Archive for the ‘Media and Russian hacking’ category

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.”

The Murder of Seth Rich – A Basic Primer for Corporate Media Hostages

May 30, 2017

The Murder of Seth Rich – A Basic Primer for Corporate Media Hostages, Canada Free Press, May 30, 2017

(I pondered for a while before posting this, but since the “Seth Rich conspiracy theory” has more basis than the “Trump is Putin’s puppy conspiracy theory,” I decided to post it for whatever it may be worth.

Had a Trump campaign official, who had favored one of Trump’s opponents, been murdered in comparable circumstances and alleged to have had damaging information about Trump, might the media and law enforcement officials have been more interested in having a complete investigation? Judicial Watch is now looking into the Seth Rich murder. — DM) 

This weekend, my neighbor asked me what I knew about the murder of Seth Rich. Instead of answering him, I asked him what he knew about it, which admittedly was not much. He only heard about it from a drive-by media report and couldn’t understand why a shooting during an “attempted robbery” almost a year ago in Washington, DC was being discussed.

It was then I realized that not everyone, even those seemingly knowledgeable about current events, understands the potential significance of this incident. It was then I decided to write this most basic report intended for those who are just learning of the murder of Seth Rich, and explain why it is of such importance.

I also hope to convey why there is such opposition to the investigation and discussion of this tragic event, and why there is such vitriol levied against anyone who is searching for answers to what many want to dismiss as a “botched robbery.”

The following is a very basic introduction of the case compiled from limited releases by official sources, my personal interviews with investigative journalists on my radio show, the Hagmann Report and my own investigation.  First, here are the most basic facts.

Subject & Incident Profile

Victim: Seth Conrad Rich
Address: 2113 1st St.
Washington, DC 20001

Age: 27 DOB:  1/3/1989
Prior Address: 1222 Euclid, Washington DC 20009
Employer: Democratic National Committee (DNC)
Position: Data Analyst
Parents: Joel & Mary Rich, Farnam St, Omaha, NE (Douglas County)
Date of Crime: 10 July 2016 Time: 0419 hours
Location of crime: Southwest corner of W Street & Flagler Place NW, Washington, DC
Incident Type:  GSW (Gunshot Wound(s)) – The victim was reportedly shot twice in the back with a small caliber handgun.

Metropolitan Police Public Incident Report (CCN #16113797; Issued 10 July 2016 at 0710):

“CIC reports the sound of gunshots at 2134 Flagler Pl. NW. Upon arriving to the scene, the decedent was laying in the Southwest corner of the intersection of W St. and Flagler Pl. NW. The decedent was conscious and breathing with apparent gunshot wound(s) to the back. The decedent was transported to local area hospital and was pronounced dead by attending physician at 0557 hours.”

The public incident report listed the following [capitals/punctuation in source document]:

Responding officer: Jody O’Leary (#7859) – MPD. Assisting officer: ROBERT WINGATE ROBINSON (#7634) (Body Worn Camera), Derek Tarr (#9237) (Other Officers At Scene): Shea Ellis (#9499) (Other Officers At Scene), Benjamin Velez (#6631) (Body Worn Camera), Mark Lee (#6141) (Body Worn Camera).

Motive for the shooting

The motive for the shooting, according to subsequent statements by or on behalf of the Metropolitan Police Department or the Rich family, was that the shooting was a “botched robbery” attempt. This despite that nothing was reportedly taken from the victim. The victim also reportedly sustained pre-mortem wounds to his face, hands and knees in what was described as defensive wounds.

Also according to reports, the victim was conscious upon the arrival of police, although he allegedly provided a previous address to authorities. It is unclear whether the responding officers, as is customary in a shooting, asked the victim who shot him or a description of the shooters. No BOLO alerts were sent out as a result of the initial contact with police.

The preceding information concludes the public information either provided by or admitted to by public officials. Numerous important factors and relationships have been left out by police and public officials.

Mr. Rich reportedly sustained two gunshot wounds from a small caliber handgun. One wound was alleged to be a “through and through” wound, while the other bullet reportedly struck his liver. He was transported to an unidentified hospital where he allegedly died a few hours later.

