Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #917 WikiFascism, Part #4: Weighing In for the Trumpenkampfverbande (Technocratic Fascism in Action)

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This broad­cast was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment.

Lee Harvey Oswald: Ersatz Communist

Lee Har­vey Oswald: Ersatz Com­mu­nist

Intro­duc­tion: In FTR #‘s 724, 725, 732, 745 and 755, we have detailed the fas­cist and far right-wing ide­ol­o­gy, asso­ci­a­tions and pol­i­tics of Julian Assange and Wik­iLeaks.

Lion­ized by the so-called pro­gres­sive sec­tor, as well as main­stream media sources like The New York Times and Der Spiegel, Assange’s true col­ors and fas­cist pol­i­tics and asso­ci­a­tions have emerged on a larg­er stage.

As the Trump cam­paign evolves, a major alliance between “The Don­ald’s” Trumpenkampfver­bande and the Assange orga­ni­za­tion has devel­oped. Obvi­ous­ly serv­ing as a dirty-tricks cadre for the GOP, Assange is work­ing hard to destroy Hillary Clin­ton with leaked doc­u­ments intend­ed to tor­pe­do her cam­paign.

Is this Julian Assange?

Is this Julian Assange?

Assange–not even an Amer­i­can citizen–is man­i­fest­ing what we termed “tech­no­crat­ic fas­cism,” arro­gat­ing to him­self the right to deter­mine the results of the Amer­i­can Pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. Quot­ing from a sem­i­nal arti­cle by David Golum­bia: ” . . . Hack­ers (“civic,” “eth­i­cal,” “white” and “black” hat alike), hack­tivists, Wik­iLeaks fans [and Julian Assange et al–D. E.], Anony­mous “mem­bers,” even Edward Snow­den him­self walk hand-in-hand with Face­book and Google in telling us that coders don’t just have good things to con­tribute to the polit­i­cal world, but that the polit­i­cal world is theirs to do with what they want, and the rest of us should stay out of it: the polit­i­cal world is bro­ken, they appear to think (right­ly, at least in part), and the solu­tion to that, they think (wrong­ly, at least for the most part), is for pro­gram­mers to take polit­i­cal mat­ters into their own hands. . . .”

Begin­ning with analy­sis of the alleged Russ­ian author­ship of the hack of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee on the eve of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Con­ven­tion in July, we high­light dis­turb­ing indi­ca­tions that the hack is actu­al­ly a false flag oper­a­tion, set­ting the stage for some very dan­ger­ous devel­op­ments.

In that con­text, we recall that one of the terms we have applied to Edward Snow­den is “The Obverse Oswald.”  We strong­ly sus­pect that Snow­den, in Rus­sia and work­ing for a com­put­er firm, may have had some­thing to do with this.

The (frankly lame) fram­ing of Rus­sia for the DNC hack reminds us of the process of “paint­ing Oswald Red.” We have cov­ered this in numer­ous broad­casts, includ­ing The Guns of Novem­ber, Part 1AFA #15 and FTR #‘s 777 and 876. (An excel­lent book on the JFK assas­si­na­tion that presents an excel­lent break­down of “the paint­ing of Oswald Red” is JFK and the Unspeak­able: Why He Died and Why It Mat­ters.)

Much of the broad­cast high­lights Wik­iLeaks’ efforts on behalf of the Trump cam­paign, detail­ing aspects of Assange’s pre­sen­ta­tion of Hillary Clin­ton’s e‑mails.

We note the pow­er­ful res­o­nance between Assange’s pre­sen­ta­tions and ele­ments of major right-wing attacks on Clin­ton.

Assange/WikiLeaks’ points of attack on Hillary Clin­ton:

  • Focus on the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion, syn­chro­niz­ing with Koch broth­ers’ pro­tege Peter Schweiz­er’s book Clin­ton Cash.
  • Imply that Clin­ton mur­dered a DNC vol­un­teer named Seth Rich. Trump dirty tricks spe­cial­ist Roger Stone is writ­ing a book blam­ing the Clin­tons for mur­der­ing JFK, Jr.–Hillary the mur­der­er!
  • Oblique­ly endorse Don­ald Trump.
  • Dis­close the Social Secu­ri­ty and cred­it card num­bers of Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty con­trib­u­tors, open­ing them up to ret­ri­bu­tion. Stone threat­ened to dis­close the hotel room num­bers of anti-Trump GOP del­e­gates, imply­ing that they could be sub­ject to vio­lence. The Wik­iLeaks Clin­ton e‑mail dump: ” . . . .  The emails include unen­crypt­ed, plain-text list­ings of donor emails address­es, home address­es, phone num­bers, social secu­ri­ty num­bers, pass­port num­bers, and cred­it card infor­ma­tion. Wik­iLeaks proud­ly announced the data dump in a sin­gle tweet. . . .” Might this have had some­thing to do with the mur­der of Seth Rich?
  • Are appar­ent­ly being con­duct­ed in con­cert with Roger Stone, with whom Assange is appar­ent­ly in con­tact!

Fur­ther devel­op­ing the right-wing, fas­cist and anti-Semit­ic aspects of Assange/WikiLeaks, we note that Assange respond­ed to crit­ics of his efforts against Clin­ton and on behalf of Trump/Stone with an anti-Semit­ic tweet.

Among Assange’s cham­pi­ons are the fas­cist Nation­al front in France and the U.K. Inde­pen­dence Par­ty, which may well have set the stage for the frag­men­ta­tion of Great Britain with the Brex­it cam­paign.

It would come as a dis­taste­ful sur­prise to the Bernie Sanders crowd, to whom Assange has catered, to learn that Assange is a cham­pi­on of free-mar­ket eco­nom­ics, syn­the­siz­ing the Chica­go and Aus­tri­an schools of eco­nom­ics.

Much of the lat­ter part of the broad­cast reviews infor­ma­tion about Assange, Snow­den and Cit­i­zen Green­wald’s right-wing and fas­cist man­i­fes­ta­tions.

Pro­gram High­lights Include:

  • Com­par­i­son of the racist rhetoric of Snow­den and Assange Pres­i­den­tial can­di­date of choice Ron Paul with that of Don­ald Trump.
  • Cit­i­zen Green­wald’s anti-immi­grant rhetoric.
  • Review of the back-cov­er pro­mo­tion of Ser­pen­t’s Walk in the con­text of the Trump cam­paign.
  • A bul­let-point analy­sis that con­nects many of the dots in this con­cate­na­tion.

1. An inter­est­ing piece by Dr. San­dro Gay­ck­en, a Berlin-based for­mer ‘hack­tivist’ who now advis­es NATO and the Ger­man gov­ern­ment on cyber-secu­ri­ty mat­ters, makes the case that the evi­dence impli­cat­ing Rus­sia was very much the type of evi­dence a tal­ent­ed team could spoof. He also notes that some of the tools used in the hack were the same used last year when Angela Merkel’s com­put­er was hacked and used to infect oth­er com­put­ers at the Bun­destag. That hack was also blamed on Russ­ian hack­ers. But, again, as the arti­cle below points out, when the evi­dence for who is respon­si­ble is high­ly spoofa­ble, con­fi­dent­ly assign­ing blame is almost too easy:

 “Blam­ing Rus­sia For the DNC Hack Is Almost Too Easy” by Dr. San­dro Gay­ck­en; Coun­cil on For­eign Rela­tions Blog; 8/01/2016.

Dr. San­dro Gay­ck­en is the Direc­tor of the Dig­i­tal Soci­ety Insti­tute, a for­mer hack­tivist, and a strate­gic advi­sor to NATO, some Ger­man DAX-com­pa­nies and the Ger­man gov­ern­ment on cyber mat­ters.

The hack of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee (DNC) def­i­nite­ly looks Russ­ian. The evi­dence is com­pelling. The tools used in the inci­dent appeared in pre­vi­ous cas­es of alleged Russ­ian espi­onage, some of which appeared in the Ger­man Bun­destag hack. The attack­ers, dubbed Cozy Bear and Fan­cy Bear, have been known for years and have long been rumored to have a Russ­ian con­nec­tion. Oth­er indi­ca­tors such as IP address­es, lan­guage and loca­tion set­tings in the doc­u­ments’ meta­da­ta and code com­pi­la­tion point to Rus­sia. The Krem­lin is also known to prac­tice influ­ence oper­a­tions, and a leak before the Democ­rats’ con­ven­tion fits that pro­file as does laun­der­ing the infor­ma­tion through a third par­ty like Wik­ileaks. Final­ly, the cui bono makes sense as well; Rus­sia may favor Don­ald Trump giv­en his Putin-friend­ly state­ments and his views on NATO.

Alto­geth­er, it looks like a clean-cut case. But before accus­ing a nuclear pow­er like Rus­sia of inter­fer­ing in a U.S. elec­tion, these argu­ments should be thor­ough­ly and skep­ti­cal­ly scru­ti­nized.

A crit­i­cal look expos­es the sig­nif­i­cant flaws in the attri­bu­tion. First, all of the tech­ni­cal evi­dence can be spoofed. Although some argue that spoof­ing the mound of uncov­ered evi­dence is too much work, it can eas­i­ly be done by a small team of good attack­ers in three or four days. Sec­ond, the tools used by Cozy Bear appeared on the black mar­ket when they were first dis­cov­ered years ago and have been recy­cled and used against many oth­er tar­gets, includ­ing against Ger­man indus­try. The reuse and fine-tun­ing of exist­ing mal­ware hap­pens all the time. Third, the lan­guage, loca­tion set­tings, and com­pi­la­tion meta­da­ta can eas­i­ly be altered by chang­ing basic set­tings on the attacker’s com­put­er in five min­utes with­out the need of spe­cial knowl­edge. None of the tech­ni­cal evi­dence is con­vinc­ing. It would only be con­vinc­ing if the attack­ers used entire­ly nov­el, unique, and sophis­ti­cat­ed tools with unmis­tak­able indi­ca­tors point­ing to Rus­sia sup­port­ed by human intel­li­gence, not by mal­ware analy­sis.

The DNC attack­ers also had very poor, almost com­i­cal, oper­a­tional secu­ri­ty (OPSEC). State actors tend to have a qual­i­ty assur­ance review when devel­op­ing cyber­at­tack tools to min­i­mize the risk of dis­cov­ery and leav­ing obvi­ous crumbs behind. Russ­ian intel­li­gence ser­vices are espe­cial­ly good. They are high­ly capa­ble, tac­ti­cal­ly and strate­gi­cal­ly agile, and ratio­nal. They ensure that offen­sive tools are tai­lored and pro­por­tion­ate to the sig­nal they want to send, the pos­si­bil­i­ty of dis­clo­sure and pub­lic per­cep­tion, and the odds of esca­la­tion. The shod­dy OPSEC just doesn’t fit what we know about Russ­ian intel­li­gence.

The claim that Guc­cifer 2.0 is a Russ­ian false flag oper­a­tion may not hold up either. If Rus­sia want­ed to cov­er up the fact it had hacked the DNC, why cre­ate a pseu­do­nym that could only attract more atten­tion and pub­lish emails? Dump­ing a trove of doc­u­ments all at once is less valu­able than cher­ry pick­ing the most dam­ag­ing infor­ma­tion and strate­gi­cal­ly leak­ing it in a craft­ed and tar­get­ed fash­ion, as the FSB, SVR or GRU have prob­a­bly done in the past. Also, leak­ing to Wik­ileaks isn’t hard. They have a sub­mis­sion form.

Giv­en these argu­ments, blam­ing Rus­sia is not a slam dunk. Why would a coun­try with some of the best intel­li­gence ser­vices in the world com­mit a whole series of real­ly stu­pid mis­takes in a high­ly sen­si­tive oper­a­tion? Why pick a tar­get that has a strong chance of lead­ing to esca­la­to­ry activ­i­ty when Rus­sia is known to pre­fer incre­men­tal actions over dras­tic ones? Why go through the trou­ble of a false flag when doing noth­ing would have been arguably bet­ter? Last­ly, how does Rus­sia ben­e­fit from pub­licly back­ing Don­ald Trump giv­en that Repub­li­cans have been skep­ti­cal of improv­ing rela­tions?

The evi­dence and infor­ma­tion in the pub­lic domain strong­ly sug­gests Rus­sia was behind the DNC hack, even though Russ­ian intel­li­gence ser­vices would have had the choice of not mak­ing it so clear cut giv­en what we know about their tools, tac­tics, pro­ce­dures, and think­ing.

The DNC hack leads to at least four “what if” ques­tions, each with its own sig­nif­i­cant pol­i­cy con­se­quences. First, if Rus­sia had poor oper­a­tional secu­ri­ty and mis­judged its tar­get, it needs to be edu­cat­ed about the sen­si­tiv­i­ty of cer­tain tar­gets in its favorite adver­sary coun­tries to avoid a repeat of this dis­as­ter. Sec­ond, if Rus­sia delib­er­ate­ly hacked the DNC to leak con­fi­den­tial infor­ma­tion, it would rep­re­sent a strate­gic esca­la­tion on behalf of the Krem­lin and the world would need to pre­pare for dif­fi­cult times ahead. Third, if the breach and leak were per­pe­trat­ed by a bunch of ran­dom activists using the pseu­do­nym “Guc­cifer 2.0“, it would be the first instance of non-state actors suc­ceed­ing in cre­at­ing a glob­al inci­dent with severe strate­gic impli­ca­tions, demand­ing more con­trol of such enti­ties and a much bet­ter design of esca­la­to­ry process­es among nations. Final­ly, it is entire­ly pos­si­ble that this was a false flag oper­a­tion by an unknown third par­ty to esca­late ten­sions between nuclear super­pow­ers. If this is the case, this par­ty has to be uncov­ered. . . .

2. More about cyber-secu­ri­ty experts who view the “Russ­ian intel­li­gence” hack­ing of DNC com­put­ers as sus­pi­cious­ly trans­par­ent:

“Rus­sia Want­ed to Be Caught, Says Com­pa­ny Wag­ing War on the DNC Hack­ers” by Patrick Tuck­er; Defense One; 7/28/2016.

. . . . But secu­ri­ty expert Jeff Carr thought the smoke off this smok­ing-gun was a bit too thick. In his minor­i­ty report, he asks: what kind of spy ring tags their stolen docs before releas­ing them under a cov­er?

“Raise your hand if you think that a GRU or FSB offi­cer would add Iron Felix’s name to the meta­da­ta of a stolen doc­u­ment before he released it to the world while pre­tend­ing to be a Roman­ian hack­er. Some­one clear­ly had a wicked sense of humor,” he wrote. . . . .

. . . . Crowd­strike pres­i­dent Shawn Hen­ry is dubi­ous. “I don’t know what kind of for­eign intel­li­gence ser­vice con­duct­ing a covert oper­a­tion wants to be found,” he said on Thurs­day, but added that Crowd­Strike picked up the DNC hack with­in 48 hours and that it “wasn’t dif­fi­cult.” . . . .

3a. Check out the lat­est mem­ber of Don­ald Trump’s oppo­si­tion research team. It’s an infor­mal mem­ber­ship:

“Wik­iLeaks Will Release New Clin­ton Emails to Add to Incrim­i­nat­ing Evi­dence, Julian Assange Says, in ‘Big Year Ahead’ ” by Ben Nor­ton; Salon; 6/14/2016.

Assange says the gov­ern­ment like­ly won’t indict “war hawk” Hillary Clin­ton, but it has more than enough evi­dence

Julian Assange, edi­tor-in chief of Wik­iLeaks, says the whis­tle-blow­ing jour­nal­ism orga­ni­za­tion will soon be pub­lish­ing unre­leased emails from Hillary Clin­ton.

Clin­ton, the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty pres­i­den­tial front-run­ner, has been under crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion by the FBI for using a per­son­al email account on a pri­vate serv­er in her home that con­tained top-secret infor­ma­tion.

Assange doesn’t believe that Clin­ton will be indict­ed, but argues that the gov­ern­ment has more than enough evi­dence, in both her emails and in the deal­ings of the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion, if it were tru­ly com­mit­ted to doing so.

“We have upcom­ing leaks in rela­tion to Hillary Clin­ton,” Assange said. “Wik­iLeaks has a very big year ahead.” . . . .

3b. Behold the lat­est chap­ter in Julian Assange’s quest to get Don­ald Trump elect­ed Pres­i­dent: Wik­iLeaks just released a new search­able data­base of Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee emails. Since the data­base con­sists of 19,252 emails so, as you can imag­ine, there’s quite a bit of con­tent avail­able to the pub­lic. Con­tent like inno­cent donors’ cred­it card, social secu­ri­ty, and pass­port num­bers:

“Wik­iLeaks Just Pub­lished Tons of Cred­it Card and Social Secu­ri­ty Num­bers” by Michael Nunez; Giz­mo­do; 7/22/2016.

. . . . But not always.The orga­ni­za­tion has also used that tra­di­tion of trans­paren­cy for less just caus­es, like today when the site pub­lished 19,252 emails from top US Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee mem­bers,many of which includ­ed per­son­al infor­ma­tion about inno­cent donors includ­ing cred­it card, social secu­ri­ty num­bers, and pass­port num­bers.

If you vis­it the Wik­iLeaks DNC emails web­site, you can browse the emails using a sim­ple boolean search.Typ­ing a word like “con­tri­bu­tion” will actu­al­ly turn up hun­dreds of results. The emails include unen­crypt­ed, plain-text list­ings of donor emails address­es, home address­es, phone num­bers, social secu­ri­ty num­bers, pass­port num­bers, and cred­it card infor­ma­tion. Wik­iLeaks proud­ly announced the data dump in a sin­gle tweet. . . .

The new leak is part of the organization’s ongo­ing Hillary Leaks series, which launched in March as a search­able archive of more than 30,000 emails and attach­ments sent to and from Clinton’s pri­vate email serv­er, while she was Sec­re­tary of State. The orig­i­nal email dump includ­ed doc­u­ments from June 2010 to August 2014. The new release includes emails from Jan­u­ary 2015 to May 2016. . . .

3c.While Assange hasn’t come out and endorsed Trump yet, he def­i­nite­ly doesn’t seem very keen on crit­i­ciz­ing him:

“Hillary Clin­ton FBI Inves­ti­ga­tion: Enough Evi­dence of an Indict­ment, But More Emails Com­ing, Wik­ileaks Founder Julian Assange Claims” by Robert Jonathan; The Inquisitr; 6/13/2016.

. . . . Against this back­drop, Peston won­dered if Assange would pre­fer that Don­ald Trump, the GOP pre­sump­tive nom­i­nee, wins the White House in Novem­ber. . . .
“Trump is a com­plete­ly unpre­dictable phenomenon—you can’t pre­dict what he would do in office . . .

3d. Don­ald Trump once again is hint­ing at vio­lence as the solu­tion to a Hillary Clin­ton pres­i­den­cy along with Roger Stone sug­gest­ing that the elec­tion will be rigged and the gov­ern­ment invalid and Julian Assange mak­ing it clear that he wants to do what­ev­er he can to ensure Hillary Clin­ton los­es and has more doc­u­ments that he’s sit­ting on for the right “Octo­ber Sur­prise” moment to polit­i­cal­ly dam­age her, it’s prob­a­bly worth not­ing that Roger Stone just claimed he’s in con­tact with Assange.

Wik­ileaks is now clear­ly work­ing as the unof­fi­cial hack­ing squad for the Trump campaign’s dirty tricks team. It makes sense that Assange would be in com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the campaign’s unof­fi­cial dirty tricks orga­niz­er.

Stone is a mas­ter dirty trickster,with a track record going back to the Nixon cam­paign. What specif­i­cal­ly is Stone rec­om­mend­ing to Assange regard­ing the nature and tim­ing of planned leaks. Is Wik­ileaks going to try and help Trump trig­ger a bloody ‘Amer­i­can Spring’ this Fall? Now that the Trump campaign’s cen­tral strat­e­gy appears to be pre­emp­tive­ly dele­git­imiz­ing a Clin­ton pres­i­den­cy and/or prep­ping the Trump base for acts of polit­i­cal vio­lence it’s a pret­ty big ques­tion.

“Roger Stone Claims He’s In Touch With Wik­ileaks’ Assange About Clin­ton Emails” by Alle­gra Kirk­land; Talk­ing Points Memo Livewire; 8/9/2016.

Long­time Don­ald Trump ally Roger Stone claimed on Mon­day that he was in touch with the founder of Wik­ileaks about doc­u­ments the orga­ni­za­tion plans to release to derail Hillary Clinton’s cam­paign.

Dur­ing a Mon­day speech to the South­west Broward Repub­li­can Orga­ni­za­tion, Stone was asked for his “fore­cast” on what the “Octo­ber sur­prise” Wik­ileaks founder Julian Assange had promised to reveal about Clin­ton may be.

“Well, it could be any num­ber of things,” Stone said, accord­ing to video of his remarks obtained by Media Mat­ters. “I actu­al­ly have com­mu­ni­cat­ed with Assange. I believe the next tranche of his doc­u­ments per­tain to the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion but there’s no telling what the Octo­ber sur­prise may be.”

These remarks fly in the face of Stone and oth­er Trump allies’ repeat­ed claims that the gen­er­al elec­tion results may be “rigged” in Clinton’s favor. . . .

. . . . Since late July, Stone has pushed the claim that a Clin­ton vic­to­ry could only result from a “rigged” elec­tion sys­tem that favored her cam­paign. “If there’s vot­er fraud, this elec­tion will be ille­git­i­mate, the elec­tion of the win­ner will be ille­git­i­mate, we will have a con­sti­tu­tion­al cri­sis, wide­spread civ­il dis­obe­di­ence, and the gov­ern­ment will no longer be the gov­ern­ment,” Stone said in a pod­cast with Breitbart’s Milo Yiannopou­los, despite the over­whelm­ing evi­dence that vot­er fraud is vir­tu­al­ly nonex­is­tent in the Unit­ed States. . . .

3e. Assange strong­ly hint­ed that the source for the DNC hacks was Seth Rich, a recent­ly mur­dered young DNC staffer. Also, Wik­ileaks just offered $20,000 for any­one with infor­ma­tion on Rich’s mur­der. The Trump is–not surprisingly–endorsing this.

Rich’s fam­i­ly is on record as urg­ing that Assange’s inu­en­dos not be tak­en seri­ous­ly.

“Wik­iLeaks Is Fan­ning a Con­spir­a­cy The­o­ry That Hillary Mur­dered a DNC Staffer” by Jere­my Stahl; Slate; 8/09/2015.

Julian Assange and his Wik­iLeaks orga­ni­za­tion appear to be active­ly encour­ag­ing a con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry that a Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee staffer was mur­dered for nefar­i­ous polit­i­cal pur­pos­es, per­haps by Hillary Clin­ton.

Seth Rich was killed last month in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., in an ear­ly morn­ing shoot­ing that police have spec­u­lat­ed was a failed rob­bery. Because Rich did vot­er out­reach for the DNC and because we live in a ridicu­lous world, con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists have glommed on to a fan­tas­ti­cal sto­ry that Rich was an FBI infor­mant meet­ing with pur­port­ed agents who were actu­al­ly a hit team sent by Hillary Clin­ton. There is of course absolute­ly zero evi­dence for this and Snopes has issued a com­pre­hen­sive debunk­ing of the premise (Rich is only 27 and has only worked at the DNC since 2014 so is unlike­ly to be in pos­ses­sion of infor­ma­tion that might take down Clin­ton, he was on the phone with his girl­friend at the time of the shoot­ing and she hasn’t report­ed any FBI meet­ing, there have been a string of rob­beries in the area, an FBI ren­dezvous at 4 a.m. only hap­pens in movies, the whole thing is bat­shit crazy, etc.)

The fact that the idea is so absurd, though, has not stopped Assange from sug­gest­ing that Rich was mur­dered for nefar­i­ous polit­i­cal pur­pos­es either because he was an infor­mant for the FBI or because he may have been a source in last month’s Wik­iLeaks release of thou­sands of DNC emails. In an inter­view on Tues­day that was picked up by BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczyn­s­ki, Assange seemed to lend cre­dence to the idea that Rich had been retal­i­at­ed against.

“Wik­iLeaks nev­er sits on mate­r­i­al. Whistle­blow­ers go to sig­nif­i­cant efforts to get us mate­r­i­al and often very sig­nif­i­cant risks,” Assange said in an inter­view with the Dutch tele­vi­sion pro­gram Nieuw­su­ur. “There’s a 27-year-old who works for the DNC who was shot in the back, mur­dered, just a few weeks ago, for unknown rea­sons as he was walk­ing down the streets in Wash­ing­ton.”

When Assange was ques­tioned as to what the hell he was talk­ing about, he said, “I’m sug­gest­ing that our sources take risks and they are—they become con­cerned to see things occur­ring like that.”

The impli­ca­tion here is that either Assange’s sources are fear­ful that Rich might have been a whistle­blow­er to the FBI or some­one else and was tak­en out by Clin­ton or others—as the con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry suggests—or that he was a whistle­blow­er for Assange’s group and was mur­dered because of that.

When the inter­view­er asked Assange if he was imply­ing that Rich was a Wik­iLeaks source, he said, “We don’t com­ment on who our sources are.”

On Tues­day, Wik­iLeaks sent out a tweet offer­ing a $20,000 reward for infor­ma­tion about Rich’s mur­der. . . .

4. With ‘acci­den­tal­ly’ tweet­ing neo-Nazi memes the hot new thing in 2016 thanks to the Don­ald Trump cam­paign, it looks like one of Trump’s unof­fi­cial cam­paign sur­ro­gates decid­ed to get ‘acci­den­tal­ly’ trendy:

“Wik­ileaks Denies Anti-Semi­tism over (((echoes))) Tweet” by Chris Tog­not­ti; The Dai­ly Dot; 7/24/2016.

If any one form of dis­crim­i­na­to­ry social media expres­sion has been on the rise in recent months, it’s been anti-Semi­tism.

The Don­ald Trump pres­i­den­tial campaign’s well-doc­u­ment­ed white nation­al­ist and Neo-Nazi fol­low­ing con­tin­ues to bring such hatred to the fore­front. Trump him­self had even retweet­ed things from mem­bers of the “white geno­cide” move­ment, and in June, the cam­paign tweet­ed out an anti-Semit­ic meme that orig­i­nat­ed from the alt-right fever swamps of social media.

On Sat­ur­day, a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent orga­ni­za­tion seemed to dip its toes in those waters, too. Wik­ileaks start­ed tweet­ing about (((echoes))), and it’s gen­er­at­ed a great amount of con­tro­ver­sy.

It’s one of the increas­ing­ly well-known meth­ods of harass­ment used by anti-Jew­ish racists on Twit­ter, which has explod­ed into wider vis­i­bil­i­ty in recent months―tweeting at Jews, and brack­et­ing their names with two or three paren­the­ses on either side.

It’s intend­ed both as a sig­nal to oth­er anti-Semi­tes and neo-Nazis, to high­light the target’s Jew­ish her­itage (or per­ceived Jew­ish her­itage, since racists aren’t always the sharpest or most con­cerned with accu­ra­cy), and track them on social media, mak­ing it even eas­i­er for oth­er anti-Semi­tes to join in on the abuse. . . .

That’s where Wik­ileaks comes in. On Sat­ur­day, amid the group’s high-pro­file dump of thou­sands and thou­sands of emails from the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee, its Twit­ter account said some­thing very sug­ges­tive about its crit­ics. The tweet has since been delet­ed, going against Wik­ileaks’ per­ceived notion of rad­i­cal trans­paren­cy. Nev­er­the­less, screen­shot­ters nev­er for­get.

It’s not exact­ly the most coher­ent tweet, but the thrust is nonethe­less pret­ty clear: Wik­ileaks accused most of its crit­ics of hav­ing the (((echoes))) brack­ets around their names, as well as “black-rimmed glass­es,” state­ments that many inter­pret­ed, plain­ly enough, as “most of our crit­ics are Jews.” . . . .

. . . . It’s also been main­tain­ing a pret­ty aggres­sive pub­lic rela­tions pos­ture regard­ing these lat­est leaks. It threat­ened MSNBC host Joy Reid for tweet­ing that she planned to dis­cuss an “affin­i­ty” between the group and the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment on her show, say­ing “our lawyers will mon­i­tor your pro­gram.” . . . .

5. The Nation­al Front and the UK Inde­pen­dence Par­ty are among Assange’s big sup­port­ers.

“Wik­iLeaks Moti­va­tions Aren’t What You Think” by Akbar Shahid Ahmed; The Huff­in­g­ton Post; 8/03/2016.

. . . . Mean­while, he [Assange] has attract­ed sup­port from pow­er­ful anti‑U.S. actors in his bat­tle with Swedish author­i­ties. Two right-wing polit­i­cal par­ties in Europe that are skep­ti­cal of Wash­ing­ton . . . the far-right Nation­al Front in France and the pro-Brex­it U.K. Inde­pen­dence Par­ty, have called for their coun­tries to grant Assange asy­lum so he can avoid ques­tion­ing by Swe­den. . . .

6. Among his many delight­ful qual­i­ties, Assange is an advo­cate of neolib­er­al eco­nom­ic the­o­ry. We won­der what the Bernie Bots would think of this?!

“Julian Assange–Also Neolib­er­al Utopi­an” by Ramona; libcom.org; 8/27/2012.

. . . . Assange’s most lengthy artic­u­la­tion of his own pol­i­tics comes in a lengthy inter­view with Forbes. Asked “Would you call your­self a free mar­ket pro­po­nent?”, Assange replies “Absolute­ly. I have mixed atti­tudes towards cap­i­tal­ism, but I love mar­kets”. . . . How does Wik­ileaks fit into this sce­nario? For Assange, through the act of leak­ing infor­ma­tion, Wik­ileaks is pro­vid­ing bet­ter infor­ma­tion in order for the mar­ket of inter­na­tion­al pol­i­tics to work bet­ter. The ques­tion of infor­ma­tion­al asym­me­try is a com­plex one in neolib­er­al cir­cles, with a long his­to­ry. Where­as neolib­er­al­ism in the vari­ant of the Chica­go School of Eco­nom­ics tends towards a mod­el of equi­lib­ri­um where actors have per­fect infor­ma­tion about the mar­ket, the Aus­tri­an school of Eco­nom­ics, favoured by the more rad­i­cal anar­cho-cap­i­tal­ist believe that infor­ma­tion is uneven­ly dis­trib­uted through­out a mar­ket sys­tem, and that to increase over­all infor­ma­tion enables bet­ter price set­ting thus improv­ing the eff­i­cen­cy of the mar­ket.

Assange’s phi­los­o­phy here blends Aus­tri­an and Chica­go School approach­es. . . .

7a. Eddie the Friend­ly Spook Snow­den and Julian Assange are big fans of Ron Paul. It is worth weigh­ing Ron Paul’s pro­nounce­ments in light of Don­ald Trump’s can­di­da­cy and Assange’s more or less open back­ing of Don­ald Trump:

“Bal­ti­more & The Walk­ing Dead” by Mark Ames; Pan­do Dai­ly; 5/1/2015.

. . . . In 1992, the most famous lib­er­tar­ian of all, Ron Paul, was still between Con­gres­sional stints when [the riots in] Los Ange­les erupt­ed, but he did run a prof­itable lib­er­tar­ian newslet­ter, “The Ron Paul Polit­i­cal Report,” to keep his ideas alive. Short­ly after the LA riots, Ron Paul put out a “Spe­cial Issue on Racial Ter­ror­ism”offer­ing his lib­er­tar­ian analy­sis of what he termed black “ter­ror­ism”:“The crim­i­nals who ter­ror­ize our cities—in riots and on every non-riot day—are not exclu­sively young black males, but they large­ly are. As chil­dren, they are trained to hate whites, to believe that white oppres­sion is respon­si­ble for all black ills, to ‘fight the pow­er,’ to steal and loot as much mon­ey from the white ene­my as pos­si­ble.

“The cause of the riots is plain: bar­barism. If the bar­bar­ians can­not loot suf­fi­ciently through legal chan­nels (i.e., the riots being the wel­fare-state minus the mid­dle-man), they resort to ille­gal ones, to ter­ror­ism. Trou­ble is, few seem will­ing to stop them. The cops have been hand­cuffed. . . .

. . . .“We are con­stantly told that it is evil to be afraid of black men, but it is hard­ly irra­tional. Black men com­mit mur­ders, rapes, rob­beries, mug­gings, and bur­glar­ies all out of pro­por­tion to their num­bers.”

“I think we can safe­ly assume that 95% of the black males in [major U.S. cities] are semi-crim­i­nal or entire­ly crim­i­nal.” A few months lat­er, in Octo­ber 1992, Dr. Paul explained how he taught his own family—presumably includ­ing his favorite son, Rand Paul—how to defend them­selves and even mur­der what Dr. Paul called “hip-hop” car­jack­ers, “the urban youth who play unsus­pect­ing whites like pianos”:

“What can you do? More and more Amer­i­cans are car­ry­ing a gun in the car. An ex-cop I know advis­es that if you have to use a gun on a youth, you should leave the scene imme­di­ately, dis­pos­ing of the wiped off gun as soon as pos­si­ble. Such a gun can­not, of course, be reg­is­tered to you, but one bought pri­vately (through the clas­si­fieds, for exam­ple.).

Beyond that, the Lib­er­tar­ian Party’s polit­i­cal solu­tion to African-Amer­i­can pover­ty and injus­tice was to abol­ish all wel­fare pro­grams, pub­lic schools, and anti-dis­crim­i­na­tion laws like the Civ­il Rights Act. This was the solu­tion pro­moted by an up-and-com­ing lib­er­tar­ian, Jacob Horn­berg­er—who this week co-host­ed an event with Ron Paul and Glenn Green­wald. Horn­berger believes that 19th cen­tury ante­bel­lum slave-era Amer­ica was “the freest soci­ety in his­tory”. . .

7c. David Duke has been a high-pro­file sup­port­er of Trump, char­ac­ter­iz­ing him in much the same con­text as he char­ac­ter­ized Ron Paul, Snow­den and

“Top 10 Racist Ron Paul Friends, Sup­port­ers” by Casey Gane-McCalla”; News One; 12/27/2011.

. . . . 6. David Duke
David Duke is a for­mer Grand Wiz­ard of the Ku Klux Klan and can­di­date for Gov­er­nor of Louisiana. Duke is also a New World Order con­spir­a­cy the­o­rist who believes that Jews con­trol the Fed­er­al Reserve. On his web­site, Duke proud­ly boasts about the endorse­ments and kind words that Paul gave him in his newslet­ters and in turn endors­es Paul for pres­i­dent:

Duke’s plat­form called for tax cuts, no quo­tas, no affir­ma­tive action, no wel­fare, and no bus­ing…

To many vot­ers, this seems like just plain good sense. Duke car­ried bag­gage from his past, the vot­ers were will­ing to over­look that. If he had been afford­ed the for­give­ness an ex-com­mu­nist gets, he might have won.

…David Broder, also of the Post and equal­ly lib­er­al, writ­ing on an entire­ly dif­fer­ent sub­ject, had it right: ‘No one wants to talk about race pub­licly, but if you ask any cam­paign con­sul­tant or poll­ster pri­vate­ly, the sad real­i­ty that a great many work­ing-class and mid­dle class white Amer­i­cans are far less hos­tile to the rich and their tax breaks than they are to the poor and minori­ties with their wel­fare and affir­ma­tive action pro­grams.”

Lib­er­als are noto­ri­ous­ly blind to the soci­o­log­i­cal effects of their own pro­grams. David Duke was hurt by his past. How many more Dukes are wait­ing in the wings with­out such a taint?

“Duke lost the elec­tion,” it said, “but he scared the blazes out of the Estab­lish­ment.” In 1991, a newslet­ter asked, “Is David Duke’s new promi­nence, despite his los­ing the guber­na­to­r­i­al elec­tion, good for anti-big gov­ern­ment forces?” The con­clu­sion was that “our pri­or­i­ty should be to take the anti-gov­ern­ment, anti-tax, anti-crime, anti-wel­fare loafers, anti-race priv­i­lege, anti-for­eign med­dling mes­sage of Duke, and enclose it in a more con­sis­tent pack­age of free­dom.”

Duke also gave advice to Paul on his web­site, say­ing:

What must Paul do to have any real chance of win­ning or mak­ing a big­ger impact? I think he should do exact­ly what I did in Louisiana, and for Ron Paul to fol­low exact­ly the same advice Ron Paul gave in his newslet­ters for oth­ers, take up my cam­paign issues with pas­sion and pur­pose.

Could it be that Paul is tak­ing Duke’s advice by hid­ing the racist “bag­gage from his past” in a more con­sis­tent pack­age of “free­dom?” . . .

7c. Snow­den’s leak­ing jour­nal­ist of choice–Glenn Greenwald–is also worth pon­der­ing in this regard.

His obser­va­tions on immi­gra­tion sound JUST like Don­ald Trump.

“Would You Feel Dif­fer­ent­ly About Snow­den, Green­wald, and Assange If You Knew What They Real­ly Thought?” by Sean Wilentz; The New Repub­lic; 1/19/2014.

. . . . On cer­tain issues, though, his [Green­wald’s] prose was suf­fused with right-wing con­ceits and catch­phras­es. One exam­ple was immi­gra­tion, on which Green­wald then held sur­pris­ing­ly hard-line views. “The parade of evils caused by ille­gal immi­gra­tion is wide­ly known,” Green­wald wrote in 2005. The facts, to him, were indis­putable: “ille­gal immi­gra­tion wreaks hav­oc eco­nom­i­cal­ly, social­ly, and cul­tur­al­ly; makes a mock­ery of the rule of law; and is dis­grace­ful just on basic fair­ness grounds alone.” Defend­ing the nativist con­gress­man Tom Tan­cre­do from charges of racism, Green­wald wrote of “unman­age­ably end­less hordes of peo­ple [who] pour over the bor­der in num­bers far too large to assim­i­late, and who con­se­quent­ly have no need, moti­va­tion or abil­i­ty to assim­i­late.” Those hordes, Green­wald wrote, posed a threat to “mid­dle-class sub­ur­ban vot­ers.” . . . .

7d. Com­pare, also, the back cov­er of Ser­pen­t’s Walk with the Trump phe­nom­e­non.

  Ser­pen­t’s Walk by “Ran­dolph D. Calver­hall;” Copy­right 1991 [SC]; Nation­al Van­guard Books; 0–937944-05‑X.

It assumes that Hitler’s war­rior elite — the SS — did­n’t give up their strug­gle for a White world when they lost the Sec­ond World War. Instead their sur­vivors went under­ground and adopt­ed some of their tac­tics of their ene­mies: they began build­ing their eco­nom­ic mus­cle and buy­ing into the opin­ion-form­ing media. A cen­tu­ry after the war they are ready to chal­lenge the democ­rats and Jews for the hearts and minds of White Amer­i­cans, who have begun to have their fill of gov­ern­ment-enforced mul­ti-cul­tur­al­ism and ‘equal­i­ty.’

8. Once again, the world of tech­no­crat­ic fas­cism should be viewed against the back­ground of a vital­ly impor­tant arti­cle by David Golum­bia.

THIS is what Julian Assange and Wik­iLeaks are doing!

“Tor, Tech­noc­ra­cy, Democ­ra­cy” by David Golum­bia; Uncomputing.org; 4/23/2015.

 . . . . Such tech­no­cratic beliefs are wide­spread in our world today, espe­cially in the enclaves of dig­i­tal enthu­si­asts, whether or not they are part of the giant cor­po­rate-dig­i­tal leviathanHack­ers (“civic,” “eth­i­cal,” “white” and “black” hat alike), hack­tivists, Wik­iLeaks fans [and Julian Assange et al–D. E.], Anony­mous “mem­bers,” even Edward Snow­den him­self walk hand-in-hand with Face­book and Google in telling us that coders don’t just have good things to con­tribute to the polit­i­cal world, but that the polit­i­cal world is theirs to do with what they want, and the rest of us should stay out of it: the polit­i­cal world is bro­ken, they appear to think (right­ly, at least in part), and the solu­tion to that, they think (wrong­ly, at least for the most part), is for pro­gram­mers to take polit­i­cal mat­ters into their own hands. . .

