Archive for the ‘DNC leaks’ category

Was it a Hack or a Leak? (4)

September 1, 2017

Was it a Hack or a Leak? (4), Power LineScott Johnson, September 1, 2017

(Didn’t AG Sessions recuse himself? — DM)

“This entire business with Comey setting in motion the steps to get a special counsel named has not been sufficiently investigated. And this story makes it clear that the FBI was lackluster when it came to investigating the DNC. What is Attorney General Sessions doing?”

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We have followed the argument presented by Patrick Lawrence in the Nation asserting that the alleged Russian hack of the DNC email was rather an inside job. Lawrence explored the findings of the analysis supporting the thesis Democratic National Committee was not hacked by the Russians in July 2016, but rather suffered an insider leak. Lawrence’s article is here; the most recent report with the analysis summarized by Lawrence is here. The analysis has been promoted by dissident former intelligence officials gathered under the umbrella of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

Lawrence’s long article in the Nation called for a response of some kind by proponents of the Russia hacking conspiracy theory, but it has been greeted mostly by silence. I am not aware of any analysis directly disputing VIPS.

Since the publication of Lawrence’s long article in the NationThe VIPS analysis has been taken up by Leonid Bershidsky at Bloomberg View and by Danielle Ryan at Salon. The DNC itself responded to Lawrence’s article:

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded the Russian government hacked the DNC in an attempt to interfere in the election. Any suggestion otherwise is false and is just another conspiracy theory like those pushed by Trump and his administration. It’s unfortunate that The Nation has decided to join the conspiracy theorists to push this narrative.

Ryan rightly commented that the statement “is so lackluster it is almost laughable[.]” Students of logical fallacy may recognize both the argument from authority and the ad hominem in the three-sentence DNC statement. That is pathetic.

Philadelphia attorney George Parry takes up the VIPS analysis in his Philly.com column “Will special counsel Mueller examine the DNC server, source of the great Russiagate caper?” Parry prefaces his account of the VIPS analysis with a useful reminder of the origin story:

Much to the embarrassment of Hillary Clinton, the released [DNC email] files showed that the DNC had secretly collaborated with her campaign to promote her candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination over that of Bernie Sanders. Clearly, the Clinton campaign needed to lessen the political damage. Jennifer Palmieri, Clinton’s public relations chief, said in a Washington Post essay in March that she worked assiduously during the Democratic nominating convention to “get the press to focus on … the prospect that Russia had not only hacked and stolen emails from the DNC, but that it had done so to help Donald Trump and hurt Hillary.”

Thus was laid the cornerstone of the Trump-Russia-collusion conspiracy theory.

Since then, the mainstream media have created a climate of hysteria in which this unsubstantiated theory has been conjured into accepted truth. This has resulted in investigations by Congress and a special counsel into President Trump, his family, and his campaign staff for supposed collusion with the Russians.

But in their frenzied coverage, the media have downplayed the very odd behavior of the DNC, the putative target of the alleged hack. For, when the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI learned of the hacking claim, they asked to examine the server. The DNC refused. Without explanation, it continues to deny law enforcement access to its server.

Why would the purported victim of a crime refuse to cooperate with law enforcement in solving that crime? Is it hiding something? Is it afraid the server’s contents will discredit the Russia-hacking story?

Parry also provides a good summary of the VIPS analysis. A friend comments and concludes with one more good question: “This entire business with Comey setting in motion the steps to get a special counsel named has not been sufficiently investigated. And this story makes it clear that the FBI was lackluster when it came to investigating the DNC. What is Attorney General Sessions doing?”

 

The Rohrabacher-Assange meeting

August 21, 2017

The Rohrabacher-Assange meeting, Washington TimesDavid Keene, August 20, 2017

Smoking Gun Flash Drive Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

The piece resulted in turmoil within the left-wing publication [the Nation] itself with many writers and contributors bitterly suggesting it should never have been printed because the publication has some sort of obligation to only publish material that strengthens rather than weakens the case against the president they despise.

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ANALYSIS/OPINION:

California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s recent three-hour meeting with WikiLeaks head Julian Assange as reported earlier this week by The Hill may prove interesting in light of the allegations of several former high-ranking U.S. intelligence analysts that the Democratic National Committee was not hacked by the Russians or anyone else prior to last fall’s presidential election.

Mr. Rohrabacher said little after the meeting other than that Mr. Assange repeated his denial that the materials he obtained and made public did not come from the Russians, but claimed he had more information about what actually happened that he intended to share with President Trump.

The “common wisdom” in Washington circles is that the Russians were responsible for illegally hacking into the DNC computers during the campaign and leaked the emails thus obtained through WikiLeaks, but recent revelations suggest that there is at least a possibility that the “common wisdom” is dead flat wrong. If it is wrong and can be proven, the charges of “collusion” so dear to Mr. Trump’s opponents could collapse.