His murder might have gone as just another statistic and testament to the violence that plagues our inner cities, except for nagging questions about the activities of Seth Rich prior to his murder, combined with other oddities that involve departure from standard operating procedure by the MPD.

On March 17, 2017, GOP lobbyist Jack Burkman announced the creation of the Profile Project and announced a $105,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the Rich murder. As reported by investigative journalist Liz Crokin, Burkman is now claiming that the MPD is thwarting his efforts through non-cooperation.

While other people and groups have added to the reward that now totals well over a quarter of a million dollars, conspicuously absent is his own employer – the DNC.

In the face of accusations of departure from police department SOP and other oddities, the Rich family spokesman, Brad Bauman, has been vitriolic in his condemnation of anyone asking questions about the murder of Seth Rich.

Family spokesman Brad Bauman happens to be a Public Relations crisis manager with the Pastorum Group in Washington, D.C., a firm with progressive ties. In his role as a communications consultant, Bauman offers “strategic communications advice to Democratic candidates and labor unions,” according to his public profile page on LinkedIn.

The real problems with this case, however, have yet to be addressed.

Trouble at the DNC

In the matter of the murder of Seth Conrad Rich, the core issue exists in the growing body of evidence that strongly indicates that Mr. Rich, though his position as a data analyst at the DNC during a hotly contested primary election, might have discovered fraudulent and perhaps criminal activity that could affect the outcome of the party nomination (from Bernie Sanders to Hillary Rodham Clinton).

Subsequent reports verified that Seth Rich was an ardent supporter of then-DNC candidate Bernie Sanders. By virtue of his job description, Rich was positioned to have access to data that could prove poll tampering in favor of Clinton. Concurrently, his importance to anyone conspiring to maintain the specific narrative of foreign interference rose exponentially, if not unexpectedly, should his alleged discovery be exposed. Should such alleged tampering be made public, it would obviously have devastating consequences to those “fixing” the polls.

Accordingly, Mr. Rich might well have found himself in a very lonely and unenviable position of possessing information which, at the very least, is vital to the integrity of our election process. Specifically, this information would be most problematic for those conspiring to assure the party nomination of Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Democratic primaries.

This situation is further clouded and exacerbated by constant media allegations of “hacks” of our election process by foreign entities, specifically the Russians, which has become and continues to be the official account of the DNC and supporters of Hillary Clinton. While these alleged hacks reportedly both pre-date and postdate the murder of Seth Rich, he has nonetheless become a key subject of interest due to his position with the Democratic National Committee and the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election.

It is important to note that on June 14, 2016, about a month before Seth Rich was murdered, The Washington Post reported that “Russian hackers” obtained DNC communications, and reportedly had access to DNC computers for approximately one year before discovery and lockdown. It is also vital to note that this information did not come from the FBI or any law enforcement agency of the United States government, but from the private cyber security firm CrowdStrike, which was called in to handle the DNC breach despite the FBI offering its services which were curiously rejected.

These odd rejections were verified by former FBI Director James Comey himself during his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on January 10, 2017. Comey testified that the FBI made multiple requests, but was denied direct access to the Democratic National Committee’s email servers and other “hacked devices” as part of its probe of Russian hacking.

It was within this environment of alleged poll fixing and reports of Russian intrusion into the DNC computers that Seth Rich found himself. Having direct access to the DNC computers and perhaps finding irregularities that could impact the outcome of the primaries, it is conceivable that Seth Rich might have been long on critical information but short on trusted friends.

Anyone who has spent any time in Washington knows that trust within the beltway is a rare commodity. Consider then, the predicament of a young man from Nebraska at the moment he realizes that he possesses evidence of fraudulent and criminal activity at the highest levels of the DNC.

Seth Rich & Wikileaks

For the last decade, Wikileaks has existed and received millions of leaked documents that exposed, among many things, the machinations of the powerful and those in power. The methods used to provide information to Wikileaks have consisted of electronic transfer as well as the transfer of information through handoffs of portable storage devices.

Is it possible that Seth Rich reached out to Wikileaks to expose the possible and alleged fraud within the DNC?