9. Let’s con­nect some dots in the “con­ga-line ‘ops’ ”:

  • Don’t for­get who else is in Rus­sia: a very high-pro­file CIA offi­cer (and for­mer NSA con­trac­tor) named “Edward.” I think his last name begins with an “S.” We strong­ly sus­pect that the DNC hack (and very pos­si­bly the Ger­man Bun­destag hack referred to in Item #1) involved The Obverse Oswald.
  • It was, of course, Snowden’s jour­ney to Rus­sia, effect­ed by Sarah Har­ri­son and Wik­iLeaks, that put the final nail in the cof­fin of Barack Oba­ma and (ahem) Hillary Clinton’s reboot with Rus­sia.
  • Con­nect­ing some more dots: The Clin­ton e‑mail non-scan­dal was an out­growth of the Beng­hazi inves­ti­ga­tions (nine of them by the GOP), which grew out of the so-called Arab Spring, one of the “Con­ga-Line ‘Ops’ ”.
  • In FTR #733 and FTR 734  we not­ed that Karl Rove was act­ing as a top advi­sor to the prime min­is­ter of Swe­den at the time that Wik­iLeaks land­ed on Carl Lundstrom’s serv­er.
  • The launch of the Arab Spring stemmed from a leaked State Depart­ment cable.
  • Karl Rove was also chan­nel­ing mon­ey to Bernie Sanders.
  • Assange, like Snow­den, is a big Ron Paul fan.
  • Ron Paul is very close to Mitt Rom­ney.
  • Although he is from Texas, Paul’s Super PAC was in Pro­vo, Utah.
  • It was large­ly cap­i­tal­ized by Peter Thiel, the largest stock­hold­er in Palan­tir which–its dis­claimers notwithstanding–makes the PRISM soft­ware at the core of L’Affaire Snow­den.
  • Peter Thiel is now a Trump del­e­gate.
  • James Comey, head of the FBI, was a big sup­port­er of Mitt Rom­ney.
  • Comey was the for­mer gen­er­al coun­sel for Bridge­wa­ter Asso­ciates, the world’s largest hedge fund, which pro­vid­ed a big chunk of start-up cap­i­tal for Palan­tir.
  • David Duke has been a big sup­port­er of Trump.
  • Duke has been net­work­ing with Snow­den pres­i­den­tial selec­tion Ron Paul for decades.
  • Carl Lund­strom (who financed the Pirate Bay site at which Wik­iLeaks land­ed) arranged a speak­ing tour for David Duke.
  • Joran Jer­mas aka “Israel Shamir” is part of a Russ­ian and Ukrain­ian fas­cist milieu that net­works with David Duke.

Discussion

34 comments for “FTR #917 WikiFascism, Part #4: Weighing In for the Trumpenkampfverbande (Technocratic Fascism in Action)”

  1. Well look at that: with more and more peo­ple not­ing the exclu­sive tar­get­ing of the Democ­rats in this year’s big hack attacks, now we have the GOP get­ting hit with a hack of its own. A com­plete­ly incon­se­quen­tial, and redact­ed, email hack with noth­ing of inter­est. And a hack that “Guc­cifer 2.0” isn’t even claim­ing to have done (and they aren’t exact­ly shy about claim­ing cred­it for these things). That’s sure convenient...for the GOP.

    Beyond that, the site where the hacked doc­u­ments was released, DCLeaks, appears to have Russ­ian-con­nect­ed fin­ger­prints all over it, much like the Fan­cy Bear and Cozy Bear hack­ers alleged­ly behind the DNC hack. Specif­i­cal­ly, the web­site is writ­ten in what appears to be non-native Eng­lish speak­ers (who claim to be Amer­i­cans) and uses email address­es and servers almost exclu­sive­ly asso­ci­at­ed with Russ­ian hack­ers. So, much like the Fan­cy Bear and Cozy Bear hack of the DNC, the peo­ple behind the DCLeaks site appear to be con­spic­u­ous­ly try­ing to asso­ciate them­selves with Russ­ian hack­ers:

    The Hill

    Site con­nect­ed to Russ­ian hack­ers posts Repub­li­can emails

    By Joe Uchill
    August 12, 2016, 06:20 pm

    A web­site tied to the hack­ing scan­dal of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty has now post­ed a small batch of leaked emails from Repub­li­can cam­paigns and state GOP staffers.

    The emails on the site, known as DCLeaks, appear to be from state par­ty offi­cials and for­mer Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates, includ­ing Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham (R‑S.C.). The mes­sages range from June to Octo­ber of 2015.

    The DNC hack­er or hack­ers known as Guc­cifer 2.0 used DC Leaks to pro­mote leaks from a Clin­ton staffer­’s email to The Smok­ing Gun, though the hack­er claimed not to have been involved with the theft of the mes­sages.

    Most of the mes­sages coor­di­nate cam­paign activ­i­ties, solic­it funds, or invite or RSVP to events. The archive is large­ly the pro­ce­dur­al minu­tia of run­ning cam­paigns or state par­ties.

    The emails include a wide array of con­stituent email address­es. Many appear to be respons­es to mass-emails from con­cerned par­ty sup­port­ers writ­ing in to their del­e­gates. One reply to a Stop Hillary PAC fundrais­ing email tar­get­ing Democ­rats lack of sup­port for the Beng­hazi com­mis­sion reads, “Don’t the Repub­li­cans have a major­i­ty in Con­gress? Isn’t John Boehn­er a Repub­li­can? What is the prob­lem that you need my $36 to help you fight back.”

    The archive appears to be incom­plete, with replies to emails that don’t appear to be includ­ed on their own. That could mean the emails were delet­ed before being retrieved, or that the leak­er or site decid­ed to scrub cer­tain items from the record.

    But that there was a leak at all runs counter to a Repub­li­can nar­ra­tive that the DNC is par­tic­u­lar­ly sus­cep­ti­ble to data breach­es (“What is it with Democ­rats that they can’t main­tain basic email secu­ri­ty?” Mike Huck­abee asked on Face­book).

    Guc­cifer 2.0 is thought to be a front name for Russ­ian intel­li­gence, and the site has strong cir­cum­stan­tial ties to the Russ­ian group believed to be behind the hack of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee (DNC).

    DCLeaks claims to be the work of patri­ot­ic Amer­i­can activists but is writ­ten in a way that sug­gests non-native Eng­lish speak­ers. Much of the leaks are email archives from crit­ics of Rus­sia.

    The site hosts a trove of leaked emails from Gen. Philip Breedlove, who was heav­i­ly in favor of fend­ing off Rus­sia dur­ing its Ukraine incur­sion, and George Soros, whose DC Leaks emails were pro­mot­ed by the site on twit­ter as “Check George Soros’s [Open Soci­ety Foun­da­tion] plans to counter Russ­ian pol­i­cy and tra­di­tion­al val­ues.”

    DC Leaks site was ini­tial­ly reg­is­tered by THC­Servers, a com­pa­ny that has only been the ini­tial reg­is­trar for 14 sites since 2013. Includ­ing DC Leaks, three of those sites have been con­nect­ed to the Russ­ian hack­ers believed to be behind the DNC hack, includ­ing a site iden­ti­fied by the Ger­man gov­ern­ment.

    The Russ­ian hack­ers, nick­named Fan­cy Bear, have a pat­tern of using domain reg­is­trars out­side of Unit­ed States that accept bit­coin and the Roman­ian THC­Servers fit the mold. It is reg­is­tered to an email account from europe.com, which, like most of the emails con­nect­ed to Fan­cy­Bear, is a free web ser­vice based in Europe.

    A rep­re­sen­ta­tive from Threat­Con­nect, the com­pa­ny that linked Fan­cy Bear to DCLeaks, not­ed that the obscure Roman­ian THC­Serv­er and Europe.com would be abnor­mal for an Amer­i­can hack­tivist col­lec­tive, and believes the sum-total is a strong cir­cum­stan­tial case.

    At pub­li­ca­tion time, the Repub­li­can Nation­al Con­ven­tion was not yet able to authen­ti­cate the emails.

    “A rep­re­sen­ta­tive from Threat­Con­nect, the com­pa­ny that linked Fan­cy Bear to DCLeaks, not­ed that the obscure Roman­ian THC­Serv­er and Europe.com would be abnor­mal for an Amer­i­can hack­tivist col­lec­tive, and believes the sum-total is a strong cir­cum­stan­tial case.

    Yes, the cir­cum­stan­tial evi­dence for Russ­ian gov­ern­ment involve­ment in this hack is sum-total quite strong. If you assume they want­ed to be caught:

    ...

    Guc­cifer 2.0 is thought to be a front name for Russ­ian intel­li­gence, and the site has strong cir­cum­stan­tial ties to the Russ­ian group believed to be behind the hack of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee (DNC).

    DCLeaks claims to be the work of patri­ot­ic Amer­i­can activists but is writ­ten in a way that sug­gests non-native Eng­lish speak­ers. Much of the leaks are email archives from crit­ics of Rus­sia.

    The site hosts a trove of leaked emails from Gen. Philip Breedlove, who was heav­i­ly in favor of fend­ing off Rus­sia dur­ing its Ukraine incur­sion, and George Soros, whose DC Leaks emails were pro­mot­ed by the site on twit­ter as “Check George Soros’s [Open Soci­ety Foun­da­tion] plans to counter Russ­ian pol­i­cy and tra­di­tion­al val­ues.”

    DC Leaks site was ini­tial­ly reg­is­tered by THC­Servers, a com­pa­ny that has only been the ini­tial reg­is­trar for 14 sites since 2013. Includ­ing DC Leaks, three of those sites have been con­nect­ed to the Russ­ian hack­ers believed to be behind the DNC hack, includ­ing a site iden­ti­fied by the Ger­man gov­ern­ment.

    The Russ­ian hack­ers, nick­named Fan­cy Bear, have a pat­tern of using domain reg­is­trars out­side of Unit­ed States that accept bit­coin and the Roman­ian THC­Servers fit the mold. It is reg­is­tered to an email account from europe.com, which, like most of the emails con­nect­ed to Fan­cy­Bear, is a free web ser­vice based in Europe.

    ...

    Yes, DCLeaks was ini­tial­ly reg­is­tered to a Roman­ian web serv­er com­pa­ny that has only reg­is­tered 14 sites in the last three years, and two those sites were also con­nect­ed to the hack­ers believed to be behind the DNC hack (based in part on evi­dence pro­vid­ed by the Ger­man gov­ern­ment). Oh, and DCLeaks used an email account from europe.com, which Fan­cy­Bear also used. And all this is appar­ent­ly strong cir­cum­stan­tial evi­dence that DCLeaks is not, as the site’s oper­a­tors claim, real­ly run by Amer­i­cans but is in fact run by the same Russ­ian hack­ers behind the DNC email hack. LOL!

    Now, while all of this evi­dence does point towards the peo­ple behind the DCLeaks site being the same peo­ple, or asso­ci­at­ed with, the Fan­cy Bear/Cozy Bear hack­ers, that would ALSO sug­gest that the peo­ple behind DCLeaks want­ed to be even­tu­al­ly con­nect­ed with a Russ­ian hack­ing out­fit since the Fancy/Cozy Bear team appar­ent­ly want­ed inves­ti­ga­tors to con­clude that they were indeed Russ­ian hack­ers. As Christo­pher Porter, the per­son in charge of FireEye’s DNC email hack inves­ti­ga­tion, sees it, the rea­son the hack­ers left so much evi­dence that they were Russ­ian hack­ers is because Rus­sia is doing this all to show off:

    Defense One

    Rus­sia Want­ed to be Caught, Says Com­pa­ny Wag­ing War on the DNC Hack­ers

    By Patrick Tuck­er

    July 28, 2016

    Point­ing a fin­ger at Rus­sia is easy. Pun­ish­ing them is hard. That’s why they hacked the DNC, accord­ing to the com­pa­ny that first named one of the key sus­pects.

    The Russ­ian groups behind the DNC hack no longer seem to care about get­ting caught. Long before the Krem­lin-spon­sored hack­ing squads APT 28 and APT 29 were mak­ing waves for steal­ing files from the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee, they made an appear­ance in two white papers put out by Fire­Eye. The cyber­se­cu­ri­ty com­pa­ny has been mon­i­tor­ing and ana­lyz­ing the two groups on behalf of cor­po­rate clients for years. In the DNC breach, a com­pa­ny spokesman told Defense One: “They want­ed experts and pol­i­cy­mak­ers to know that Rus­sia is behind it.”

    That fits a pat­tern of increas­ing bold moves over the past year by the groups, which are also known as FANCY BEAR and COZY BEAR, says Christo­pher Porter, the man­ag­er of Hori­zons, the strate­gic intel­li­gence and fore­cast­ing arm of Fire­Eye iSIGHT Intel­li­gence, the company’s threat mon­i­tor­ing divi­sion.

    “We see them now per­sist­ing even when they know that secu­ri­ty pro­fes­sion­als have been called in to remove them from a sys­tem. They con­tin­ue their oper­a­tional pace at a very high lev­el. So that’s a huge risk and a sea change in their behav­ior,” Porter said. “Even when they know they’re caught, they don’t stop the oper­a­tion, nec­es­sar­i­ly.”

    That’s high­ly unusu­al for an advanced per­sis­tent threat group. It sig­nals that Rus­sia is will­ing to work in a space nor­mal­ly reserved for crim­i­nals, devot­ing gov­ern­ment resources and act­ing with impuni­ty. That makes them incred­i­bly dif­fi­cult to counter, for the same rea­son the West had no good response to the “lit­tle green men” — the Russ­ian forces that invad­ed Ukraine dis­guised as a organ­ic pop­ulist mil­i­tant move­ment.

    ...

    “We’ve even seen them on some sys­tems where they know that there is anti-virus [soft­ware] on a com­put­er inside of a net­work sys­tem that they’re on,” FireEye’s Porter said. “They’re mov­ing lat­er­al­ly with­in a net­work. They know that their tool is going to be detect­ed by a sys­tem that they’re about to move to and they’ll do it any­way because they’re such skilled hack­ers that they can com­pro­mise the sys­tem and then jump to anoth­er sys­tem and get what they need before they can be quar­an­tined.”

    There’s a rea­son that’s not nor­mal behav­ior, even among very skilled hack­ers. After attack­ers are expelled from a sys­tem, defend­ers move quick­ly to patch the secu­ri­ty hole they used. Groups that run advanced per­sis­tent attacks move stealth­ily, lest they burn too quick­ly through their bag of tricks.

    Yet Fire­Eye found that APT 28 and APT 29 didn’t even both­er to change the pace of their attacks as their tar­gets became aware of them.

    ...

    Over the past week, U.S. intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty offi­cials have said that they have “high con­fi­dence” that the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment was behind the theft of emails from the DNC. That’s an unusu­al­ly bold state­ment for the IC to make about a data breach that’s cur­rent­ly mov­ing the news cycle. By con­trast, the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty still hasn’t made a for­mal dec­la­ra­tion of attri­bu­tion about the OPM hack. Months after the intru­sion was revealed, Clap­per acknowl­edged only that Chi­na was the “lead­ing sus­pect.”

    Porter believes that part of the rea­son that the IC and mul­ti­ple cyber secu­ri­ty researchers were able to impli­cate Rus­sia is that Rus­sia was show­ing off. Con­sid­er that on June 15, one day after Crowd­strike fin­gered APT 28 and APT 29, a fig­ure named Guc­cifer 2.0 claimed to have done the hack, alone. But Twit­ter users quick­ly found meta­da­ta in Guc­cifer 2.0’s files that under­mined that claim. The docs con­tained a tag read­ing “?????? ??????????,” a ref­er­ence to to the founder of the Sovi­et Secret Police.

    But secu­ri­ty expert Jeff Carr thought the smoke off this smok­ing-gun was a bit too thick. In his minor­i­ty report, he asks: what kind of spy ring tags their stolen docs before releas­ing them under a cov­er?

    “Raise your hand if you think that a GRU or FSB offi­cer would add Iron Felix’s name to the meta­da­ta of a stolen doc­u­ment before he released it to the world while pre­tend­ing to be a Roman­ian hack­er. Some­one clear­ly had a wicked sense of humor,” he wrote.

    ...

    “Porter believes that part of the rea­son that the IC and mul­ti­ple cyber secu­ri­ty researchers were able to impli­cate Rus­sia is that Rus­sia was show­ing off....”

    Yep, if we are to assume that the DNC email hacks and the DCLeaks web­site are all part of the same Russ­ian hack­ing team, we also have to assume that get­ting caught and get­ting all this blamed in Putin was always part of the plan. And appar­ent­ly a form of brag­ging. Brag­ging in a man­ner where the hack­ers risked burn­ing through their bag of hack­er tricks:

    ...
    “We’ve even seen them on some sys­tems where they know that there is anti-virus [soft­ware] on a com­put­er inside of a net­work sys­tem that they’re on,” FireEye’s Porter said. “They’re mov­ing lat­er­al­ly with­in a net­work. They know that their tool is going to be detect­ed by a sys­tem that they’re about to move to and they’ll do it any­way because they’re such skilled hack­ers that they can com­pro­mise the sys­tem and then jump to anoth­er sys­tem and get what they need before they can be quar­an­tined.”

    There’s a rea­son that’s not nor­mal behav­ior, even among very skilled hack­ers. After attack­ers are expelled from a sys­tem, defend­ers move quick­ly to patch the secu­ri­ty hole they used. Groups that run advanced per­sis­tent attacks move stealth­ily, lest they burn too quick­ly through their bag of tricks.

    Yet Fire­Eye found that APT 28 and APT 29 didn’t even both­er to change the pace of their attacks as their tar­gets became aware of them.
    ...

    Yes, not only did the hack­ers want to get caught but they appar­ent­ly want­ed to demon­strate to US inves­ti­ga­tors how they did it too. Ok. That’s odd.

    But even if the hack­ers weren’t leav­ing a trail of their meth­ods, the fact that they want­ed to be iden­ti­fied as Russ­ian oper­a­tives is enough of a head scratch­er on its own. Espe­cial­ly con­sid­er­ing the grow­ing pos­si­bil­i­ty of a full blown proxy war break­ing out between the US and Rus­sia over the sit­u­a­tion in Ukraine. Why Rus­sia would Rus­sia want to do that? So US pub­lic sup­port for mil­i­tary aid to Ukraine increas­es? To ensure that a Hillary Clin­ton pres­i­den­cy views Putin as a per­son­al ene­my or maybe gen­er­al­ly try­ing to rein­force the image of Putin an ene­my of the US’s democ­ra­cy in gen­er­al? If the ‘Rus­sians did it’ the­o­ry is going to remain the dom­i­nant the­o­ry, the ques­tion of why the Krem­lin would want to obvi­ous­ly get caught manip­u­lat­ing a US elec­tion in a man­ner designed to embar­rass and piss off the like­ly win­ner has to become one of the dom­i­nant ques­tions.

    Of course, ques­tions about who else could have the motive to fake a Russ­ian hack with the intent of simul­ta­ne­ous­ly under­min­ing both the Clin­ton cam­paign and US/Russian rela­tions should prob­a­bly be a top ques­tion too, but that’s appar­ent­ly nev­er going to be asked. So that just leaves us with ques­tions about why on earth the Krem­lin want­ed to set a trap for Rus­sia that would obvi­ous­ly result in the demo­niza­tion of Rus­sia in the US press dur­ing an elec­tion sea­son and fur­ther poi­son US/Russian rela­tions. Hope­ful­ly at least that ques­tion gets asked.

    Also, hope­ful­ly there will be some answers as to why the hack­ers were appar­ent­ly allowed to hack the Democ­rats for over a year while US intel­li­gence was mon­i­tor­ing it as the arti­cle below reports. Maybe all the hack­er meth­ods the hack­ers were leav­ing behind for inves­ti­ga­tors to dis­cov­er were just so tan­ta­liz­ing that the inves­ti­ga­tors fig­ured the cost of stop­ping the attacks was­n’t worth the ben­e­fits:

    Reuters

    Exclu­sive: Con­gres­sion­al lead­ers were briefed a year ago on hack­ing of Democ­rats — sources

    By Mark Hosen­ball and John Wal­cott | WASHINGTON

    Fri Aug 12, 2016 12:07pm EDT

    U.S. intel­li­gence offi­cials told top con­gres­sion­al lead­ers a year ago that Russ­ian hack­ers were attack­ing the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty, three sources famil­iar with the mat­ter said on Thurs­day, but the law­mak­ers were unable to tell the tar­gets about the hack­ing because the infor­ma­tion was so secret.

    The dis­clo­sure of the Top Secret infor­ma­tion would have revealed that U.S. intel­li­gence agen­cies were con­tin­u­ing to mon­i­tor the hack­ing, as well as the sen­si­tive intel­li­gence sources and the meth­ods they were using to do it.

    The mate­r­i­al was marked with addi­tion­al restric­tions and assigned a unique code­word, lim­it­ing access to a small num­ber of offi­cials who need­ed to know that U.S. spy agen­cies had con­clud­ed that two Russ­ian intel­li­gence agen­cies or their prox­ies were tar­get­ing the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee, the cen­tral orga­niz­ing body of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty.

    The Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agency and oth­er intel­li­gence agen­cies some­times delay inform­ing tar­gets of for­eign intel­li­gence activ­i­ties under sim­i­lar cir­cum­stances, offi­cials have said.

    The alleged hack­ing of the Democ­rats and the Russ­ian con­nec­tion did not become pub­lic until late last month when the FBI said it was inves­ti­gat­ing a cyber attack at the DNC. The DNC did not respond to a request for com­ment for this sto­ry.

    The con­gres­sion­al brief­ing was giv­en last sum­mer in a secure room called a Sen­si­tive Com­part­ment­ed Infor­ma­tion Facil­i­ty, or SCIF, to a group of con­gres­sion­al lead­ers infor­mal­ly known as the “Gang of Eight,” the sources said.

    The group at the time includ­ed four Repub­li­cans: Sen­ate Major­i­ty leader Mitch McConnell and House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Speak­er John Boehn­er, and Sen­a­tor Richard Burr and Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Devin Nunes, the House and Sen­ate intel­li­gence com­mit­tee chairs. Their Demo­c­ra­t­ic coun­ter­parts were: Sen­a­tor Har­ry Reid and Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Nan­cy Pelosi, and Sen­a­tor Dianne Fein­stein and Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Adam Schiff of the intel­li­gence com­mit­tees.

    Ash­Lee Strong, press sec­re­tary for the cur­rent House Speak­er, Paul Ryan, declined to com­ment, and Pelosi’s office did not imme­di­ate­ly respond to requests for comment.Pelosi on Thurs­day called the hack­ing an “elec­tron­ic Water­gate” and said the Rus­sians were behind it.

    “SPEARPHISHING”

    DNC offi­cials have said they did not learn about the hack­ing until months after the ini­tial con­gres­sion­al brief­ing, when an agent from an FBI cyber­se­cu­ri­ty squad asked them last fall about the par­ty’s data secu­ri­ty arrange­ments.

    Even then, the Demo­c­ra­t­ic sources said, the FBI agent nev­er men­tioned that U.S. intel­li­gence offi­cials sus­pect­ed that Russ­ian hack­ers were tar­get­ing the orga­ni­za­tion.

    The attack on the DNC lat­er led the hack­ers to oth­er par­ty orga­ni­za­tions, includ­ing the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Con­gres­sion­al Cam­paign Com­mit­tee, which rais­es funds for House can­di­dates, Hillary Clin­ton’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, and oth­er groups.

    ...

    The hack­ers ini­tial­ly used “spearphish­ing” — attacks on the pri­vate email accounts of dozens of peo­ple work­ing for the orga­ni­za­tions, sev­er­al sources said.

    One of the sources said the Clin­ton cam­paign first detect­ed attacks on its data sys­tem in ear­ly March, and was giv­en what the source described as a “gen­er­al brief­ing” about it by the FBI lat­er that month. The source said the FBI made no men­tion of a Russ­ian con­nec­tion in that brief­ing and did not say when the pen­e­tra­tion first took place.

    Accord­ing to a memo obtained by Reuters, inter­im DNC Chair Don­na Brazile said on Thurs­day she was cre­at­ing a Cyber­se­cu­ri­ty Advi­so­ry Board “to ensure pre­vent future attacks and ensure that the DNC’s cyber­se­cu­ri­ty capa­bil­i­ties are best-in-class.”

    “The con­gres­sion­al brief­ing was giv­en last sum­mer in a secure room called a Sen­si­tive Com­part­ment­ed Infor­ma­tion Facil­i­ty, or SCIF, to a group of con­gres­sion­al lead­ers infor­mal­ly known as the “Gang of Eight,” the sources said.”

    Wow, so last sum­mer, when Don­ald Trump made his pres­i­den­tial cam­paign announce­ment, the con­gres­sion­al “Gang of Eight” (Sen­ate Major­i­ty leader Mitch McConnell and House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Speak­er John Boehn­er, Sen­a­tor Richard Burr, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Devin Nunes, Sen­a­tor Har­ry Reid, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Nan­cy Pelosi, and Sen­a­tor Dianne Fein­stein and Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Adam Schiff of the intel­li­gence com­mit­tees) was briefed on this alleged Russ­ian hack­ing oper­a­tion tar­get­ing the Democ­rats. But since the meth­ods used to detect the attack were so secret there was noth­ing the Gang of Eight could say. And then when the DNC and Clin­ton cam­paign were lat­er noti­fied that they were under attack, there was no men­tion that Rus­sia was behind it:

    ...

    DNC offi­cials have said they did not learn about the hack­ing until months after the ini­tial con­gres­sion­al brief­ing, when an agent from an FBI cyber­se­cu­ri­ty squad asked them last fall about the par­ty’s data secu­ri­ty arrange­ments.

    Even then, the Demo­c­ra­t­ic sources said, the FBI agent nev­er men­tioned that U.S. intel­li­gence offi­cials sus­pect­ed that Russ­ian hack­ers were tar­get­ing the orga­ni­za­tion.

    The attack on the DNC lat­er led the hack­ers to oth­er par­ty orga­ni­za­tions, includ­ing the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Con­gres­sion­al Cam­paign Com­mit­tee, which rais­es funds for House can­di­dates, Hillary Clin­ton’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, and oth­er groups.

    ...

    One of the sources said the Clin­ton cam­paign first detect­ed attacks on its data sys­tem in ear­ly March, and was giv­en what the source described as a “gen­er­al brief­ing” about it by the FBI lat­er that month. The source said the FBI made no men­tion of a Russ­ian con­nec­tion in that brief­ing and did not say when the pen­e­tra­tion first took place.

    ...

    So, all in all, it would appear that US intel­li­gence agen­cies were well aware of this alleged Russ­ian attack and basi­cal­ly allowed it to con­tin­ue despite the fact that the DNC hack appar­ent­ly allowed the hack­ers to pro­ceed to hack oth­er Demo­c­ra­t­ic orga­ni­za­tions. And the sus­pi­cions that Rus­sia was behind it were so super secret and sen­si­tive that the DNC and Clin­ton cam­paign did­n’t even get to know about that angle when they were told of the act months lat­er. Ok, that’s pret­ty inter­est­ing but it does again raise the ques­tion of why the Krem­lin would want to get caught doing some­thing that US intel­li­gence found so sen­si­tive that it could­n’t even ful­ly inform the DNC and Clin­ton cam­paigns about it.

    Does Putin would robust US pub­lic and con­gres­sion­al sup­port for a proxy war with Rus­sia in Ukraine and Syr­ia? If so, why? Since spec­u­la­tion about oth­er pos­si­ble cul­prits, like the far-right fac­tion with­in the elite hack­er com­mu­ni­ty (or some fac­tion of the US secu­ri­ty estab­lish­ment that real­ly, real­ly, real­ly wants a war with Rus­sia and would­n’t mind embar­rass­ing Hillary and the Democ­rats), is total­ly off the table, let’s at least hope there’s spec­u­la­tion about why Putin wants to increase anti-Russ­ian sen­ti­ments in the US dur­ing a crit­i­cal peri­od when a poten­tial proxy war could break out over mul­ti­ple con­flicts. After all, if there’s one thing that could give US cheer­lead­ers of proxy wars with Rus­sia pause it’s the idea that Putin actu­al­ly wants one too. So it’s a use­ful ques­tion con­sid­er­ing the cir­cum­stances even if the cir­cum­stances don’t allow for ask­ing more use­ful ques­tions like who else could want a proxy war.

    So let’s hope those kinds of ques­tions get asked as “Guc­cifer 2.0”, or any oth­er groups that decide to join in on the fun, con­tin­ues their Demo­c­rat-tar­get­ed leaks this cam­paign sea­son. Espe­cial­ly now that there are grow­ing calls for reprisals against the respon­si­ble par­ties fol­low­ing Guc­cifer 2.0’s lat­est Demo­c­ra­t­ic hack:

    The Wall Street Jour­nal

    Hack­er Reveals Per­son­al Infor­ma­tion for Almost 200 Democ­rats
    Guc­cifer 2.0 says records stolen as part of breach of Demo­c­ra­t­ic Con­gres­sion­al Cam­paign Com­mit­tee

    By Dami­an Palet­ta
    Updat­ed Aug. 13, 2016 8:41 a.m. ET

    WASHINGTON—A hack­er post­ed cell­phone num­bers and oth­er per­son­al infor­ma­tion of near­ly 200 cur­rent and for­mer con­gres­sion­al Democ­rats on Fri­day, the lat­est pub­lic dis­clo­sure of sen­si­tive records this elec­tion sea­son.

    The hack­er, or group of hack­ers, going by the name “Guc­cifer 2.0” said the records were stolen as part of a breach of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Con­gres­sion­al Cam­paign Com­mit­tee. A num­ber of files were post­ed onto Guc­cifer 2.0’s web­site, includ­ing a spread­sheet that has infor­ma­tion, such as phone num­bers and email address­es, for 193 peo­ple. The cell­phone num­bers of House Minor­i­ty Leader Nan­cy Pelosi of Cal­i­for­nia and Demo­c­ra­t­ic Whip Ste­ny Hoy­er of Mary­land were among the infor­ma­tion post­ed.

    Mr. Hoy­er, reached on the cell­phone num­ber list­ed on the spread­sheet, said he wasn’t aware that this infor­ma­tion had been stolen or post­ed online.

    “This is the first I’ve heard of it, obvi­ous­ly,” he said Fri­day evening.

    A White House spokesman declined to com­ment.

    Word began to spread Fri­day evening among Democ­rats whose per­son­al infor­ma­tion was post­ed, and sev­er­al became furi­ous, a con­gres­sion­al staffer said. Not all the infor­ma­tion appeared to be cor­rect, as at least one email address list­ed on the spread­sheet was no longer cur­rent.

    The spread­sheet also includ­ed many per­son­al email address­es and cell­phone num­bers for the law­mak­ers’ chiefs of staffs, sched­ulers, and leg­isla­tive direc­tors.

    Hours after the infor­ma­tion was post­ed online, an email list-serve run by the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Cau­cus sent a notice to recip­i­ents inform­ing them to “change pass­words to all email accounts that you use” and also to “strong­ly con­sid­er chang­ing your non-House email address­es if pos­si­ble.”

    It also told them to “be extreme­ly sus­pi­cious” before open­ing any emailed links or attach­ments and to con­sid­er chang­ing pass­words for bank­ing accounts, among oth­er things.

    Rep. Adam Schiff of Cal­i­for­nia, whose cell­phone num­ber was revealed in the spread­sheet, said in a state­ment, “I have every con­fi­dence that law enforce­ment will get to the bot­tom of this, and iden­ti­fy the respon­si­ble par­ties. And when they do, I hope the Admin­is­tra­tion will dis­close who is attempt­ing to inter­fere with the Amer­i­can polit­i­cal process, and levy strong con­se­quences against those respon­si­ble.”

    The post­ing of the cell­phone num­bers and per­son­al email address­es of mem­bers of Con­gress has nation­al secu­ri­ty impli­ca­tions. Includ­ed in the spread­sheet were the per­son­al infor­ma­tion of mem­bers of the House Intel­li­gence, Armed Ser­vices and For­eign Rela­tions Com­mit­tees. For­eign spies could use that infor­ma­tion to try to inter­cept sen­si­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

    “This is sen­si­tive infor­ma­tion and it could be used in a very detri­men­tal way by a for­eign gov­ern­ment,” Mr. Hoy­er said.

    The DCCC breach was report­ed late last month. In June, Guc­cifer claimed respon­si­bil­i­ty for hack­ing the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee and post­ing an oppo­si­tion research doc­u­ment of Don­ald Trump online.

    A num­ber of U.S. intel­li­gence offi­cials believe the most like­ly cul­prit for steal­ing the DCCC data, as well as a large batch of records from the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee, are hack­ers backed by the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment. At least one cyber­se­cu­ri­ty com­pa­ny has said there appear to be links between the Rus­sians and the enti­ty iden­ti­fy­ing itself as Guc­cifer 2.0, although the hack­er has denied being con­nect­ed to Moscow.

    The Guc­cifer 2.0 Twit­ter account said late Fri­day that it would pro­vide “the major trove” of stolen infor­ma­tion from the DCCC, includ­ing emails, to Wik­iLeaks, which has already pub­lished infor­ma­tion from a sim­i­lar breach of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee. The same Twit­ter account sent a mes­sage to The Wall Street Jour­nal on Fri­day evening that said the hack­er had act­ed alone, not as part of a team.

    In anoth­er mes­sage to the Jour­nal, Guc­cifer 2.0 wrote, “I won’t dis­close my where­abouts for the safe­ty rea­sons. I have a full archive of docs and emails from the dccc serv­er.”

    The Twit­ter account had been sus­pend­ed by Sat­ur­day morn­ing.

    Mr. Hoy­er said Con­gress, the White House and U.S. intel­li­gence agen­cies should con­sid­er using “offen­sive mea­sures” in response to the breach.

    ...

    “The post­ing of the cell­phone num­bers and per­son­al email address­es of mem­bers of Con­gress has nation­al secu­ri­ty impli­ca­tions. Includ­ed in the spread­sheet were the per­son­al infor­ma­tion of mem­bers of the House Intel­li­gence, Armed Ser­vices and For­eign Rela­tions Com­mit­tees. For­eign spies could use that infor­ma­tion to try to inter­cept sen­si­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tions.”

    Keep in mind that this hack was appar­ent­ly some­thing US intel­li­gence agen­cies were mon­i­tor­ing and basi­cal­ly allowed to hap­pen if, as the pre­vi­ous arti­cle sug­gest­ed, the hacks of the Clin­ton cam­paign and DCCC were a result of the hack of the DNC that intel­li­gence offi­cials did noth­ing to stop. So the nation­al secu­ri­ty impli­ca­tions hope­ful­ly aren’t all that sig­nif­i­cant unless per­son­al cell­phone and email address­es are typ­i­cal­ly very dif­fi­cult for for­eign spies to come across. Although it might make hack­ing future hacks against these 200 Demo­c­ra­t­ic insid­ers much eas­i­er for ran­dom hack­ers that have no gov­ern­ment ties.

    But with Ste­ny Hoy­er call­ing for “offen­sive mea­sure” in response to the hack, and Rep Schiff (one of “Gang of Eight” who got the ini­tial brief­ing last sum­mer) call­ing for the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion to iden­ti­fy the per­pe­tra­tors and “levy strong con­se­quences against those respon­si­ble,” the risk of the polit­i­cal dynam­ics cre­at­ed by this hack forc­ing the US into a cyber­war with Rus­sia is now a real pos­si­bil­i­ty. So, did Rus­sia want a cyber­war? Because that was an obvi­ous con­se­quence of obvi­ous­ly med­dling in the US elec­tion.

    Also not that Rep Schiff is a vocal advo­cate of giv­ing lethal mil­i­tary aid to Ukraine, so it will be very inter­est­ing to see if there are attempts to get the US pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates to pledge to arm Ukraine as ten­sions with Rus­sia become a grow­ing fac­tor in the elec­tions. Was that one of the Krem­lin’s goals?

    So we’ll see if the nar­ra­tive of these hacks ever includes spec­u­la­tion that goes beyond the con­spic­u­ous Russ­ian cul­prits, but it’s also worth keep in mind that if it does turn out this was a third-par­ty attack with the intent of goad­ing the US and Rus­sia to a mil­i­tary con­flict, that’s exact­ly the kind of rev­e­la­tion that could end up being one of those for­tu­itous events that eas­ing ten­sions. Oba­ma’s planned “Russ­ian Reset” that was snuffed out by the Snow­den Affair may not be exact­ly repeat­able at this point giv­en the sit­u­a­tion in Ukraine and annex­a­tion of Crimea, but that does­n’t mean a “reset” of sorts still can’t hap­pen at the end of Oba­ma’s last term. Few things are as sober­ing and like­ly to induce peace­ful over­tures than an exposed plot to pit two nuclear pow­ers against each oth­er.
    It’s also worth keep­ing in that regard­less of whether or not “Guc­cifer 2.0” is a state actor or some­one else, there’s almost undoubt­ed­ly going to be a lot more ran­dom par­ti­san hacks of this nature going for­ward. Espe­cial­ly if the YouGov poll high­light­ed by Wik­ileaks show­ing a surge in sup­port for Wik­ileaks among Repub­li­cans, is accu­rate. If this tac­tic becomes pop­u­lar and accept­able, hack­ing polit­i­cal groups is prob­a­bly going to become a per­ma­nent polit­i­cal pas­time. Espe­cial­ly if you can eas­i­ly get away with fram­ing the Rus­sians or Chi­nese or any oth­er for­eign pow­er with sim­i­lar capa­bil­i­ties. Why would­n’t it become wide­spread if that’s the case?

    So get ready for a lot more Demo­c­ra­t­ic hacks and leaks (along with some laugh­able GOP hacks and leaks). And also get ready for some cyber­wars and maybe real proxy wars if that’s how this play out. But don’t get ready for any mean­ing­ful con­sid­er­a­tion of the pos­si­bil­i­ty that we’re get­ting duped into those wars by one of the many groups out there capa­ble of mim­ic­k­ing a con­spic­u­ous Russ­ian attack. And don’t get ready for any mean­ing­ful spec­u­la­tion as to what oth­er forces in the world with elite hack­ing skills (like the pro-Trump fac­tion of Anony­mous or Wik­ileaks) would love to see a ratch­et­ing of ten­sions between the US and Rus­sia. That’s clear­ly not going to hap­pen. Clear­ly and con­spic­u­ous­ly.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 13, 2016, 5:11 pm
  2. I’ve con­front­ed Wiki leaks direct­ly about Assange’s sup­port for the far-right and how that’s glossed over by pro­gres­sive (con­trolled) left media and I received a very con­fused almost MK ULTRA like non sense reply from them (Assange him­self? ) on Twit­ter.

    Could be an ear­ly “gene edit­ing” exper­i­ment? Was this a func­tion of the cult? Was this part of his symbolic/ritual impor­tance to the larg­er stage.

    Posted by DICKERSON | August 13, 2016, 9:24 pm
  3. Bill Maher asked Assange “Why don’t you hack into Don­ald Trump’s tax returns?” With an insipid disin­gen­u­ous smile he replied ‘We’re work­ing on it.”
    BS!! Wik­ileaks lat­er tweat­ed “Wik­ileaks isn’t work­ing on
    hack­ing Trump’s tax returns. Claim is a joke from a com­e­dy show.” The joke here is Assange him­self. The Ecuado­ri­an embassy should throw the bum out.

    Posted by Dennis | August 15, 2016, 6:01 pm
  4. Mark Ames penned a great cri­tique enti­tled “The Gary John­son Swin­dle and the Degra­da­tion of Third Par­ty Pol­i­tics” in nsfw­corp Nov. 6 2012. In it we learned “The first inter­est­ing thing about Gary John­son is that he decid­ed to set up his cam­paign head­quar­ters in Salt Lake City Utah, just a few blocks away from the HQ of the Church of Lat­ter Day Saints. That’s where Gary John­son’s main Super PAC is locat­ed as well. Gary John­son isn’t Mor­mon.” I would add nei­ther is Ron Paul. Ames con­tin­ued “John­son’s actu­al record as gov­er­nor of New Mex­i­co was that of a law and order authoritarian…stiffening prison sen­tences
    (while reck­less­ly pri­va­tiz­ing the pris­ons), along with a broad­er pro­gram of slash­ing tax­es, slash­ing social pro­grams and pri­va­tiz­ing schools. He was divi­sive and his law and order poli­cies led to some of the worst prison vio­lence in decades.” He con­tract­ed Wack­en­hut to run the pris­ons and that scuzzy out­fit made cam­paign con­tri­bu­tions. The sto­ry gets worse as John­son’s cam­paign uti­lized the ser­vices of far right dirty tricks spe­cial­ists Jim Lacy, Mau­reen Otis AND — you guessed it that old dirty swing­ing’ dandy him­self — ROGER STONE! Since this arti­cle was pub­lished the ‘busi­ness mind­ed” John­son stepped down as CEO of Cannabis Sati­va a mar­i­jua­na com­pa­ny. Don’t know if he sold weed to wel­fare recip­i­ents only to have them sub­mit to drug tests, then kick them off the dole and lock ’em up. Maybe John­son, Assange, Paul and the apt­ly-named Stone can pass the bong around while chortling over how well the Fried­man Chica­go eco­nom­ic mod­el worked in fel­low trav­eller Pinochet’s Chile. Com­ing soon to an elec­tion near you.

