the hack. We'll just have to wait till WikiLeaks releases them to find out.

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