According to published reports by at least two sources, the answer is yes. One source is Rod Wheeler, the DC private investigator hired by a representative of the Rich family to investigate his murder. Another is the infamous hacker Kim-Dot-Com. One might also consider Julian Assange of Wikileaks himself, although not directly, but by his offering a $25,000 reward on August 9, 2016, less than one month after Seth Rich was murdered.

Considered in totality, there appears to be sufficient circumstantial evidence to suggest that Seth Rich did, in fact, communicate with Wikileaks at some point prior to his murder. Direct evidence in the form of forensic analysis of his computer devices and cell phones, however is presently non-existent. Why? There appears to be a problem locating his electronic devices, as both the DC police and the FBI deny custody.

The Russian Conspiracy Theory

The primary component that is used to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election of Donald Trump is foreign interference of our election process, specifically by Russia. To this day, this unproven conspiracy theory is repeated ad nauseum by the corporate media without any authenticated proof from any government law enforcement agency.

The primary source of this narrative is the private cyber security firm CrowdStrike as referenced by the June 14, 2016 report in The Washington Post and picked up by other media outlets. CrowdStrike was hired and paid for by the DNC in June 2016, essentially making the Russian hacking account a paid product of the DNC.

All told, there were at least four-(4) separate hacks into the DNC computers: the Democratic Caucus “hack(s),” the Podesta email “hack(s),” the DNC “hack(s)” and the Clinton Foundation “hack(s).” Included in the above is the strange account of the Awan brothers, three highly-paid Pakistani nationals who were employed as IT specialists shared among House Democrats. Working under Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, the Awan brothers are at the center of controversy in a series of thefts discovered early this year.

Also overlapping this period was the FBI investigation into the handling of classified emails by Hillary Rodham Clinton and staff. On July 5, 2016, FBI Director James Comey held a press conference at the conclusion of his investigation, where he accused Clinton of serious mishandling of classified information contained in emails and computer documents, but stopped short of recommending any referrals to the Department of Justice.

As one can see, there exist numerous problems with computer security, both party data and government equipment and information. The Seth Rich case, however, surrounds the DNC polling data that might have given the party’s nomination to Hillary Clinton rather than Bernie Sanders.

The importance of exposing the information possessed by Seth Rich is two-fold and very significant. Obviously, it would expose the false Russian hacking narrative that has been used to delegitimize the Presidency of Donald Trump, and also expose the “rigging” of the DNC nomination process.

Just the Beginning

There is more – much more – about this. There is much more information that will break this week about this case. For now, however, I am going to print this explanation for my neighbor, who is a hostage of the corporate media.

Perhaps this will help your neighbor when the murder of Seth Rich arises in conversation in the coming days. And I suspect it will.

 

Hmmm: FBI, CIA never examined DNC servers?

January 5, 2017

Hmmm: FBI, CIA never examined DNC servers?, Hot Air, Ed Morrissey, January 5, 2017

Never? Not once? The FBI has consistently asserted that the hack of the Democratic National Committee was an operation linked to the Russian government, even if they were less convinced that the Russians wanted to elect Donald Trump as a result. Last night, however, BuzzFeed’s Ali Watkins reported that the DNC has told her that the FBI never requested access to their servers, nor has any other government agency. Instead, they relied on a report from a private vendor:

The FBI did not examine the servers of the Democratic National Committee before issuing a report attributing the sweeping cyberintrusion to Russia-backed hackers, BuzzFeed News has learned.

Six months after the FBI first said it was investigating the hack of the Democratic National Committee’s computer network, the bureau has still not requested access to the hacked servers, a DNC spokesman said. No US government entity has run an independent forensic analysis on the system, one US intelligence official told BuzzFeed News.

“The DNC had several meetings with representatives of the FBI’s Cyber Division and its Washington (DC) Field Office, the Department of Justice’s National Security Division, and U.S. Attorney’s Offices, and it responded to a variety of requests for cooperation, but the FBI never requested access to the DNC’s computer servers,” Eric Walker, the DNC’s deputy communications director, told BuzzFeed News in an email.