    Posted by Dennis | August 15, 2016, 8:12 pm
  5. @Dennis–

    Cit­i­zen Green­wald is a big fan of Gary John­son as well:

    http://www.out.com/news-commentary/2011/04/18/glenn-greenwald-life-beyond-borders

    Best,

    Dave

    Posted by Dave Emory | August 16, 2016, 9:56 pm
  6. The high-pro­file hack attacks of 2016 heat­ed up again this week. So who was the lat­est vic­tim? Well, believe it or not, the NSA:

    The Wall Street Jour­nal

    Group Claims to Have U.S. Gov­ern­ment Hack­ing Tools for Sale
    Secu­ri­ty experts doubt pre­vi­ous­ly unknown hack­ers have access to NSA-linked cyber­weapons

    By Robert McMil­lan
    Updat­ed Aug. 15, 2016 10:28 p.m. ET

    A pre­vi­ous­ly unknown hack­ing group claims to have bro­ken into a cyberes­pi­onage orga­ni­za­tion linked to the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agency and is offer­ing to sell what it says are U.S. gov­ern­ment hack­ing tools.

    The group, call­ing itself the “Shad­ow Bro­kers,” said in an inter­net post on Sat­ur­day that it had access to a “full state spon­sor tool set” of cyber­weapons. To back up its claims, the group post­ed what appears to be attack code that tar­gets secu­ri­ty soft­ware on routers that direct com­put­er traf­fic around the inter­net.

    In a post writ­ten in bro­ken Eng­lish, the Shad­ow Bro­kers offered to sell a com­plete trove of tools to the high­est bid­der. The group said if it is paid one mil­lion bit­coin, val­ued at rough­ly $568 mil­lion, it will release the tools pub­licly.

    Secu­ri­ty experts doubt the group has access to the hack­ing trea­sure trove that it boasts, but sev­er­al said the code it released appears to be legit­i­mate. It affects routers built by three U.S. firms— Cis­co Sys­tems Inc., Juniper Net­works Inc. and Fortinet Inc.—and two Chi­nese companies—Shaanxi Net­work­cloud Infor­ma­tion Tech­nol­o­gy Co. and Bei­jing Topsec Net­work Secu­ri­ty Tech­nol­o­gy Co.

    A Cis­co spokes­woman said her com­pa­ny was inves­ti­gat­ing the inci­dent, but “so far, we have not found any new vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties.”

    A Fortinet rep­re­sen­ta­tive didn’t have a com­ment. Juniper, Topsec and Shaanxi Net­work­cloud didn’t imme­di­ate­ly respond to requests for com­ment.

    The Shad­ow Bro­kers’ claims are still being ana­lyzed by secu­ri­ty experts. If true, they would reflect an unprece­dent­ed breach of a com­put­er-espi­onage out­fit dubbed the “Equa­tion Group.”

    In a report last year, Russ­ian com­put­er secu­ri­ty firm Kasper­sky Lab ZAO said the Equa­tion Group launched hack­ing efforts against gov­ern­ments, telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pa­nies and oth­er orga­ni­za­tions in coun­tries such as Rus­sia, Iraq and Iran. Kasper­sky didn’t name any U.S. agen­cies in its report, but it appeared to detail the kind of work typ­i­cal­ly con­duct­ed by the NSA.

    The NSA didn’t return mes­sages seek­ing com­ment. In the past, the agency has nei­ther con­firmed nor denied involve­ment with the Equa­tion Group.

    In an inter­net post, the Shad­ow Bro­kers rail against “wealthy elites.” The Shad­ow Bro­kers didn’t respond to email and Twit­ter mes­sages seek­ing com­ment.

    Secu­ri­ty experts who have exam­ined the code pub­lished by the hack­ers said it appears to con­tain gen­uine NSA pro­grams that could manip­u­late or redi­rect com­put­er traf­fic as it pass­es through a router.

    “The more we look at it…it looks more and more like a tool kit from the NSA,” said Matt Suiche, the founder of Comae Tech­nolo­gies FZE, a com­put­er-secu­ri­ty start­up based in the Unit­ed Arab Emi­rates.

    “It looks gen­uine,” said Nicholas Weaver, a researcher with the Inter­na­tion­al Com­put­er Sci­ence Insti­tute, a non­prof­it research cen­ter affil­i­at­ed with the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley. Mr. Weaver said that, in addi­tion to the router-attack pro­grams, the code includes tools that would be avail­able only to some­one with access to NSA com­put­ers and tools that appear to inter­act with NSA soft­ware described in doc­u­ments leaked by for­mer NSA con­trac­tor Edward Snow­den.

    How­ev­er, secu­ri­ty experts ques­tioned the ran­som demand, say­ing it was unlike­ly any­one would pay mil­lions for the promised tools, sight unseen. Mr. Weaver believes the bit­coin auc­tion scheme was most like­ly a dis­trac­tion to obscure who­ev­er obtained the doc­u­ments.

    “Who­ev­er stole the data wants the world to know that they stole it,” he said in an email mes­sage. “The sus­pect list is almost cer­tain­ly short—Russia or Chi­na, and giv­en the recent espi­onage trou­bles between the U.S. and Rus­sia, prob­a­bly the for­mer.”

    ...

    Ben John­son, co-founder of Car­bon Black Inc. and a for­mer NSA com­put­er sci­en­tist, cau­tioned that the Equa­tion Group has­n’t been defin­i­tive­ly linked to the NSA and that it is unclear how much data was tak­en.

    “Peo­ple should not be think­ing that the NSA has been hacked,” he said. “Cer­tain­ly there’s been some effort put into [the Shad­ow Bro­kers’ data], but I’m by no means con­vinced that this is a full toolset of a nation state.”

    “In a post writ­ten in bro­ken Eng­lish, the Shad­ow Bro­kers offered to sell a com­plete trove of tools to the high­est bid­der. The group said if it is paid one mil­lion bit­coin, val­ued at rough­ly $568 mil­lion, it will release the tools pub­licly.”

    So, once again, we have a high pro­file hack tar­get­ing the US gov­ern­ment, although in this case it’s not the DNC, which would pre­sum­ably be a fair­ly easy tar­get for elite hack­ers, but instead an orga­ni­za­tion that one assumes is the most unhack­able in the world. If it’s a real hack, that’s pret­ty impres­sive.

    At the same time, as with the DNC email hacks, this lat­est hack is both con­spic­u­ous­ly high pro­file and appears to involve con­spic­u­ous­ly atyp­i­cal hack­ing behav­iors. For instance, as the arti­cle below points out, the phe­nom­e­na of hack­ers sell­ing exploits they dis­cov­er is quite com­mon­place. What isn’t com­mon­place is offer­ing to sell the exploit to the entire world with an absurd­ly high price tag. Half a bil­lion dol­lars for an alleged NSA toolk­it trove that will be pub­licly released does­n’t exact­ly leave you with a huge mar­ket of poten­tial buy­ers unless you’re try­ing to con­vince the bit­coin com­mu­ni­ty to crowd­source the whole Bit­coin com­mu­ni­ty, espe­cial­ly since the price of bit­coins would prob­a­bly sky­rock­et if some nation or pri­vate enti­ty sud­den­ly decid­ed to pur­chase a mil­lion bit­coins (the Bit­coin com­mu­ni­ty prob­a­bly would­n’t mind if this hap­pened). And if some gov­ern­ment or pri­vate enti­ty did try to acquire a mil­lion bit­coins, it would be awful­ly hard to buy those mil­lion bit­coins with­out some­one dis­cov­er­ing your iden­ti­ty. It’s one of the many rea­sons to assume that the offer to sell the toolk­it to the high­est bid­der isn’t real­ly about find­ing a buy­er but instead about just get­ting pub­lic­i­ty for the hack.

    Anoth­er rea­son to assume the mil­lion bit­coin price is just a the­atrics is the fact that Wik­ileaks announced they’re going to be releas­ing the entire alleged NSA toolk­it. So the hack­ers ask­ing for half a bil­lion dol­lars also appar­ent­ly decid­ed to give their toolk­it to Wik­ileaks so it could leak it to the world for free. That’s a bit odd.

    Still, the notion that there’s a group out there hack­ing NSA servers should raise some eye­brows whether it’s the Rus­sians like every­one is assum­ing (and the hack­ers clear­ly want us to assume) or some oth­er group. So it’s worth not­ing that, as the arti­cle below points out, a num­ber of researchers look­ing over the hack are rais­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty that the serv­er was­n’t hacked at all. Instead, it could have been a case of clas­sic espi­onage. Some­one with a USB stick. It’s also worth not­ing that Edward Snow­den, some­one who knows how easy it is to steal from the NSA with a USB stick, is declar­ing that Rus­sia is like­ly behind it:

    Busi­ness Insid­er Nordic

    Here’s why the sup­posed NSA ‘hack’ is unlike any­thing we’ve ever seen before

    Paul Szol­dra
    16 Aug 2016 11:58 PM

    Ear­li­er this week, a group call­ing itself the “Shad­ow Bro­kers” announced that it was sell­ing a num­ber of cyber weapons — auc­tion-style — that it claimed were hacked and stolen from an alleged NSA hack­ing group dubbed “The Equa­tion Group.”

    Beside the fact that the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agency get­ting hacked is eye­brow-rais­ing in itself, the leak of the data and the claim from this mys­tery group that it’s just try­ing to make mon­ey does­n’t seem to add up.

    Here’s why.
    Their claim to have ‘hacked’ a serv­er belong­ing to the NSA is fishy

    Accord­ing to ex-NSA insid­ers who spoke with Busi­ness Insid­er, the agen­cy’s hack­ers don’t just put their exploits and toolk­its online where they can poten­tial­ly be pil­fered. The more like­ly sce­nario for where the data came from, says ex-NSA research sci­en­tist Dave Aitel, is an insid­er who down­loaded it onto a USB stick.

    Instead of a “hack,” Aitel believes, it’s much more like­ly that this was a more clas­sic spy oper­a­tion that involved human intel­li­gence.

    “This idea that a group of unknown hack­ers are going to take on the NSA seems unlike­ly as well,” Aitel told Busi­ness Insid­er. “There’s a long arm and a long mem­o­ry to the US intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty, and I don’t think any­one wants to be on the oth­er end of that with­out good rea­son. I don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly think a mil­lion bit­coin is a good-enough rea­son.”

    When hack­ers gain access to a serv­er, they keep qui­et about it so they can stay there

    One of the many strange things about this inci­dent is the very pub­lic nature of what tran­spired. When a hack­er takes over your com­put­er, they don’t start acti­vat­ing your web­cam or run­ning weird pro­grams because you’d fig­ure out pret­ty quick­ly that some­thing was up and you’d try to get rid of them.

    The same is true for the NSA.

    If the Shad­ow Bro­kers owned the NSA’s com­mand and con­trol serv­er, then it would prob­a­bly be a much bet­ter approach to just sit back, watch, and try to piv­ot to oth­er inter­est­ing things that they might be able to find.

    Instead, the group wrote on Paste­bin, a web­site where you can store text, that “we fol­low Equa­tion Group traf­fic. We find Equa­tion Group source range. We hack Equa­tion Group. We find many many Equa­tion Group cyber weapons,” which imme­di­ate­ly sig­nals to this alleged NSA hack­er group that they have a big prob­lem.

    Though this seems prob­lem­at­ic, it’s prob­a­ble that the group no longer has access to the serv­er, so it no longer cares about get­ting back on it. Since the files are years old, this could be the case. But it’s still out of the ordi­nary since any claim like this can be lat­er inves­ti­gat­ed by the vic­tim, which will be going through every­thing try­ing to fig­ure out who they are.

    If this was some ran­dom hack­ing group, then it would’ve been bet­ter to keep their mouth shut, espe­cial­ly when their vic­tim is the NSA.

    Peo­ple sell exploits all the time, but they hard­ly ever talk about it

    Soft­ware exploits are dig­i­tal gold for hack­ers, since they often give a key inside a sys­tem or net­work that no one has ever noticed before, and thus, has­n’t fixed. Which is why the mar­ket­place for these “zero-day” exploits is so lucra­tive. We’re talk­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands to mil­lions of dol­lars for this kind of code.

    Most of the time, an exploit is either found by a secu­ri­ty research firm, which then writes about it and reports it to the com­pa­ny so it can fix the prob­lem. Or, a hack­er look­ing for cash will take that found exploit and sell it on the black mar­ket.

    So it would make sense for a group like Shad­ow Bro­kers to want to sell their trea­sure trove, but going pub­lic with it is beyond strange.

    “From my per­spec­tive, its extreme­ly bizarre behav­ior,” an ex-NSA hack­er who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty told Busi­ness Insid­er. “Most groups who either iden­ti­fy or trade in exploits do one of two things. If you iden­ti­fy, like a secu­ri­ty research firm [does] ... they’ll typ­i­cal­ly pub­lish their find­ings. They’re real­ly in the best inter­est of the com­pa­nies and users who use these prod­ucts.”

    The source added: “In the oth­er sce­nar­ios, folks who sort of deal in the exploit mar­kets. They qui­et­ly sell these things. To come out with this pub­lic auc­tion is the more bizarre vari­ance of that that I’ve ever seen. So it’s not clear what the intent here is.”

    So what is the intent?

    If you ask ex-NSA con­trac­tor Edward Snow­den, the pub­lic leak and claims of the Shad­ow Bro­kers seem to have Russ­ian fin­ger­prints all over them, and it serves as a warn­ing from Moscow to Wash­ing­ton. The mes­sage: If your pol­i­cy­mak­ers keep blam­ing us for the DNC hack, then we can use this hack to impli­cate you in much more.

    “That could have sig­nif­i­cant for­eign pol­i­cy con­se­quences,” Snow­den wrote on Twit­ter. “Par­tic­u­lar­ly if any of those oper­a­tions tar­get­ed US allies. Par­tic­u­lar­ly if any of those oper­a­tions tar­get­ed elec­tions.”

    Aitel seems to agree, though he crit­i­cized Snow­den as being, at some lev­el, a “voice piece” for Russ­ian intel­li­gence now, since he lives in asy­lum in Moscow.

    “He has the same the­o­ry — the DNC hack hap­pened. The US polit­i­cal peo­ple got upset. They prob­a­bly made the NSA do a covert response,” Aitel spec­u­lat­ed. “This is anoth­er response to the NSA’s covert response. There’s a lot of sort of very pub­lic mes­sages here going back and forth, which is inter­est­ing to look at.”

    Aitel also does­n’t think that any­one is going to actu­al­ly pony up the mon­ey required to win the auc­tion. And that pre­dic­tion is prob­a­bly going to be right, since Wik­iLeaks claims that it already has the archive.

    “We had already obtained the archive of NSA cyber weapons released ear­li­er today,” its offi­cial Twit­ter account wrote, “and will release our own pris­tine copy in due course.”

    ...

    “If you ask ex-NSA con­trac­tor Edward Snow­den, the pub­lic leak and claims of the Shad­ow Bro­kers seem to have Russ­ian fin­ger­prints all over them, and it serves as a warn­ing from Moscow to Wash­ing­ton. The mes­sage: If your pol­i­cy­mak­ers keep blam­ing us for the DNC hack, then we can use this hack to impli­cate you in much more.

    That’s Snow­den’s take: this is all part of a Russ­ian messaging/propaganda war. And who knows, maybe that’s that case and the expla­na­tion for the con­spic­u­ous hack­ing behav­ior that con­sis­tent­ly seems to be try­ing to fin­ger Russ­ian gov­ern­ment hack­ers as the cul­prits. It’s pos­si­ble. But when you con­sid­er sus­pi­cions that this could have been an inside job, some­one with a USB sticks it’s also worth keep­ing in mind that if there was some­one asso­ci­at­ed with Rus­si­a’s intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty that would have been very well posi­tioned to pull off such a spy oper­a­tion, it’s Edward Snow­den. Espe­cial­ly since the lat­est files released in the hack are from the same year Snow­den fled to Rus­sia:

    Nation­al Pub­lic Radio

    ‘Shad­ow Bro­kers’ Claim To Have Hacked The NSA’s Hack­ers

    August 17, 2016 2:36 PM ET

    The “Shad­ow Bro­kers” are in the spot­light.

    The mys­te­ri­ous group has seized the atten­tion of the cyber­se­cu­ri­ty world with its claim to have stolen code from the Equa­tion Group — a team of hack­ers who have been tied to the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agency.

    On a web­site writ­ten in bro­ken Eng­lish, the Shad­ow Bro­kers revealed some files and promised “bet­ter” ones avail­able, for sale to the high­est bid­der. One caveat: By “bid­ding,” they mean send­ing bit­coins, and los­ing bid­ders don’t get them back. (“Sor­ry lose bid­ding war lose bit­coin and files. Lose Lose. Bid to win!”)

    The group also said it would make a new batch of files pub­lic if it received 1 mil­lion bit­coins to a spec­i­fied address. That’s more than half a bil­lion dol­lars, and near­ly 1/15th of all the bit­coins in cir­cu­la­tion.

    As of Wednes­day after­noon, the Shad­ow Bro­kers appear to have received 1.6 bit­coins, or less than $1,000, based on the pub­lic ledger show­ing funds sent to that bit­coin address.

    The auc­tion is “absurd” and “weird,” as Wired puts it, but the mag­a­zine notes that there’s a “grow­ing con­sen­sus” that the files them­selves — at least the ones released so far — are legit­i­mate.

    Matt Suiche, a secu­ri­ty researcher who ana­lyzed the code that has been pub­licly released by the Shad­ow Bro­kers, tells NPR’s Aar­ti Sha­hani that it does appear to be a com­pi­la­tion of tools used by the NSA.

    But the “teas­er” files don’t include any very valu­able infor­ma­tion, he says — and the ques­tion now is whether the hack­ers actu­al­ly have more files.

    “The sam­ple files ... are com­plete, but they are not extreme­ly sig­nif­i­cant enough to shut down the Inter­net,” Suiche told Aar­ti. “If that would be the best of what they had, it would be dis­ap­point­ing. It’s like Poké­mon Go. You hear the hype, it’s inter­est­ing. Then you pay for more — but you get bored.”

    Oth­er experts say they, too, believe the files con­tain actu­al NSA code.

    The Wash­ing­ton Post reports that the hack­ing tools released in the teas­er file — with names such as Epicbanana, Buz­zdi­rec­tion and Egre­gious­blun­der — are high­ly sophis­ti­cat­ed.

    “The file con­tained 300 megabytes of infor­ma­tion, includ­ing sev­er­al ‘exploits,’ or tools for tak­ing con­trol of fire­walls in order to con­trol a net­work, and a num­ber of implants that might, for instance, exfil­trate or mod­i­fy infor­ma­tion.

    “The exploits are not run-of-the-mill tools to tar­get every­day indi­vid­u­als. They are expen­sive soft­ware used to take over fire­walls, such as Cis­co and Fortinet, that are used ‘in the largest and most crit­i­cal com­mer­cial, edu­ca­tion­al and gov­ern­ment agen­cies around the world,’ said Blake Darche, anoth­er for­mer TAO oper­a­tor and now head of secu­ri­ty research at Area 1 Secu­ri­ty.”

    (TAO stands for Tai­lored Access Oper­a­tions, the NSA’s hack­ing divi­sion, the news­pa­per explains.)

    The New York Times writes that the NSA could have used the code to “get inside the com­put­er sys­tems of com­peti­tors like Rus­sia, Chi­na and Iran,” with the exploits, and “lurk unseen for years” with the implants.

    “Who­ev­er obtained the source code appar­ent­ly broke into either the top-secret, high­ly com­part­men­tal­ized com­put­er servers of the N.S.A. or oth­er servers around the world that the agency would have used to store the files,” the Times writes.

    The code released by the Shad­ow Bro­kers dates most recent­ly to 2013, the same year Edward Snow­den leaked clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion about the NSA’s sur­veil­lance pro­grams.

    Via Twit­ter, Snow­den com­ment­ed on the appar­ent hack, say­ing the most notable thing was­n’t that NSA servers were breached but that the hack has now been pub­li­cized.

    “Why did they do it?” Snow­den asked. “No one knows, but I sus­pect this is more diplo­ma­cy than intel­li­gence, relat­ed to the esca­la­tion around the DNC hack.”

    The hack­ers could be adver­tis­ing that they have the abil­i­ty to iden­ti­fy actions the NSA took on the com­pro­mised serv­er, Snow­den sug­gests — a warn­ing of sorts.

    ...

    Snow­den also not­ed that the released files end in 2013. “When I came for­ward, NSA would have migrat­ed offen­sive oper­a­tions to new servers as a pre­cau­tion,” he sug­gest­ed — a move that would have cut off the hack­ers’ access to the serv­er.

    “You’re wel­come,” he tweet­ed.

    ...

    “Snow­den also not­ed that the released files end in 2013. “When I came for­ward, NSA would have migrat­ed offen­sive oper­a­tions to new servers as a pre­cau­tion,” he sug­gest­ed — a move that would have cut off the hack­ers’ access to the serv­er.

    “You’re wel­come,” he tweet­ed.”

    Well, that’s one pos­si­ble expla­na­tion for why the hacked mate­r­i­al is no new­er than 2013: the hack­ers pre­sum­ably lost access to their hacked serv­er after the Snow­den affair forced the NSA to move their offen­sive oper­a­tions to dif­fer­ent servers. But that expla­na­tion also assumes this serv­er was actu­al­ly remote­ly hacked, as opposed to a USB-stick clas­sic spy oper­a­tion.

    And that rais­es a real­ly big ques­tion that could poten­tial­ly be answered although it’s unclear who could answer it: were these tools part of the giant Snow­den “Dooms­day” cache of tech­ni­cal doc­u­ments? The doc­u­ments that Glenn Green­wald threat­ened would be released if any­thing hap­pened to Snow­den and that Green­wald described as the NSA “blue­prints”? There were appar­ent­ly only three unknown peo­ple how had the keys to Snow­den’s Dooms­day cache, although the NSA itself pre­sum­ably has a good idea of what Snow­den took so it will be inter­est­ing to see if this lat­est leak is real­ly an exten­sion of the Snow­den leak.

    Thanks Eddy?

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 17, 2016, 6:37 pm
  7. @Pterrafractyl–

    This is not to blow my own horn, but my char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of Eddie the Friend­ly Spook as “The Obverse Oswald” is look­ing more and more pre­scient.

    These high-pro­file hacks designed, obvi­ous­ly, to fin­ger Rus­sia do NOT appear to be of Russ­ian intel ori­gin at all.

    And with the Peach Fuzz Fas­cist (Snow­den) weigh­ing in that, sho ’nuff, this must be Rus­sia, he is look­ing more and more like a cul­prit.

    This is REALLY look­ing like the rel­a­tive­ly clum­sy “paint­ing of Oswald Red.”

    ” . . . . On a web­site writ­ten in bro­ken Eng­lish, the Shad­ow Bro­kers revealed some files and promised “bet­ter” ones avail­able, for sale to the high­est bid­der. One caveat: By “bid­ding,” they mean send­ing bit­coins, and los­ing bid­ders don’t get them back. (“Sor­ry lose bid­ding war lose bit­coin and files. Lose Lose. Bid to win!”) . . . ”

    Sounds like Boris and Natasha, Dahlink!

    Not too con­vinc­ing.

    Best,

    Dave

    Posted by Dave Emory | August 17, 2016, 8:58 pm
  8. @Dave: One of the things worth not­ing regard­ing the cui bono angle behind the NSA hack/theft is that, as the sec­ond arti­cle below makes clear, the emerg­ing meme in response to the hack is that this is why the NSA should imme­di­ate­ly dis­close all exploits it finds for the pur­pose of greater secu­ri­ty, which was one of the core argu­ments behind pushed by Snow­den and the cypher­punk com­mu­ni­ty in the wake of the Snow­den affair. Of course, most of those warn­ings were pred­i­cat­ed on assump­tion that ran­dom hack­er would dis­cov­er these same vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties inde­pen­dent­ly (and not that the NSA would itself get hacked or hit with a Snow­den-like inside job), but that’s been the argu­ment. And this hack is cer­tain­ly poised to push that meme that the NSA makes us all less secure, a meme that assumes there’s min­i­mal val­ue or secu­ri­ty gained from what spy agen­cies spy­ing on, say, oth­er gov­ern­ments or crim­i­nal orga­ni­za­tions.

    Cui bono? The cypher­punks def­i­nite­ly did in this case. Whether or not soci­ety in gen­er­al ben­e­fits sort of depends on how much abuse take place with that hack­ing code now that it’s released to the world and the lag time asso­ci­at­ed with devel­op­ing and installing patch­es on all that hard­ware (and also whether or not there was actu­al­ly some impor­tant sur­veil­lance tak­ing place using those exploits that are going to be closed).

    And since it’s wide­ly assumed that Rus­sia is behind the hack, it’s also worth not­ing that Cis­co, one of the three brands of hard­ware tar­get­ed by the released toolk­it, was actu­al­ly charged with going around Amer­i­can sanc­tions against Rus­sia to sell Rus­si­a’s mil­i­tary and the FSB its net­work­ing hard­ware (which is pre­sum­ably now hack­able) last year:

    Net­work World

    Cis­co bypassed Rus­sia sanc­tions to con­tin­ue sales: report
    Set up ghost buy­ers and fal­si­fied records to sell to Russ­ian army and secu­ri­ty orga­ni­za­tions

    By Jim Duffy

    May 21, 2015 10:12 AM PT

    Cis­co report­ed­ly skirt­ed sanc­tions in order to sell net­work­ing equip­ment to Russia’s mil­i­tary.

    In an inves­tiga­tive piece pub­lished this week, Buz­zfeed alleges Cis­co know­ing­ly sold gear through straw com­pa­nies fronting for Russ­ian gov­ern­ment and mil­i­tary insti­tu­tions in vio­la­tion of Amer­i­can sanc­tions. Cis­co denies any wrong­do­ing and any knowl­edge of the scheme, alleged­ly per­pe­trat­ed by its Russ­ian oper­a­tions, accord­ing to Buz­zfeed.

    Cis­co says some of the bogus cus­tomer names were errors, Buz­zfeed reports.

    Cisco’s busi­ness in Rus­sia is already under scruti­ny for pos­si­bly vio­lat­ing the U.S. For­eign Cor­rupt Prac­tices Act.

    Cit­ing inter­nal doc­u­ments and inside sources, Buz­zfeed says Cis­co altered sales records and booked deals under false cus­tomer names on order to con­tin­ue sales to Russ­ian mil­i­tary and secu­ri­ty forces. Cis­co suc­ceed­ed in sell­ing equip­ment to Russia’s FSB – the suc­ces­sor to the KGB – by dis­guis­ing them as sales to the Russ­ian Cham­ber of Com­merce and Indus­try of the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion.

    The Cham­ber of Com­merce was used as a “ghost buy­er” for sales to banned fed­er­al agen­cies, Buz­zfeed reports, but the cham­ber itself claimed it nev­er bought any­thing oth­er than office sup­plies for its own use.

    Cit­ing inter­nal com­pa­ny records, Buz­zfeed says Cis­co booked at least sev­en deals over six months to sell a total of more than $500,000 worth of equip­ment such as routers, switch­es, and servers to the cham­ber.

    In oth­er cas­es, employ­ees changed the name of the cus­tomer from the Min­istry of Defense or the Russ­ian space agency to a com­pa­ny in order to dis­guise the true buy­er, Buz­zfeed reports.

    Cis­co has come under fire in the past for sales to gov­ern­ments with strained rela­tions with the U.S. and with its own peo­ple.

    ...

    “Cit­ing inter­nal doc­u­ments and inside sources, Buz­zfeed says Cis­co altered sales records and booked deals under false cus­tomer names on order to con­tin­ue sales to Russ­ian mil­i­tary and secu­ri­ty forces. Cis­co suc­ceed­ed in sell­ing equip­ment to Russia’s FSB – the suc­ces­sor to the KGB – by dis­guis­ing them as sales to the Russ­ian Cham­ber of Com­merce and Indus­try of the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion.”

    So if we sud­den­ly get reports that Rus­sia has recent­ly purged or inde­pen­dent­ly patched its mil­i­tary and intel­li­gence IT infra­struc­ture, or that those Cis­co routers were nev­er actu­al­ly used, that would cer­tain­ly sug­gest Rus­sia knew this release, which is going to impact crit­i­cal sys­tems around the globe, was com­ing soon. But so far it does­n’t look like the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment was super con­cerned about Cis­co vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties last year.

    Here’s some­thing else to keep an eye on regard­ing when the hack actu­al­ly took place and the pos­si­bil­i­ty that this stolen code could have been part of the larg­er Snow­den Dooms­day file: Based on the time stamps of the files cur­rent­ly made avail­able, it would appear that the hack/theft took place after the Snow­den affair because the “File­Mod­i­fy­Date” val­ue of pub­licly avail­able files are are most­ly on June 11, 2013, with one as late as Octo­ber 18th, 2013:

    Wash­ing­ton Post

    NSA’s use of soft­ware flaws to hack for­eign tar­gets posed risks to cyber­se­cu­ri­ty

    By Ellen Nakashima and Andrea Peter­son
    August 17 at 7:23 PM

    To pen­e­trate the com­put­ers of for­eign tar­gets, the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agency relies on soft­ware flaws that have gone unde­tect­ed in the pipes of the Inter­net. For years, secu­ri­ty experts have pressed the agency to dis­close these bugs so they can be fixed, but the agency hack­ers have often been reluc­tant.

    Now with the mys­te­ri­ous release of a cache of NSA hack­ing tools over the week­end, the agency has lost an offen­sive advan­tage, experts say, and poten­tial­ly placed at risk the secu­ri­ty of count­less large com­pa­nies and gov­ern­ment agen­cies world­wide.

    Sev­er­al of the tools exploit­ed flaws in com­mer­cial fire­walls that remain unpatched, and they are out on the Inter­net for all to see. Any­one from a base­ment hack­er to a sophis­ti­cat­ed for­eign spy agency has access to them now, and until the flaws are fixed, many com­put­er sys­tems may be in jeop­ardy.

    The rev­e­la­tion of the NSA cache, which dates to 2013 and has not been con­firmed by the agency, also high­lights the administration’s lit­tle-known process for fig­ur­ing out which soft­ware errors to dis­close and which to keep secret.

    The hack­er tools’ release “demon­strates the key risk of the U.S. gov­ern­ment stock­pil­ing com­put­er vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties for its own use: Some­one else might get a hold of them and use them against us,” said Kevin Bankston, direc­tor of New America’s Open Tech­nol­o­gy Insti­tute.

    “This is exact­ly why it should be U.S. gov­ern­ment pol­i­cy to dis­close to soft­ware ven­dors the vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties it buys or dis­cov­ers as soon as pos­si­ble, so we can all bet­ter pro­tect our own cyber­se­cu­ri­ty.”

    The weekend’s release prompt­ed imme­di­ate spec­u­la­tion about who might be behind it. A group call­ing itself Shad­ow Bro­kers claimed respon­si­bil­i­ty. Some experts and for­mer employ­ees sus­pect, although with­out hard evi­dence, that Rus­sia is involved. Oth­er for­mer employ­ees say it is more like­ly a dis­grun­tled insid­er seek­ing to make a prof­it.

    Who­ev­er it is, “it’s very con­cern­ing that poten­tial­ly some­one work­ing for anoth­er gov­ern­ment is essen­tial­ly hold­ing hostage com­pa­nies that are sit­ting behind these [fire­walls], mak­ing them very vul­ner­a­ble,” said Oren Falkowitz, chief exec­u­tive of Area 1 Secu­ri­ty and a for­mer NSA ana­lyst.

    The fire­walls sold by Cis­co, Juniper and Fortinet are high­ly pop­u­lar and work on large-scale enter­prise sys­tems. “These are very, very pow­er­ful and suc­cess­ful” prod­ucts, Falkowitz said. “They aren’t devices bought by two peo­ple.”

    Already, the firms are rac­ing to reverse-engi­neer the code, iden­ti­fy any flaws and devise patch­es. Cis­co con­firmed Wednes­day that one of the flaws was a “zero-day” — pre­vi­ous­ly unknown to the pub­lic — and that it is work­ing on a fix. The flaw was in a tool or exploit code-named Extra­ba­con.

    ...

    Experts study­ing the release say the mate­r­i­al prob­a­bly was stolen in Octo­ber 2013, the date of the last file cre­ation. If that’s true, then some­one or anoth­er spy agency has had time to hack com­pa­nies using the vul­ner­a­ble fire­walls or watch NSA’s own cyber spy­ing.

    Past NSA employ­ees, includ­ing for­mer con­trac­tor Edward Snow­den, say it is unlike­ly that the mate­r­i­al was hacked from the agency’s servers. It is more like­ly, some say, that the tools were uploaded and inad­ver­tent­ly left by a TAO hack­er on a serv­er used to stage hacks on tar­gets. These servers are some­times called redi­rec­tors or stag­ing servers, and they mask the hacker’s true loca­tion.

    The NSA has always had audit con­trols on its sys­tems. But par­tic­u­lar­ly in the wake of leaks of clas­si­fied mate­r­i­al by Snow­den that began appear­ing in the media in June 2013, the agency has strength­ened its con­trol mech­a­nisms.

    Experts study­ing the release say the mate­r­i­al prob­a­bly was stolen in Octo­ber 2013, the date of the last file cre­ation. If that’s true, then some­one or anoth­er spy agency has had time to hack com­pa­nies using the vul­ner­a­ble fire­walls or watch NSA’s own cyber spy­ing.”

    Well, that set­tles it. The hack/theft must have hap­pend post-Snow­den. Except, of course, for the fact that there was absolute­ly noth­ing pre­vent­ing the “Shad­ow Bro­kers” from mod­i­fy­ing those time­stamps. Sure, it’s very pos­si­ble that the time­stamps on the pub­licly avail­able uploaded files are indeed accu­rate and a rea­son­able mea­sure of when this hack took place. But since it’s also very pos­si­ble that those time­stamps have been mod­i­fied because there’s absolute­ly noth­ing pre­vent­ing that and it would be an untrace­able mod­i­fi­ca­tion, it seems like we should be read­ing some­thing like “Experts study­ing the release say the mate­r­i­al prob­a­bly was stolen in Octo­ber 2013, the date of the last file cre­ation, assum­ing the files have not been mod­i­fied in any way which is a sil­ly assump­tion at this point in time.” It’s kind of like bas­ing an inves­ti­ga­tion sole­ly on ask­ing the sus­pect ques­tions and just assum­ing every­thing they say is true.

    Again, it’s not like it’s impos­si­ble that these time­stamps are accu­rate. But if that’s the only evi­dence, that’s not real­ly evi­dence. Or at least it’s bare­ly evi­dence. So it will be inter­est­ing to see if any addi­tion­al evi­dence of the actu­al date of this hack/theft emerges after Wik­iLeaks released its “pris­tine” set of the full archives of super NSA hack­ing tools. It’s “pris­tine” archive which, of course, could be total­ly mod­i­fied with­out any­one else know­ing it.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 18, 2016, 8:30 pm
  9. James Bam­ford weighed in on the release of the NSA’s “Tai­lored Access Oper­a­tions” (TAO) super hack­ing tools by the alleged­ly Russ­ian “Shad­ow Bro­kers”. Bam­ford’s con­clu­sion? It was most like­ly anoth­er Snow­den-like inside job, but Bam­ford does­n’t think the source of this leak was Snow­den or some­one with access to the full Snow­den cache. Bam­ford actu­al­ly trav­eled to Rus­sia, inter­viewed Snow­den, and got to exam­ine and search what Snow­den claimed was the full cache and did­n’t see any­thing indi­cat­ing TAO hack­ing tools (although who knows if what he saw was the full “dead-man’s switch” Dooms­day cache).

    No, the per­son Bam­ford has in mind in none oth­er than Jacob Appel­baum, the Berlin-based hackivist/Tor devel­op­er (ex-Tor devel­op­er)/Wikileaks hacker/avowed ene­my of Hillary Clin­ton. Why Appel­baum? Well, because when Jacob Appel­baum gave his big speech in Decem­ber 2013 at the Chaos Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Con­gress and wrote a bunch of Der Spiegel arti­cles describ­ing an array of of NSA TAO hack­ing tools, every­one assumed he was grab­bing that info from the Snow­den cache. But Bam­ford nev­er saw those tools when he exam­ined the cache and there was nev­er an expla­na­tion of where Appel­baum got that TAO data.

    So are Appel­baum, or pos­si­bly Appel­baum’s uniden­ti­fied NSA inside source, the real “Shad­ow Bro­kers”? That’s what Bam­ford appears to sus­pect:

    Reuters

    Com­men­tary: Evi­dence points to anoth­er Snow­den at the NSA

    By James Bam­ford
    Mon Aug 22, 2016 4:42pm EDT

    In the sum­mer of 1972, state-of-the-art cam­paign spy­ing con­sist­ed of ama­teur bur­glars, armed with duct tape and micro­phones, pen­e­trat­ing the head­quar­ters of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee. Today, ama­teur bur­glars have been replaced by cyber­spies, who pen­e­trat­ed the DNC armed with com­put­ers and sophis­ti­cat­ed hack­ing tools.

    Where the Water­gate bur­glars came away emp­ty-hand­ed and in hand­cuffs, the mod­ern- day cyber thieves walked away with tens of thou­sands of sen­si­tive polit­i­cal doc­u­ments and are still uniden­ti­fied.

    Now, in the lat­est twist, hack­ing tools them­selves, like­ly stolen from the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agency, are on the dig­i­tal auc­tion block. Once again, the usu­al sus­pects start with Rus­sia – though there seems lit­tle evi­dence back­ing up the accu­sa­tion.

    In addi­tion, if Rus­sia had stolen the hack­ing tools, it would be sense­less to pub­li­cize the theft, let alone put them up for sale. It would be like a safe­crack­er steal­ing the com­bi­na­tion to a bank vault and putting it on Face­book. Once revealed, com­pa­nies and gov­ern­ments would patch their fire­walls, just as the bank would change its com­bi­na­tion.

    A more log­i­cal expla­na­tion could also be insid­er theft. If that’s the case, it’s one more rea­son to ques­tion the use­ful­ness of an agency that secret­ly col­lects pri­vate infor­ma­tion on mil­lions of Amer­i­cans but can’t keep its most valu­able data from being stolen, or as it appears in this case, being used against us.

    In what appeared more like a Sat­ur­day Night Live skit than an act of cyber­crime, a group call­ing itself the Shad­ow Bro­kers put up for bid on the Inter­net what it called a “full state-spon­sored toolset” of “cyber­weapons.” “!!! Atten­tion gov­ern­ment spon­sors of cyber­war­fare and those who prof­it from it !!!! How much would you pay for ene­mies cyber­weapons?” said the announce­ment.

    The group said it was releas­ing some NSA files for “free” and promised “bet­ter” ones to the high­est bid­der. How­ev­er, those with loos­ing bids “Lose Lose,” it said, because they would not receive their mon­ey back. And should the total sum of the bids, in bit­coins, reach the equiv­a­lent of half a bil­lion dol­lars, the group would make the whole lot pub­lic.

    While the “auc­tion” seemed tongue in cheek, more like hack­tivists than Russ­ian high com­mand, the sam­ple doc­u­ments were almost cer­tain­ly real. The draft of a top-secret NSA man­u­al for implant­i­ng offen­sive mal­ware, released by Edward Snow­den, con­tains code for a pro­gram code­named SECONDDATE. That same 16-char­ac­ter string of num­bers and char­ac­ters is in the code released by the Shad­ow Bro­kers. The details from the man­u­al were first released by The Inter­cept last Fri­day.

    The authen­tic­i­ty of the NSA hack­ing tools were also con­firmed by sev­er­al ex-NSA offi­cials who spoke to the media, includ­ing for­mer mem­bers of the agency’s Tai­lored Access Oper­a­tions (TAO) unit, the home of hack­ing spe­cial­ists.