The Nation magazine earlier this month published a lengthy report on the conclusions of a number of intelligence analysts who have looked at the available evidence and concluded that it would have been physically impossible for the Russians to have done what Mr. Trump’s critics allege.

They maintain that the information that made its way into the public sphere wasn’t hacked at all, but leaked by someone within the DNC itself.

The Nation piece, by Patrick Lawrence titled “A New Report Raises Big Questions about Last Year’s DNC Hack,” claimed that for technical reasons, the data that was supposedly downloaded to a hacker could not have been downloaded in the manner alleged because the underlying data they analyzed showed it was downloaded far faster than would have been possible given the technology available to the supposed hacker at the time.

The only way they believe the data could have been downloaded in the time it was in fact downloaded was if the job was done internally to something like a thumb drive that was later turned over to WikiLeaks.

The piece resulted in turmoil within the left-wing publication itself with many writers and contributors bitterly suggesting it should never have been printed because the publication has some sort of obligation to only publish material that strengthens rather than weakens the case against the president they despise.

Many were particularly upset that the piece was picked up and praised by a number of conservative publications and commentators.

In response to the attacks, Katrina vanden Heuvel, the Nation’s editor and publisher has launched what she is calling a “post publication review” of the article.

It is certainly true that the allegations in the article are both controversial and contested, but it is at least possible that whether the Nation decides to trash its own writer and disavow the conclusions of his article, the analysts quoted in it are right.

The Obama administration, Hillary Clinton and Mr. Trump’s enemies take it as fact that the Russians were behind the “hacks” and that they constituted an attempt by Vladimir Putin’s regime to “affect” the outcome of the election and hint openly that it was all done in collusion with the Trump campaign. That, after all, is what Special Counsel Robert Mueller is trying to prove.

They almost as one dismiss evidence to the contrary, relying on the “consensus” view of “seventeen” US intelligence agencies that it was indeed the Russians who did it. The “consensus” view as former Obama Director of Intelligence James Clapper has since admitted was put together by “hand-picked” analysts from three agencies and never underwent the rigorous review one might have expected.

This is, of course, the same James Clapper who had earlier been caught lying to Congress.

When the Nation article first appeared, the Democratic National Committee responded in writing “U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded the Russian government hacked the DNC in an attempt to interfere in the election. Any suggestion otherwise is false and is just another conspiracy theory like those pushed by Trump and his administration.”

When The Hill article reporting on the Rohrabacher/Assange meeting appeared, the DNC was at it again, “We’ll take the word of the U.S. intelligence community over Julian Assange and Putin’s favorite Congressman,” said DNC Deputy Communications Director Adrienne Watson,

There are conspiracies and then there are conspiracies. Julian Assange may have the proof as to who is right and who is fantasizing and if he provided that proof to Mr. Rohrabacher things could get very interesting for all involved and especially for Mr. Clapper and those who have relied on his “consensus view.”

Left-Wing Magazine The Nation Report Puts ‘Russian Hack’ DNC Narrative in Freefall

August 12, 2017

Left-Wing Magazine The Nation Report Puts ‘Russian Hack’ DNC Narrative in Freefall, BreitbartIan Mason, April 10, 2017

REUTERS/Stevo Vasiljevic

The files apparently were transferred to a data storage device at a speed not possible over the internet. Metadata also indicate that the emails were taken by someone in the Eastern Daylight Timezone and then deliberately copy-and-pasted into a Microsoft Word file that had its language settings changed to Russian in a ruse to throw off investigators.

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A bombshell report published Wednesday by avowedly liberal news magazine The Nation may have put the last nail in the coffin of the “Russian hack” narrative that has dominated the mainstream media’s coverage for the last year.

Author Patrick Lawrence assembles the findings of months of investigation by forensic computer experts and former NSA officials to conclude, quite categorically, what Breitbart News and other independent media outlets have suggested for nearly a year: there was no hack of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) by the Russian government or anyone else last summer. An internal leaker is a much more likely source of the confidential internal DNC emails that upended the presidential campaign season when they became public last June.

Some supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders saw in the emails a DNC plot to support eventual nominee Hillary Clinton, dealing a blow to Democratic unity in the runup to the party’s convention.

The Nation, a leading publication of the American left for over a century, may seem an unlikely place for such a thorough refutation of one of the Democratic Party’s most salient talking points. Lawrence, however, is strikingly forthright. Calling the supposed hack and the continual allegations of collusion by President Donald Trump and his associates a “great edifice,” Lawrence points to the central role the “DNC Hack” plays in the “Russiagate” narrative. He writes:

All this was set in motion when the DNC’s mail server was first violated in the spring of 2016 and by subsequent assertions that Russians were behind that “hack” and another such operation, also described as a Russian hack, on July 5. These are the foundation stones of the edifice just outlined. The evolution of public discourse in the year since is worthy of scholarly study: Possibilities became allegations, and these became probabilities. Then the probabilities turned into certainties, and these evolved into what are now taken to be established truths.

