Chaos in the Court: Strange Happenings in the CIA Vault 7 Leak Trial - US vs. Joshua Schulte

Chaos in the Court: Strange Happenings in the CIA Vault 7 Leak Trial – US vs. Joshua Schulte

March 5, 2020 – Within the past few weeks, strange things have been observed with respect to the US vs. Joshua Adam Schulte case being tried in the Southern District of New York (SDNY) with Judge Paul A. Crotty presiding. There has been a total mainstream media blackout regarding the case, particularly unusual as this case has major implications for national security and freedom of the press.

Alexa O’Brien is an investigative journalist, an expert in the US vs. Bradley Manning case, and is one of the few independent journalists covering the Schulte case. She has put together a very detailed Master Timeline and has created a Transcript and Exhibit Library online to make source files and transcripts available to the public and easily accessible.

Master Timeline, by Alexa O’Brien

This case has been veiled in secrecy from the outset. Along with the media blackout, Mr. Schulte claimed he was being subjected to isolation and torture. Kieren McCarthy reports for the UK Register that Schulte is not being given proper due process and that his rights are being potentially violated:

The lawyer for former CIA employee Joshua Schulte is unhappy the spy agency is allowed to review communications with her client before she receives it and has accused the agency of trying to intimidate her.

Schulte’s lawyer, Sabrina Shroff, appeared in a New York court on Wednesday and argued that the CIA was abusing client-attorney privilege as well as threatening her with future legal repercussions for receiving confidential material.

‘The CIA essentially has threatened us,’ Shroff told the judge. Asked whether the spy agency was also listening in on her confidential conversations with her client, she responded: ‘We don’t know.’

The CIA believes that Schulte was behind a massive leak of material from the spy agency that outlined how it is able to install spy software on laptops and phones. But it has been unable to prove the assertion.

Schulte is currently in jail on unrelated charges of possession and distribution of child abuse images but the CIA has made it plain he is the prime suspect in the information leak. Schulte was in charge of a server that contained 54GB of illegal content but has pled not guilty, arguing that he was running a public server and had no idea about the images.

Thanks to his work for the CIA’s engineering development group and the spy agency’s suspicions that he was behind the leak, he and his lawyer have been put under extreme restrictions. – The UK Register

Indeed another independent investigative journalist for Inner City Press has been reporting on the horrible conditions at the Metropolitan Correction Center (MCC) where Schulte is currently being held. Most recently reported conditions are that the MCC has been on lockdown over claims of a “smuggled gun” and that inmates had not been allowed to meet with attorneys, bathe or even eat a hot meal for the past seven days.

There are other related cases going on simultaneously: in the UK, the Extradition Hearing of Julian Assange of Wikileaks,  and the US vs. Khalid Shiek Mohammad trial being held at Guantanamo Bay (GITMO).

For more information about this case, read the New York Times article that describes not only physical but psychological torture as well.

Joshua Schulte claims he was bolted to the floor naked in the SHU at the MCC and subjected to torture.

Considering a number of bizarre court house incidents, and the government and prosecution being generally unresponsive to defense questions, and focusing mostly on Schulte’s behavior in prison, one could easily conclude that the forensic case is weak.

Now it’s being reported that there are problems with the jury. Emptywheel  has also been covering the case and they claim in an article entitled “The Joshua Schulte Jury is Falling Apart:

Even before Judge Paul Crotty dismissed a juror today for reading outside information and sharing it with another juror, it was clear that the jury was a mess. Going all the way back to February 13, a juror had said something to another juror that concerned him.

THE COURT: Okay. I got a note from a juror, and it deals with an incident that occurred on Thursday late in the day. He then left the courthouse. We asked him to put the report that he made to David on Thursday in writing, which he did on Tuesday morning. This is the note. I’m going to mark it as Court Exhibit 1. I made copies. So I don’t think we can resolve this now. But I wanted to call it to your attention right away.

MS. SHROFF: It’s her belief. She’s not saying she can’t be impartial. She’s not deliberated. She’s voicing an opinion. And she also notes that that was a different — I mean, she’s saying she is a different kind of citizen. That’s what we want. A jury of peers.

Judge Crotty discussed that incident with the two sides on February 19.

Then, on the first day of deliberations Tuesday, the jurors sent a bunch of notes, including one with seven questions, several of them (the questions about the DevLAN outage, drugs, and Aspergers) entirely unrelated to Schulte’s guilt or innocence.