    “With­out a doubt, they’re the keys to the king­dom,” one for­mer TAO employ­ee told the Wash­ing­ton Post. “The stuff you’re talk­ing about would under­mine the secu­ri­ty of a lot of major gov­ern­ment and cor­po­rate net­works both here and abroad.” Anoth­er added, “From what I saw, there was no doubt in my mind that it was legit­i­mate.”

    Like a bank robber’s tool kit for break­ing into a vault, cyber exploita­tion tools, with code­names like EPICBANANA and BUZZDIRECTION, are designed to break into com­put­er sys­tems and net­works. Just as the bank rob­ber hopes to find a crack in the vault that has nev­er been dis­cov­ered, hack­ers search for dig­i­tal cracks, or “exploits,” in com­put­er pro­grams like Win­dows.

    The most valu­able are “zero day” exploits, mean­ing there have been zero days since Win­dows has dis­cov­ered the “crack” in their pro­grams. Through this crack, the hack­er would be able to get into a sys­tem and exploit it, by steal­ing infor­ma­tion, until the breach is even­tu­al­ly dis­cov­ered and patched. Accord­ing to the for­mer NSA offi­cials who viewed the Shad­ow Bro­ker files, they con­tained a num­ber of exploits, includ­ing zero-day exploits that the NSA often pays thou­sands of dol­lars for to pri­vate hack­ing groups.

    .=The rea­sons giv­en for lay­ing the blame on Rus­sia appear less con­vinc­ing, how­ev­er. “This is prob­a­bly some Russ­ian mind game, down to the bogus accent,” James A. Lewis, a com­put­er expert at the Cen­ter for Strate­gic and Inter­na­tion­al Stud­ies, a Wash­ing­ton think tank, told the New York Times. Why the Rus­sians would engage in such a mind game, he nev­er explained.

    Rather than the NSA hack­ing tools being snatched as a result of a sophis­ti­cat­ed cyber oper­a­tion by Rus­sia or some oth­er nation, it seems more like­ly that an employ­ee stole them. Experts who have ana­lyzed the files sus­pect that they date to Octo­ber 2013, five months after Edward Snow­den left his con­trac­tor posi­tion with the NSA and fled to Hong Kong car­ry­ing flash dri­ves con­tain­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of pages of NSA doc­u­ments.

    So, if Snow­den could not have stolen the hack­ing tools, there are indi­ca­tions that after he depart­ed in May 2013, some­one else did, pos­si­bly some­one assigned to the agency’s high­ly sen­si­tive Tai­lored Access Oper­a­tions.

    In Decem­ber 2013, anoth­er high­ly secret NSA doc­u­ment qui­et­ly became pub­lic. It was a top secret TAO cat­a­log of NSA hack­ing tools. Known as the Advanced Net­work Tech­nol­o­gy (ANT) cat­a­log, it con­sist­ed of 50 pages of exten­sive pic­tures, dia­grams and descrip­tions of tools for every kind of hack, most­ly tar­get­ed at devices man­u­fac­tured by U.S. com­pa­nies, includ­ing Apple, Cis­co, Dell and many oth­ers.

    Like the hack­ing tools, the cat­a­log used sim­i­lar code­names. Among the tools tar­get­ing Apple was one code­named DROPOUTJEEP, which gives NSA total con­trol of iPhones. “A soft­ware implant for the Apple iPhone,” says the ANT cat­a­log, “includes the abil­i­ty to remote­ly push/pull files from the device. SMS retrieval, con­tact-list retrieval, voice­mail, geolo­ca­tion, hot mic, cam­era cap­ture, cell-tow­er loca­tion, etc.”

    Anoth­er, code­named IRATEMONK, is, “Tech­nol­o­gy that can infil­trate the firmware of hard dri­ves man­u­fac­tured by Max­tor, Sam­sung, Sea­gate and West­ern Dig­i­tal.”

    In 2014, I spent three days in Moscow with Snow­den for a mag­a­zine assign­ment and a PBS doc­u­men­tary. Dur­ing our on-the-record con­ver­sa­tions, he would not talk about the ANT cat­a­log, per­haps not want­i­ng to bring atten­tion to anoth­er pos­si­ble NSA whistle­blow­er.

    I was, how­ev­er, giv­en unre­strict­ed access to his cache of doc­u­ments. These includ­ed both the entire British, or GCHQ, files and the entire NSA files.

    But going through this archive using a sophis­ti­cat­ed dig­i­tal search tool, I could not find a sin­gle ref­er­ence to the ANT cat­a­log. This con­firmed for me that it had like­ly been released by a sec­ond leak­er. And if that per­son could have down­loaded and removed the cat­a­log of hack­ing tools, it’s also like­ly he or she could have also down­loaded and removed the dig­i­tal tools now being leaked.

    In fact, a num­ber of the same hack­ing implants and tools released by the Shad­ow Bro­kers are also in the ANT cat­a­log, includ­ing those with code­names BANANAGLEE and JETPLOW. These can be used to cre­ate “a per­sis­tent back-door capa­bil­i­ty” into wide­ly used Cis­co fire­walls, says the cat­a­log.

    Con­sist­ing of about 300 megabytes of code, the tools could eas­i­ly and quick­ly be trans­ferred to a flash dri­ve. But unlike the cat­a­log, the tools them­selves – thou­sands of ones and zeros – would have been use­less if leaked to a pub­li­ca­tion. This could be one rea­son why they have not emerged until now.

    Enter Wik­iLeaks. Just two days after the first Shad­ow Bro­kers mes­sage, Julian Assange, the founder of Wik­iLeaks, sent out a Twit­ter mes­sage. “We had already obtained the archive of NSA cyber­weapons released ear­li­er today,” Assange wrote, “and will release our own pris­tine copy in due course.”

    The month before, Assange was respon­si­ble for releas­ing the tens of thou­sands of hacked DNC emails that led to the res­ig­na­tion of the four top com­mit­tee offi­cials.

    There also seems to be a link between Assange and the leak­er who stole the ANT cat­a­log, and the pos­si­ble hack­ing tools. Among Assange’s close asso­ciates is Jacob Appel­baum, a cel­e­brat­ed hack­tivist and the only pub­licly known Wik­iLeaks staffer in the Unit­ed States – until he moved to Berlin in 2013 in what he called a “polit­i­cal exile” because of what he said was repeat­ed harass­ment by U.S. law enforce­ment per­son­nel. In 2010, a Rolling Stone mag­a­zine pro­file labeled him “the most dan­ger­ous man in cyber­space.”

    In Decem­ber 2013, Appel­baum was the first per­son to reveal the exis­tence of the ANT cat­a­log, at a con­fer­ence in Berlin, with­out iden­ti­fy­ing the source. That same month he said he sus­pect­ed the U.S. gov­ern­ment of break­ing into his Berlin apart­ment. He also co-wrote an arti­cle about the cat­a­log in Der Spiegel. But again, he nev­er named a source, which led many to assume, mis­tak­en­ly, that it was Snow­den.

    In addi­tion to Wik­iLeaks, for years Appel­baum worked for Tor, an orga­ni­za­tion focused on pro­vid­ing its cus­tomers anonymi­ty on the Inter­net. But last May, he stepped down as a result of “seri­ous, pub­lic alle­ga­tions of sex­u­al mis­treat­ment” made by unnamed vic­tims, accord­ing to a state­ment put out by Tor. Appel­baum has denied the charges.

    Short­ly there­after, he turned his atten­tion to Hillary Clin­ton. At a screen­ing of a doc­u­men­tary about Assange in Cannes, France, Appel­baum accused her of hav­ing a grudge against him and Assange, and that if she were elect­ed pres­i­dent, she would make their lives dif­fi­cult. “It’s a sit­u­a­tion that will pos­si­bly get worse” if she is elect­ed to the White House, he said, accord­ing to Yahoo News.

    It was only a few months lat­er that Assange released the 20,000 DNC emails. Intel­li­gence agen­cies have again point­ed the fin­ger at Rus­sia for hack­ing into these emails.

    Yet there has been no expla­na­tion as to how Assange obtained them. He told NBC News, “There is no proof what­so­ev­er” that he obtained the emails from Russ­ian intel­li­gence. Moscow has also denied involve­ment.

    There are, of course, many sophis­ti­cat­ed hack­ers in Rus­sia, some with close gov­ern­ment ties and some with­out. And plant­i­ng false and mis­lead­ing indi­ca­tors in mes­sages is an old trick. Now Assange has promised to release many more emails before the elec­tion, while appar­ent­ly ignor­ing email involv­ing Trump. (Trump oppo­si­tion research was also stolen.)

    In hack­tivist style, and in what appears to be pho­ny bro­ken Eng­lish, this new release of cyber­weapons also seems to be tar­get­ing Clin­ton. It ends with a long and angry “final mes­sage” against “Wealthy Elites . . . break­ing laws” but “Elites top friends announce, no law bro­ken, no crime commit[ed]. . . Then Elites run for pres­i­dent. Why run for pres­i­dent when already con­trol coun­try like dic­ta­tor­ship?”

    Then after what they call the “fun Cyber Weapons Auc­tion” comes the real mes­sage, a seri­ous threat. “We want make sure Wealthy Elite rec­og­nizes the dan­ger [of] cyber­weapons. Let us spell out for Elites. Your wealth and con­trol depends on elec­tron­ic data.” Now, they warned, they have con­trol of the NSA’s cyber hack­ing tools that can take that wealth away. “You see attacks on banks and SWIFT [a world­wide net­work for finan­cial ser­vices] in news. If elec­tron­ic data go bye-bye where leave Wealthy Elites? Maybe with dumb cat­tle?”

    ...

    “But going through this archive using a sophis­ti­cat­ed dig­i­tal search tool, I could not find a sin­gle ref­er­ence to the ANT cat­a­log. This con­firmed for me that it had like­ly been released by a sec­ond leak­er. And if that per­son could have down­loaded and removed the cat­a­log of hack­ing tools, it’s also like­ly he or she could have also down­loaded and removed the dig­i­tal tools now being leaked.

    That was Bam­ford’s impres­sion after scour­ing Snow­den’s cache in Rus­sia: The ANT cat­a­log of TAO hack­ing tools dis­cussed by Jacob Appel­baum in 2013 must have come from a sec­ond Snow­den leak­er. And regard­less of whether or not that the­o­ry is true or not, it’s hard to ignore the fact that the TAO tools Appel­baum pub­licly dis­closed in 2013 are exact­ly the kind of tools the Shad­ow Bro­kers released. It’s also hard to ignore the fact that Appel­baum real­ly, real­ly hates Hillary Clin­ton:

    ...

    There also seems to be a link between Assange and the leak­er who stole the ANT cat­a­log, and the pos­si­ble hack­ing tools. Among Assange’s close asso­ciates is Jacob Appel­baum, a cel­e­brat­ed hack­tivist and the only pub­licly known Wik­iLeaks staffer in the Unit­ed States – until he moved to Berlin in 2013 in what he called a “polit­i­cal exile” because of what he said was repeat­ed harass­ment by U.S. law enforce­ment per­son­nel. In 2010, a Rolling Stone mag­a­zine pro­file labeled him “the most dan­ger­ous man in cyber­space.”

    In Decem­ber 2013, Appel­baum was the first per­son to reveal the exis­tence of the ANT cat­a­log, at a con­fer­ence in Berlin, with­out iden­ti­fy­ing the source. That same month he said he sus­pect­ed the U.S. gov­ern­ment of break­ing into his Berlin apart­ment. He also co-wrote an arti­cle about the cat­a­log in Der Spiegel. But again, he nev­er named a source, which led many to assume, mis­tak­en­ly, that it was Snow­den.

    In addi­tion to Wik­iLeaks, for years Appel­baum worked for Tor, an orga­ni­za­tion focused on pro­vid­ing its cus­tomers anonymi­ty on the Inter­net. But last May, he stepped down as a result of “seri­ous, pub­lic alle­ga­tions of sex­u­al mis­treat­ment” made by unnamed vic­tims, accord­ing to a state­ment put out by Tor. Appel­baum has denied the charges.

    Short­ly there­after, he turned his atten­tion to Hillary Clin­ton. At a screen­ing of a doc­u­men­tary about Assange in Cannes, France, Appel­baum accused her of hav­ing a grudge against him and Assange, and that if she were elect­ed pres­i­dent, she would make their lives dif­fi­cult. “It’s a sit­u­a­tion that will pos­si­bly get worse” if she is elect­ed to the White House, he said, accord­ing to Yahoo News.
    ...

    Short­ly there­after, he turned his atten­tion to Hillary Clin­ton. At a screen­ing of a doc­u­men­tary about Assange in Cannes, France, Appel­baum accused her of hav­ing a grudge against him and Assange, and that if she were elect­ed pres­i­dent, she would make their lives dif­fi­cult. “It’s a sit­u­a­tion that will pos­si­bly get worse” if she is elect­ed to the White House, he said, accord­ing to Yahoo News.”

    Well, there’s cer­tain­ly no short­age of cir­cum­stan­tial evi­dence point­ing in the direc­tion of Appel­baum. And while the fol­low­ing is rather weak addi­tion­al evi­dence, since Appel­baum is cur­rent­ly liv­ing in Berlin it’s worth not­ing that the email address that appears to be used by the Shad­ow Bro­kers is a Ger­man email provider with a pol­i­cy of coop­er­at­ing with legal author­i­ties as lit­tle as pos­si­ble and only hand­ing over encrypt­ed data when giv­en a court order:

    Forbes

    Edward Snow­den: Rus­sia Is Chief Sus­pect In NSA Hack

    Thomas Fox-Brew­ster, Forbes Staff
    Aug 16, 2016 @ 09:00 AM

    If there’s any­one who knows how and why any­one would hack the NSA, and can talk about it open­ly, it’s for­mer con­trac­tor Edward Snow­den. After all, the exile-in-Rus­sia siphoned off mass­es of infor­ma­tion from the intel­li­gence agency before help­ing jour­nal­ists pub­lish the doc­u­ments, which togeth­er have exposed mass sur­veil­lance by US and inter­na­tion­al snoops.

    ...

    Who are the Shad­ow Bro­kers?

    Very lit­tle is known about the Shad­ow Bro­kers. They used Github, Tum­blr and Mega to dis­sem­i­nate their files. When they released the data on August 13, they used bro­ken Eng­lish to launch a Bit­coin auc­tion for the remain­ing 40 per cent of data they hand’t released from their alleged Equa­tion Group attack. For instance: “If you want know your net­works hacked, you send bit­coin. If you want hack net­works as like equa­tion group, you send bit­coin. If you want reverse, write many words, make big name for self, get many cus­tomers, you send bit­coin. If want to know what we take, you send bit­coin.”

    Of the lit­tle infor­ma­tion avail­able, it’s clear the hack­ers used an email address belong­ing to Tutan­o­ta, a Ger­man provider focused on secu­ri­ty, to upload the data to Github.

    Founder of Tutan­o­ta Matthias Pfau told FORBES the com­pa­ny had not been con­tact­ed by law enforce­ment regard­ing the alleged breach of the NSA. “If our accounts are mis­used … a Ger­man judge can force us to deliv­er the encrypt­ed data,” Pfau said.

    He said Tutan­o­ta had only ever been forced to hand over encrypt­ed data of its users a few times and it has a trans­paren­cy report where it dis­clos­es those cas­es. “How­ev­er, we release data only in very, very few cas­es … And when we have to pro­vide the data due to a court order, it is still encrypt­ed,” Pfau added, going on to explain the company’s stance on sur­veil­lance.

    “Fan­tasies of omnipo­tence and total sur­veil­lance are threat­en­ing our fun­da­men­tal rights. That is not accept­able and that is why we stand up and fight for pri­va­cy.”

    ...

    “He said Tutan­o­ta had only ever been forced to hand over encrypt­ed data of its users a few times and it has a trans­paren­cy report where it dis­clos­es those cas­es. “How­ev­er, we release data only in very, very few cas­es … And when we have to pro­vide the data due to a court order, it is still encrypt­ed,” Pfau added, going on to explain the company’s stance on sur­veil­lance.”

    Well, it will be inter­est­ing to see if there are any fol­lowup reports on Ger­man author­i­ties ask­ing for the encrypt­ed account data. If they don’t that would be rather odd.

    Still, keep in mind that there’s noth­ing stop­ping some­one from any­where with an inter­net con­nec­tion from using a Tutan­o­ta account, although Ger­many’s enhanced data-pri­va­cy laws for cit­i­zens would poten­tial­ly make a Ger­man-based hack­er more like­ly to stick with a domes­tic super-pri­va­cy email ser­vice. But the Tutan­o­ta data point is, at this point, real­ly just an inter­est­ing side point that at least kind of hints at a Ger­many-based hack­er.

    So is Jacob Appel­baum, or per­haps Appel­baum’s uniden­ti­fied NSA source, the real Shad­ow Bro­ker? Per­haps, but let’s not throw out the pos­si­bil­i­ty that the leaked NSA hack­ing tools real­ly were part of the Snow­den dooms­day cache (a cache that Bam­ford pre­sum­ably nev­er had full access to). Let’s espe­cial­ly not throw that pos­si­bil­i­ty out since Edward Snow­den sent out a cryp­tic tweet one week before the leak that could very eas­i­ly be inter­pret­ed as a metaphor­i­cal push of the Dead Man’s Switch

    Inter­na­tion­al Busi­ness Times

    Is Edward Snow­den dead? Con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry claims whistle­blow­er killed after cryp­tic tweet

    Rumours of his demise have been denied by con­fi­dante Glenn Green­wald.

    By Jason Mur­dock
    August 8, 2016 13:54 BST

    Exiled NSA whistle­blow­er Edward Snow­den sparked intrigue on 5 August after tweet­ing a 64-dig­it code to his two mil­lion-strong Twit­ter fol­low­ing, which con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists quick­ly assumed meant he had met his untime­ly demise. The fears were sparked by a Russ­ian news web­site called Sput­nik, which report­ed the now-delet­ed tweet could have been a “dead man’s switch” – an insur­ance code set up to aid the release of anoth­er trove of doc­u­men­ta­tion “if he did not check in to the com­put­er at a cer­tain time.”

    How­ev­er, the rumours of his death or kid­nap­ping have been denied by Snow­den’s close con­fi­dante Glenn Green­wald, who replied to one con­cerned tweet with: “He’s fine.”

    In any case, since the post­ing Snow­den’s own Twit­ter pres­ence has been eeri­ly mut­ed.

    Pre­vi­ous­ly, Snow­den has indi­cat­ed he has such an insur­ance tac­tic in place should some­thing hap­pen to him while he is liv­ing under asy­lum in Rus­sia.

    In one report by Wired, pub­lished in 2013 after the ini­tial NSA dis­clo­sures hit the head­lines, Green­wald described the sys­tem in place. “It’s real­ly just a way to pro­tect him­self against extreme­ly rogue behav­iour on the part of the Unit­ed States, by which I mean vio­lent actions toward him, designed to end his life, and it’s just a way to ensure that nobody feels incen­tivised to do that,” he said.

    In response to the code, which appears on the sur­face to be a form of hash, jour­nal­ist Bar­ton Gell­man also took to social media to note the tweet had a “pri­vate mean­ing” and was not intend­ed for the gen­er­al audi­ence. “Every­one request­ing proof of life for me and @Snowden, take a deep breath. Some tweets have pri­vate mean­ing,” he wrote on 6 August.

    Based on this, it is like­ly the long code is a form of ver­i­fi­ca­tion used to prove to a con­tact of Snow­den that he is the legit­i­mate sender or recip­i­ent of a com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Using a direct mail to mes­sage, for exam­ple, would leave meta­da­ta, and there­fore a record of the con­ver­sa­tion tak­ing place.

    Gell­man, who is cur­rent­ly writ­ing a book about the Edward Snow­den leaks, was pre­vi­ous­ly embroiled in anoth­er recent post that sparked con­tro­ver­sy after the for­mer NSA con­trac­tor mys­te­ri­ous­ly tweet­ed: “It’s time.”

    ...

    In light of this, the use of a so-called dead man’s switch was used to pro­tect his well­be­ing. Addi­tion­al­ly, whistle­blow­ing out­fit Wik­iLeaks, which has released sen­si­tive files from the US gov­ern­ment, also uses the tech­nique. Most recent­ly, the group’s founder, Julian Assange, uploaded a fresh 88GB file to the inter­net – just pri­or to the leaks from the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee (DNC).

    “Gell­man, who is cur­rent­ly writ­ing a book about the Edward Snow­den leaks, was pre­vi­ous­ly embroiled in anoth­er recent post that sparked con­tro­ver­sy after the for­mer NSA con­trac­tor mys­te­ri­ous­ly tweet­ed: “It’s time.”

    Let’s see...so Snow­den first cryp­ti­cal­ly tweets on August 3, “Did you work with me? Have we talked since 2013? Please recon­tact me secure­ly, or talk to @bartongellman. It’s time. https://t.co/AKmgF5AIDJ

    And then he tweets a very long cryp­to­graph­ic key of some sort. Then he goes silent for a cou­ple days and peo­ple start assum­ing he’s dead. And then a week lat­er we get the Shad­ow Bro­ker leak of NSA TAO hack­ing tools.

    So we have cir­cum­stan­tial evi­dence sug­gest­ing that the Shad­ow Bro­kers leak may be a con­se­quence of Snow­den hit­ting his switch along with cir­cum­stan­tial evi­dence that Appel­baum already had his hands on the kinds of NSA hack­ing tools that actu­al­ly got leaked but those tools prob­a­bly did­n’t come from Snow­den but a dif­fer­ent, still uniden­ti­fied, NSA leak­er. Curi­ouser and curi­ouser...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 23, 2016, 6:30 pm
  10. @Pterrafractyl–

    Apple­baum? Wik­iLeaks? All part of what I have termed “Team Snow­den” and that I fin­gered as the cul­prit for the high-pro­file leaks.

    Anoth­er of the “Con­ga-Line ‘Ops”” here, I sus­pect.

    Recall that Apple­baum appears to have assist­ed Snow­den’s flight from Hawaii to Chi­na. Wik­iLeaks and Sarah Har­ri­son helped “The Obverse Oswald” get to Moscow.

    Although Snow­den may not have been per­son­al­ly involved (and, who knows, he MAY have been), “Team Snow­den” is com­ing into high­er pro­file here all the time.

    The fact that Snow­den weighed in that “Sho ‘Nuff, must be Rus­sia” is approach­ing the ter­ri­to­ry of what legal ana­lysts call “con­scious­ness of guilt.”

    Don’t expect the world’s jour­nal­is­tic com­mu­ni­ty to start fin­ger­ing The Peach­fuzz Fas­cist, how­ev­er.

    They have already cast him as a saint and can’t do oth­er­wise with­out mak­ing them­selves look like clowns.

    Keep up the great work!

    Best,

    Dave

    Posted by Dave Emory | August 23, 2016, 9:23 pm
  11. It’s been report­ed that the dis­graced for­mer head of Fox News, Roger Ailes, is prep­ping Don­ald Trump for the pres­i­den­tial debates with Hillary Clin­ton.
    Ailes, of course, was shown the gate for sex­u­al mis­con­duct. Apple­baum, who cham­pi­oned Assange in the face of rape alle­ga­tions in 2012, was him­self cut loose by the Tor Project after an inter­nal inves­ti­ga­tion deter­mined sex­u­al har­rass­ment alle­ga­tions against Apple­baum were true. Per­haps Apple­baum and Assange can assist Ailes in get­ting Trump ready. The Three A ….. (No not Ami­gos). A fed­er­al law­suit filed by “Jane Doe” in June of this year accused Trump of rap­ing her in 1994 when she was thir­teen years old. Inter­est­ing how MSM AND Pro­gres­sives have let this quar­tet skate away unlike Bill Cos­by (and I’m no apol­o­gist for Cos­by!).
    The abysmal sex­u­al pol­i­tics of Julian Assange con­tin­ued today with Wik­ileaks’ unredact­ed mass data dump out­ing gay peo­ple in Sau­di Ara­bia, one of the most repres­sive coun­tries in the world when it comes to LGBT civ­il rights.

    Posted by Dennis | August 23, 2016, 10:49 pm
  12. Roger Stone recent­ly gave anoth­er inter­view where he repeat­ed his claim that he’s in con­tact with Julian Assange and hint­ed at the like­ly nature of a pos­si­ble Wik­ileaks “Octo­ber Sur­prise”, although he not­ed that it might hap­pen soon­er than Octo­ber and Assange might just do strate­gic dumps before the three pres­i­den­tial debates. So get ready for a Sep­tem­ber sur­prise since the first sched­uled debate is Sep­tem­ber 26. Plus a cou­ple Octo­ber sur­pris­es for the oth­er two debates. And pre­sum­ably anoth­er sur­prise before the actu­al elec­tion.

    Stone also briefly men­tioned one top­ic that is like­ly going to be in at least one of those leaks: “I believe that he is in pos­ses­sion of all of those emails that Huma Abe­din and Cheryl Mills, the Clin­ton aides, believe they delet­ed. That and a lot more. These are like the Water­gate tapes.” Keep in mind that the right-wing has long tried to smear Huma Abe­din with Mus­lim Broth­er­hood ties and Roger Stone recent­ly sug­gest­ed she’s a ter­ror­ist agent. So while there’s prob­a­bly going to be mul­ti­ple “sur­pris­es” over the next cou­ple of months, at least one of them is going to try to sug­gest that Hillary is a ter­ror­ist agent:

    Alter­Net

    Trump Dirty Trick­ster Roger Stone: How ‘Hero’ Assange Could Help Our Cam­paign

    The con­spir­acist reveals he’s been in touch with the Wik­iLeaks founder regard­ing Clin­ton emails—and when to dump them on the media.

    By Adele M. Stan / Alter­Net
    August 22, 2016

    In an inter­view that aired Sun­day on C‑SPAN’s “News­mak­ers” pro­gram, Roger Stone, the off-the-books Trump advis­er, reit­er­at­ed his claim that he has been in touch with Wik­iLeaks founder Julian Assange.

    Assange post­ed the hacked emails of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee to his site, as well as a data­base of emails from Hillary Clin­ton’s pri­vate email serv­er, which the for­mer sec­re­tary of state used to com­mu­ni­cate with State Depart­ment aides dur­ing her tenure in the Cab­i­net.

    Stone, a long­time Repub­li­can polit­i­cal oper­a­tive and dirty trick­ster, pur­port­ed­ly either resigned or was fired from the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign of Don­ald Trump last year but con­tin­ues to be deeply involved with the cam­paign, espe­cial­ly the ele­ments of its mes­sag­ing that advance the con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries of the right. In the inter­view, he described his rela­tion­ship to the Trump cam­paign this way: “I count myself as a Trump friend—kind of like Sid­ney Blu­men­thal [is to the Clin­tons]; I have no for­mal nor infor­mal role, but I do have access to all the right peo­ple.”

    On the C‑SPAN show, Stone told Politico’s Alex Isen­stadt of his com­mu­ni­ca­tion to Assange “through an intermediary—somebody who is a mutu­al friend”—regard­ing the 30,000 emails the Clin­ton staff delet­ed before turn­ing over the con­tents of the serv­er to Jus­tice Depart­ment inves­ti­ga­tors. (Clin­ton main­tains that only emails of a per­son­al nature were delet­ed.) Asked to cor­rob­o­rate Assange’s threat of “an Octo­ber sur­prise” to stem from that trove, Stone offered a sug­ges­tion he clear­ly deemed to be more help­ful to the Trump cam­paign.

    “Well, first of all, I think Julian Assange is a hero; I think he’s tak­ing on the deep state, both Repub­li­can and Demo­c­rat,” Stone began. He went on to say, “I believe that he is in pos­ses­sion of all of those emails that Huma Abe­din and Cheryl Mills, the Clin­ton aides, believe they delet­ed. That and a lot more. These are like the Water­gate tapes…” (Video below: Go to time­stamp 15:15.)

    Stone knows a thing or two about the Water­gate scan­dal, in which he played a minor role before mov­ing on to big­ger oper­a­tions, such as the 2000 “Brooks Broth­ers riot” in Flori­da, when Stone orga­nized dozens of Repub­li­can con­gres­sion­al staffers to storm the elec­tion board in Mia­mi-Dade Coun­ty, Flori­da, where a recount of pres­i­den­tial elec­tion bal­lots was tak­ing place.

    “I don’t know that this is going to hap­pen in Octo­ber,” Stone said of a poten­tial Wik­iLeaks dump of Clin­ton cor­re­spon­dence. “There is an enor­mous amount of mate­r­i­al here. Mr. Assange could, the­o­ret­i­cal­ly, drop a tranche of doc­u­ments before each one of [the pres­i­den­tial] debates.”

    ...

    Of new­ly named Trump cam­paign man­ag­er Kellyanne Con­way, Stone had this to say: “Kellyanne’s [pres­i­den­tial cam­paign] expe­ri­ence dates to Ted Cruz. That didn’t work out too well.”

    ““I don’t know that this is going to hap­pen in October...There is an enor­mous amount of mate­r­i­al here. Mr. Assange could, the­o­ret­i­cal­ly, drop a tranche of doc­u­ments before each one of [the pres­i­den­tial] debates.”

    Get ready for spe­cial debate-influ­ence-leaks, served up just for The Don­ald’s debate nights. Because Julian Assange cares about the future.

    Or course, there’s no guar­an­tee that what­ev­er Wik­ileaks leaks right before the debate will end up get­ting much or any atten­tion dur­ing the debate. That’s going to depend in part on how mun­dane the actu­al leaked info actu­al is and how hys­ter­i­cal the right-wing spin around it ends up being. Or course, if Don­ald Trump gets to pick the debate mod­er­a­tors as one of his “demands” for par­tic­i­pat­ing in the debates at all, there’s prob­a­bly going to be quite a few ques­tions about the Wik­ileaks “sur­pris­es”:

    Politi­co

    Trump wavers on debates: ‘I have to see the con­di­tions’

    The Clin­ton cam­paign says that he’s engag­ing in ‘shenani­gans’ and ‘toy­ing’ with the media.

    By Nolan D. McCaskill

    08/09/16 03:46 PM EDT

    Updat­ed 08/09/16 06:05 PM EDT

    Don­ald Trump wants to debate Hillary Clin­ton “very bad­ly,” but the Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee on Tues­day said he has “to see the con­di­tions” before ful­ly com­mit­ting to it.

    Trump’s waver­ing comes amid increas­ing con­cern that the often errat­ic polit­i­cal out­sider could for­go his chances to spar with Clin­ton on the nation­al stage, break­ing a his­toric prece­dent. Clinton’s cam­paign issued a pre-emp­tive rebuke, accus­ing Trump of engag­ing in “shenani­gans” and pos­si­bly “toy­ing” with the media to cre­ate dra­ma.

    The non­par­ti­san Com­mis­sion on Pres­i­den­tial Debates announced in Sep­tem­ber 2015 the loca­tions for the pres­i­den­tial and vice pres­i­den­tial debates: Hof­s­tra Uni­ver­si­ty in Hemp­stead, New York, on Sept. 26; Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty in St. Louis on Oct. 9; the Uni­ver­si­ty of Neva­da, Las Vegas, on Oct. 19; and Long­wood Uni­ver­si­ty in Far­mville, Vir­ginia, for the vice pres­i­den­tial debate on Oct. 4.

    In a tele­phone inter­view with Time, Trump seem­ing­ly com­mit­ted to par­tic­i­pat­ing in three debates but added a caveat.

    “I will absolute­ly do three debates,” Trump said. “I want to debate very bad­ly. But I have to see the con­di­tions.”

    Before the inter­view was pub­lished, Clin­ton cam­paign chair­man John Podes­ta said in a state­ment that the debates aren’t open to nego­ti­a­tion.

    “It is con­cern­ing that the Trump cam­paign is already engaged in shenani­gans around these debates. It is not clear if he is try­ing to avoid debates, or mere­ly toy­ing with the press to cre­ate more dra­ma,” he said. “Either way, our cam­paign is not inter­est­ed in play­ing along with a debate about debates or bar­gain­ing around them. The only issue now is whether Don­ald Trump is going to show up to debate at the date, times, places and for­mats set by the com­mis­sion last year through a bipar­ti­san process. We will accept the commission’s invi­ta­tion and expect Don­ald Trump to do the same.”

    ...

    On Tues­day, Trump sug­gest­ed he would try to cut a deal with the com­mis­sion. Trump crit­i­cized a marathon CNN debate dur­ing the GOP pri­ma­ry that last­ed more than three hours and took cred­it for the fol­low­ing debate, which was host­ed by CNBC, being lim­it­ed to two hours. Poli­ti­Fact, how­ev­er, rat­ed Trump’s asser­tion that he rene­go­ti­at­ed a three-hour debate down to two hours “Most­ly False.”

    “I rene­go­ti­at­ed the debates in the pri­maries, remem­ber?” Trump told Time on Tues­day. “They were mak­ing a for­tune on them, and they had us in for 3½ hours, and I said that’s ridicu­lous. I’m sure they’ll be open to any sug­ges­tions I have because I think they’ll be very fair sug­ges­tions. But I haven’t [seen the con­di­tions] yet. They’re actu­al­ly pre­sent­ed to me tonight.”

    Trump famous­ly clashed with Fox News anchor and debate mod­er­a­tor Meg­yn Kel­ly last year, and he empha­sized to Time that he would have to wait and see who the gen­er­al elec­tion debate mod­er­a­tors are because “cer­tain mod­er­a­tors would be unac­cept­able.

    “I did very well in the debates on the pri­maries,” Trump said. “Accord­ing to the polls, I won all of them. So I look for­ward to the debates. But, yeah, I want to have fair mod­er­a­tors … I will demand fair mod­er­a­tors.”

    “I did very well in the debates on the primaries...According to the polls, I won all of them. So I look for­ward to the debates. But, yeah, I want to have fair mod­er­a­tors … I will demand fair mod­er­a­tors.”

    Yep, Trump is total­ly will­ing to do the debates...as long as his demands are met and those demands include mod­er­a­tors Trump deems “fair”. At least that’s his bar­gain­ing posi­tion. We’ll see if it works. But giv­en the medi­a’s desire to see this race as close as pos­si­ble right up until the last moment and giv­en the rat­ings a Trump/Clinton debate could gar­ner, it’s not at all incon­ceiv­able that we could see the Trump cam­paign basi­cal­ly stack the debate with far-right Bre­it­bart-style mod­er­a­tors.

    So, assum­ing Trump actu­al­ly does the debates and does­n’t find a way to skip them and declared them rigged, get ready for an upcom­ing set of debates with lots of ques­tions about how Hillary is secret­ly try­ing to under­mine the US and sup­ports ter­ror­ism. Lot’s of iron­ic ques­tions asked non-iron­i­cal­ly.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 24, 2016, 3:04 pm
  13. Julian Assange just gave a two-part inter­view with Meg­yn Kel­ly on Fox News. It did­n’t con­tain too many sur­pris­es since it was most­ly just Assange reit­er­at­ing his fore­shad­ow­ing of some sort of “Octo­ber Sur­prise” against Hillary Clin­ton that will poten­tial­ly shake up the elec­tion. Kel­ly asked Assange about his pre­vi­ous non-sug­ges­tion sug­ges­tion that Seth Rich, the recent­ly mur­dered DNC staffer, was the source for his DNC email leaks and, also not sur­pris­ing­ly, Assange issued anoth­er non-denial denial inter­twined with some more non-sug­ges­tion sug­ges­tions that Seth Rich was the source:

    Fox 5 DC

    Wik­iLeaks founder address­es death of DNC staffer Seth Rich in Fox News inter­view

    By: Sarah Sim­mons

    Posted:Aug 25 2016 11:17PM EDT
    Updated:Aug 25 2016 11:17PM EDT

    WASHINGTON — Wik­iLeaks founder Julian Assange has spo­ken out about the a Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee staffer killed near­by his Wash­ing­ton D.C. home.

    In the past, Assange hint­ed Seth Rich may have been a Wik­iLeaks infor­mant, and in an exclu­sive inter­view with Fox News’ Meg­yn Kel­ly, he revealed even more.

    But once again, Assange skirt­ed the ques­tion of whether Rich was an infor­mant in the inter­view. He would only say he was con­cerned about any poten­tial sources who would try to help Wik­iLeaks in its endeav­ors.

    ...

    But the exchange with Kel­ly about the D.C. mur­der of the 27-year-old Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee employ­ee revealed some inter­est­ing infor­ma­tion.

    “We’re not say­ing that Seth Rich’s death nec­es­sar­i­ly is con­nect­ed to our pub­li­ca­tions – that’s some­thing that needs to be estab­lished,” said Assange. “But if there is any ques­tion about a source of Wik­iLeaks being threat­ened, then peo­ple can be assured that this orga­ni­za­tion will go after any­one who may have been involved in some kind of attempt to coerce or pos­si­bly, in this kill a poten­tial source.”

    When Kel­ly asked him if he has any sus­pi­cions on who may have mur­dered Rich, Assange respond­ed, “We have received a vari­ety of infor­ma­tion. We will be for­ward­ing that infor­ma­tion to the police. I don’t think the infor­ma­tion so far is enough to start point­ing a direct fin­ger. We don’t want to com­pro­mise the police inves­ti­ga­tion.”

    Rich was gunned down on his way to his Bloom­ing­dale neigh­bor­hood home at around 4:20 a.m. on July 10. He had left a bar in Colum­bia Heights and was walk­ing home when he was fatal­ly shot while on the phone with his girl­friend.

    Inves­ti­ga­tors have no leads right now and there were no wit­ness­es to the killing.

    Con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries fes­tered on social media, espe­cial­ly after Wik­iLeaks offered a $20,000 reward for infor­ma­tion lead­ing to the arrests in addi­tion the $5,000 reward offered by D.C. police. But police said there is no evi­dence to sug­gest Rich’s death, which was 12 days before Wik­iLeaks released a bar­rage of Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee emails, had any­thing to do with his job.

    Right now, inves­ti­ga­tors still believe Rich’s death was a rob­bery gone wrong and there is no oth­er evi­dence to prove oth­er­wise.

    “When Kel­ly asked him if he has any sus­pi­cions on who may have mur­dered Rich, Assange respond­ed, “We have received a vari­ety of infor­ma­tion. We will be for­ward­ing that infor­ma­tion to the police. I don’t think the infor­ma­tion so far is enough to start point­ing a direct fin­ger. We don’t want to com­pro­mise the police inves­ti­ga­tion.””

    So is this the big news that Assange feels will shake up the cam­paign? Some sort of evi­dence that Seth Rich was behind the DNC hack and vague­ly points a fin­ger towards some sort of Hillary hit man? If so, those police inves­ti­ga­tors would prob­a­bly appre­ci­ate if Wik­ileaks actu­al­ly for­ward­ed that infor­ma­tion to them. Note that Assange said he “will be for­ward­ing that infor­ma­tion to the police” as opposed to “we already for­ward­ed that infor­ma­tion to the police.” But then he rais­es ques­tions about the util­i­ty of the infor­ma­tion he’s received and says Wik­ileaks does­n’t want to com­pro­mise the police inves­ti­ga­tion. So maybe the police should be glad Wik­ileaks has­n’t for­ward­ed the infor­ma­tion yet because based any infor­ma­tion that harms an inves­ti­ga­tion is prob­a­bly dis­in­for­ma­tion. And yet here was have Assange once again push­ing this meme.

    Also keep in mind that if Rich real­ly was behind the DNC hack it’s not incon­ceiv­able that Wik­ileaks would have evi­dence of this if Rich was in con­tact with Wik­ileaks, but the sources should in the­o­ry remain anony­mous even to Wik­ileaks giv­en the way Wik­ileak­s’s online sub­mis­sion sys­tem works. So unless the DNC hack source specif­i­cal­ly deanonymized them­selves to Wik­ileaks (or Assange him­self was behind the hack), the default assump­tion for Wik­ileak­s’s knowl­edge of its sources is gen­er­al­ly that it has no idea who the source actu­al­ly is, which makes it all the more amaz­ing that Assange just decid­ed to pub­licly spec­u­late and strong­ly hint that Rich was the source.

    Unless, of course, he does have infor­ma­tion that Rich was the source. Maybe Rich chat­ted with him using some encryp­tion app or some­thing. But if that’s the case, then it begs the ques­tion of whether or not Assange has passed that infor­ma­tion along to police too. If not, why not?