So who did check out the hacked servers? The DNC brought in a well-respected outfit called Crowdstrike to check out their systems, and it was Crowdstrike that concluded that the DNC was the victim of a Russian-government hack. “Crowdstrike is pretty good,” Watkins’ intel-community source told her, adding that they had no reason to believe that Crowdstrike got it wrong.

As pretty good as Crowdstrike might be, cyberattacks are federal crimes. Add to that the espionage implications involved with a hostile government intrusion, and this story doesn’t add up at all. This kind of crime should have had the FBI seizing the evidence and creating a chain of evidence in order to build a case should the opportunity for prosecution arise. The CIA and/or the NSA should have conducted their own probe of the servers to check for potential means to track back the attacks. Those are fairly obvious first steps to take under any circumstances, let alone the highly public circumstances of these hacks both then and over the last several weeks.

One could assert that political organizations might not be too comfortable having law-enforcement and intelligence agencies delving into their communications, and for good reason. However, the communications got released to the public anyway, so that’s a bit like locking the barn door after the horse has bolted. Certainly the DNC should have gotten over that last shred of modesty by then, and the FBI and intelligence community should have been eager to get their hands on the hardware. And yet, they still haven’t done so to this day, according to BuzzFeed. Hmmmmm.

It’s curious, and this report from Reuters is even more curious:

U.S. intelligence agencies obtained what they considered to be conclusive evidence after the November election that Russia provided hacked material from the Democratic National Committee to WikiLeaks through a third party, three U.S. officials said on Wednesday.

U.S. officials had concluded months earlier that Russian intelligence agencies had directed the hacking, but had been less certain that they could prove Russia also had controlled the release of information damaging to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

The timing of the additional intelligence is important because U.S. President Barack Obama has faced criticism from his own party over why it took his administration months to respond to the cyber attack. U.S. Senate and House leaders, including prominent Republicans, have also called for an inquiry.

Well, isn’t that convenient timing. Put these two stories together, and it appears that the intelligence and law-enforcement communities didn’t take a very strong interest in chasing down evidence until after the election, too. That doesn’t mean the Russians weren’t behind it all — that still seems more likely than not — but it sure makes it look like the Obama administration, FBI, and the intelligence community didn’t care about it enough to act until the results of the election embarrassed the White House.

Remember when the Russians Hacked the White House’s Computers?

December 12, 2016

Remember when the Russians Hacked the White House’s Computers? Power Line, John Hinderaker, December 11, 2016

Now, the same news outlets that refused to cover the Russian government’s hacking into White House and State Department computers and email systems try to tell us that an intrusion into Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s and John Podesta’s email accounts by someone–allegedly the same Russian government–is a story of world-historical importance. What a load of bulls–t.

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You probably don’t. We broke the story on Power Line in October 2014, writing about it here, here, here, here, here and here. The White House’s computers were down for weeks because of the intrusion by a “foreign power,” which the administration finally identified as Russia. It wasn’t just the White House, either; it was the entire Executive Office of the President, which comprises a good chunk of the executive branch. Nor was that all: the State Department’s computer system was hacked, too.

While we pounded away at the story, the White House refused to respond to our inquiries. The Washington press corps, which must have known that the White House’s computers were out of action, maintained a discreet silence, declining to write about the Russian hack, even though many D.C. reporters no doubt followed the story on Power Line. Why the coy silence? Because it was October 2014, weeks before the midterm elections, and the story reflected poorly on the Obama administration, which didn’t even discover the intrusion itself. It turned out that American officials were alerted to the Russian hack of the White House and State Department by an unidentified ally (I’m guessing Israel).

Only when the election was safely over did news outlets like CNN report the story (“How the U.S. thinks Russians hacked the White House”). Throughout, the Obama administration minimized the story, claiming that no harm was done and only unclassified material was accessed–an excuse that, as CNN wrote post-election, “belies the seriousness of the intrusion.”

Now, the same news outlets that refused to cover the Russian government’s hacking into White House and State Department computers and email systems try to tell us that an intrusion into Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s and John Podesta’s email accounts by someone–allegedly the same Russian government–is a story of world-historical importance. What a load of bulls–t.