Message: What is included in Count Three? We aren’t sure what the purview is — articles, search warrants, tweets? (2) In 2015, when DevLAN went down, was Schulte called to fix the problem? How did he fix it? (3) Can you please reread what was found on Schulte’s home computer? (4) Did GX 809 reference Schulte’s taking a drug (“took my last piece”)? If so, what was it? Was it regular use? (5) Is it confirmed that Schulte’s been diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome? (6) For Count One, is Altabackups inclusive of Brutal Kangaroo? Is it inclusive of OSB libraries? (7) Where were OSB libraries housed/where did they live?

While a number of the questions made sense, it was also clear that the jurors are confused about the forensic evidence, including multiple threads of evidence that show Schulte was at his computer typing in the commands that reverted the backup on the date the files were stolen.

But today, according to a note from Schulte’s lawyers, Juror 1 told the Court that Juror 5 had shared outside information with him.

The defense respectfully requests that the Court halt jury deliberations temporarily and conduct an individual voir dire of jurors 2–11 to ensure that they were not exposed to prejudicial extra-record information from former Juror 5. Such an inquiry is necessary because the Court currently only has the information received in the robing room from Juror 1 and former Juror 5.

The juror who got booted spoke to the press. She seems to believe Schulte did restore his own access to certain files (given her description, she seems focused on Brutal Kangaroo), but does not believe he is guilty of the most serious charges. – Emptywheel

Part of the problem jurors are having, in my own personal opinion, is believing anything that comes out of the government at this point. After uncovering the torture, Jeffrey Epstein’s death and the Spygate revelations (all just in recent months), it appears the government views itself as above the law.

Back to the Article from the UK register by Mr. McCarthy:

Schulte’s lawyer has to make a request to meet with him one week prior to any meeting. He is then transferred to a special secure area that is monitored by CCTV before being strip-searched and chained to the floor. His lawyer is not allowed to take in any equipment and must use a government-supplied computer to review any material – conditions imposed [PDF] by the judge.

But despite specific provisions that prevent jail staff from recording any audio or sharing any information with the prosecution, Shroff suspects the CIA is monitoring her meetings regardless.

She is also frustrated that the court ordered that any material produced by Schulte is first reviewed by the CIA before it is supplied to her, and that the agency seems to be going out of its way to delay access, as well as frustrate her efforts to provide him with a defense.

‘We are experiencing significant delay in the CIA’s process of classifying our client’s work product,’ she wrote [PDF] to the judge in March, giving the example of one document that had taken more than two weeks to be cleared. ‘We ask that the Court impose reasonable deadlines by which time the CIA walled individual must respond to documents given to him for classification review.’ She argued for a 10-day maximum.

The government responded [PDF] saying that it had no way to speed up the process because the CIA officer in charge of reviewing the material is independent from its prosecutorial team.

In court on Wednesday, the government even argued that the CIA was a ‘victim’ in the whole process, facing criticism for doing its job of protecting national security secrets. Shroff made her disagreement known.

Prior to the court hearing, Shroff repeatedly informed the judge that the CIA was hindering her work ‘because the CIA insists that all of his written communications with counsel – down to each comment or proposed edit to any work product – must be reviewed and cleared in advance by the ‘walled’ CIA employee.’

The walled employee has also failed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding, she complained [PDF], by ‘insisting on continued edits to standard language.’ Schoff argued for restrictions surrounding the search warrants lodged against her client two years earlier be lifted because they have contained no confidential information. – The UK Register

If you do not have attorney-client privilege, I argue it’s not possible to have a fair hearing. The prosecution has access in advance to all work product, all potential rebuttals and is able to craft their narrative accordingly.

Most citizens are unaware of Prosecutorial Misconduct, though it received a spotlight recently in the case against General Michael Flynn. Federal prosecutors are not subject to any kind of sanctions if they wrongly accuse someone or if they ruin their lives. To make a name for themselves, they can lie and often work with public defenders to trick unaware people into taking a plea deal, even if they are innocent.

Indeed when you get past all the noise, you learn that the Central Intelligence Agency did not have a very “secure” system. While the physical location of the server was secure and it does indeed look like a “vault,” the DevLan system was “wide open” and the password, I kid you not, was: mysweetsummer.

The Vault

The FBI “expert” assessment can be viewed here:

Government Exhibit 13 can be viewed here:

Judge Crotty has decided not to grant a mistrial, and has decided that they will bring in an extra juror, and move onto day 4 of jury deliberations.

This story is still developing, please check back for updates. 

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