    It all rais­es the gen­er­al ques­tion as to whether or not Wik­ileaks would, in the­o­ry, hand over infor­ma­tion to inves­ti­ga­tors about their sources if 1. They know who the source is, and 2. The source just got mys­te­ri­ous­ly mur­dered and inves­ti­ga­tors have no sus­pect or motive. After all, if Wik­ileaks made it clear that it won’t reveal sources unless they’re mys­te­ri­ous­ly mur­dered and there are no sus­pects or motives, it’s hard to see how that would be any­thing oth­er than an addi­tion­al lev­el of pro­tec­tion for Wik­ileak­s’s sources.

    So let’s hope some of these ques­tions get asked of the man who repeat­ed­ly issues non-denial denials over whether or not his non-asser­tion asser­tions are intend­ed to tell the world that Hillary Clin­ton has Seth Rich mur­dered dur­ing future inter­views. Don’t be super sur­prised if they aren’t.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 25, 2016, 8:20 pm
  14. Oh, look at that: some­one appears to have attempt­ed to hack Illi­nois’s and Ari­zon­a’s vot­ing sys­tems:

    Yahoo News

    FBI says for­eign hack­ers pen­e­trat­ed state elec­tion sys­tems

    Michael Isikoff
    Chief Inves­tiga­tive Cor­re­spon­dent
    August 29, 2016

    The FBI has uncov­ered evi­dence that for­eign hack­ers pen­e­trat­ed two state elec­tion data­bas­es in recent weeks, prompt­ing the bureau to warn elec­tion offi­cials across the coun­try to take new steps to enhance the secu­ri­ty of their com­put­er sys­tems, accord­ing to fed­er­al and state law enforce­ment offi­cials.

    The FBI warn­ing, con­tained in a “flash” alert from the FBI’s Cyber Divi­sion, a copy of which was obtained by Yahoo News, comes amid height­ened con­cerns among U.S. intel­li­gence offi­cials about the pos­si­bil­i­ty of cyber­in­tru­sions, poten­tial­ly by Russ­ian state-spon­sored hack­ers, aimed at dis­rupt­ing the Novem­ber elec­tions.

    Those con­cerns prompt­ed Home­land Secu­ri­ty Sec­re­tary Jeh John­son to con­vene a con­fer­ence call with state elec­tion offi­cials on Aug. 15, in which he offered his department’s help to make state vot­ing sys­tems more secure, includ­ing pro­vid­ing fed­er­al cyber secu­ri­ty experts to scan for vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties, accord­ing to a “read­out” of the call released by the depart­ment.

    John­son empha­sized in the call that Home­land Secu­ri­ty was not aware of “spe­cif­ic or cred­i­ble cyber­se­cu­ri­ty threats” to the elec­tion, offi­cials said. But three days after that call, the FBI Cyber Divi­sion issued a poten­tial­ly more dis­turb­ing warn­ing, enti­tled “Tar­get­ing Activ­i­ty Against State Board of Elec­tion Sys­tems.” The alert, labeled as restrict­ed for “NEED TO KNOW recip­i­ents,” dis­closed that the bureau was inves­ti­gat­ing cyber­in­tru­sions against two state elec­tion web­sites this sum­mer, includ­ing one that result­ed in the “exfil­tra­tion,” or theft, of vot­er reg­is­tra­tion data. “It was an eye open­er,” one senior law enforce­ment offi­cial said of the bureau’s dis­cov­ery of the intru­sions. “We believe it’s kind of seri­ous, and we’re inves­ti­gat­ing.”

    The bul­letin does not iden­ti­fy the states in ques­tion, but sources famil­iar with the doc­u­ment say it refers to the tar­get­ing by sus­pect­ed for­eign hack­ers of vot­er reg­is­tra­tion data­bas­es in Ari­zona and Illi­nois. In the Illi­nois case, offi­cials were forced to shut down the state’s vot­er reg­is­tra­tion sys­tem for ten days in late July, after the hack­ers man­aged to down­load per­son­al data on up to 200,000 state vot­ers, Ken Men­zel, the gen­er­al coun­sel of the Illi­nois Board of Elec­tions, said in an inter­view. The Ari­zona attack was more lim­it­ed, involv­ing mali­cious soft­ware that was intro­duced into its vot­er reg­is­tra­tion sys­tem but no suc­cess­ful exfil­tra­tion of data, a state offi­cial said.

    FBI Flash PDF : Tar­get­ing Activ­i­ty Against State Board of Elec­tion Sys­tems »>

    The FBI bul­letin list­ed eight sep­a­rate IP address­es that were the sources of the two attacks and sug­gest­ed that the attacks may have been linked, not­ing that one of the IP address­es was used in both intru­sions. The bul­letin implied that the bureau was look­ing for any signs that the attacks may have been attempt­ing to tar­get even more than the two states. “The FBI is request­ing that states con­tact their Board of Elec­tions and deter­mine if any sim­i­lar activ­i­ty to their logs, both inbound and out­bound, has been detect­ed,” the alert reads. “Attempts should not be made to touch or ping the IP address­es direct­ly.”

    “This is a big deal,” said Rich Barg­er, chief intel­li­gence offi­cer for Threat­Con­nect, a cyber­se­cu­ri­ty firm, who reviewed the FBI alert at the request of Yahoo News. “Two state elec­tion boards have been popped, and data has been tak­en. This cer­tain­ly should be con­cern­ing to the com­mon Amer­i­can vot­er.”

    Barg­er not­ed that that one of the IP address­es list­ed in the FBI alert has sur­faced before in Russ­ian crim­i­nal under­ground hack­er forums. He also said the method of attack on one of the state elec­tion sys­tems — includ­ing the types of tools used by the hack­ers to scan for vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties and exploit them — appear to resem­ble meth­ods used in oth­er sus­pect­ed Russ­ian state-spon­sored cyber­at­tacks, includ­ing one just this month on the World Anti-Dop­ing Agency.

    The FBI did not respond to detailed ques­tions about the alert, say­ing in a state­ment only that such bul­letins are pro­vid­ed “to help sys­tems admin­is­tra­tors guard against the actions of per­sis­tent cyber crim­i­nals.” Men­zel, the Illi­nois elec­tion offi­cial, said that in a recent brief­ing, FBI agents con­firmed to him that the per­pe­tra­tors were believed to be for­eign hack­ers, although they were not iden­ti­fied by coun­try. He said he was told that the bureau was look­ing at a “pos­si­ble link” to the recent high­ly pub­li­cized attack on the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee and oth­er polit­i­cal orga­ni­za­tions, which U.S. offi­cials sus­pect was per­pe­trat­ed by Russ­ian gov­ern­ment hack­ers. But he said agents told him they had reached no con­clu­sions, and oth­er experts say the hack­ers could also have been com­mon cyber crim­i­nals hop­ing to steal per­son­al data on state vot­ers for fraud­u­lent pur­pos­es, such as obtain­ing bogus tax refunds.

    Still, the FBI warn­ing seems like­ly to ramp up pres­sure on the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty to for­mal­ly des­ig­nate state elec­tion sys­tems as part of the nation’s “crit­i­cal infra­struc­ture” requir­ing fed­er­al pro­tec­tion — a key step, advo­cates say, in fore­stalling the pos­si­bil­i­ty of for­eign gov­ern­ment med­dling in the elec­tion.

    Such a for­mal des­ig­na­tion, which would allow state elec­tion offi­cials to request fed­er­al assis­tance to pro­tect their vot­ing sys­tems, “is under con­sid­er­a­tion,” a Home­land Secu­ri­ty spokesman told Yahoo News.

    Fed­er­al and state elec­tion offi­cials say that the prospect of a full-blown cyber­at­tack that seri­ous­ly dis­rupts the Novem­ber elec­tions is remote, but not out of the ques­tion. About 40 states use opti­cal-scan elec­tron­ic-vot­ing machines, allow­ing vot­ers to fill out their choic­es on paper. The results are tab­u­lat­ed by com­put­ers.

    These are “rea­son­ably safe” because the vot­ing machines are backed up by paper bal­lots that can be checked, says Andrew W. Appel, a Prince­ton Uni­ver­si­ty com­put­er sci­ence pro­fes­sor who has stud­ied elec­tion secu­ri­ty. But six states and parts of four oth­ers (includ­ing large swaths of Penn­syl­va­nia, a cru­cial swing state in this year’s race) are more vul­ner­a­ble because they rely on paper­less touch­screen vot­ing, known as DREs or Direct-Record­ing Elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines, for which there are no paper bal­lot back­ups.

    “Then what­ev­er num­bers the vot­ing com­put­er says at the close of the polls are com­plete­ly under the con­trol of the com­put­er pro­gram in there,” Appel wrote in a recent blog post enti­tled “Secu­ri­ty Against Elec­tion Hack­ing.” “If the com­put­er is hacked, then the hack­er gets to decide what num­bers are report­ed. … All DRE (paper­less touch­screen) vot­ing com­put­ers are sus­cep­ti­ble to this kind of hack­ing. This is our biggest prob­lem.” Anoth­er area of con­cern cit­ed by Appel and oth­er experts is the grow­ing num­ber of states that allow over­seas and mil­i­tary vot­ers to cast their bal­lots online.

    In his con­fer­ence call this month with state elec­tion offi­cials, John­son urged them to guard against poten­tial intru­sions by tak­ing basic pre­cau­tion­ary steps, such as ensur­ing that elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines are not con­nect­ed to the Inter­net while vot­ing is tak­ing place. The FBI bul­letin address­es addi­tion­al poten­tial threats, such as the tar­get­ing of state vot­er reg­is­tra­tion data­bas­es com­pa­ra­ble to the attacks in Ari­zona and Illi­nois. “This is a wake-up call for oth­er states to look at their sys­tems,” said Tom Hicks, chair­man of the fed­er­al Elec­tion Assis­tance Com­mis­sion, an agency cre­at­ed by Con­gress after the 2000 Flori­da recount to pro­tect the integri­ty of elec­tions and which helped dis­trib­ute the FBI alert to state elec­tion offi­cials last week.

    Hack­ers could con­ceiv­ably use intru­sions into vot­er reg­is­tra­tion data­bas­es to delete names from vot­er reg­is­tra­tion lists, although in most states, vot­ers can request pro­vi­sion­al bal­lots at the polls, allow­ing time for dis­crep­an­cies to be resolved, an offi­cial of the Nation­al Asso­ci­a­tion of Sec­re­taries of State told Yahoo News. Still, accord­ing to Barg­er, the cyber­se­cu­ri­ty expert, such attacks can be used to cre­ate hav­oc and sow doubt over the elec­tion results.

    ...

    “Fed­er­al and state elec­tion offi­cials say that the prospect of a full-blown cyber­at­tack that seri­ous­ly dis­rupts the Novem­ber elec­tions is remote, but not out of the ques­tion. About 40 states use opti­cal-scan elec­tron­ic-vot­ing machines, allow­ing vot­ers to fill out their choic­es on paper. The results are tab­u­lat­ed by com­put­ers.”

    Ok, let’s hope the prospect of a full-blown cyber­at­tack that seri­ous­ly dis­rupt the elec­tion real­ly is remote. Hope­ful­ly that means Ari­zon­a’s and Illi­nois’s sys­tems had just unusu­al­ly crap­py secu­ri­ty or some­thing. But as Josh Mar­shall reminds us below, if the pur­pose of a hack attack isn’t intend­ed to secret­ly shift the out­come of an elec­tion but instead to sim­ply dis­rupt the elec­tion, and call into ques­tion the integri­ty of the vote, than seri­ous­ly dis­rupt­ing the elec­tion could be as sim­ple as rais­ing major ques­tions about the integri­ty of the vote in a few key precincts in a cou­ple swing states in a man­ner that is guar­an­teed to be caught. In oth­er words, it’s not that the hack will used to swing the elec­tion. It will be used to inval­i­date it in the minds of a hyper­po­lar­ized elec­torate:

    Talk­ing Points Memo
    Edi­tor’s Blog

    Could The Elec­tion Itself Be Hacked?

    By Josh Mar­shall
    Pub­lished August 29, 2016, 12:36 PM EDT

    A few weeks back, when I was writ­ing about pos­si­ble Russ­ian efforts to influ­ence the US elec­tion, a num­ber of secu­ri­ty experts point­ed me to con­cerns about hack­ing or tam­per­ing with the actu­al US vot­ing appa­ra­tus. Now the FBI has reached out to local elec­tion offi­cials after hacks were detect­ed in two states. Whether some­thing has Russ­ian fin­ger­prints on it is obvi­ous­ly huge­ly inflam­ma­to­ry and polar­iza­tion. I think the empha­sis here is some­thing that some­one may be try­ing to do this — at least on first blush, pre­cise­ly who it is is less impor­tant to tak­ing pre­cau­tions to pre­vent prob­lems.

    ...

    But here’s the thing. If for­eign hack­ers of any source or domes­tic hack­ers for that mat­ter want to dis­rupt an elec­tion, that’s much sim­pler. Per­haps you’ve hacked into the servers in advance and then you sim­ply erase the data late in the day? Or shift it to all Clin­ton or all Trump. If it’s being done from some­where in Sene­gal or Bangkok you’re nev­er going to track down and appre­hend the cul­prits. And the changes to the num­bers don’t need to be cred­i­ble to severe­ly dis­rupt the elec­tion. Com­plete hypo­thet­i­cal: what if 10 crit­i­cal precinct tal­lies in Flori­da and Ohio are sim­ply erased or tam­pered with so that the num­bers bear no con­fi­dence? What do you do then? We’re not in a high trust cli­mate in our pol­i­tics where some­thing like that could be eas­i­ly resolved. Pre­cise­ly because we are already in such a low trust polit­i­cal era, even a tiny num­ber of demon­strat­ed cas­es of cyber-tam­per­ing would cast a penum­bra of doubt over the whole process, espe­cial­ly for the los­ing par­ty.

    The point is that dis­rup­tion does­n’t real­ly require hid­ing your tracks. It’s enough to dis­rupt, delete, alter. It can also be done by peo­ple who don’t have any par­tic­u­lar con­cern with the actu­al elec­tion out­come, have no need to make the results cred­i­ble and have none of the legal or rep­u­ta­tion­al vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties that might deter peo­ple with­in the polit­i­cal sys­tem itself from try­ing to tam­per with elec­tion results.

    The coun­try has enough things to freak out about as a coun­try. I’m not say­ing we should start wig­ging out about this. But it’s def­i­nite­ly worth being con­cerned about and hope­ful­ly one that fed­er­al law enforce­ment author­i­ties are focus­ing on and proac­tive­ly work­ing with local author­i­ties to pre­vent. And it’s some­thing qual­i­ta­tive­ly eas­i­er to pull off for bad actors whose aim is dis­rup­tion rather than win­ning.

    “But here’s the thing. If for­eign hack­ers of any source or domes­tic hack­ers for that mat­ter want to dis­rupt an elec­tion, that’s much sim­pler. Per­haps you’ve hacked into the servers in advance and then you sim­ply erase the data late in the day? Or shift it to all Clin­ton or all Trump. If it’s being done from some­where in Sene­gal or Bangkok you’re nev­er going to track down and appre­hend the cul­prits. And the changes to the num­bers don’t need to be cred­i­ble to severe­ly dis­rupt the elec­tion. Com­plete hypo­thet­i­cal: what if 10 crit­i­cal precinct tal­lies in Flori­da and Ohio are sim­ply erased or tam­pered with so that the num­bers bear no con­fi­dence? What do you do then? We’re not in a high trust cli­mate in our pol­i­tics where some­thing like that could be eas­i­ly resolved. Pre­cise­ly because we are already in such a low trust polit­i­cal era, even a tiny num­ber of demon­strat­ed cas­es of cyber-tam­per­ing would cast a penum­bra of doubt over the whole process, espe­cial­ly for the los­ing par­ty.

    Now, it’s worth not­ing that 2004 gives us a great exam­ple of what might hap­pen if, say, Ohio has a num­ber of vot­ing irreg­u­lar­i­ties, includ­ing pos­si­ble elec­tron­ic vot­ing machine irreg­u­lar­i­ties, in a very close race that would have deter­mined the out­come of the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. And in that case, ques­tions were indeed raised and con­tin­ued to be raised years lat­er as evi­dence for elec­tron­ic vot­er fraud mount­ed using a pro-Bush vot­ing tab­u­la­tion com­pa­ny con­tin­ued to accrue (and the GOP’s IT guru died in a small plane crash after get­ting sub­poe­naed in an inves­ti­ga­tion over the elec­tion), but it’s not like the results of the whole elec­tion results were called into ques­tion and a con­sti­tu­tion­al cri­sis ensued.

    So we do have one fair­ly recent exam­ple of how the US might respond if there’s sig­nif­i­cant ques­tions raised about integri­ty of the vote, although in the case of the 2004 Ohio vote the types of GOP vio­la­tions went far beyond just pos­si­ble elec­tron­ic vote-rig­ging so it pos­si­ble that a full-spec­trum vote-manip­u­la­tion/­sup­pres­sion cam­paign could have the effect of almost mask­ing the shock and mys­tery asso­ci­at­ed with the unex­plained pro-GOP vote shifts.

    It’s also impor­tant to keep in mind that it was John Ker­ry, a Demo­c­rat, who lost in 2004, and Ker­ry was­n’t exact­ly a “burn it all down!” kind of politi­cian. Don­ald Trump, on the oth­er hand, has already declared that the only way he can lose is if the elec­tion is rigged. It was one of the themes of his very first gen­er­al elec­tion tv ad. And Roger Stone has already declared the gov­ern­ment no longer the gov­ern­ment if Trump los­es and there’s going to be wide­spread civ­il-dis­obe­di­ence and a ‘blood­bath’.

    So the Trump cam­paign clear­ly wants some­one to hack the vote some­where. Or, more gen­er­al­ly, hack vot­ing sys­tem com­put­ers and get caught. And don’t for­get that for the Trump cam­paign to raise hell and demand the entire elec­tion invalid it would­n’t nec­es­sar­i­ly even have to be a hack that manip­u­lates a sin­gle vote. Just a sin­gle hack like what was report­ed, where it’s clear the some­one got into the sys­tem, would poten­tial­ly be ade­quate if Trump sim­ply want­ed to cre­ate nar­ra­tive about how the whole sys­tem was rigged. And, lo and behold, we now have two sep­a­rate states that expe­ri­enced some sort of suc­cess­ful hack­ing on their vot­ing sys­tems. That’s con­ve­nient. For the peo­ple that want to burn it all down.

    There is one prob­lem with all this for Trump: the fact that the hack­ers are either try­ing to spoof Russ­ian hack­ers or are actu­al­ly Russ­ian hack­ers. If there are news reports about Russ­ian hack­ers on elec­tion night that would­n’t go so well for Trump’s nar­ra­tive. But that’s also part of why it’s so poten­tial­ly dan­ger­ous to attribute the source of all these hacks, whether or they’re DNC email hacks or what­ev­er, to the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment when the hack­ers are obvi­ous­ly try­ing to make it look like they’re from Rus­sia. Sure, they could be Russ­ian hack­ers try­ing to send a sig­nal. But since we real­ly have no idea and we’re talk­ing about elite hack­ers who would pre­sum­ably have the abil­i­ty to spoof Russ­ian hack­ers, there’s noth­ing stop­ping them from pre­tend­ing to be a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent set of hack­ers on elec­tion day, whether they’re Russ­ian hack­ers or not.

    So we have anoth­er round of hack­ers, hack­ers who seem to want to be seen as Russ­ian hack­ers and might be but we real­ly don’t know, now hack­ing state elec­tion sys­tems and get­ting caught. And we know that get­ting caught hack­ing is poten­tial­ly the big trig­ger that can help Trump the most. So if the plan is to get caught hack­ing on elec­tion day, one of the big ques­tions we should be ask­ing is whether or not these same hack­ers, or sim­i­lar groups, are going to con­tin­ue doing that in a way that seems to bla­tant­ly seem like Russ­ian hack­ers did it? Because that would­n’t real­ly help the Trump nar­ra­tive.

    In oth­er words, the more evi­dence we have that there are pro-Trump hack­ers out there plan­ning on assist­ing the Trump cam­paign in what­ev­er man­ner they can, and the more those pro-Trump hack­ers keep get­ting caught in a man­ner that makes the seem like they want to be caught iden­ti­fied as Russ­ian hack­ers, the more impor­tant it becomes to ask the ques­tion of whether or not these hack­ers are inten­tion­al­ly leav­ing tracks that iden­ti­fy them Russ­ian hack­ers or not. Because if these are elite hack­ers at work, who pre­sum­ably have the abil­i­ty and appar­ent desire to self-impli­cate them­selves as Russ­ian hack­ers, why would­n’t they do the same thing on elec­tion day but choose a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent pro-Clin­ton iden­ti­ty? That’s what Trump and the far-right in gen­er­al, who would love to desta­bi­lize the US demo­c­ra­t­ic sys­tem, are pin­ing for. So why would­n’t the hack­ers pre­tend to be pro-Hillary hack­ers on elec­tion day and flip a few precincts in a state like Illi­nois her way? Isn’t it basi­cal­ly set­ting a giant trap for our­selves to assume that these hack­ers real­ly are Russ­ian and can’t help but get caught and iden­ti­fied as Russ­ian?

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 29, 2016, 3:03 pm
  15. Goebbels would be so proud of this pro­pa­gan­da! I won­der if the pro­pa­gan­da leads the DNC to believe the hacks were caused by Rus­sia, but right before the elec­tion they will prove the hack came from some­one oth­er than the Rus­sians. This will dis­cred­it Hillary. Hillary so far has tak­en the bait. See the arti­cle below:

    http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/wikileaks-founder-julian-assange-slams-8714291

    Wik­iLeaks founder Julian Assange slams Hillary Clin­ton’s ‘McCarthyite-style anti-Russ­ian hys­te­ria’ and accus­es her of ‘demon­is­ing’ Don­ald Trump cam­paign

    Wik­ileaks founder Julian Assange has accused Hillary Clin­ton of being “hys­ter­i­cal” about Rus­sia with a “kind of neo-McCarthy­ist” pol­i­tics.

    Speak­ing to Fox News via video-link from the Ecuado­ri­an embassy in Lon­don, Assange said: “She has palled up with the neo-cons respon­si­ble for the Iraq war and she has grabbed onto a kind of neo-McCarthy hys­te­ria about Rus­sia and is using this to demonise the Trump cam­paign.”

    The Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date accused Don­ald Trump at her lat­est ral­ly in Reno, Neva­da yes­ter­day of hav­ing links to Vladimir Putin.

    She referred to the Russ­ian leader as the “grand god­fa­ther of this glob­al brand of extreme nation­al­ism” and said “Trump him­self heaps praise on Putin and embraces pro-Russ­ian poli­cies”.

    Assange has not offi­cial­ly endorsed the trump cam­paign but said it has no links to Russ­ian agents.

    Wik­ileaks made around 20,000 Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee email pub­lic last month, which appeared to reveals that top politi­cians attempt­ed to derail the Bernie Sanders’ nom­i­na­tion.

    Clin­ton alleged that Rus­sia was behind the DNC hack but has­n’t pro­vid­ed evi­dence to back up her claims.

    Assage has been holed-up in the embassy for four years, under con­stant police sur­veil­lance, after being grant­ed asy­lum after Swe­den called for him to be extra­dit­ed over his­toric sex­u­al assault claims.

    He is want­ed for ques­tion­ing over alle­ga­tions against two women in 2010 — which he has always denied.

    How­ev­er, he claims if he trav­els to Swe­den the Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment will secure his extra­di­tion over espi­onage charges relat­ed to his work for Wik­ileaks.

    In Feb­ru­ary, a UN pan­el ruled that Assange has been “arbi­trar­i­ly detained” in the Ecuado­ri­an embassy in Lon­don.

    Ear­li­er this month he offered to be ques­tioned inside the embassy but the Swedish pros­e­cu­tors only recent­ly agreed.

    Posted by Anonymous | August 30, 2016, 4:52 pm
  16. One of the iron­ic quirks about the “Octo­ber sur­prise” in Amer­i­can pol­i­tics is that it’s not real­ly a sur­prise. At least not in terms of the tim­ing since Octo­ber is basi­cal­ly the month you would expect a big nasty planned ‘sur­prise’ to get used dur­ing a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion sea­son that ends in ear­ly Novem­ber. If you’re going to dump some­thing big on your oppo­nent it’s basi­cal­ly got to be an Octo­ber, or maybe Novem­ber, sur­prise.

    And this year it’s even less sur­pris­ing if we get an Octo­ber sur­prise since Julian Assange and Roger Stone have been hint­ing about it for months. That said, if we do get our long-pre­dict­ed Octo­ber sur­prise this week it will actu­al­ly be a lit­tle sur­pris­ing, if only because Assange and Stone keep send­ing mixed mes­sages when exact­ly we’re sup­posed to all get sur­prised by their big planned Octo­ber sur­prise:

    Talk­ing Points Memo Livewire

    Wik­iLeaks Can­cels, Then Hints At Clin­ton-Relat­ed Octo­ber Sur­prise

    By Alle­gra Kirk­land
    Pub­lished Octo­ber 3, 2016, 9:54 AM EDT

    Wik­iLeaks has so far strug­gled to pro­vide a clear time­line for the Hillary Clin­ton-relat­ed “Octo­ber sur­prise” that the rad­i­cal trans­paren­cy orga­ni­za­tion has hint­ed at for months.

    On Fri­day, NBC’s Jesse Rodriguez report­ed that Wik­iLeaks can­celed an antic­i­pat­ed Tues­day announce­ment from founder Julian Assange over “secu­ri­ty con­cerns” at the Ecuado­ri­an embassy in Lon­don, where Assange has lived for the past four years.

    Due to secu­ri­ty con­cerns at the Ecuado­ri­an Embassy, Julian Assange’s bal­cony announce­ment on Tues has been can­celled, per @wikileaks— Jesse Rodriguez (@JesseRodriguez) Sep­tem­ber 30, 2016

    Yet on Sat­ur­day, Roger Stone, a long­time ally of Don­ald Trump, tweet­ed that Clin­ton would be “done” by Wednes­day as a result of Wik­iLeaks’ announce­ment.

    Wednesday@HillaryClinton is done. #Wik­ileaks.— Roger Stone (@RogerJStoneJr) Octo­ber 2, 2016

    ...

    In the months after the release, the group has turned into some­thing of a Clin­ton con­spir­a­cy machine, push­ing unfound­ed rumors about the Demo­c­ra­t­ic nominee’s health and sug­gest­ing a DNC staffer was killed for cross­ing the Clin­tons.

    Stone, him­self no stranger to the world of Clin­ton con­spir­a­cies, claimed that he he has been in touch with Assange about “the next tranche of doc­u­ments” Wik­iLeaks plans to release about the for­mer sec­re­tary of state.

    On Sun­day, NBC’s Rodriguez report­ed that Assange will still make a pub­lic appear­ance on Tues­day in a video livestream at a Berlin press con­fer­ence. It’s unclear if that appear­ance is relat­ed to the pur­port­ed “Octo­ber sur­prise.”

    Accord­ing to @wikileaks, Julian Assange will appear via video link at Berlin press con­fer­ence on Tues­day AM— Jesse Rodriguez (@JesseRodriguez) Octo­ber 2, 2016

    “On Sun­day, NBC’s Rodriguez report­ed that Assange will still make a pub­lic appear­ance on Tues­day in a video livestream at a Berlin press con­fer­ence. It’s unclear if that appear­ance is relat­ed to the pur­port­ed “Octo­ber sur­prise.” ”

    Ok, so after Assange can­celed his planned bal­cony announce­ment for Tues­day, cit­ing secu­ri­ty con­cerns. Then Roger Stone tweets that the Hillary Clin­ton will be “done” by Wednes­day because of Wik­ileaks, and then we get a report that Assange will actu­al­ly make a video appears at a Berlin press con­fer­ence on Tues­day, although it’s unclear if he’ll be talk­ing about the Octo­ber sur­prise. So you can at least be a lit­tle sur­prised if we do see some big Octo­ber sur­prise as pre­vi­ous­ly sched­uled on Tues­day.

    There is, how­ev­er, a gen­uine sur­prise that we can already iden­ti­fy from the whole back and forth between Assange and Stone: Roger Stone has “a very good friend”. Real­ly, he does. At least that what he claims. You might sus­pect some­one like Stone would­n’t actu­al­ly have very good friends, but he appar­ent­ly does have at least one. Who that very good friend is remains a mys­tery but that very good friend is a appar­ent­ly Stone’s con­tact with Assange and flew to Lon­don last week to meet with Assange:

    Media Mat­ters

    Trump Ally Roger Stone Says His “Very Good Friend” Is Meet­ing With Julian Assange Soon And Report­ing Back

    Video ››› Sep­tem­ber 27, 2016 12:23 PM EDT ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    From the Sep­tem­ber 26 edi­tion of Gen­e­sis Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Net­work’s The Alex Jones Show:

    [see video]

    ROGER STONE: A very good friend of mine is on his way to Lon­don even as we speak to talk to him. I will get a report short­ly. I think Julian Assange is a free­dom fight­er, that he is a truth teller. The idea that he is work­ing for the Rus­sians is as absurd as the idea put for­ward by our ridicu­lous CIA direc­tor that the Rus­sians are going to hack our elec­tions. No. Rahm Emanuel may hack our elec­tions.

    “A very good friend of mine is on his way to Lon­don even as we speak to talk to him. I will get a report short­ly...”

    Yes, Roger Stone has a very good friend. Now you know. In Octo­ber. Sur­prise!

    So that was Stone’s mes­sage last Thurs­day, one day before Assange ini­tial­ly can­celed his Tues­day bal­cony appear­ance. And just yes­ter­day we got a new update from Roger Stone about his friend’s meet­ing with Assange: Yes, the Octo­ber sur­prise is com­ing, it’s going to be dev­as­tat­ing. Also, Hillary is try­ing to fig­ure out to how kill Assange. This all accord­ing to Roger and his mys­te­ri­ous friend (who is also a friend of Assange):

    Media­Mat­ters

    Trump Advis­er Roger Stone Says He’s Been “Assured” Through An Assange Inter­me­di­ary That “The Moth­er Lode Is Com­ing”

    Stone: “The Clin­tonites Are Try­ing To Fig­ure Out How To Kill” Assange
    Video ››› 10/3/2016 ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    From the Octo­ber 2 edi­tion of Gen­e­sis Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Net­works’ The Alex Jones Show:

    [see video]

    ROGER STONE: [Wik­iLeaks founder Julian] Assange is in my view a hero. He does not work for the Rus­sians.

    […]

    An inter­me­di­ary met with him in Lon­don recent­ly who is a friend of mine and a friend of his, a believ­er in free­dom. And I am assured that the moth­er lode is com­ing Wednes­day. It wouldn’t be an Octo­ber sur­prise if I told you what it was but I have rea­son to believe that it is dev­as­tat­ing because peo­ple with polit­i­cal judg­ment who are aware of the sub­ject mat­ter tell me this.

    […]

    Now we’ve seen dis­in­for­ma­tion in the last 24 hours say­ing that Assange has post­poned this, he’s moved. I do know this. He does fear for his life and he should. Right now the glob­al­ists and the Clin­tonites are try­ing to fig­ure out how to kill him.

    “Now we’ve seen dis­in­for­ma­tion in the last 24 hours say­ing that Assange has post­poned this, he’s moved. I do know this. He does fear for his life and he should. Right now the glob­al­ists and the Clin­tonites are try­ing to fig­ure out how to kill him.

    Yes, Roger is con­vinced that the Clin­tons are get­ting ready to assas­si­nate Assange. Is this some­thing his mys­tery friend told him? No, unfor­tu­nate­ly it comes from a far less cred­i­ble source. And while you might think it’s not actu­al­ly pos­si­ble to find a less cred­i­ble source than an anony­mous mys­tery friend of Roger Stone, you must not be famil­iar with True Pun­dit:

    Media­Mat­ters

    Con­ser­v­a­tives Run With Sketchy Con­spir­a­cy Website’s Utter­ly Base­less Claim Clin­ton Want­ed To “Drone” Assange

    Blog ››› 10/3/2016 ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    Wik­ileaks and some con­ser­v­a­tive out­lets are run­ning with a claim that Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Hillary Clin­ton open­ly spec­u­lat­ed about tar­get­ing Wik­ileaks founder Julian Assange with a drone strike. But the report in ques­tion comes from an anony­mous­ly-sourced arti­cle from “True Pun­dit,” a fringe con­spir­a­cy web­site that even con­ser­v­a­tives have crit­i­cized.

    On Octo­ber 2, True Pun­dit post­ed an arti­cle claim­ing that dur­ing a meet­ing of “State’s top brass” in 2010 to dis­cuss how to deal with Wik­ileaks, Clin­ton asked of Assange, “Can’t we just drone this guy?” The site only attrib­ut­es the com­ment to anony­mous “State Depart­ment sources. ”The fact-check­ing web­site Snopes looked into the True Pun­dit arti­cle and found their claim “unproven,” point­ing out that the source of their pur­port­ed Clin­ton quote was “a vague and anony­mous ref­er­ence that does not yield to ver­i­fi­ca­tion.” (It’s also unclear why mul­ti­ple sources with knowl­edge of this sup­posed inci­dent that took place in a meet­ing of senior State Depart­ment staff would choose to leak them to a minor con­spir­a­cy blog­ger rather than a cred­i­ble news out­let. )

    RT, the inter­na­tion­al news net­work owned by the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment, picked up the True Pun­dit sto­ry. Wik­ileaks’ offi­cial Twit­ter account also pro­mot­ed the sto­ry, as did Trump allies Alex Jones and Roger Stone. FoxNews.com cit­ed the Wik­ileaks tweet in its report on Assange resched­ul­ing the time of a pro­posed address this week.

    True Pundit’s sup­posed scoop comes on the heels of months of laugh­able arti­cles for­ward­ing con­spir­a­cies about Clin­ton.

    ...

    Con­ser­v­a­tive blog­ger Jim Hoft of Gate­way Pun­dit, no stranger to odd­ball con­spir­a­cy con­tent, not­ed, “TruePun­dit may be a hoax web­site” (though he still devot­ed an arti­cle to pro­mot­ing the claim about the Assange drone strike).

    Heat Street, a con­ser­v­a­tive web­site run by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., also described the Assange drone sto­ry as a “con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry.”

    Con­spir­a­cy the­o­rist Paul Joseph Wat­son of Alex Jones’ Infowars ini­tial­ly described the True Pun­dit sto­ry as “iffy,” but after Wik­ileaks post­ed it said, “thought this was a fake sto­ry, until Wik­ileaks tweet­ed it out.”

    “Con­spir­a­cy the­o­rist Paul Joseph Wat­son of Alex Jones’ Infowars ini­tial­ly described the True Pun­dit sto­ry as “iffy,” but after Wik­ileaks post­ed it said, “thought this was a fake sto­ry, until Wik­ileaks tweet­ed it out.”

    Bwah!! That’s right, even Infowars thought that the sto­ry looked “iffy”. At least until Wik­ileaks tweet­ed it out. Sur­prise! Oh wait, that’s not at all a sur­prise. Oh well. We’ll just have to wait and see if Assange gets tak­en out by a drone strike. That would actu­al­ly be pret­ty sur­pris­ing.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 3, 2016, 3:32 pm
  17. And the Year of the Troll rolls on. Look who Wik­ileaks trolled today dur­ing Julian Assange’s big hyped press con­fer­ence where he was expect­ed to reveal his big dev­as­tat­ing Octo­ber sur­prise about Hillary Clin­ton: Alex Jones and Roger Stone (and any­one else wait­ing with bat­ed breath for the big sur­prise):

    The Dai­ly Beast

    Wik­iLeaks Trolls Trump World, Deliv­ers Noth­ing on Hillary
    Roger Stone and Alex Jones pre­dict­ed Julian Assange would end the Clin­ton cam­paign on Tues­day with a hyped announce­ment. Octo­ber sur­prise, indeed.

    Shane Har­ris
    10.04.16 8:15 AM ET

    If Hillary Clinton’s die-hard oppo­nents were hop­ing for an Octo­ber sur­prise, they’re going to have to wait.

    A Tues­day morn­ing press con­fer­ence by Wik­iLeaks, which Clin­ton antag­o­nists and con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists had hoped would spell the begin­ning of the end of her pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, turned out to be a cel­e­bra­tion-cum-infomer­cial for the web­site, which cel­e­brates its 10th anniver­sary today and is pro­mot­ing a new book.

    Either Wik­iLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, nev­er real­ly had the goods on Clin­ton, or Don­ald Trump and his sup­port­ers just got wicked­ly trolled.

    For months, Wik­iLeaks has been hint­ing that it would release dam­ag­ing doc­u­ments about Clin­ton in the home stretch of the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. The group had post­ed embar­rass­ing emails stolen by hack­ers from the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee in July, leav­ing the world won­der­ing, what else does Assange have in his hard dri­ve?

    Egged on by the appar­ent­ly unfound­ed claims of Trump advis­er Roger Stone that Wik­iLeaks had a cam­paign-end­ing doc­u­ment dump in store, antic­i­pa­tion reached a fever pitch. Accord­ing to Google, the top trend­ing ques­tion about Trump’s oppo­nent on Mon­day was “What could Wik­iLeaks have on Clin­ton?”

    Turns out, prob­a­bly not much. There was no spec­tac­u­lar release of pri­vate emails. No bomb­shells about the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion or brain tumors. Instead, Assange and some of his Wik­iLeaks col­leagues used the press con­fer­ence to make a pitch for dona­tions and to note the remark­able quan­ti­ty of the site’s work—10 mil­lion doc­u­ments pub­lished, con­tain­ing more than 10 bil­lion words, which the group claims is “more secret doc­u­ments than the rest of the world’s media com­bined.”

    With legions of Trump sup­port­ers and Clin­ton haters feel­ing deceived, Stone claimed that Assange had nev­er promised a big reveal.

    “Not at all what he said,” Stone wrote in an email to The Dai­ly Beast, adding that jour­nal­ists had engaged in “wish­ful think­ing.”

    Stone had already seemed to tamp down expec­ta­tions ahead of the press con­fer­ence, which was streamed live at 4 a.m. East­ern time.

    “Assange cor­rect­ly fears for his life because he has the deep secrets of the Deep State and he’s get­ting ready to spill the beans,” Stone said on The Alex Jones Show on Mon­day, explain­ing why Assange must have changed his ear­li­er plans to hold the press con­fer­ence from the bal­cony of the Ecuado­ri­an embassy in Lon­don, where he lives in a self-imposed exile. Wik­iLeaks held the event in Berlin instead, and Assange joined via video.

    “Bill and Hillary Clin­ton know that it’s hand­cuff time and they’re apoplec­tic,” Stone said.

    What now appears more like­ly is that there was nev­er an Octo­ber sur­prise, at least not of the mag­ni­tude that Stone had been promis­ing when he tweet­ed Sun­day, “Wednesday@HillaryClinton is done. #Wik­ileaks.”

    Some Clin­ton oppo­nents took that as gospel, per­haps because Stone has said he’s in con­tact with Assange, whom he recent­ly described as “my hero.”

    Wik­iLeaks, how­ev­er, bat­ted down the sug­ges­tion that Tues­day was some kind of D‑Day.

    “Regard­ing upcom­ing elections...We hope to be pub­lish­ing every week for the next 10 weeks,” Assange said, allud­ing to a more pro­longed and less-deci­sive doc­u­ment drip. Assange said that the “sig­nif­i­cant” dis­clo­sures would cov­er the U.S. elec­tion and Google, but he gave no pre­cise details about when they would occur.

    Clinton’s most fer­vent antag­o­nists were out­raged.

    “Julian Assange trolling the world is Hillary’s Octo­ber sur­prise,” Jones declared in a Tues­day morn­ing tirade. Jones, who had cov­ered the press con­fer­ence live on his web­site Infowars, had promised his fol­low­ers that Assange had a rev­e­la­tion that “could swing the elec­tion against Hillary if it catch­es fire.”

    “He was promis­ing this damn­ing evi­dence and he doesn’t release it now 34 days out and now he’s say­ing he’ll release it by the end of the year so that smacks of a sell-out,” Jones said. “I think he’s prob­a­bly out of doc­u­ments.”

    But some peo­ple would still like to know where Assange is get­ting those doc­u­ments. At a hear­ing of the House Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee last month, Rep. Jer­rold Nadler (D‑NY) asked FBI Direc­tor James Comey whether law-enforce­ment offi­cials had inter­viewed Stone “about his com­mu­ni­ca­tions with Julian Assange or his knowl­edge of how Wik­iLeaks got these ille­gal­ly obtained doc­u­ments,” refer­ring to the hacked DNC emails.