Now, according to the research by the experts Lawrence cites — the group Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) — a Russian government cyberattack on the DNC’s computers is likely not a “possibility.” The group has examined several aspects of the emails’ journey to the public eye and concluded it cannot be made to comport with a hacker in the former Soviet Union. The files apparently were transferred to a data storage device at a speed not possible over the internet. Metadata also indicate that the emails were taken by someone in the Eastern Daylight Timezone and then deliberately copy-and-pasted into a Microsoft Word file that had its language settings changed to Russian in a ruse to throw off investigators.

The conclusions of four of VIPS’s investigators was unanimous. Lawrance writes:

All those interviewed came in between 90 percent and 100 percent certain that the forensics prove out. I have already quoted Skip Folden’s answer: impossible based on the data. “The laws of physics don’t lie,” Ray McGovern volunteered at one point. “It’s QED, theorem demonstrated,” William Binney said in response to my question. “There’s no evidence out there to get me to change my mind.” When I asked Edward Loomis, a 90 percent man, about the 10 percent he held out, he replied, “I’ve looked at the work and it shows there was no Russian hack. But I didn’t do the work. That’s the 10 percent. I’m a scientist.”

Nothing in the report, however, dissuaded the DNC from its conviction the Russians are responsible for the publication of their internal communications. “U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded the Russian government hacked the DNC in an attempt to interfere in the election. Any suggestion otherwise is false and is just another conspiracy theory like those pushed by Trump and his administration,” Adrienne Watson, the DNC’s deputy communications director told Breitbart News Thursday.

The Nation’s story is by no means the first indication something might be awry with the “official version” of what happened at the DNC last summer. Shortly after the emails became public, Julian Assange, whose Wikileaks played a major role in the emails’ dissemination, claimed Russia played no role, but this did nothing to stem the flood of assurances about a Russian hack.

The central text of the Russiagate gospel became the “Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA)” issued in January of this year, days before President Barack Obama left office. Presumably this ICA, quoted for months in the mainstream media as being the work of “all 17” American intelligence agencies, is the basis of the DNC’s continued claims of a Russian hack.

The reality, as the New York Times finally admitted in June, was that only three intelligence agencies participated in the creation of the ICA. The “17 intelligence agencies” line, a fixture of pro-Russiagate media since Hillary Clinton used the figure in her second presidential debate performance, was and is fake news.

Lawrence’s piece further takes the ICA to task. “James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, admitted in May that ‘hand-picked’ analysts from three agencies (not the 17 previously reported) drafted the ICA,” he writes, pointing out that not even the whole of the three agencies cited (the FBI, NSA, and CIA) were involved but only a few staffers “hand-picked” by Clapper.

The intelligence agencies, according to Lawrence, did not even examine the DNC’s computers, an omission he calls “beyond preposterous,” and instead relied on a third-party report from Crowdstrike, a non-profit co-founded by Dmitri Alperovitch, described as “vigorously anti-Russian.” The “high confidence” in Russian culpability we heard of again and again in mainstream media reporting is an “evasive term” and “how officials avoid putting their names on the assertions we are so strongly urged to accept.”

Some conservatives are already lauding Lawrance’s report and the work of VIPS as a final vindication of their skepticism. Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning, for example, issued the following statement Thursday:

If the whole premise of the [Special Counsel Robert] Mueller investigation, that Russia hacked the DNC emails interfering with the elections, is in fact false and it was a DNC insider as the Nation reports former NSA officials contending, there is simply no rationale for the special counsel to continue investigating the Russia angle. It is incumbent upon the Justice Department to determine and settle once and for all the true source of the DNC emails. The only prosecutions that can flow from that investigation must be of Obama administration officials who covered up the real facts surrounding the DNC emails, setting the nation off on this new red scare. If Mueller is unwilling to go where the evidence leads, in this case to the DNC itself and the Obama administration cover-up, then he is not fit to serve. In Mueller’s case, this is either obstruction or willful blindness.

As Breitbart News’s Joel Pollak wrote last month, the “DNC Hack,” now better known as the “DNC Leak,” the term originally used in these pages, is not the only pillar of the Russia collusion narrative to face collapse as the media hysteria passes its first anniversary. It became clear through the testimony of Investor William Browder that Fusion GPS, the research firm that assembled for a still unknown client the infamous, perverse 2016 dossier describing now-President Trump asking Russian prostitutes to urinate for his pleasure, had, in fact, worked for the Russian government in the past.

With actual evidence of Russian collusion with the Trump campaign now looking increasingly unlikely to come to light, there are increasing indications  Mueller’s investigation has shifted to looking for financial crimes allegedly committed by President Trump and his family long before and far outside the presidential campaign. The impact of the revelations unearthed by the VIPS team and The Nation on that investigation have yet to be seen.