Supreme Court Leak Report Findings: Lax security, loose lips
WASHINGTON – Eight months, 126 formal interviews and a 23-page report later, the Supreme Court said it had not found out who leaked a draft of the court’s opinion repealing abortion rights.
The report released by the court on Thursday is the apparent culmination of an investigation ordered by Chief Justice John Roberts a day after the May leak of the draft to Politico. At the time, Roberts called the leak a “egregious breach of trust.”
The leak sparked protests at the judges’ homes and raised concerns about their safety. And it took more than a month for Judge Samuel Alito’s final ruling to be released and presented to the court officially announced Roe v. to fall Wade.
The report also provides an insight into the court’s internal processes. It recognizes that the coronavirus pandemic, which has expanded people’s ability to work from home, “as well as gaps in the court’s security policies, created an environment where it was too easy to get sensitive information out of the remove buildings and the IT networks of the court. ” The report recommends changes to make it more difficult for a leak to occur in the future.
Some questions and answers about the report:
IF THE INVESTIGATION DID NOT FIND THE LEAK, WHAT DID THEY FIND?
Loose security and loose lips. Too many people have access to certain sensitive information, the report concluded, and the court’s information security guidelines are outdated. For example, the court cannot actively track who is handling and accessing highly sensitive information.
Additionally, some people interviewed by federal investigators to help with the investigation admitted they had not diligently followed the court’s confidentiality guidelines. In some cases, employees admitted to “telling their spouses about the draft statement or the vote count,” the report said.
The leak does not appear to have been the result of a hack, but the report says investigators could not rule out that the opinion was inadvertently disclosed, “for example, by leaving it in a public place inside or outside the building.”
HOW THOROUGH WAS THE EXAMINATION?
Investigators conducted 126 formal interviews with 97 employees. They examined connections between employees and reporters, including those at Politico. They looked at call logs from private phones. You looked at the printer logs. They even conducted a fingerprint analysis of “an item relevant to the investigation.”
Each person interviewed signed an affidavit that they were not the source of the leak. Lying about it could violate a federal false statement law.
After all of this, former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, himself a former federal judge, was asked to rule on the investigation. Chertoff described the investigation as “thorough” in a statement issued by the court.
An open question: The report does not reveal whether the court’s nine judges also presented themselves for questioning.
WHAT WILL THIS CHANGE?
It seems clear that in response to the leak, the court will tighten its procedures, potentially upgrade equipment and likely train more staff. But what it has already done or will do in the future, the court does not say. Investigators made a list of recommendations, but they weren’t appended to the public version of the report to guard against “potential bad actors.”
WHAT ABOUT SPECULATIONS WHO IT WAS?
In the wake of the leak, speculation swirled in Washington as to who the source might be. Conservatives pointed fingers at the liberal side of the court, speculating that the leaker was someone upset about the outcome. Liberals suggested it might be someone on the conservative side of the court wanting to ensure a vacillating member of the five-judiciary majority does not switch sides.
There has been speculation on social media that various legal employees could be the leaker due to their personal backgrounds, including ties to Politico and previous writing. The report confirmed investigators were watching.
“Investigators also assessed the wide range of public speculation, primarily on social media, about individuals who may have disclosed the document. Several legal trainees have been appointed to various offices. In their investigation, investigators found nothing to substantiate social media claims regarding the disclosure,” the report reads.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
The report says investigators aren’t quite done yet, but it suggests any active investigation will be halted. “Investigators continue to review and process some electronic data that has been collected and some other investigations are pending,” they said. “As far as additional investigations result in new evidence or clues, the investigators will investigate them.”
The final paragraph of the report states, “Over time, continued investigation and analysis may provide additional clues that could identify the source of the disclosure.”
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https://www.local10.com/news/politics/2023/01/20/supreme-court-leak-report-findings-lax-security-loose-lips/ Supreme Court Leak Report Findings: Lax security, loose lips