    Comey declined to com­ment. Nadler also pressed the direc­tor on whether the FBI had talked to Stone about his claims to have “knowl­edge about upcom­ing leaks of addi­tion­al ille­gal­ly hacked doc­u­ments.”

    Comey again declined to com­ment and wouldn’t say whether or not the FBI had opened an inves­ti­ga­tion into the mat­ter.

    ...

    Democ­rats have been press­ing the FBI to inves­ti­gate in par­tic­u­lar the Trump campaign’s ties to the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment and whether Trump is ben­e­fit­ing from the breach­es. Repub­li­cans, though, have refused to sign on to those inquiries, leav­ing the Democ­rats with few tools to pur­sue an inves­ti­ga­tion.

    “Turns out, prob­a­bly not much. There was no spec­tac­u­lar release of pri­vate emails. No bomb­shells about the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion or brain tumors. Instead, Assange and some of his Wik­iLeaks col­leagues used the press con­fer­ence to make a pitch for dona­tions and to note the remark­able quan­ti­ty of the site’s work—10 mil­lion doc­u­ments pub­lished, con­tain­ing more than 10 bil­lion words, which the group claims is “more secret doc­u­ments than the rest of the world’s media com­bined.””

    So it sounds like the big sur­prise is that Wik­ileaks needs dona­tions and has a lot of doc­u­ments. That was the big reveal. Sur­prise!

    And now we get to scratch our heads won­der­ing if Assange had noth­ing all along, or if what he was giv­en was such garbage that just could­n’t go through with it and decid­ed to turn the press con­fer­ence into a fund-rais­ing pitch at the last minute. This would be a time when a Wik­ileak inter­nal leak might come in handy. Any Wik­ileaks insid­ers want to enlight­en us?

    Although, since Assange also promised a new leak a week for the next 10 weeks, it should be appar­ent soon enough if he has some­thing worth leak­ing. Or maybe he’s just hop­ing that he can get a bunch of new doc­u­ments soon and the ’10 weeks of leaks’ pledge was just an attempt to buy time. Of and course there’s anoth­er rea­son Assange might need to buy time: To do a bet­ter job cre­at­ing fake leaks and avoid the laugh­able fate of “Guc­c­fi­er 2.0”’s sur­prise leak today. That’s right, Guc­cifer 2.0, the hack­er (or hack­ers) who are attrib­uted with pulling off the big DNC hack, released a big Clin­ton Foun­da­tion hack today. A hack that, upon casu­al inspec­tion, turned out to be an obvi­ous­ly doc­tored release based on the ear­li­er DNC hack. So “Guc­cifer 2.0” just demon­strat­ed that they are more than hap­py to fab­ri­cate the doc­u­ments they’re leak­ing while attempt­ing to smear the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion. It’s today’s bonus Octo­ber troll sur­prise:

    Ars Tech­ni­ca

    Guc­cifer 2.0 posts DCCC docs, says they’re from Clin­ton Foun­da­tion
    Files appear to be from Demo­c­ra­t­ic Con­gres­sion­al Cam­paign Com­mit­tee and DNC hacks.

    Sean Gal­lagher — 10/4/2016, 6:29 PM

    Wik­iLeaks cel­e­brat­ed its tenth anniver­sary today by teas­ing a release of doc­u­ments that would dam­age pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Hillary Clin­ton. But when Julian Assange failed to release any­thing new, the indi­vid­ual who refers to him­self as Guc­cifer 2.0 post­ed what he claimed were files from the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion’s servers.

    “Many of you have been wait­ing for this, some even asked me to do it,” Guc­cifer 2.0, or who­ev­er is post­ing under that name, wrote in a blog post. “So, this is the moment. I hacked the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion serv­er and down­loaded hun­dreds of thou­sands of docs and donors’ data­bas­es. Hillary Clin­ton and her staff don’t even both­er about the infor­ma­tion secu­ri­ty. It was just a mat­ter of time to gain access to the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion serv­er.” Ars con­tact­ed Guc­cifer 2.0, or whomev­er runs his Twit­ter account. He claimed the files came direct­ly from the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion server—but declined to say how he got access to them (“I pre­fer to keep it to me yet”).

    How­ev­er, a review by Ars found that the files are clear­ly not from the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion. While some of the indi­vid­ual files con­tain real data, much of it came from oth­er breach­es Guc­cifer 2.0 has claimed cred­it for at the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee and the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Con­gres­sion­al Cam­paign Com­mit­tee—hacks that researchers and offi­cials have tied to “threat groups” con­nect­ed to the Russ­ian Gov­ern­ment. Oth­er data could have been aggre­gat­ed from pub­lic infor­ma­tion, while some appears to be fab­ri­cat­ed as pro­pa­gan­da.

    ...

    Guc­cifer­’s post includes a screen grab of what appears to direc­to­ry fold­ers, includ­ing one labeled “Pay to Play,” that appears to be fab­ri­cat­ed from DCCC and DNC files and oth­er mate­r­i­al of ques­tion­able prove­nance. But some of the mate­r­i­al appears to be actu­al data from the DCCC. [Update: the fold­er in the full down­load con­tains com­pet­i­tive intel­li­gence reports on inci­dents where Repub­li­can mem­bers of Con­gress took large dona­tions from com­pa­nies that direct­ly ben­e­fit­ted from bills they sponsored—the Repub­li­can ver­sion of “Pay to Play”.]

    One spread­sheet, called “mas­ter-spread­sheet-pac-con­tri­bu­tions,” lists what appear to be con­gres­sion­al cam­paign dona­tions to indi­vid­ual rep­re­sen­ta­tives and the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Con­gres­sion­al Cam­paign Com­mit­tee along­side bank names and a col­umn labeled “Tarp funds”—an appar­ent ref­er­ence to the Trou­bled Asset Relief Pro­gram. The spread­sheet’s meta­da­ta says that it was cre­at­ed in 2009 by “Kevin McKeon”—a Kevin McK­eon served as the DCC­C’s deputy research direc­tor at that time.

    Anoth­er spread­sheet pur­port­ed­ly from 2010, enti­tled “hfscmemberdonationsbyparty6101,” lists mem­bers of the House Finan­cial Ser­vices Com­mit­tee from both par­ties and shows a list of what are sug­gest­ed to be cam­paign con­tri­bu­tions by major banks and finan­cial insti­tu­tions. That spreadsheet—which was appar­ent­ly cre­at­ed by a Lin­da K. Strohl and then saved by a Ned Brown a day lat­er on June 10, 2010—was cre­at­ed on a copy of Microsoft Excel licensed to “Home.” It may have been pre­pared as com­pet­i­tive research for the 2010 mid-term con­gres­sion­al races.

    A third, lat­er file, appears to be a donor “track­er” spread­sheet. It is most cer­tain­ly from the DCCC. Cre­at­ed by Andrew Bower—another DCCC employee—in 2015, the spread­sheet con­tains names and e‑mail address­es from the West­ern US. Ars direct­ly con­tact­ed sev­er­al of the peo­ple list­ed in the doc­u­ment and con­firmed that the indi­vid­u­als on the list were donors. While they weren’t cer­tain the amounts asso­ci­at­ed with them were cor­rect, they con­firmed oth­er details were accu­rate.

    If any­thing, many of the DCCC doc­u­ments revealed in this “Clin­ton Foun­da­tion” dump are more dam­ag­ing to Repub­li­cans than they are to Democ­rats.

    “If any­thing, many of the DCCC doc­u­ments revealed in this “Clin­ton Foun­da­tion” dump are more dam­ag­ing to Repub­li­cans than they are to Democ­rats.”

    Oops. So was “Guc­cifer 2.0”’s big Clin­ton Foun­da­tion hoax leak the leak that Assange was sup­posed to release today but did­n’t because it was such an obvi­ous hoax? Again, a insid­er Wik­ileaks leak sure would be help­ful here. After today’s mul­ti­ple sur­pris­es there’s clear­ly a Wik­ileaks trans­paren­cy prob­lem.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 4, 2016, 6:33 pm
  18. With the pres­i­den­tial race turn­ing out to be clos­er than expect­ed in a num­ber of key bat­tle­ground states, it’s prob­a­bly worth not­ing that this is exact­ly the kind of sce­nario Roger Stone’s unsci­en­tif­ic ‘sci­en­tif­ic exit polling’ scheme was designed to wreak hav­oc. And while, as the arti­cle below notes, Stone has been forced to mod­i­fy the instruc­tions for his “Stop the Steal” group that was to be car­ry­ing out these “exit polls” fol­low­ing a string of Demo­c­ra­t­ic law­suits, the unsci­en­tif­ic ‘sci­en­tif­ic exit polls’ are still part of Stone’s plans:

    The Guardian

    Don­ald Trump ally swears vig­i­lante poll watch­ers will not tar­get vot­ers by race

    Roger Stone pledged that his vot­er fraud pre­ven­tion scheme was a ‘neu­tral project’ after mul­ti­ple law­suits allege an effort to intim­i­date minor­i­ty vot­ers

    Lois Beck­ett in Philadel­phia

    Tues­day 8 Novem­ber 2016 05.36 EST

    After local Demo­c­ra­t­ic par­ties in six bat­tle­ground states filed law­suits against Trump advis­er Roger Stone’s vot­er fraud mon­i­tor­ing project, the Repub­li­can oper­a­tive released new rules for vol­un­teer mon­i­tors and pledged to a Neva­da judge that he “will not tar­get vot­ers based on their race”.

    Roger Stone, an infor­mal Trump advis­er, also told the Guardian on Mon­day that he was con­cerned that the Repub­li­can par­ty in Ohio would try to manip­u­late votes to under­mine Trump, and said that the Stop the Steal fraud pre­ven­tion project was a “neu­tral process”.

    Stone had announced the Stop the Steal vot­er fraud pre­ven­tion project to the Guardian in late Octo­ber. He said the effort was recruit­ing vol­un­teers to con­duct exit polls in nine Demo­c­rat-lean­ing cities in swing states in order to check for “elec­tion theft” via hacked or com­pro­mised vot­ing machines. The cities he list­ed then – Cleve­land, Detroit, Philadel­phia, Las Vegas, Mil­wau­kee, Fort Laud­erdale, Char­lotte, Rich­mond and Fayet­teville – had large minor­i­ty vot­ing pop­u­la­tions.

    In response, local Demo­c­ra­t­ic par­ties in six bat­tle­ground states filed law­suits against Stone, Stop the Steal, and Repub­li­can par­ties, alleg­ing broad efforts to intim­i­date minor­i­ty vot­ers.

    ...

    In a court fil­ing as part of the Neva­da law­suit over the week­end, Stone promised to email all of his exit polling vol­un­teers across the coun­try on Mon­day with a new set of rules, includ­ing not to talk to vot­ers before they cast their bal­lots, not to pho­to­graph any­one at the polls or in line to vote, and not to video­tape or audio record the com­ments of any vot­ers with­out their per­mis­sion. He also pledged to reit­er­ate these rules in a con­fer­ence call with vol­un­teers on Mon­day night. The new rules have been post­ed on Stop the Steal’s web­site.

    “The idea that these vol­un­teers are thugs, how do you intim­i­date peo­ple when you’re only speak­ing to peo­ple after they’ve vot­ed?” Stone said.

    “Vol­un­teers have to agree to fol­low a cer­tain neu­tral script, can’t wear cam­paign para­pher­na­lia, they can­not film peo­ple, they can­not wear arm­bands, hats – it is a very neu­tral process.”

    Vol­un­teers had an extra incen­tive not to behave in any par­ti­san man­ner, in order to encour­age more peo­ple to par­tic­i­pate in the poll, he said.

    Rick Hasen, an elec­tion law expert at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia Irvine, said that Stone’s new guide­lines were an impor­tant win for Democ­rats, despite the lack of vic­to­ries in the law­suits them­selves.

    “The fact that Stone is putting up guide­lines at all and dis­avow­ing any par­tic­u­lar fun­ny busi­ness will be help­ful for any of Stone’s fol­low­ers who might fol­low his lead,” Hasen wrote in an email. “Get­ting him on the record like this also makes it more like­ly he will face some kind of sanc­tion lat­er should he engage in dirty tricks. Even with­out a court order, it is a bad thing to lie to the courts.”

    Stone had described the effort as a “sci­en­tif­ic exit poll”, but Hasen had said it sound­ed more like a “goon squad”.

    Offi­cials across the polit­i­cal spec­trum, includ­ing Alber­to Gon­za­les, who served as attor­ney gen­er­al under Repub­li­can pres­i­dent George W Bush, raised con­cern last week about vig­i­lante poll watch­ers intim­i­dat­ing vot­ers out­side of the polls. The Oath Keep­ers, one of the country’s largest mili­tia groups, and the Nation­al Social­ist Move­ment, which is cat­e­go­rized as a neo-Nazi group, have both made pub­lic plans to qui­et­ly mon­i­tor for fraud at the polls.

    Stone said Stop the Steal’s focus was not poll watch­ing, or an effort to pro­vide poll watch­ers, but a pure focus on mon­i­tor­ing for manip­u­la­tion of vot­ing machines. He said he believed there was a “strong case” that “there was a will­ful con­spir­a­cy to rig the machines for George W Bush in Ohio”.

    “I think both par­ties engage in this,” he said.

    Stone said the goal of orga­niz­ing vol­un­teers to con­duct exit polls in key areas was to check if the offi­cial results of any precinct dif­fered from the group’s poll by more than 2%. While slight­ly more than 2% might not be a con­cern, he said a 10% devi­a­tion would sug­gest to him that the vot­ing machines had been “tam­pered with”. He con­ced­ed there might be some mar­gin of error in the vol­un­teer-run exit poll project.

    “We’re just going to put it up online and we’ll tell you what our con­clu­sions are, and you can reach your own,” he said. “Maybe there will be some pat­tern, or maybe there will be no pat­tern.”

    He also said he was con­cerned that the group’s vol­un­teers might be “infil­trat­ed with polit­i­cal par­ti­sans” and that the group was try­ing to vet vol­un­teers, focus on work­ing with peo­ple they already knew, and not allow “peo­ple who are we don’t think are tem­pera­men­tal­ly fit” to con­duct the exit polls.

    “It has occurred to me that if one per­son at the polling places will scream racial epi­thets, the rest of us get blamed,” he said.

    He said that Stop the Steal’s vol­un­teers includ­ed sup­port­ers of Jill Stein and “diehard Bernie Sanders sup­port­ers” as well as “Don­ald Trump sup­port­ers for sure”. He called him­self only an “advis­er” to the project, and said that he was not deeply involved in the day-to-day orga­ni­za­tion of the effort, par­tic­u­lar­ly because he was not deal­ing with the dif­fer­ent law­suits.

    “Yes, I am a hard-nosed par­ti­san, but intim­i­da­tion is ille­gal, and we’re not going to do any­thing ille­gal,” Stone said.

    He said that he him­self would not be doing any exit polling on elec­tion day, because he planned to be “in Austin, Texas, doing com­men­tary for infowars.com”.

    “Stone said the goal of orga­niz­ing vol­un­teers to con­duct exit polls in key areas was to check if the offi­cial results of any precinct dif­fered from the group’s poll by more than 2%. While slight­ly more than 2% might not be a con­cern, he said a 10% devi­a­tion would sug­gest to him that the vot­ing machines had been “tam­pered with”. He con­ced­ed there might be some mar­gin of error in the vol­un­teer-run exit poll project.”

    Yes, if Roger Stone’s unsci­en­tif­ic ‘sci­en­tif­ic exit polling’ goon squad finds more than a 10 per­cent dif­fer­ence between their exit polls and the results, they’re going to cry foul. Grant­ed, he’ll pri­mar­i­ly be cry­ing foul in Infowars, so the poten­tial impact “Stop the Steal” will have even if they do cry foul is unclear. Unclear in a bad way.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 8, 2016, 7:58 pm
  19. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016–10-27/twitter-s-firehose-of-tweets-is-incredibly-valuable-and-just-as-dangerous

    But if Twit­ter pro­vides a rare out­let for crit­i­cism of repres­sive regimes, it’s also use­ful to those regimes for track­ing down and pun­ish­ing crit­ics. In Sep­tem­ber 2012 a Sau­di Twit­ter user named Bad­er Thawab was arrest­ed for tweet­ing “down with the House of Saud.” In March 2014 an eight-year prison sen­tence was upheld for a Sau­di man who’d mocked the king and reli­gious offi­cials on Twit­ter and YouTube. The fol­low­ing May, a Sau­di man in a wheel­chair named Dolan bin Bakheet was sen­tenced to 18 months in prison and 100 lash­es for using Twit­ter to com­plain about his med­ical care. In all, there have been dozens of Twit­ter-relat­ed pros­e­cu­tions in Sau­di Ara­bia, accord­ing to Human Rights Watch.

    Twit­ter is still pop­u­lar in the kingdom—the ser­vice has added 200,000 active users there since 2014, accord­ing to the Arab Social Media Report—but it no longer hosts much dis­sent. Activists are care­ful to tweet in cod­ed lan­guage, if they tweet at all. “Peo­ple don’t open­ly dis­cuss impor­tant things on Twit­ter any­more,” says Ali Adu­bisi, a Sau­di human-rights activist. “Twit­ter is total­ly dif­fer­ent, total­ly silent, total­ly weak.”

    Cri­tiques about the dark side of Twit­ter have been around almost since its found­ing in 2006. Women and minori­ties have long com­plained of rou­tine harass­ment from trolls, leav­ing them with lit­tle recourse beyond delet­ing their accounts. The ten­den­cy of Twit­ter con­ver­sa­tions to end in vit­ri­ol or even phys­i­cal threats has hin­dered the company’s efforts to attract new users—its user base grew just 1 per­cent in the sec­ond quar­ter of 2016—and to reach prof­itabil­i­ty. The preva­lence of abuse on the plat­form also fig­ured in the deci­sion by Walt Dis­ney, a lead­ing can­di­date to buy the com­pa­ny, to back away in Octo­ber from a bid, accord­ing to peo­ple famil­iar with Disney’s think­ing. Twitter’s stock price has fall­en 31 per­cent since reach­ing a high for the year on Oct. 5. It’s prepar­ing to lay off 300 employ­ees, or about 8 per­cent of its work­force, accord­ing to Bloomberg News.

    Dur­ing an earn­ings call in July, Dorsey acknowl­edged that Twit­ter need­ed to think hard­er about how it ensures the safe­ty of its users. “Free­dom of expres­sion means lit­tle if we allow voic­es to be silenced because of fear of harass­ment,” Dorsey said, adding that user safe­ty would be “one of our top five pri­or­i­ties for this year.”

    “We all knew this could be used to put a black bag over someone’s head and make them dis­ap­pear”

    For years, Twit­ter has offered access to its “Firehose”—the glob­al del­uge of tweets, half a bil­lion a day—to a num­ber of com­pa­nies that mon­i­tor social media. Some of those com­pa­nies resell the information—mostly to mar­keters, but also to gov­ern­ments and law enforce­ment agen­cies around the world. Some of these author­i­ties use the data to track dis­si­dents, as Bloomberg Busi­ness­week has learned through dozens of inter­views with indus­try insid­ers and more than 100 requests for pub­lic records from law enforce­ment agen­cies in the U.S.

    There’s noth­ing ille­gal about sell­ing Twit­ter data, but it’s uncom­fort­able for a com­pa­ny that pro­motes itself as a medi­um for free speech and protest. Twit­ter issues reg­u­lar trans­paren­cy reports and has gone to court to fight cen­sor­ship. Dorsey him­self marched with Black Lives Mat­ter activists in 2014, reg­u­lar­ly tweet­ing mes­sages of sup­port and appear­ing at a con­fer­ence this June wear­ing a #stay­woke T‑shirt. But amid Dorsey’s activism, one data user, Chica­go mon­i­tor­ing com­pa­ny Geofee­dia, was hired by Cal­i­for­nia police depart­ments after pitch­ing its abil­i­ty to iden­ti­fy civ­il rights pro­test­ers, accord­ing to an Amer­i­can Civ­il Lib­er­ties Union report released in Sep­tem­ber. Twit­ter, which touts a pol­i­cy that pro­hibits third par­ties from mak­ing con­tent avail­able “to inves­ti­gate, track or sur­veil Twitter’s users or their con­tent,” cut ties with Geofee­dia in Octo­ber.

    Twit­ter offers a free, stripped-down ver­sion of the full Fire­hose to the pub­lic, and in recent years, at least 17 com­pa­nies besides Geofee­dia have mar­ket­ed sur­veil­lance prod­ucts that make use of Twit­ter data to law enforce­ment orga­ni­za­tions. One such com­pa­ny, Snap­trends, based in Austin, pro­mot­ed social media ana­lyt­ics tools to author­i­ties in Azer­bai­jan, Bahrain, Malaysia, Sau­di Ara­bia, Turkey, and oth­er coun­tries known to sup­press online speech, accord­ing to con­fi­den­tial com­pa­ny doc­u­ments and inter­views with cur­rent and for­mer employ­ees. The com­pa­ny often approached poten­tial cus­tomers dur­ing moments of social unrest. In a state­ment, Snap­trends char­ac­ter­izes its busi­ness with for­eign gov­ern­ments as appro­pri­ate and law­ful, and says its soft­ware was intend­ed for “mar­ket aware­ness around a brand, prod­uct, ser­vice, issue, or a per­son.”

    Accord­ing to inter­nal doc­u­ments, Snap­trends has done busi­ness with the Unit­ed Arab Emi­rates, whose gov­ern­ment last year impris­oned an Omani blog­ger for tweets insult­ing the U.A.E.’s lead­ers. It also pro­vid­ed Twit­ter data to a law enforce­ment agency in Bangladesh that’s clas­si­fied as a “death squad” by Human Rights Watch. As Kevin Hat­line, a for­mer cus­tomer sup­port man­ag­er at Snap­trends, puts it, “We all knew this could be used to put a black bag over someone’s head and make them dis­ap­pear.”

    Posted by Roger Stoned | November 9, 2016, 3:20 pm
  20. Isn’t that spe­cial, the GOP’s 2012 “autop­sy” got replaced with a nation­al 2016 ter­mi­nal ill­ness diag­no­sis. So now that the GOP has com­plete con­trol of all the fed­er­al levers of pow­er and watch­ing the GOP kill the future is set to become Amer­i­ca’s new pas­time, it’s worth not­ing that there’s fun new way active game you can play too: Find­ing some­thing you can do that lands you on Trump’s ene­mies list:

    Salon

    Omarosa hints at a Don­ald Trump ene­mies list: “It’s so great our ene­mies are mak­ing them­selves clear”
    The Trump admin­is­tra­tion may be pret­ty vin­dic­tive

    Matthew Rozsa

    Wednes­day, Nov 9, 2016 09:31 AM CST

    Fore­shad­ow­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty that the worst fears of Don­ald Trump’s crit­ics have mer­it, Omarosa Mani­gault — who met Trump while com­pet­ing on “The Appren­tice” and has cam­paigned for him in this elec­tion — has dis­cussed how the Repub­li­can vic­tor has been keep­ing an ene­mies list.

    “It’s so great our ene­mies are mak­ing them­selves clear so that when we get in to the White House, we know where we stand,” Mani­gault told Inde­pen­dent Jour­nal Review at Trump’s elec­tion night par­ty on Wednes­day.

    She also ref­er­enced a tweet sent by South Car­oli­na Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham on Tues­day after­noon.

    I vot­ed @Evan_McMullin for Pres­i­dent. I appre­ci­ate his views on a strong Amer­i­ca and the need to rebuild our mil­i­tary. #3— Lind­sey Gra­ham (@LindseyGrahamSC) Novem­ber 8, 2016

    “If [Gra­ham] felt his inter­ests was with that can­di­date, God bless him,” Mani­gault remarked. “I would nev­er judge any­body for exer­cis­ing their right to and the free­dom to choose who they want. But let me just tell you, Mr. Trump has a long mem­o­ry and we’re keep­ing a list.”

    “If [Gra­ham] felt his inter­ests was with that can­di­date, God bless him,” Mani­gault remarked. “I would nev­er judge any­body for exer­cis­ing their right to and the free­dom to choose who they want. But let me just tell you, Mr. Trump has a long mem­o­ry and we’re keep­ing a list.

    They’re already keep­ing a list! And there’s a spot on that list for all patri­ot­ic Amer­i­cans. They just have to fig­ure out how to get there and at least allow this nation to die with a lit­tle grace and dig­ni­ty.

    What’s going to be extra inter­est­ing is see­ing just how many GOP­ers not already on that list end up on that list before his term is over. Why? Because with the GOP just one “acci­dent” or major Trump-spe­cif­ic scan­dal away from see­ing Pres­i­dent Mike Pence — the GOP/Koch Broth­ers’ unabashed dream Pres­i­dent — it’s not clear how long the intra-GOP hon­ey­moon peri­od will last. Espe­cial­ly if Trump behaves like...well Trump, and ends up trash­ing the GOP brand even more than it’s already been trashed. Don’t for­get that part of Trump’s appeal to the GOP is that he was­n’t seen as a nor­mal GOP­er but some­thing new. So now that the GOP basi­cal­ly “owns” the future by con­trol­ling all levers of pow­er — along with all the blame the pub­lic will apply to the GOP after Trump/GOP poli­cies inevitably destroys lives — we prob­a­bly should­n’t be too sur­prised if fac­tions with­in the GOP start plot­ting for a Trumpex­it of one form or anoth­er if Trump ends up gov­ern­ing like the unhinged lunatic he appears to actu­al­ly be in real life and ends up the kind of nation­al embarass­ment that makes George W. Bush look like a states­man. In oth­er words, while Trump’s ene­mies list will prob­a­bly be most­ly com­prised of his polit­i­cal ene­mies on the Left, there’s going to be no short­age of sce­nar­ios that could end up with quite a few GOP Trump ene­mies too. More pre­cise­ly, the more unhinged and dis­as­trous Trump’s pres­i­dent is, the longer that GOP ene­mies list is prob­a­bly going to get. Espe­cial­ly if the nation sours on Trump before the 2018 mid-term elec­tions and GOP­ers start feel­ing the need to dis­tance them­selves from Trump. That’s clear­ly not going to go over well with the Trump­ster!

    But also note that Trump rep­re­sents basi­cal­ly an neo-Nazi fas­cist takeover of the White House and is seen as a vehi­cle by open Nazis in the Alt-Right to main­stream and legit­imize their grip on real polit­i­cal pow­er. And that means any elect­ed Repub­li­cans who don’t make it very clear that they are ful­ly sup­port­ive of a white nation­al­ist fas­cist takeover of the nation are prob­a­bly going to be pre­emp­tive­ly put on that list, whether they overt­ly oppose Trump or not. There’s a purge com­ing, folks! And if the GOP does­n’t allow Don­ald Trump to com­plete­ly remake the par­ty in the Alt-Right image — whether this looks like it’s going to help or hurt the par­ty in the long run — the GOP is going to be ground zero for that purge. Odd­ly enough, Trump’s era of neo-McCarthy­ism could start with the GOP. So, with all that in mind, here’s a taste of what’s going to hap­pen to the peo­ple put on Trump’s ene­mies list. It should be a famil­iar taste at this point:

    Reuters

    Report: FBI Exam­in­ing Fake Doc­u­ments Tar­get­ing Clin­ton Cam­paign
    In a let­ter iden­ti­fied as fake, Sen­a­tor Tom Carp­er, a Demo­c­rat, is quot­ed as writ­ing to Clin­ton, “We will not let you lose this elec­tion.”

    Mark Hosen­ball
    11/04/2016 09:04 am ET | Updat­ed

    WASHINGTON, Nov 4 (Reuters) — The FBI and U.S. intel­li­gence agen­cies are exam­in­ing faked doc­u­ments aimed at dis­cred­it­ing the Hillary Clin­ton cam­paign as part of a broad­er inves­ti­ga­tion into what U.S. offi­cials believe has been an attempt by Rus­sia to dis­rupt the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, peo­ple with knowl­edge of the mat­ter said.

    U.S. Sen­a­tor Tom Carp­er, a Demo­c­rat on the Sen­ate Home­land Secu­ri­ty Com­mit­tee, has referred one of the doc­u­ments to the FBI for inves­ti­ga­tion on the grounds that his name and sta­tionery were forged to appear authen­tic.

    In a doc­u­ment forged to appear as though Carp­er was writ­ing a let­ter to Clin­ton, Carp­er is quot­ed as say­ing the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty had advised him of a risk that a “mas­sive” cyber attack “could change the elec­tion results in favor of a spe­cif­ic can­di­date.” The doc­u­ment dat­ed Octo­ber 3 was reviewed by Reuters.

    It con­cludes, “Any sus­pi­cious inci­dent will be imme­di­ate­ly report­ed to your assis­tants so that a recount of votes could be time­ly orga­nized. You will not lose the elec­tion because of some com­pro­mised elec­tron­ic vot­ing sys­tems.”

    The fake Carp­er let­ter is one of sev­er­al doc­u­ments pre­sent­ed to the Fed­er­al Bureau of Inves­ti­ga­tion and the U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice for review in recent weeks, the sources said.

    Carp­er spokes­woman Meghan Pen­ning­ton con­firmed on Fri­day that the sen­a­tor had sent a copy of the let­ter to the FBI and the Senate’s chief law enforce­ment offi­cer.

    “Our office became aware of a fake let­ter on Sen­a­tor Carper’s offi­cial let­ter­head and imme­di­ate­ly referred it to fed­er­al law enforce­ment to inves­ti­gate its gen­e­sis,” Pen­ning­ton said.

    As part of an inves­ti­ga­tion into sus­pect­ed Russ­ian hack­ing, FBI inves­ti­ga­tors have also asked Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty offi­cials to pro­vide copies of oth­er sus­pect­ed faked doc­u­ments that have been cir­cu­lat­ing along with emails and oth­er legit­i­mate doc­u­ments tak­en in the hack, peo­ple involved in those con­ver­sa­tions said.

    A spokesman for the FBI con­firmed the agency was “in receipt of a com­plaint about an alleged fake let­ter” relat­ed to the elec­tion but declined fur­ther com­ment. Oth­ers with knowl­edge of the mat­ter said the FBI was also exam­in­ing oth­er fake doc­u­ments that recent­ly sur­faced.

    U.S. intel­li­gence offi­cials have warned pri­vate­ly that a cam­paign they believe is backed by the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment to under­mine the cred­i­bil­i­ty of the U.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion could move beyond the hack­ing of Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty email sys­tems. That could include post­ing fic­tion­al evi­dence of vot­er fraud or oth­er dis­in­for­ma­tion in the run-up to vot­ing on Nov. 8, U.S. offi­cials have said.

    Russ­ian offi­cials deny any such effort.

    In addi­tion to the Carp­er let­ter, the FBI has also reviewed a sev­en-page elec­tron­ic doc­u­ment that car­ries the logos of Demo­c­ra­t­ic poll­ster Joel Benenson’s firm, the Benen­son Strat­e­gy Group, and the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion, a per­son with knowl­edge of the mat­ter said.

    The doc­u­ment, iden­ti­fied as a fake by the Clin­ton cam­paign, claims poll rat­ings had plunged for Clin­ton and called for “severe strat­e­gy changes for Novem­ber” that could include “staged civ­il unrest” and “radi­o­log­i­cal attack” with dirty bombs to dis­rupt the vote.

    Like the Carp­er let­ter, it was not imme­di­ate­ly clear where the fraud­u­lent doc­u­ment had orig­i­nat­ed or how it had begun to cir­cu­late.

    On Oct. 20, Roger Stone, a for­mer Trump aide and Repub­li­can oper­a­tive, linked to a copy of the doc­u­ment on Twit­ter with the tag, “If this is real: OMG!!”

    Benenson’s firm had no imme­di­ate com­ment. Craig Minass­ian, a spokesman for the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion, said the doc­u­ment was “fake.” He said he did not know if the FBI had exam­ined it.

    Stone did not respond to emails request­ing com­ment.

    A spokesman for the Clin­ton cam­paign, Glen Caplin, said the doc­u­ment was a fake and part of a “des­per­ate stunt” to cap­i­tal­ize on the leak of Demo­c­ra­t­ic emails by Wik­ileaks.

    ...

    “The doc­u­ment, iden­ti­fied as a fake by the Clin­ton cam­paign, claims poll rat­ings had plunged for Clin­ton and called for “severe strat­e­gy changes for Novem­ber” that could include “staged civ­il unrest” and “radi­o­log­i­cal attack” with dirty bombs to dis­rupt the vote.”

    And that, right there, is prob­a­bly going to be almost typ­i­cal by the end of Trump’s term: faked doc­u­ments, maybe pushed by Wik­ileaks or maybe just spread around by Roger Stone-types on the inter­net. When you con­sid­er that leaked doc­u­ments about his ene­mies was the great­est ally of the Trump cam­paign, a cam­paign that is basi­cal­ly the man­i­fes­ta­tion of ‘the Big Lie’ suc­ceed­ing in demo­c­ra­t­ic pol­i­tics, it’s pret­ty clear that the kinds of dirty tricks depict­ed above are going to be the New Nor­mal. So it should be inter­est­ing to see what the inevitable doc­u­ments about Lind­sey Gra­ham will say. They won’t even have to be fake doc­u­ments claim­ing Lind­sey is plan­ning a dirty-bomb attack. They could just be real hacked doc­u­ments that get far­ci­cal­ly pro­mot­ed as evi­dence that Lins­day Gra­ham is, say, a Satanist who kid­naps chil­dren. You know, kind of like the video from a neo-Nazi twit­ter account Don­ald Trump Jr. pro­mot­ed days before the elec­tion:

    Media Mat­ters

    Don­ald Trump Jr. Pro­motes “Alt-Right” Video Claim­ing Clin­ton Camp Has Satanists Who Want To Kid­nap Kids

    Trump Jr.-Promoted Video Prais­es Trump Jr. For Look­ing Like He Wants To “Water­board Or Guil­lo­tine” Clinton’s Cir­cle

    Blog ››› Novem­ber 7, 2016 2:13 PM EST ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Don­ald Trump Jr. pro­mot­ed an “alt-right” video on his Twit­ter account that sug­gests Demo­c­ra­t­ic nom­i­nee Hillary Clinton’s cam­paign is engaged in satanism and her aides are try­ing to “kid­nap your chil­dren, make them dis­ap­pear, sell them into all kinds of things.” The video fea­tures “alt-right” blog­gers Vox Day, who claims blacks are infe­ri­or to whites, and Mike Cer­novich, a rape apol­o­gist.

    On Novem­ber 4, Trump Jr. retweet­ed the video, in which blog­ger Ste­fan Molyneux talks with Cer­novich and Day about the “spir­it cook­ing scan­dal”:

    [see tweet image]

    The “spir­it cook­ing scan­dal” refers to a hacked email post­ed to Wik­iLeaks in which lob­by­ist Tony Podes­ta asked his broth­er, Clin­ton cam­paign chair­man John Podes­ta, if he want­ed to attend a “spir­it cook­ing din­ner” host­ed by per­for­mance artist Mari­na Abramovic. Trump sup­port­ers have used the invi­ta­tion to claim that Podes­ta and the Clin­ton cam­paign are Satan wor­ship­pers. The Wash­ing­ton Post debunked the absurd claim, writ­ing that an email “invit­ing Clinton’s cam­paign chair to din­ner — a din­ner he didn’t even attend — is not proof of any of the things that the Trump Inter­net is claim­ing about it right now.”

    Dur­ing the video, Molyneux says the news is “extra­or­di­nary,” refer­ring to the “Podes­ta emails, which is all this spir­it cook­ing stuff, and invi­ta­tions to what seems like occult magic/satanic rituals/I don’t know what the hell is going on.” Cer­novich claimed that the alle­ga­tions are “worse” than what peo­ple are say­ing and that “John Podes­ta and his broth­er are doing this togeth­er with who knows how many peo­ple are there.”

    The video also sug­gests Podes­ta and his allies might be lur­ing chil­dren with their alleged “spir­it cook­ing” par­ties — a vari­a­tion of the “pants on fire” false claim that the Clin­tons are run­ning an under­ground sex ring tar­get­ing chil­dren.

    Vox Day asked: “Giv­en all of the oth­er weird­ness that is sur­round­ing Podes­ta, and is sur­round­ing these peo­ple — because these are the same peo­ple that were talk­ing about this whole spir­it cook­ing thing. And so that’s what’s very trou­bling. I mean, would you ever want your young chil­dren going to a par­ty with John Podes­ta and his spir­it cook­ing?”

    Mike Cer­novich lat­er said: “If you’re going to have chil­dren, you don’t want to live in a world where these peo­ple could poten­tial­ly kid­nap your chil­dren, make them dis­ap­pear, sell them into all kinds of things, or who knows what. And that’s what peo­ple are real­iz­ing now is the gate­keep­ers are gone. The media peo­ple, they’re not writ­ing about this because they’re right there at these par­ties — with them.”

    Day also praised Trump Jr., say­ing that “he looks like he wants to per­son­al­ly water­board or guil­lo­tine every sin­gle mem­ber of Hillary Clinton’s cir­cle” dur­ing the debates.

    Vox Day is an “alt-right” writer with a his­to­ry of push­ing racist and misog­y­nis­tic rhetoric. He has tweet­ed that “I sup­port white nation­al­ism.” He also tweet­ed that “I am an Alt Right nation­al­ist, I’m Amer­i­can Indi­an.”.=

    Day has a long his­to­ry of racism. He has tweet­ed that African-Amer­i­cans have low­er IQs than oth­ers, are more prone to vio­lence, and are worse than an atom­ic bomb for a city:

    ...

    And from his blog:

    As for the idea of stronger blacks and smarter Asians serv­ing whites, that could not be fur­ther from my own posi­tion on ide­al inter­ra­cial rela­tions. My belief is that every pop­u­la­tion group, every human sub-species, every nation, is bet­ter served by fur­ther­ing a homo­ge­neous group inter­est. To put it crude­ly, whites would do well to pick their own cot­ton and count their own mon­ey, blacks would do well to build their own pow­er sta­tions and grow their own crops, and yel­lows would do well to devel­op their own tech­nolo­gies and estab­lish their own uni­ver­si­ty sys­tems. Let Israel be Israel and let Myan­mar be Myan­mar.

    Mike Cer­novich is anoth­er “alt-right” activist, who oper­ates a web­site that attacks fem­i­nists and dis­putes the valid­i­ty of date rape claims. He has tweet­ed: “the hot­ter the sex, the more close­ly it resem­bles rape,” “the only rape cul­ture is Mus­lim rape cul­ture,” and “why should I care when women are raped?” Cer­novich is a favorite of the Trump cam­paign.

    Trump Jr. has repeat­ed­ly inter­act­ed with white nation­al­ists and pro­mot­ed their work. In March, he retweet­ed the false claim from Vox Day that “The ‘Trump Nazi’ is Por­tia Boul­ger, who runs the Women for Bernie Sanders Twit­ter account.” And he also:

    * post­ed an image cel­e­brat­ing “Pepe the Frog, a sym­bol that has been co-opt­ed by white suprema­cists and nation­al­ists”;

    * said dur­ing a radio inter­view that the media would be “warm­ing up the gas cham­ber” if Trump lied like Hillary Clin­ton has;

    * retweet­ed anti-Semit­ic writer Kevin Mac­Don­ald, whom the South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter calls “the neo-Nazi move­men­t’s favorite aca­d­e­m­ic”; and

    * gave an inter­view to white nation­al­ist radio host James Edwards, dur­ing which Edwards and Trump Jr. com­plained about “polit­i­cal cor­rect­ness.”

    Trump Jr. has unsur­pris­ing­ly become a hero to white nation­al­ists and neo-Nazis.

    “Mike Cer­novich lat­er said: “If you’re going to have chil­dren, you don’t want to live in a world where these peo­ple could poten­tial­ly kid­nap your chil­dren, make them dis­ap­pear, sell them into all kinds of things, or who knows what. And that’s what peo­ple are real­iz­ing now is the gate­keep­ers are gone. The media peo­ple, they’re not writ­ing about this because they’re right there at these par­ties — with them.””

    Is Lind­sey Gra­ham going to end up get­ting exposed as a secret child-killing Satanist or secret­ly plot­ting a dirty-bomb attack? We’ll find out! And when we do, we can be con­fi­dent that Don­ald Trump Jr. will be there to tweet about it. It’s all a reminder that it won’t just be Trump’s ene­mies list. It’s going to be the Alt-Right’s ene­mies list too, which the Trump admin­is­tra­tion will be more than hap­py to pro­mote. Isn’t the age of the neo-Nazi ene­mies-list going to be fun?

