But regarding the insider, the linguistics of the Vanity Fair reference is so rich. Here it is once again:
That fall, the State Department team got a tip from a foreign source: Key information was likely sitting in the U.S. intelligence community’s own files, unanalyzed.
The key word here for me is likely.
It suggests the source is pretty sure they would have it as matter of course, as a result of their regular collection of data.
So where does intelligence get regular collection of data? Basically from open or closed sources, open sources being anything publicly available. DRASTIC, for example, has built its entire case, I presume, on open source data. So there's a possibility that information is still hiding in some archive of open source data. The CCP surely deleted any mention of it, but information on the internet is hard to delete entirely.
And closed source (or whatever spooks call it) is everything else.
Regardless, this use of the adverb likely is bugging the shit out of me. It's rich, pregnant, telling.
Or, perhaps the source was just being a snobbish shit and using likely in the polite, indirect suggestive sense meaning, "You have the fucking file you idiot because I gave it to you six months ago."
We'll likely never know.