    Of course, maybe Trump’s ene­mies are hop­ing that there’s no way any­one could pos­si­bly believe such absur­di­ties about them because such claims won’t remote­ly reflect their real track-record. Maybe that’s what they’ll assume. If so, LOL!

    The New Repub­lic

    The Truth About Hillary Clin­ton
    She’s hon­est and trust­wor­thy. Don­ald Trump is not. That vot­ers believe oth­er­wise is a tri­umph of brand­ing over facts.

    By Gra­ham Vyse
    Novem­ber 8, 2016

    Hillary Clin­ton is on the cusp of his­to­ry, like­ly to be elect­ed Tues­day as America’s first female pres­i­dent. That’s a momen­tous achieve­ment for a woman who’s already peer­less in our pub­lic life. Yet the big­ger sto­ry of this Elec­tion Day is a nation on the brink, with Don­ald Trump’s vic­to­ry improb­a­ble but still pos­si­ble despite his man­i­fest unfit­ness for office and the dan­ger he pos­es to our democ­ra­cy and the world’s sta­bil­i­ty.

    Part of the rea­son for that pos­si­bil­i­ty can be found in pub­lic opin­ion of the can­di­dates. By four per­cent­age points, like­ly vot­ers in two nation­al sur­veys hold a belief that’s demon­stra­bly untrue: that Trump is more hon­est and trust­wor­thy than Clin­ton. Vot­ers trust Trump over Clin­ton 44 per­cent to 40 per­cent, accord­ing to an ABC News/Washington Post poll tak­en Novem­ber 2–5; and by 37 per­cent to 33 per­cent, accord­ing to a Fox News poll tak­en Novem­ber 3–6.

    It’s pos­i­tive news that a strong major­i­ty of these Amer­i­cans knows Trump can’t be trust­ed. His can­di­da­cy has flum­moxed fact-check­ers, and his capac­i­ty for lying is unprece­dent­ed in pres­i­den­tial pol­i­tics. But to believe that Clin­ton is just as bad or even worse than Trump on this issue is to suc­cumb to false equiv­a­lence.

    The 2016 cam­paign has not been, as Meet the Press mod­er­a­tor Chuck Todd said on MSNBC Mon­day, a “post-truth elec­tion.” Clin­ton has not run a post-truth cam­paign. She hasn’t always been truth­ful; The Wash­ing­ton Post’s Fact Check­er award­ed her sev­en of its worst Four-Pinoc­chio rat­ings through­out the race. But crit­i­cal­ly, the Post not­ed that this is an aver­age score, putting her “in about the same range as Pres­i­dent Oba­ma and for­mer Mass­a­chu­setts gov­er­nor Mitt Rom­ney in 2012.” (There was far less dis­cus­sion about the end-of-truth-as-we-know-it four years ago.)

    More­over, “Trump has amassed such a col­lec­tion of Four-Pinoc­chio ratings—59 in all—that by him­self he’s earned as many in this cam­paign as all oth­er Repub­li­cans (or Democ­rats) com­bined in the past three years.” Todd acknowl­edged the dif­fer­en­tial in his seg­ment, but failed to dri­ve the point home.

    It’s not just the Post either. Poli­ti­Fact pub­lished a com­par­i­son of Clin­ton and Trump on its , and the vast major­i­ty of her state­ments were all or par­tial­ly truth. The vast major­i­ty of his state­ments were all or par­tial­ly false.

    As The Atlantic’s con­ser­v­a­tive senior edi­tor, David Frum told The Ezra Klein Show over the week­end, “Hillary Clin­ton tells lies, but she nev­er for­gets that the truth is there.” She might shade the truth or hide it, mis­rep­re­sent it or even evade it—as all politi­cians some­times do. What she rarely does is deny it out­right.

    Trump, of course, does that con­stant­ly. As Vox put it suc­cinct­ly a month ago, he “has spent his entire cam­paign gaslight­ing Amer­i­ca by deny­ing that he ever said or did things that we have clear video or text evi­dence that he did, in fact, say or do.”

    Clinton’s hon­esty needn’t be grad­ed on a Trumpian curve. In August, Kevin Drum at Moth­er Jones con­clud­ed “Hillary Clin­ton Is One of America’s Most Hon­est Politi­cians,” cit­ing the chart above, of Poli­ti­Fact scores for 20 of America’s most promi­nent pols. Drum not­ed that The New York Times reached a sim­i­lar con­clu­sion; Jill Abram­son, the for­mer exec­u­tive edi­tor of the Times, called Clin­ton “fun­da­men­tal­ly hon­est and trust­wor­thy” in her Guardian col­umn in March, cit­ing Poli­ti­Fact and her own report­ing.

    Clin­ton can even be hon­est to a fault. Sev­er­al times dur­ing this cam­paign, she has told a truth at her own polit­i­cal expense.

    ...

    How come vot­ers see Trump, for whom ser­i­al dis­hon­esty isn’t even his most damn­ing char­ac­ter flaw, as more hon­est and trust­wor­thy than Clin­ton? There’s an ele­ment of sex­ism, to be sure. And there’s a ker­nel of truth to the “vast right-wing conspiracy”—a sus­tained, coor­di­nat­ed cam­paign that has for decades sought to destroy the Clin­tons as a polit­i­cal force.

    The key, how­ev­er, is Trump’s one true tal­ent for brand­ing. That’s how he dis­patched the likes of “Lit­tle Mar­co” and “Lyin’ Ted” in the pri­ma­ry, before relent­less­ly ham­mer­ing “Crooked Hillary” as a liar on the stump (“She lies more than any human being,” he said two weeks ago) and in adver­tis­ing. It’s fur­ther proof of the well-doc­u­ment­ed fact that sim­ply repeat­ing false­hoods can make peo­ple belief they’re true.

    What­ev­er the rea­sons, mil­lions of Amer­i­cans who are vot­ing today some­how believe that Hillary Clin­ton is a liar who can’t be trust­ed. Here’s hop­ing she’ll get four years to prove them oth­er­wise.

    “The key, how­ev­er, is Trump’s one true tal­ent for brand­ing. That’s how he dis­patched the likes of “Lit­tle Mar­co” and “Lyin’ Ted” in the pri­ma­ry, before relent­less­ly ham­mer­ing “Crooked Hillary” as a liar on the stump (“She lies more than any human being,” he said two weeks ago) and in adver­tis­ing. It’s fur­ther proof of the well-doc­u­ment­ed fact that sim­ply repeat­ing false­hoods can make peo­ple belief they’re true.”

    So that’s all part of what we can expect from the era of the Trump/Alt-Right ene­mies list, a list that will no doubt include near­ly all pro­gres­sive but also any­one that isn’t basi­cal­ly on board with an Alt-Right neo-Nazi future for Amer­i­ca. So remem­ber, if you aren’t doing the kinds of things that will get you labeled a child-killing Satanist plan­ning on a dirty bomb attack, you prob­a­bly aren’t actu­al­ly try­ing to do the right thing in our Trumpian era.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 9, 2016, 3:51 pm
  21. Since we’re now in a Trumpian era of “ene­mies lists” and a far-right pow­er align­ment that will cre­ate an irre­sistible poten­tial for basi­cal­ly jail­ing the polit­i­cal oppo­nents of Trump’s agen­da, it’s prob­a­bly worth not­ing that the Trump cam­paign is still drop­ping hints that its going to pros­e­cute Hillary Clin­ton:

    The Wash­ing­ton Post

    Don­ald Trump could actu­al­ly take steps to try to jail Hillary Clin­ton

    By Matt Zapo­to­sky
    Novem­ber 9, 2016

    Don­ald Trump said at a debate last month that he would appoint a spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor to exam­ine Hillary Clinton’s use of a pri­vate email serv­er dur­ing her time as sec­re­tary of state and remarked that she would “be in jail” if he were pres­i­dent.

    In about two months, he’ll have the pow­er to poten­tial­ly make that a real­i­ty.

    He wouldn’t, of course, be able to snap his fin­gers and throw his polit­i­cal rival behind bars. He would have to order his attor­ney gen­er­al to appoint a spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor, then count on that spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor to agree with his assess­ment that Clinton’s email prac­tices vio­lat­ed crim­i­nal laws about mis­han­dling clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion. And even if he did all that and Clin­ton was charged, she would still be afford­ed a tri­al, and Trump’s spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor would have to con­tend with evi­dence that led the orig­i­nal team of fed­er­al inves­ti­ga­tors to con­clude there was not suf­fi­cient basis to believe a crime occurred.

    Get­ting that process start­ed, though, would not seem that dif­fi­cult. Trump gets to pick and appoint the attor­ney gen­er­al.

    FBI Direc­tor James B. Comey rec­om­mend­ed in July that nei­ther Clin­ton nor her aides be charged with any crimes in con­nec­tion with her use of a pri­vate email serv­er dur­ing her term at the State Depart­ment, say­ing “no rea­son­able pros­e­cu­tor” would bring such a case. He said in recent weeks that his con­clu­sion was unchanged, even after inves­ti­ga­tors exam­ined a new, poten­tial­ly rel­e­vant batch of emails dis­cov­ered on a com­put­er belong­ing to dis­graced for­mer con­gress­man Antho­ny Wein­er, the hus­band of top Clin­ton aide Huma Abe­din.

    Trump ral­lies have some­times been marked with chants of “lock her up,” and his sup­port­ers repeat­ed those cries as the Repub­li­can moved toward an upset vic­to­ry Tues­day night. Kellyanne Con­way, his cam­paign man­ag­er, did not rule out appoint­ing a spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor in TV appear­ances Wednes­day morn­ing.

    “We didn’t dis­cuss that last night and he did not dis­cuss that with Hillary Clin­ton on the phone,” Con­way said in one appear­ance.

    Pres­i­dent Oba­ma could short-cir­cuit the affair entire­ly, par­don­ing Clin­ton before he leaves office in Jan­u­ary. Legal ana­lysts have said that could hap­pen even though Clin­ton is not charged with any crimes. Such was the case with Richard Nixon, who was giv­en a full par­don by Ger­ald R. Ford before he was indict­ed for all offens­es he “com­mit­ted or may have com­mit­ted or tak­en part in” dur­ing his time in office.

    Even promi­nent con­ser­v­a­tives in the legal field have said that for Trump to act to jail Clin­ton would be inad­vis­able, and it would politi­cize the Jus­tice Depart­ment in an alarm­ing way. For­mer attor­ney gen­er­al Michael Mukasey, one of Clinton’s most vocal crit­ics on the email issue, told The Wash­ing­ton Post last month, “It would be like a banana repub­lic.” Those remarks came after Trump broached the idea of a spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor at a debate.

    “I didn’t think I’d say this, but I’m going to say it, and I hate to say it. But if I win, I am going to instruct my attor­ney gen­er­al to get a spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor to look into your sit­u­a­tion, because there has nev­er been so many lies, so much decep­tion,” Trump said. “There has nev­er been any­thing like it, and we’re going to have a spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor.”

    Lat­er, when Clin­ton said, “It’s just awful­ly good that some­one with the tem­pera­ment of Don­ald Trump is not in charge of the law in our coun­try,” Trump replied, “Because you’d be in jail.”

    Con­way lat­er said on MSNBC’s “Morn­ing Joe” that Trump’s remark about jail­ing Clin­ton was a “quip.” She added, “As for the spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor, I think that’s Don­ald Trump chan­nel­ing the frus­tra­tion he hears from thou­sands of vot­ers out on the stump every day.”

    Dur­ing his vic­to­ry speech, Trump said, “It is time for us to come togeth­er as one unit­ed peo­ple” and said that Clin­ton had “worked very long and very hard over a long peri­od of time, and we owe her a major debt of grat­i­tude for her ser­vice to our coun­try.” He made no men­tion of Clinton’s emails.

    ...

    “Trump ral­lies have some­times been marked with chants of “lock her up,” and his sup­port­ers repeat­ed those cries as the Repub­li­can moved toward an upset vic­to­ry Tues­day night. Kellyanne Con­way, his cam­paign man­ag­er, did not rule out appoint­ing a spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor in TV appear­ances Wednes­day morn­ing.

    “Hmmmm...maybe we’ll pros­e­cute Hillary...we haven’t decid­ed yet.” That was basi­cal­ly the mes­sage com­ing from Trump’s cam­paign man­ag­er on elec­tion night. And today Rudy Giu­liani, some­one on the short list to be Attor­ney Gen­er­al, gave us an update on the Trump admin­is­tra­tion’s stance: Rudy thinks it’s a “tough deci­sion” and still isn’t sure what Trump should do:

    AFP

    Top Trump aide refus­es to rule out Clin­ton pros­e­cu­tion

    Novem­ber 10, 2016

    Wash­ing­ton (AFP) — A top aide to Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump on Thurs­day refused to rule out pros­e­cut­ing Demo­c­rat Hillary Clin­ton or inves­ti­gat­ing the foun­da­tion run by for­mer pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton.

    Ex-New York may­or Rudy Giu­liani, a like­ly mem­ber of the incom­ing pres­i­den­t’s cab­i­net, told CNN that it was a “tough deci­sion” on whether a spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor should be appoint­ed to look into pos­si­ble ille­gal Clin­ton activ­i­ties, as Trump threat­ened to do on the cam­paign trail.

    “It’s been a tra­di­tion in our pol­i­tics to put things behind us. On the oth­er hand you have to look at how bad was it?” he said.

    “Equal admin­is­tra­tion of jus­tice. It’s one of our most impor­tant prin­ci­ples,” he said.

    Trump in August called for a spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor — an inde­pen­dent out­sider — to probe the finan­cial deal­ings of the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion, claim­ing while on the cam­paign trail that the FBI and the Jus­tice Depart­ment could not be trust­ed to impar­tial­ly inves­ti­gate the case.

    Trump sug­gest­ed that the foun­da­tion allowed Clin­ton to set up a “pay for play” scheme while she was the US sec­re­tary of state.

    Speak­ing on Fox, the ex-may­or said “I don’t think Pres­i­dent Oba­ma should par­don her” — even though Clin­ton has not been con­vict­ed of any crime.

    Giu­liani was coy when asked if he’d accept if offered the office of the US attor­ney gen­er­al.

    “I cer­tain­ly have the ener­gy, and there’s prob­a­bly nobody that knows the Jus­tice Depart­ment bet­ter than me,” he told CNN.

    ...

    “It’s been a tra­di­tion in our pol­i­tics to put things behind us. On the oth­er hand you have to look at how bad was it?”

    Yes, the depic­tion of Hillary Clin­ton’s cor­rup­tion, as por­trayed by the right-wing smear machine, did indeed look pret­ty bad. It also looked divorced from real­i­ty for any­one not liv­ing in a far-right media bub­ble. But for the ded­i­cat­ed audi­ences of the GOP’s Big Lie nar­ra­tive, it’s not all that sur­pris­ing that they might still be think­ing about pros­e­cut­ing her. After all, Trump repeat­ed­ly told the nation that Hillary Clin­ton “may be the most cor­rupt per­son ever to seek the pres­i­den­cy”. Banana Repub­lic here we come! Don’t for­get that the FBI is infest­ed with Bre­it­bart fans so who knows what kind of zany this is going to go. Espe­cial­ly after the House GOP joins in on the fun:

    The Salt Lake Tri­bune

    Utah’s Chaf­fetz vows to con­tin­ue Clin­ton inves­ti­ga­tions, keep eye on Trump

    By THOMAS BURR
    First Pub­lished Nov 09 2016 01:00PM • Last Updat­ed Nov 09 2016 09:49 pm

    Wash­ing­ton • Hillary Clin­ton may have lost the pres­i­den­tial race but will still face ongo­ing probes into her use of pri­vate email servers and han­dling of clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion, the chair­man of the House Over­sight and Gov­ern­ment Reform Com­mit­tee said Wednes­day.

    Rep. Jason Chaf­fetz, R‑Utah, said he still has a “duty and oblig­a­tion” to inves­ti­gate the actions of the for­mer sec­re­tary of state and it does­n’t mat­ter that she won’t be occu­py­ing the White House come Jan­u­ary.

    “I’m not out to get her,” Chaf­fetz said, “but I am here to find the truth and make sure that it nev­er hap­pens again.”

    The chair­man’s com­ments did not go over well with Democ­rats on the com­mit­tee.

    ...

    The House­’s chief inves­ti­ga­tor, Chaf­fetz has held sev­er­al hear­ings on the for­mer sec­re­tary of state’s use of pri­vate, non-gov­ern­ment email to send and receive emails. The FBI con­clud­ed in a year­long review that while Clin­ton had been reck­less it did not amount to crim­i­nal wrong­do­ing.

    Chaf­fetz, who had said before the elec­tion that he had years of mate­r­i­al to inves­ti­gate Clin­ton, says he will bring the same gus­to to Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump’s admin­is­tra­tion, though he said he expects a Repub­li­can White House to work with the Over­sight Com­mit­tee rather than fight it like the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion.

    The State Depart­ment and Clin­ton said they had turned over tens of thou­sands of pages of emails to the com­mit­tee.

    The Utah Repub­li­can says he will go “wher­ev­er the evi­dence takes us.”

    “I am opti­mistic that a Trump admin­is­tra­tion would actu­al­ly be coop­er­a­tive,” Chaf­fetz said. “The Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion has giv­en us the stiff arm every sin­gle step of the way. I think a new admin­is­tra­tion would actu­al­ly work with us to quick­ly get to the truth, learn what we need to learn and then fix it.”

    “I’m not out to get her...but I am here to find the truth and make sure that it nev­er hap­pens again.”

    Bwah! Wow, the next four years is just going to be one long troll ride. One long white suprema­cist troll ride. But at least it will be com­plete­ly clear that the GOP is ful­ly on board with Trump’s Banana Repub­lic agen­da.

    Now, is all this talk com­ing from the GOP just prepar­ing Trump’s base for an even­tu­al let down or are Trump and the GOP real­ly going to go through with this and make pros­e­cut­ing your oppo­nent a new Amer­i­can prece­dent. That’s not obvi­ous at this point, but keep some­thing in mind: the wreck­ing-ball nature of Trump’s GOP aus­ter­i­ty agen­da is guar­an­teed to make life a lot worse for huge swathes of Trump’s vot­ing base. The wealthy Trump base will obvi­ous­ly get lots of gov­ern­ment good­ies, but aver­age Trump vot­ers are about to have to hopes for a bet­ter eco­nom­ic future and func­tion­al gov­ern­ment ser­vices basi­cal­ly destroyed, and that means the only ‘pos­i­tive’ accom­plish­ments Trump and the GOP will real­is­ti­cal­ly be able accom­plish is the per­se­cu­tion of lib­er­als and minori­ties. That’s about it. Sure, the evan­gel­i­cal base will be pleased by let­ting Mike Pence and the GOP roll back social pol­i­cy back to the 1950’s. But for Trump’s non-evan­gel­i­cal sup­port­ers who can’t real­ly be sat­is­fied with the GOP’s tra­di­tion­al theo­crat­ic social agen­da and who will be direct­ly harmed by the GOP’s aus­ter­i­ty agen­da, ‘punch­ing hip­pies’ is Trump’s main source of endur­ing appeal.

    So for all the warn­ings to Trump about how pros­e­cut­ing Hillary could back­fire, don’t neglect the fact that not doing things like per­se­cut­ing Hillary real­ly does deprive Trump of one of the pri­ma­ry polit­i­cal ‘gifts’ had can give to his base. And he’s going to need to give a lot of ‘gifts’ of that nature to give con­sid­er­ing that all almost all the fis­cal gifts are going to the super-wealthy and giant banks. It’s one of many rea­sons we real­ly can’t rule the pros­e­cu­tion and jail­ing of Hillary out. It’s also one of the many rea­sons the Trump admin­is­tra­tion’s use of the jus­tice depart­ment to destroy his oppo­nent prob­a­bly isn’t going to end with Hillary. Or elect­ed Democ­rats for that mat­ter. Giv­en how destruc­tive the Trump/GOP agen­da is going to be to the lives of his sup­port­ers, he’s going to have to jail a lot more ene­mies than just elect­ed Democ­rats.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 10, 2016, 3:58 pm
  22. Now that Don­ald Trump won the 2016 elec­tion after spend­ing most of his cam­paign con­stant­ly assert­ing that there was going to be mas­sive vot­er fraud and vote rig­ging, it’s worth not­ing that one of the few poten­tial­ly pos­i­tive out­comes of a Trump admin­is­tra­tion is the pos­si­bil­i­ty that we’ll see an increased pub­lic aware­ness of the decrepit and absurd­ly inse­cure elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines still in use today. After all, the bogus elec­tion day exit-polling oper­a­tion set up Trump’s dirty trick­ster Roger Stone was pred­i­cat­ed on the assump­tion that there was going to be mas­sive pro-Demo­c­rat elec­tron­ic vot­ing hack­ing. After Trump made that sce­nario a key theme of his cam­paign there’s basi­cal­ly no excuse for a Trump admin­is­tra­tion to not push for either replac­ing all those old, unre­li­able machines with new secure machines or, ide­al­ly, ditch­ing them alto­geth­er and return­ing paper bal­lots.

    So it will be inter­est­ing to see if elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines are even men­tioned by the Trump admin­is­tra­tion. It will also be inter­est­ing to see if there actu­al­ly is a Trump admin­is­tra­tion giv­en the new reports by elec­tion experts of evi­dence hint­ing towards major pro-Trump vot­ing machine hack­ing in key swing states:

    Talk­ing Points Memo Livewire

    Com­put­er Sci­en­tists Push­ing Clin­ton To Ask For Recount In 3 States

    By Caitlin Mac­Neal
    Pub­lished Novem­ber 23, 2016, 8:01 AM EDT

    This post has been updat­ed.

    A group of com­put­er sci­en­tists believe they have evi­dence that sug­gests vot­ing machines in Wis­con­sin, Michi­gan, and Penn­syl­va­nia have been hacked and have been urg­ing the Hillary Clin­ton cam­paign to ask for a recount in the three key states, accord­ing to a New York Mag­a­zine report.

    CNN con­firmed that the experts have been in touch with John Podes­ta, Clin­ton’s cam­paign chair, and Marc Elias, the cam­paign’s gen­er­al coun­sel.

    The group includes John Boni­faz, a vot­ing rights attor­ney, and J. Alex Hal­der­man, the direc­tor of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan Cen­ter for Com­put­er Secu­ri­ty and Soci­ety, accord­ing to New York Mag­a­zine.

    They have not found evi­dence of hack­ing, but say that vot­ing pat­terns they ana­lyzed sug­gest hack­ing could have tak­en place, accord­ing to the New York Mag­a­zine report. They group of experts told the Clin­ton cam­paign that an inde­pen­dent review of the pat­terns should be con­duct­ed, accord­ing to New York Mag­a­zine.

    The experts pre­sent­ed their find­ings to the Clin­ton cam­paign, telling them that Clin­ton received 7 per­cent few­er votes in coun­ties that used elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines in Wis­con­sin, accord­ing to New York Mag­a­zine. The report in New York Mag­a­zine did not men­tion the group’s find­ings in Michi­gan or Penn­syl­va­nia.

    If the results in Wis­con­sin and Penn­syl­va­nia were over­turned and Clin­ton won the state of Michi­gan, the total of 36 elec­toral votes would secure Clin­ton the vic­to­ry.

    Hal­der­man on Wednes­day morn­ing offered an expla­na­tion on why he believes states should con­duct a recount by hand and said that the New York Mag­a­zine sto­ry “includes some­body else’s descrip­tion of my views, incor­rect­ly describes the rea­sons man­u­al­ly check­ing bal­lots is an essen­tial secu­ri­ty safe­guard (and includes some incor­rect num­bers, to boot).”

    He did not go on to cor­rect the num­bers used in the New York Mag­a­zine piece, but instead explained in a post on Medi­um that he believes states must check bal­lots man­u­al­ly. Hal­der­man argued that elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines are very sus­cep­ti­ble to hack­ing and cit­ed reports that Russ­ian hack­ers obtained emails from the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee and Joh Podes­ta, the Clin­ton cam­paign chair. And he wrote that check­ing paper bal­lots by hand is an “absolute­ly essen­tial secu­ri­ty safe­guard,” but that not all states require it.

    “Exam­in­ing the phys­i­cal evi­dence in these states—even if it finds noth­ing amiss—will help allay doubt and give vot­ers jus­ti­fied con­fi­dence that the results are accu­rate,” Hal­der­man wrote. “It will also set a prece­dent for rou­tine­ly exam­in­ing paper bal­lots, which will pro­vide an impor­tant deter­rent against cyber­at­tacks on future elec­tions. Recount­ing the bal­lots now can only lead to strength­ened elec­toral integri­ty, but the win­dow for can­di­dates to act is clos­ing fast.”

    He did note that it’s not like­ly vot­ing machines were hacked.

    “Were this year’s devi­a­tions from pre-elec­tion polls the results of a cyber­at­tack? Prob­a­bly not. I believe the most like­ly expla­na­tion is that the polls were sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly wrong, rather than that the elec­tion was hacked. But I don’t believe that either one of these seem­ing­ly unlike­ly expla­na­tions is over­whelm­ing­ly more like­ly than the oth­er,” he wrote.

    The experts may have more evi­dence than the find­ings about pat­terns in Wis­con­sin laid out in the New York Mag­a­zine arti­cle, but data sci­en­tists on Tues­day night seemed skep­ti­cal of the find­ings that were made pub­lic, as the Huff­in­g­ton Post not­ed. The New York Times’ Nate Cohn indi­cat­ed that the group’s find­ings detailed by New York Mag­a­zine were “weak.”

    ...

    Nate Sil­ver also cast doubt on the find­ings laid out in the New York Mag­a­zine report.

    ...

    “Exam­in­ing the phys­i­cal evi­dence in these states—even if it finds noth­ing amiss—will help allay doubt and give vot­ers jus­ti­fied con­fi­dence that the results are accu­rate,” Hal­der­man wrote. “It will also set a prece­dent for rou­tine­ly exam­in­ing paper bal­lots, which will pro­vide an impor­tant deter­rent against cyber­at­tacks on future elec­tions. Recount­ing the bal­lots now can only lead to strength­ened elec­toral integri­ty, but the win­dow for can­di­dates to act is clos­ing fast.””

    That’s a crit­i­cal point here: Even if there’s no hack­ing dis­cov­ered, and even if there are plen­ty of doubts com­ing from oth­er experts as to whether or not these find­ings actu­al­ly point towards hack­ing, there’s no rea­son not to inves­ti­gate these claims because oth­er­wise the Trump admin­is­tra­tion is going be dogged by claims that it stole the elec­tion for the rest of his term.

    So while every­one is wait­ing to see if the Clin­ton cam­paign offi­cial­ly calls for an inves­ti­ga­tion, don’t for­get that the Trump admin­is­tra­tion has an incen­tive to see these claims inves­ti­gat­ed too after spend­ing a year shriek­ing about how Hillary was going to steal the elec­tion. Sure, the GOP as a par­ty prob­a­bly does­n’t care if Trump’s lega­cy is taint­ing with sus­pi­cions that Trump’s team, or some third par­ty, stole the elec­tion for Trump. But Trump pre­sum­ably cares, does­n’t he? As he must real­ize, the low­er his pop­u­lar­i­ty rat­ings go, the more these unre­solved issues are going to take hold in the mind of the elec­torate. Does the Cheater in Chief not care if he’s seen as a Cheater in Chief?

    So while it’s doubt­ful that these claims will real­ly get inves­ti­gat­ed or lead to any­thing as dra­mat­ic as a rever­sal of the elec­tion out­come, and it’s very pos­si­ble that there are oth­er expla­na­tions for these observed anom­alies, there’s real­ly no rea­son this sto­ry should be dropped even after Trump is sworn into office if this isn’t inves­ti­gat­ed. Along with all the oth­er ques­tions raised about elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines over the last dozen years that some­how don’t get ade­quate­ly inves­ti­gat­ed.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 23, 2016, 4:03 pm
  23. Wow, here’s some­thing you don’t see every day: Fox News actu­al­ly retract­ed sto­ry. But before give cred­it were cred­it’s due it’s impor­tant to rec­og­nize the moral bank­rupt­cy that pre­ced­ed this par­tic­u­lar retrac­tion. It’s also impor­tant to not that Fox News isn’t actu­al­ly apol­o­giz­ing for that moral bank­rupt­cy. In oth­er words, it’s a grudg­ing ‘sor­ry, not sor­ry’ retrac­tion.

    So what got retract­ed? Well, it was a report based on the claims of Rod Wheel­er, a pri­vate inves­ti­ga­tor hired by a third par­ty on behalf of the fam­i­ly of Seth Rich, the DNC staffer whose mur­der in 2016 led to spec­u­la­tion that he was actu­al­ly the source of the hacked Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee emails. Accord­ing to Wheel­er, he had inside sources in the FBI telling him that Seth Rich had indeed been in con­tact with Wik­ileaks. The Rich fam­i­ly imme­di­ate­ly decried the report, call­ing it false and smear on Seth’s name. But Fox News stuck by the sto­ry. And get pro­mot­ing it, along with Drudge, Bre­it­bart, and much of the rest of the far-right media com­plex. Until the next day, when Wheel­er admit­ted he had no actu­al insid­er FBI source but instead learned about this ‘rev­e­la­tion’ from anoth­er Fox News reporter. At that point Fox News retract­ed in embarass­ment...kept push­ing the sto­ry, with Sean Han­ni­ty aggres­sive­ly push­ing it. But now, a week lat­er, Fox News final­ly retract­ed it (with­out an apol­o­gy).

    So, yes, while a Fox News retrac­tion isn’t some­thing you see very often, Fox News act­ing like a shame­less pro­pa­gan­da out­fit designed to mis­lead and con­fuse its audi­ence is indeed some­thing you see basi­cal­ly every day. So while it was hard to see some ele­ments of this sto­ry com­ing, oth­ers were all to famil­iar:

    Talk­ing Points Memo
    Livewire

    Fox Removes Sto­ry Based On Con­spir­a­cy The­o­ry About Mur­dered DNC Staffer

    By Esme Cribb
    Pub­lished May 23, 2017 3:14 pm

    Fox News on Tues­day removed a sto­ry based on an unsub­stan­ti­at­ed con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry about the unsolved mur­der of a DNC staffer.

    “The arti­cle was not ini­tial­ly sub­ject­ed to the high degree of edi­to­r­i­al scruti­ny we require for all our report­ing,” Fox said in a brief state­ment. “Upon appro­pri­ate review, the arti­cle was found not to meet those stan­dards and has since been removed.”

    The net­work did not apol­o­gize and said it “will con­tin­ue to inves­ti­gate this sto­ry.”

    A link to a Fox News sto­ry orig­i­nal­ly titled “Slain DNC staffer had con­tact with Wik­iLeaks, inves­ti­ga­tor says” returned an error Tues­day after­noon, though the orig­i­nal iter­a­tion of the arti­cle remained avail­able via the Way­back Machine.

    Local Wash­ing­ton, D.C. Fox affil­i­ate WTTG pub­lished a sto­ry last week about claims made by a pri­vate inves­ti­ga­tor under con­tract with the fam­i­ly of Seth Rich, a DNC staffer who was shot and killed in July 2016 two days before Wik­iLeaks released thou­sands of emails from top mem­bers of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee.

    In its sto­ry, WTTG claimed that Rod Wheel­er, the inves­ti­ga­tor, said there was “tan­gi­ble evi­dence on Rich’s lap­top that con­firms he was com­mu­ni­cat­ing with Wik­iLeaks pri­or to his death.”

    Con­ser­v­a­tive out­lets includ­ing the Drudge Report, Bre­it­bart News and Fox News imme­di­ate­ly blast­ed out WTTG’s sto­ry about Rich’s alleged com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

    A day lat­er, Brad Bau­man, a spokesman for Rich’s fam­i­ly, pushed back on the alle­ga­tions, telling Buz­zFeed that the fam­i­ly “only learned about this when con­tact­ed by the press.”

    “Frankly,” Bau­man said, “I believe there’s a spe­cial place in hell for the folks who are push­ing the sto­ry.”

    He told CNN that the fam­i­ly was review­ing pos­si­ble legal action against the inves­ti­ga­tor, who could be “in breach of a non dis­clo­sure con­tract.”

    Fox News updat­ed its sto­ry the same day to reflect Bauman’s com­ments, with­out indi­cat­ing that it had done so.

    WTTG pub­lished an exten­sive update to the sto­ry the next day after Wheel­er back­tracked and told oth­er news out­lets that he got that infor­ma­tion “from the reporter at Fox News” rather than from FBI sources, as the Fox affil­i­ate claimed.

    That didn’t stop top host Sean Han­ni­ty from pro­mot­ing the con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry-based sto­ry for almost a week after­ward. As of 3 p.m. ET Tues­day, Han­ni­ty was still tweet­ing about inter­net mil­lion­aire Kim Dotcom’s claim to have “com­mu­ni­cat­ed” with Rich and to have proof that he was involved with the theft of thou­sands of emails from the DNC.

    Read Kim Dot­com and lis­ten to democ­rats say over and over NO EVIDENCE of Col­lu­sion https://t.co/9ZhgpvtDkO https://t.co/hMouzXfzqE— Sean Han­ni­ty (@seanhannity) May 23, 2017

    Dot­com claimed in 2014 to have sim­i­lar proof of a con­spir­a­cy against him. In March, the New Zealand Seri­ous Fraud Office announced that the email Dot­com pro­duced as evi­dence was a forgery.

    In the mean­time, Hannity’s entire Twit­ter pro­file is a tes­ta­ment to the pow­er of con­fir­ma­tion bias in the form of rants against “sheep” and “snowflakes.”

    The Dai­ly Beast on Mon­day report­ed that oth­er Fox News employ­ees were less enthused by Hannity’s week-long cru­sade.

    “ARE WE STILL AIRING THAT SHIT?!” one unnamed reporter asked the Dai­ly Beast.

    “Most­ly we’re keep­ing our heads down,” anoth­er said, accord­ing to the report. “I mean, have you seen some of the stuff we put on air?”

    Han­ni­ty declined to com­ment to the Dai­ly Beast, but had a tweet ready nev­er­the­less.

    Very inter­est­ing. My heart is not trou­bled in the least. Night all. https://t.co/MgOow2XVYu— Sean Han­ni­ty (@seanhannity) May 23, 2017

    In a state­ment Tues­day to CNN, Bau­man said that Rich’s fam­i­ly was grate­ful for Fox’s retrac­tion of the sto­ry.

    “The fam­i­ly would like to thank Fox News for their retrac­tion on a sto­ry that has caused deep pain and anguish to the fam­i­ly and has done harm to Seth Rich’s lega­cy,” he said.

    ...

    ———-

    “Fox Removes Sto­ry Based On Con­spir­a­cy The­o­ry About Mur­dered DNC Staffer” by Esme Cribb; Talk­ing Points Memo Livewire; 05/23/2017

    “The net­work did not apol­o­gize and said it “will con­tin­ue to inves­ti­gate this sto­ry.””

    Oh great, so it sounds like we can expect more ‘inves­tiga­tive updates’ from Fox News about the Seth Rich mur­der mys­tery. Updates with Fox News reporters as sources:

    ...
    WTTG pub­lished an exten­sive update to the sto­ry the next day after Wheel­er back­tracked and told oth­er news out­lets that he got that infor­ma­tion “from the reporter at Fox News” rather than from FBI sources, as the Fox affil­i­ate claimed.
    ...

    Yes, the big rev­e­la­tion by Wash­ing­ton, D.C. Fox affil­i­ate WTTG that an FBI source con­firmed that Seth Rich was in con­tact with Wik­ileaks came from a reporter at Fox News. So when Fox News tells us that it “will con­tin­ue to inves­ti­gate this sto­ry,” that should prob­a­bly be tak­en as a warn­ing.

    So when should we expect the next big Fox News ‘scoop’ on the Seth Rich sto­ry? Well, based on Wheel­er’s com­ments clar­i­fy­ing his sources, it sounds like we should expect a new fake sto­ry the next time Fox News wants to use a local affil­i­ate to pro­mote one of its sto­ries. Because, yes, Wheel­er said that he thought the rea­son Fox had him make these fake com­ments was to pro­mote “the Fox News sto­ry”. And what was that Fox News sto­ry about? Oh yeah, it was about the state­ments that Wheel­er made to the local Fox affil­i­ate that he had an FBI con­tact telling him Rich was in email con­tact with Wik­ileaks. And then short­ly after this admis­sion of guilt, Wheel­er was back on Sean Han­ni­ty’s show pro­mot­ing the same sto­ry:

    Buz­zFeed

    The Pri­vate Detec­tive Who Ignit­ed A Clin­ton Con­spir­a­cy The­o­ry Says He Was Mis­quot­ed

    Rod Wheel­er, who has been inves­ti­gat­ing the mur­der of Seth Rich, told Buz­zFeed News he had­n’t seen any emails link­ing the DNC staffer to Wik­iLeaks.

    Clau­dia Koern­er
    Buz­zFeed News Reporter

    Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on May 16, 2017, at 10:42 p.m.
    Updat­ed on May 16, 2017, at 11:39 p.m.

    The sto­ry lit up con­ser­v­a­tive news out­lets and social media: A pri­vate inves­ti­ga­tor work­ing with the fam­i­ly of a late Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee staffer said he could con­firm long-sim­mer­ing con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries that the 27-year-old was killed after send­ing emails to Wik­iLeaks.

    Less than 24 hours lat­er, the inves­ti­ga­tor told Buz­zFeed News that he could­n’t con­firm any­thing at all.

    On a tele­vi­sion news seg­ment that aired in Wash­ing­ton, DC, on Mon­day, pri­vate inves­ti­ga­tor Rod Wheel­er was inter­viewed by a reporter. “You have sources at the FBI say­ing that there is infor­ma­tion that could link Seth Rich to Wik­iLeaks?” she asks.

    “Absolute­ly,” Wheel­er responds. “And that’s con­firmed.”

    “My inves­ti­ga­tion up to this point shows there was some degree of email exchange between Seth Rich and Wik­iLeaks,” Wheel­er also said, accord­ing to a Fox News report.

    Slain DNC staffer had con­tact with Wik­iLeaks, inves­ti­ga­tor says https://t.co/UbD59fNfUK pic.twitter.com/ie7dkVSTb4— Fox News (@FoxNews) May 16, 2017

    But on Tues­day, Wheel­er told Buz­zFeed News that he had no per­son­al knowl­edge of whether Rich sent emails to a con­tact at Wik­iLeaks.

    “That sto­ry on Fox 5 last night was inac­cu­rate,” said Wheel­er, a for­mer DC homi­cide detec­tive. “I don’t even know where the com­put­ers are.”

    Fox 5 in Wash­ing­ton first report­ed on Mon­day night on Mon­day night that Wheel­er had learned of emails link­ing the slain staffer, Seth Rich, to Wik­iLeaks. The sto­ry was picked up nation­al­ly by Fox News on Tues­day as well as by right-wing out­lets that linked Wheel­er’s state­ments to con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries that claim Rich’s death was ordered by the Clin­tons as ret­ri­bu­tion for leak­ing emails to Wik­iLeaks.

    Fox News also report­ed that an unnamed fed­er­al inves­ti­ga­tor claimed Rich had pro­vid­ed more than 40,000 DNC emails to a Wik­iLeaks con­tact.

    Late Tues­day, Wheel­er told Buz­zFeed News he knew about pos­si­ble emails link­ing Rich and Wik­iLeaks because of a FoxNews.com sto­ry by reporter Malia Zim­mer­man. Wheel­er, who is also a Fox News con­trib­u­tor, said he does­n’t know who her source is and had­n’t per­son­al­ly seen any evi­dence sug­gest­ing that Rich leaked emails to Wik­iLeaks.

    Wheel­er told the same thing to CNN, adding that the com­ments he made to Fox 5 in DC were intend­ed to pro­mote the Fox News sto­ry.

    “I only got that [infor­ma­tion] from the reporter at Fox News,” Wheel­er told CNN.

    Fox 5 and Fox News did not imme­di­ate­ly respond to inquiries from Buz­zFeed News late Tues­day.

    Rich’s fam­i­ly has strong­ly reject­ed reports that the DNC staffer had been in con­tact with Wik­iLeaks.

    “As we’ve seen through the past year of unsub­stan­ti­at­ed claims, we see no facts, we have seen no evi­dence, we have been approached with no emails and only learned about this when con­tact­ed by the press,” fam­i­ly spokesper­son Brad Bau­man told Buz­zFeed News in an emailed state­ment.

    Wheel­er said fam­i­ly mem­bers have seemed to accept what Met­ro­pol­i­tan Police have said: that Rich appears to have been killed in a botched rob­bery, that there was no appar­ent link to his work in pol­i­tics, and that there is no iden­ti­fied sus­pect in the mur­der.

    “That’s pos­si­ble. That’s very pos­si­ble,” Wheel­er said. “I don’t know, but as an inves­ti­ga­tor you have to look at every pos­si­bil­i­ty.”

    He added that his only focus has been to find out who killed Rich. Though he is a Repub­li­can, he said that has had no influ­ence on his inves­ti­ga­tion. “I’m not into pol­i­tics,” Wheel­er said.

    As for those spread­ing con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries around Rich’s death, Wheel­er said it was­n’t help­ful. “I’m dis­ap­point­ed,” he said. “It does­n’t help catch the bad guy.”

    Short­ly after that con­ver­sa­tion, Wheel­er appeared on Fox News.

    “I don’t know for sure, I don’t know as a mat­ter of fact if the emails went out to the Wik­iLeaks or any­body else,” Wheel­er told Sean Han­ni­ty. “But it sure appears that way.”

    ...

    ———-

    “The Pri­vate Detec­tive Who Ignit­ed A Clin­ton Con­spir­a­cy The­o­ry Says He Was Mis­quot­ed” by Clau­dia Koern­er; Buz­zFeed; 05/16/2017

    ...
    On a tele­vi­sion news seg­ment that aired in Wash­ing­ton, DC, on Mon­day, pri­vate inves­ti­ga­tor Rod Wheel­er was inter­viewed by a reporter. “You have sources at the FBI say­ing that there is infor­ma­tion that could link Seth Rich to Wik­iLeaks?” she asks.

    “Absolute­ly,” Wheel­er responds. “And that’s con­firmed.”

    “My inves­ti­ga­tion up to this point shows there was some degree of email exchange between Seth Rich and Wik­iLeaks,” Wheel­er also said, accord­ing to a Fox News report.
    ...

    “Late Tues­day, Wheel­er told Buz­zFeed News he knew about pos­si­ble emails link­ing Rich and Wik­iLeaks because of a FoxNews.com sto­ry by reporter Malia Zim­mer­man. Wheel­er, who is also a Fox News con­trib­u­tor, said he does­n’t know who her source is and had­n’t per­son­al­ly seen any evi­dence sug­gest­ing that Rich leaked emails to Wik­iLeaks.”

    So what was Wheel­er’s expla­na­tion? He was mere­ly try­ing to pro­mote Malia Zim­mer­man’s now-retract­ed Fox News sto­ry:

    ...
    Wheel­er told the same thing to CNN, adding that the com­ments he made to Fox 5 in DC were intend­ed to pro­mote the Fox News sto­ry.

    “I only got that [infor­ma­tion] from the reporter at Fox News,” Wheel­er told CNN.
    ...

    And yet Wheel­er was on a local Fox affil­i­ate stat­ing unequiv­o­cal­ly that he has an FBI source:

    ...
    On a tele­vi­sion news seg­ment that aired in Wash­ing­ton, DC, on Mon­day, pri­vate inves­ti­ga­tor Rod Wheel­er was inter­viewed by a reporter. “You have sources at the FBI say­ing that there is infor­ma­tion that could link Seth Rich to Wik­iLeaks?” she asks.

    “Absolute­ly,” Wheel­er responds. “And that’s con­firmed.”

    “My inves­ti­ga­tion up to this point shows there was some degree of email exchange between Seth Rich and Wik­iLeaks,” Wheel­er also said, accord­ing to a Fox News report.
    ...

    Now, it’s impor­tant to point out the the Fox News report by Malia Zim­mer­man (which was based on the local Fox affil­i­ate report) did indeed claim to have an anony­mous fed­er­al source claim­ing that a foren­sic FBI report of Rich’s lap­top found ties to Wik­ileaks. But that infor­ma­tion was only added lat­er to the report. The ini­tial Fox News report (or at least the first one cap­tured by archive.org ear­ly in the morn­ing) on May 16th con­tains no men­tion of this FBI source. But lat­er in the day (pre­sum­ably after many ques­tions about the verac­i­ty of Wheel­er’s claims) we find the claims of an anony­mous fed­er­al source. So if Wheel­er is assert­ing that “he knew about pos­si­ble emails link­ing Rich and Wik­iLeaks because of a FoxNews.com sto­ry by reporter Malia Zim­mer­man,” it would be inter­est­ing to learn which sto­ry he’s refer­ring to since there don’t appear to be any oth­er sto­ries by Malia Zim­mer­man claim­ing to have an FBI source in the Seth Rich mur­der.

    So unless Fox New reporter Malia Zim­mer­man real­ly an FBI source telling her they have evi­dence of the Rich/Wikileaks emails it sure looks like Fox News was com­plete­ly fab­ri­cat­ing this sto­ry. Is that believ­able? Well, first, of course, this is Fox News we’re talk­ing about. Of course it’s pos­si­ble. And the fact that Fox News has Wheel­er con­tin­u­ing to open­ly pro­mote this sto­ry even after he made this admis­sion is a pret­ty strong sign that, yes, Fox News has no qualms at all about any of this:

    ...
    He added that his only focus has been to find out who killed Rich. Though he is a Repub­li­can, he said that has had no influ­ence on his inves­ti­ga­tion. “I’m not into pol­i­tics,” Wheel­er said.

    As for those spread­ing con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries around Rich’s death, Wheel­er said it was­n’t help­ful. “I’m dis­ap­point­ed,” he said. “It does­n’t help catch the bad guy.”

    Short­ly after that con­ver­sa­tion, Wheel­er appeared on Fox News.

    “I don’t know for sure, I don’t know as a mat­ter of fact if the emails went out to the Wik­iLeaks or any­body else,” Wheel­er told Sean Han­ni­ty. “But it sure appears that way.”
    ...

    “I don’t know for sure, I don’t know as a mat­ter of fact if the emails went out to the Wik­iLeaks or any­body else,” Wheel­er told Sean Han­ni­ty. “But it sure appears that way.

    So, to sum­ma­rize, the day after Fox News pushed a sto­ry that it appears to have com­plete­ly fab­ri­cat­ed, the source for that sto­ry, Rod Wheel­er, admit­ted he was lying about his sources and his real source was the Fox News sto­ry by Malia Zim­mer­man. That sto­ry by Zim­mer­man, how­ev­er, was a sto­ry that was yet to be writ­ten after Wheel­er made his claims since Zim­mer­man’s report was based on the local Fox affil­i­ate sto­ry about Wheel­er’s (fake) claims. And then Fox and much of the right-wing media kept push­ing the sto­ry after this was exposed. Includ­ing Wheel­er. And final­ly, a week lat­er, Fox grudg­ing­ly retract­ed the sto­ry, offered no apol­o­gy, and pledged to con­tin­ue inves­ti­gat­ing the Seth Rich mur­der mys­tery.

    And in oth­er news, Sean Han­ni­ty is still push­ing the sto­ry.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 23, 2017, 3:42 pm
  24. Guess who claims to not only know that Seth Rich was indeed the source of the DNC hacks but also claims that he was involved with the whole oper­a­tion:

    I knew Seth Rich. I know he was the @Wikileaks source. I was involved. https://t.co/MbGQteHhZM— Kim Dot­com (@KimDotcom) May 20, 2017

    Yes, Kim Dot­com told Sean Han­ni­ty on twit­ter just a few days ago that “I was involved” with the leak­ing of those doc­u­ments. And, yes, this claim took place a few days after Fox News pub­lished the now-debunked sto­ry claim­ing an FBI source con­firmed to a Fox News reporter that FBI analy­sis of Rich’s lap­top indi­cat­ed com­mu­ni­ca­tions with Wik­ileaks, but a few days before Fox News for­mal­ly retract­ed the sto­ry. And the day before he made this tweet he asked Google to release Rich’s Gmail account infor­ma­tion and lat­er that day claimed he was will to “give writ­ten tes­ti­mo­ny with evi­dence” that Rich was behind the DNC hack. So right in the mid­dle of a week when Fox News was aggres­sive­ly pro­mot­ing a fab­ri­cat­ed sto­ry we get Kim Dot­com claim­ing to have evi­dence of Rich’s involve­ment in the hack.

    And then, as the arti­cle below describes, after Fox News final­ly retracts its sto­ry on Tues­day of this week — a week after pub­lish­ing it and near­ly a week after it was debunked — Dot­com sim­ply post­ed a mes­sage on his web­site say­ing he knows Rich was behind the DNC hack and offered to give his full state­ment to US author­i­ties after a “guar­an­tee from Spe­cial Coun­sel [Robert S.] Mueller, on behalf of the Unit­ed States, of safe pas­sage from New Zealand to the Unit­ed States and back.”

    How are we sup­posed to inter­pret this? Well, as the arti­cle below also describes, there was an appar­ent hack­ing attempt on Seth Rich’s Gmail account ear­li­er this week. An appar­ent hack­ing attempt that appears to have come from Kim Dot­com’s Mega.com web­site after Seth Rich’s Gmail account received an email from welcome@mega.nz wel­com­ing to a new account on Kim Dot­com’s MEGA file-shar­ing web­site. The email con­tained a link to click on to ver­i­fy the account and had they clicked on that link they could have giv­en some­one access to Rich’s Gmail account accord­ing to experts work­ing with the Rich fam­i­ly.

    So if Kim Dot­com was real­ly, real­ly intent on pro­vid­ing evi­dence that Seth Rich was in con­tact with Wik­ileaks, hack­ing his Gmail account would prob­a­bly be a good way to find it. Or plant it. At the same time, attempt­ing some sort of hack on Rich’s Gmail account via an appar­ent phish­ing attempt designed to trick the Rich fam­i­ly into accept­ing an unso­licit­ed account at one of Kim Dot­com’s com­pa­nies just days after Kim Dot­com called for Google to release Rich’s Gmail account and then lat­er claim­ing that he actu­al­ly pos­sessed such evi­dence is a real­ly, real­ly odd hack­ing attempt. Odd in the sense that it’s hard to imag­ine a more self-impli­cat­ing hack by Kim Dot­com than a hack that orig­i­nates from an unso­licit­ed mega.nz email account.

    Who knows how exact­ly to inter­pret this, but it looks like there’s an addi­tion­al hack, or hack­ing attempt in this case, that we get to add to the list of seem­ing­ly self-impli­cat­ing hacks relat­ed to the 2016 elec­tions:

    The Wash­ing­ton Post

    The life and death of the Seth Rich con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry

    By David Weigel
    May 24, 2017 at 6:00 AM

    When Seth Rich’s Gmail account received an alert this week from Mega.com, attempt­ing to start a new account on a web­site cre­at­ed by the New Zealand-based Inter­net busi­ness­man and con­vict­ed hack­er Kim Dot­com, his fam­i­ly knew that some­thing was off.

    Over sev­en fren­zied days, Dot­com had become a lead­ing pur­vey­or of the the­o­ry that Rich, a staffer at the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee who was shot dead near his home in North­east Wash­ing­ton last sum­mer, had sup­plied DNC doc­u­ments to Wik­iLeaks and was killed as a result. Mul­ti­ple secu­ri­ty ana­lysts and an FBI inves­ti­ga­tion have tied the release to hack­ers with ties to Rus­sia. D.C. police have said repeat­ed­ly that they think Rich was slain in a ran­dom rob­bery attempt.

    Accord­ing to experts and Rich’s fam­i­ly, the emailed invi­ta­tion from welcome@mega.nz appeared to be an attempt to gain access to Rich’s email. Joel Rich, who main­tains his late son’s Gmail account, did not click the link. Mean­while, Dot­com was promis­ing on Twit­ter to prove that the younger Rich had been in con­tact with Wik­iLeaks — and Fox News host Sean Han­ni­ty was telling his 2.37 mil­lion Twit­ter fol­low­ers to be ready for a rev­e­la­tion.

    Han­ni­ty had invit­ed Dot­com to appear on his show for what he said on Twit­ter would be a “#GameChang­er” inter­view. The impli­ca­tion: that Dot­com would final­ly offer evi­dence of his claim that Rich had sent inter­nal DNC doc­u­ments to Wik­iLeaks before his death.

    All that began to unrav­el Tues­day after­noon, when Fox News retract­ed a sto­ry that had claimed the same Rich-Wik­iLeaks con­nec­tion, telling read­ers that the arti­cle was “not ini­tial­ly sub­ject­ed to the high degree of edi­to­r­i­al scruti­ny we require for all our report­ing.” Fox News did not respond to a request for com­ment, but Dot­com wrote on his web­site that he would not speak fur­ther about his alle­ga­tions.

    The lat­est rev­e­la­tion — that a hack­er from New Zealand may have been try­ing as recent­ly as this week to hack into Rich’s email — offered fresh evi­dence that the con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry is false. Dot­com, it seemed, may have been will­ing to cre­ate a fake archive of emails from Rich to “prove” his role in the DNC hack.

    “It looks like some­one set up a fake Gmail account, then used that Gmail account to cre­ate the Mega account,” said James Lewis, cyber­se­cu­ri­ty expert and a senior vice pres­i­dent at the Cen­ter for Strate­gic and Inter­na­tion­al Stud­ies. “This part is pret­ty stan­dard. Mega then checks with Gmail to see if the account exists, which is Mega’s some­what cheesy way of authen­ti­cat­ing iden­ti­ty. You then get to set up the Mega account. It’s a sys­tem designed to enable pseu­do­nyms and fake iden­ti­ties.”

    Mega.nz, a data secu­ri­ty com­pa­ny that Dot­com found­ed, did not respond to a request for com­ment.

    ...

    Hannity’s inter­est is piqued

    In a state­ment, Rich’s fam­i­ly told The Post that they were inves­ti­gat­ing whether some­one attempt­ed to gain access to Rich’s email account. “We are out­raged that cer­tain indi­vid­u­als con­tin­ue to try to use Seth’s name and mem­o­ry to advance their polit­i­cal and ide­o­log­i­cal agen­das,” they said. “We hope peo­ple will think twice the next time some­one makes an out­landish claim to have dis­cov­ered new evi­dence in this case.”

    A fam­i­ly spokesman went fur­ther, crit­i­ciz­ing Fox News for fan­ning the flames.

    “We are hope­ful that in the future that Fox News will work with the fam­i­ly to ensure the high­est degree of pro­fes­sion­al­ism and scruti­ny is fol­lowed so that only accu­rate facts are report­ed sur­round­ing this case,” said Brad Bau­man, a pro­gres­sive com­mu­ni­ca­tions strate­gist work­ing with the Rich fam­i­ly.

    Dot­com did not respond to an emailed ques­tion about the Mega account, but his sto­ry about Rich has altered since some atten­tion-grab­bing tweets. On May 16, he men­tioned Rich for the first time, after a fol­low­er asked what he thought of the con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry that Rich was tied to the release of thou­sands of inter­nal DNC doc­u­ments.

    On May 19, Dot­com asked for Google to release the con­tents of Rich’s Gmail account, as well as two accounts that online sleuths had claimed belonged to him.

    Lat­er that day, Dot­com said that he was will­ing to “give writ­ten tes­ti­mo­ny with evi­dence” that Rich had passed the DNC doc­u­ments to Wik­iLeaks.

    That attract­ed the inter­est of Han­ni­ty, who had devot­ed sev­er­al seg­ments of his radio and TV show to the con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry. Dot­com then claimed that he would be able to reveal what he knew after talk­ing to lawyers.

    But in a Tues­day mes­sage that Dot­com post­ed on his web­site, he claimed only to know that “Seth Rich was involved” in the DNC hack, and that he would give his full state­ment after a “guar­an­tee from Spe­cial Coun­sel [Robert S.] Mueller, on behalf of the Unit­ed States, of safe pas­sage from New Zealand to the Unit­ed States and back.”

    “I know this because in late 2014 a per­son con­tact­ed me about help­ing me to start a branch of the Inter­net Par­ty in the Unit­ed States,” Dot­com said. “He called him­self Pan­da. I now know that Pan­da was Seth Rich. Pan­da advised me that he was work­ing on vot­er ana­lyt­ics tools and oth­er tech­nolo­gies that the Inter­net Par­ty may find help­ful.”

    Dot­com pro­vid­ed no evi­dence to cor­rob­o­rate this. “We are unaware of any con­tact between Seth and Kim Dot­com and are not aware of Seth ever dis­cussing the need for an ‘Inter­net Par­ty,’?” Rich’s fam­i­ly said in a state­ment.

    Dot­com had made sim­i­lar­ly grandiose claims before and had been found to have fab­ri­cat­ed evi­dence. In 2014, Dot­com claimed to have email evi­dence that motion pic­ture indus­try exec­u­tives con­spired with New Zealand’s gov­ern­ment to send him to the Unit­ed States, where he could be charged for sev­er­al crimes. He orga­nized a high-pro­file event, “the Moment of Truth,” days ahead of the New Zealand elec­tion. His guests talked about gov­ern­ment spy­ing; Dot­com drew atten­tion to the pho­ny email.

    There would be anoth­er shot at the spot­light when Han­ni­ty and oth­er con­ser­v­a­tive media fig­ures asked whether Rich could be linked to Wik­iLeaks, there­by prov­ing that there had been no Rus­sia-linked hack­ing of the DNC. On Hannity’s show, a pri­vate inves­ti­ga­tor named Rod Wheel­er, who had been paid by a con­ser­v­a­tive donor to inves­ti­gate the mur­der, retract­ed his claim that Rich’s lap­top was in FBI cus­tody and con­tained evi­dence of a Wik­iLeaks con­nec­tion. Nei­ther alle­ga­tion was true, accord­ing to Rich’s fam­i­ly.

    “We know that Seth’s per­son­al email and his per­son­al com­put­er were both inspect­ed by detec­tives ear­ly in the inves­ti­ga­tion and that the inspec­tion revealed no evi­dence of any com­mu­ni­ca­tions with any­one at Wik­iLeaks or any­one asso­ci­at­ed with Wik­iLeaks,” Rich’s par­ents wrote in a col­umn pub­lished Tues­day evening by The Post.

    Yet for days, Fox News declined to cor­rect or remove a sto­ry claim­ing that Rich’s “emails are in pos­ses­sion of the FBI, while the stalled case is in the hands of the Wash­ing­ton Police Depart­ment.” The sto­ry, pub­lished on May 16 by Fox reporter Malia Zim­mer­man, con­tained spe­cif­ic details of what had been done and what had been cov­ered up, cit­ing a “fed­er­al inves­ti­ga­tor” in report­ing that Rich “made con­tact with Wik­iLeaks.”

    WikiLeaks’s Julian Assange had per­sis­tent­ly fed rumors of a con­nec­tion with Rich with­out pro­vid­ing evi­dence. He has offered a $20,000 reward for infor­ma­tion about Rich’s killer, and he has used an inter­view with Dutch tele­vi­sion, an inter­view with Han­ni­ty and sev­er­al tweets to sug­gest that Rich’s case showed why Wik­iLeaks sources tread care­ful­ly. He has nev­er explic­it­ly said whether Rich was a source.

    Zim­mer­man did not answer emails or a phone call about her sto­ry, which Fox retract­ed in its entire­ty on Tues­day.

    It was not the only flim­sy lead. Roger Stone, a Trump ally who accord­ing to NBC News is coop­er­at­ing with an inves­ti­ga­tion into whether the 2016 Trump cam­paign coor­di­nat­ed with Russ­ian con­tacts, said this week that Rich had clear­ly giv­en the DNC doc­u­ments to a third-par­ty source “in a flop­py disk form.” But the source in his the­o­ry, a British ex-diplo­mat, had told Russia’s Sput­nik news out­let that he had heard about the hack sec­ond­hand — then told the Dai­ly Mail he had got­ten doc­u­ments in Sep­tem­ber, months after Rich’s death.

    Accord­ing to Clint Watts, a senior fel­low at the Cen­ter For Cyber and Home­land Secu­ri­ty at George Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty, none of the “inside man” sce­nar­ios make sense. The FBI, he not­ed, had come to the DNC to report a data breach months before any­thing was pub­lished by Wik­iLeaks.

    The col­lapse of the sto­ry came only after a num­ber of con­ser­v­a­tive voic­es drew atten­tion to it. On Mon­day, Rush Lim­baugh told lis­ten­ers that Dot­com was “renowned” and “world famous,” with a sto­ry to tell.

    “This sto­ry is now start­ing to get legs, that Seth Rich was mur­dered, it was a con­tract hire killing because he was leak­ing to Wik­iLeaks,” Lim­baugh said.

    On Tues­day, Han­ni­ty told his radio lis­ten­ers that he would keep fight­ing to dis­prove “this Rus­sia col­lu­sion nar­ra­tive” and be proven right.

    “I will do the main­stream media’s job like I have for most of my career,” Han­ni­ty said. “All you in the lib­er­al media, I am not Fox.com or FoxNews.com. I retract­ed noth­ing.”

    Then, on the Tues­day night episode of Hannity’s show — the one that con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists hoped would show­case the “game-chang­er” inter­view with Dot­com — Han­ni­ty said he had exchanged let­ters which Rich’s fam­i­ly and would not dis­cuss the sto­ry.

    ...

    ———-

    “The life and death of the Seth Rich con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry” by David Weigel; The Wash­ing­ton Post; 05/24/2017

    Accord­ing to experts and Rich’s fam­i­ly, the emailed invi­ta­tion from welcome@mega.nz appeared to be an attempt to gain access to Rich’s email. Joel Rich, who main­tains his late son’s Gmail account, did not click the link. Mean­while, Dot­com was promis­ing on Twit­ter to prove that the younger Rich had been in con­tact with Wik­iLeaks — and Fox News host Sean Han­ni­ty was telling his 2.37 mil­lion Twit­ter fol­low­ers to be ready for a rev­e­la­tion.”

    (We cov­ered Kim Dot­com in FTR #812.

    So did Kim Dot­com seri­ous­ly try to hack Seth Rich’s Gmail account using a mega.nz phish­ing attempt just days after first call­ing for Google to open up Rich’s Gmail account and then claim­ing he already pos­sessed such evi­dence? Like, seri­ous­ly, did he real­ly do that? Hope­ful­ly the Rich fam­i­ly can release that email or some­how make it avail­able for addi­tion­al secu­ri­ty experts to study it and at least get clar­i­fi­ca­tion on how easy it is to attribute this hack­ing attempt to some­one. For instance, did the ver­i­fi­ca­tion link in the email go to some ran­dom fake web­site, like mega-upload.nz instead of mega.nz, or some­thing like that? Did the ver­i­fi­ca­tion email even come from mega.nz? Could this have been some­one sign­ing up for a new MEGA account who input Seth Rich’s email address as the ver­i­fi­ca­tion address? If that’s case it would prob­a­bly be more harass­ment than a hack­ing attempt. But if this was a real phish­ing attempt that would have giv­en the hack­er access to Seth Rich’s Gmail account and this real­ly was being done by Kim Dot­com, this is either some sort of self-attri­bu­tion-to-deflect-blame ploy using reverse psy­chol­o­gy or, wow, is this slop­py.

    Either way, giv­en all the indi­ca­tions that the DNC/Jonn Podes­ta hacks were done by some­one intent on leav­ing “I’m a Russ­ian hack­er!” hints, and giv­en Kim Dot­com’s clear intent on end­ing pub­lic inter­est in the inves­ti­ga­tions into the 2016 hacks, it’s look­ing like we should prob­a­bly add Kim Dot­com to the 2016 hack sus­pect list.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 24, 2017, 2:55 pm
  25. Aaron Nevin, a for­mer aide to a GOP Flori­da state sen­a­tor told the Wall Street Jour­nal that the Demo­c­ra­t­ic par­ty doc­u­ments that he post­ed on his blog back in August were indeed obtained from “Guc­cifer 2.0”. Not exact­ly a shock­er. Although the fact that he admit­ted to not only receiv­ing the doc­u­ments but he actu­al­ly reached out and asked for them and then stat­ed that, while he was­n’t con­vinced that “Guc­cifer 2.0” was a Russ­ian gov­ern­ment hack­er, he would­n’t see any prob­lem with using those doc­u­ments even if that was the case was kind of shock­ing:

    Giz­mo­do

    Flori­da Repub­li­can Who Teamed Up With Guc­cifer 2.0 Says Secret­ly Work­ing With Rus­sia Is NBD

    Dell Cameron
    05/25/2017 5:55pm

    The WSJ revealed today that a GOP oper­a­tive named Aaron Nevins request­ed and received con­fi­den­tial files stolen from the Democ­rats by hack­er Guc­cifer 2.0 last year.

    Nevins, a for­mer aide to Flori­da State Sen. Ellyn Bog­danoff, con­fessed to the Jour­nal that not only did he receive files stolen from the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Con­gres­sion­al Cam­paign Com­mit­tee, the doc­u­ments, which con­tained Demo­c­ra­t­ic vot­er turnout analy­sis, weren’t just slid under his door by some anony­mous bene­fac­tor.

    Nevins admits that he propo­si­tioned the hack­er Guc­cifer 2.0 for the files pri­vate­ly on Twit­ter; “I just threw an arrow in the dark,” he said. (US intel­li­gence chiefs say Guc­cifer 2.0 is an attri­bu­tion front for a Russ­ian-backed hack­ing group, but there are some note­wor­thy rea­sons to dis­pute that.) What Guc­cifer 2.0 sent in response was a prover­bial gold­mine.

    “Basi­cal­ly if this was a war, this is the map to where all the troops are deployed,” Nevins told the hack­er in one exchange. “This is prob­a­bly worth mil­lions of dol­lars.” The Jour­nal did not pro­vide screen­shots of this con­ver­sa­tion, unfor­tu­nate­ly.

    The stolen files were then post­ed to the web­site blog HelloFLA, which Nevins admits to run­ning. They include a “vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties” assess­ment of Randy Perkins, a Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­date who ran to fill a con­gres­sion­al seat vacat­ed by incum­bent Demo­c­rat Patrick Mur­phy, with details such as: “Randy Perkins has donat­ed $1.6 mil­lion to Repub­li­cans” and “Perkins has been sued by con­trac­tors for non-pay­ment. (Perkins lost the elec­tion to Bri­an Mast, a Repub­li­can.)

    Though Nevins told the Jour­nal that he isn’t con­vinced Rus­sia was behind the hacks, his response to the idea that he may have col­lab­o­rat­ed with the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment to under­mine a con­gres­sion­al race was telling. “If your inter­ests align,” he said, “nev­er shut any doors in pol­i­tics.” That’s a stun­ning dis­play of hon­esty from a Flori­da Repub­li­can. He’s essen­tial­ly say­ing there’s noth­ing wrong with part­ner­ing up with crim­i­nals to win an elec­tion because, hey, it’s just pol­i­tics.

    ...

    On elec­tion day, accord­ing to the Sun Sen­tinel, Nevins tried to shut down a high­way in Broward Coun­ty, Flori­da, by assert­ing his right to hold an “ama­teur car race.” The high­way, US 441, serves as a cor­ri­dor through “many black com­mu­ni­ties,” the paper says. And while the race was sched­uled to run from 7am to 7pm, or exact vot­ing hours, Nevins assert­ed that his intent was nev­er to stop like­ly-Demo­c­ra­t­ic vot­ers from reach­ing the polls. He just want­ed to race and, you know, that was the only time he could do it.

    It seems like­ly the good peo­ple of Broward Coun­ty decid­ed they’d had enough of Nevins’ crazy bullsh it. The sheriff’s office respond­ed to his car race request with a long list of nec­es­sary per­mits and Nevins sub­se­quent­ly with­drew it.

    ———-

    “Flori­da Repub­li­can Who Teamed Up With Guc­cifer 2.0 Says Secret­ly Work­ing With Rus­sia Is NBD” by Dell Cameron; Giz­mo­do; 05/25/2017

    “Nevins admits that he propo­si­tioned the hack­er Guc­cifer 2.0 for the files pri­vate­ly on Twit­ter; “I just threw an arrow in the dark,” he said. (US intel­li­gence chiefs say Guc­cifer 2.0 is an attri­bu­tion front for a Russ­ian-backed hack­ing group, but there are some note­wor­thy rea­sons to dis­pute that.) What Guc­cifer 2.0 sent in response was a prover­bial gold­mine.”

    And what was that gold­mine of data?

    ...
    “Basi­cal­ly if this was a war, this is the map to where all the troops are deployed,” Nevins told the hack­er in one exchange. “This is prob­a­bly worth mil­lions of dol­lars.” The Jour­nal did not pro­vide screen­shots of this con­ver­sa­tion, unfor­tu­nate­ly.
    ...

    So when you hear the GOP’s bizarre refrain that ‘the hacks did­n’t affect the elec­tion’, keep in mind that the impact was­n’t lim­it­ed to how the released hacked info may have changed the pub­lic’s opin­ion.

    At the same time, also keep in mind that, while it’s wide­ly assumed that “Guc­cifer 2.0” is a Russ­ian gov­ern­ment hack who was just pre­tend­ing to be a Roman­ian hack­er, if that’s true it’s got to be one of the worst intel­li­gence oper­a­tions in his­to­ry unless it in involved a reverse-psy­chol­o­gy self-impli­ca­tion ploy:

    The Hill

    Evi­dence mounts link­ing DNC email hack­er to Rus­sia

    By Joe Uchill
    07/26/16 03:11 PM EDT

    Emails sent by Guc­cifer 2.0 to The Hill show evi­dence that the hack­er used a Russ­ian-lan­guage anonymi­ty pro­tec­tion ser­vice — a lan­guage he has claimed he could not read or even rec­og­nize.

    The news comes amid mount­ing reports link­ing Guc­cifer 2.0’s hack of Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee (DNC) emails to Russ­ian intel­li­gence.

    Guc­cifer 2.0 com­mu­ni­cates with jour­nal­ists using dif­fer­ent dis­pos­able web-based email accounts each time. With The Hill, he com­mu­ni­cat­ed using address­es from Pro­ton­Mail and Mail.com.

    To fur­ther pro­tect his anonymi­ty, he con­nect­ed to the web­mail accounts using a Vir­tu­al Pri­vate Net­work (VPN). Users send VPN servers the address of a site they would like to reach, and the VPN access­es it in their stead – mask­ing the users’ inter­net address­es.

    Meta­da­ta of emails sent from Guc­cifer 2.0 to The Hill was shared with the cyber­se­cu­ri­ty firm Threat­Con­nect. In the inter­est of pro­tect­ing Guc­cifer 2.0’s iden­ti­ty, his account infor­ma­tion was not includ­ed.

    The Mail.com meta­da­ta includes the inter­net address of who is mail­ing out­go­ing mes­sages — in Guc­cifer 2.0’s case, the VPN.

    Voca­tiv report­ed Tues­day that Threat­Con­nect had dis­cov­ered the hack­er used a pre­dom­i­nant­ly-Russ­ian-lan­guage VPN when he cor­re­spond­ed with them through a French AOL account. Threat­Con­nect matched that same inter­net address from the same VPN to the Mail.com email.

    VPNs often let users route their traf­fic through a vari­ety of servers in a vari­ety of coun­tries. Guc­cifer 2.0 rout­ed his traf­fic through a French inter­net address oper­at­ed by the Elite VPN ser­vice.

    But that French inter­net address was not avail­able for pub­lic use – it was not one of the French servers Elite VPN allowed its clients to select. Instead, the French serv­er appears to have only been used by a select, crim­i­nal clien­tele in the past, includ­ing text mes­sage scam­mers.

    Elite VPN’s web­site is writ­ten in Russ­ian, with links to Eng­lish trans­la­tions. Parts of the site, includ­ing graph­ics, are only writ­ten in Russ­ian, and when Threat­Con­nect went through the process of sign­ing up for an account, they found the signup process writ­ten entire­ly in Russ­ian.

    Guc­cifer 2.0 has long claimed to be Roman­ian. In an online chat inter­view with Moth­er­board, Guc­cifer 2.0 claimed not to know how to speak Russ­ian. In it, Moth­er­board asked a ques­tion in Russ­ian, and Guc­cifer replied “What’s this? Is it russ­ian?”

    The site then asked if he under­stood Russ­ian.

    “R u kid­ding?” wrote Guc­cifer 2.0.

    In the same inter­view, when forced to answered ques­tions in Roman­ian, he used such clunky gram­mar and ter­mi­nol­o­gy that experts believed he was using an online trans­la­tor.

    The two active pay­ment ser­vices for Elite VPN are options that are pop­u­lar in Rus­sia, includ­ing the Moscow-based Web Mon­ey. The site also includes a link to a long-defunct Cos­ta Rican pay­ment proces­sor that was seized by law enforce­ment in 2013.

    There are oth­er anonymi­ty ser­vices besides VPNs — includ­ing Tor — and a large inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty of oth­er VPNs both bet­ter known and bet­ter esteemed than Elite VPN. But the Edward Snow­den doc­u­ments and recent inves­ti­ga­tions by U.S. law enforce­ment show a U.S. inter­est in crack­ing through the anonymi­ty of these so-called proxy servers.

    “They might be mak­ing sure they are lever­ag­ing proxy infra­struc­ture with­in their own bor­ders,” said Rich Barg­er, Threat­Con­nect direc­tor of threat intel­li­gence.

    The fact that Guc­cifer 2.0’s VPN is Russ­ian is not the first indi­ca­tor that Rus­sia was involved in the attack on the DNC. The email hack lever­aged the same tools, meth­ods and com­mand servers seen in oth­er attacks linked to Russ­ian intel­li­gence, includ­ing on the Ger­man Par­lia­ment.

    “The noose is tight­en­ing around Rus­sia,” said Barg­er.

    ...

    “In the same inter­view, when forced to answered ques­tions in Roman­ian, he used such clunky gram­mar and ter­mi­nol­o­gy that experts believed he was using an online trans­la­tor.”

    ““They might be mak­ing sure they are lever­ag­ing proxy infra­struc­ture with­in their own bor­ders,” said Rich Barg­er, Threat­Con­nect direc­tor of threat intel­li­gence.”

    Yes, in order to avoid the pos­si­b­li­ty of the US crack­ing the anonymi­ty of the proxy-serv­er Guc­cifer 2.0 use so as to main­tain the “I’m Roman­ian who does­n’t speek Russ­ian” cov­er sto­ry, the Russ­ian intel­li­gence ser­vices did­n’t decide to use a Roman­ian speak­er to com­mu­ni­cate with the world but instead used a crap­py trans­la­tion ser­vice so the per­son would not seem Roman­ian at all.

    And then they used a Russ­ian VPN with a Russ­ian-lan­guage sign-up page and inter­net address­es on the VPN only known to be used by “a select, crim­i­nal clien­tele in the past, includ­ing text mes­sage scammers”...in order main­tain the “I’m a Roman­ian who can’t speak Roman­ian” cov­er:

    ...
    Voca­tiv report­ed Tues­day that Threat­Con­nect had dis­cov­ered the hack­er used a pre­dom­i­nant­ly-Russ­ian-lan­guage VPN when he cor­re­spond­ed with them through a French AOL account. Threat­Con­nect matched that same inter­net address from the same VPN to the Mail.com email.

    VPNs often let users route their traf­fic through a vari­ety of servers in a vari­ety of coun­tries. Guc­cifer 2.0 rout­ed his traf­fic through a French inter­net address oper­at­ed by the Elite VPN ser­vice.

    But that French inter­net address was not avail­able for pub­lic use – it was not one of the French servers Elite VPN allowed its clients to select. Instead, the French serv­er appears to have only been used by a select, crim­i­nal clien­tele in the past, includ­ing text mes­sage scam­mers.

    Elite VPN’s web­site is writ­ten in Russ­ian, with links to Eng­lish trans­la­tions. Parts of the site, includ­ing graph­ics, are only writ­ten in Russ­ian, and when Threat­Con­nect went through the process of sign­ing up for an account, they found the signup process writ­ten entire­ly in Russ­ian.

    ...

    There are oth­er anonymi­ty ser­vices besides VPNs — includ­ing Tor — and a large inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty of oth­er VPNs both bet­ter known and bet­ter esteemed than Elite VPN. But the Edward Snow­den doc­u­ments and recent inves­ti­ga­tions by U.S. law enforce­ment show a U.S. inter­est in crack­ing through the anonymi­ty of these so-called proxy servers.

    “They might be mak­ing sure they are lever­ag­ing proxy infra­struc­ture with­in their own bor­ders,” said Rich Barg­er, Threat­Con­nect direc­tor of threat intel­li­gence.
    ...

    ““They might be mak­ing sure they are lever­ag­ing proxy infra­struc­ture with­in their own bor­ders,” said Rich Barg­er, Threat­Con­nect direc­tor of threat intel­li­gence.”

    Those Russ­ian intel­li­gence ser­vices sure are tricky! Espe­cial­ly how they filled the leaked doc­u­ments with Cyril­lic char­ac­ters. Again, if this isn’t part of some sort of Russ­ian intel­li­gence reverse-psy­chol­o­gy self-impli­ca­tion ploy designed to dis­cred­it Russ­ian hack­er sus­pi­cions by mim­ic­k­ing an implau­si­bly hor­ri­ble degree of trade­craft for a high­ly sen­si­tive oper­a­tion, this has got to be one of the worst intel­li­gence oper­a­tions in his­to­ry. Or else the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment wants to take the blame, which is a odd move when back­ing a Manchuri­an can­di­date.

    Regard­less, we now have a GOP oper­a­tive proud­ly claim­ing that they reached out to Guc­cifer 2.0, got invalu­able doc­u­ments, and they would­n’t have cared whether they were Russ­ian gov­ern­ment hack­ers or not. In the ‘please charge me with some­thing, any­thing!’ cat­e­go­ry of GOP behav­ior, it looks like Don­ald Trump’s obstruc­tion of jus­tice in the Rus­sia probe has some seri­ous com­pe­ti­tion.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 26, 2017, 1:04 pm
  26. There was anoth­er twist in Kim Dot­com’s ‘inves­ti­ga­tion’ into the Seth Rich mur­der. A twist with plen­ty of spin. So Kim Dot­com just tweet­ed out a doc­u­ment that’s alleged­ly from the FBI demon­strat­ing that Seth Rich was indeed the source of the hacked DNC emails. The twist is that the doc­u­ment is a bla­tant fraud and Kim Dot­com acknowl­edges that but decid­ed to tweet it out any­way. The spin is Dot­com’s asser­tions that there’s no need to delete the tweet pro­mot­ing the fake doc­u­ment because, hey, he put up some sub­se­quent tweets ques­tion­ing their authen­tic­i­ty. Twist & spin.

    But there was anoth­er rather intrigu­ing admis­sion by Dot­com in the fol­low­ing inter­view ask­ing him why he tweet­ed out doc­u­ments he knew were fake: Dot­com is con­tin­u­ing to assert that he has evi­dence Rich was the source of the DNC hacks. He’s just not ready to reveal it yet but he strong­ly hints that the evi­dence has to do with his close ties to Wik­ileaks. And then he refers back to a Bloomberg TV inter­view he did on May 13th, 2015, where Dot­com pre­dicts that Julian Assange is going to be Hillary Clin­ton’s “worst night­mare” in the upcom­ing elec­tion. How so? Because, says Dot­com, Assange “has access to infor­ma­tion,” with­out going into specifics. And while it’s pos­si­ble that Wik­ileaks was sit­ting on a bunch of old pre-2015 emails that could be embar­rass­ing to Hillary, we did­n’t real­ly old emails get­ting leaked dur­ing the cam­paign although the range of emails released on the DNC leak went from Jan­u­ary 2015 to May 2016. That rais­es the ques­tion as to whether or not Wik­ileaks, or some­thing asso­ci­at­ed with them (Dot­com, per­haps?) had already hacked the DNC’s servers when Dot­com gave that inter­view and were just watch­ing and col­lect­ing info. Don’t for­get that when Dot­com gave that inter­view it was a month after Hillary Clin­ton offi­cial­ly entered the race but before Don­ald Trump even announced and months before and the FBI report­ed­ly first dis­cov­ered the DNC serv­er hack­ing in Sep­tem­ber of 2015 (that it allowed to con­tin­ue until May of 2016) and Crowd­strike’s sub­se­quent report on the hack­ing states that the “intru­sion” of the DNC’s net­work was iden­ti­fied going back to the sum­mer of 2015:

    Crowd­strike
    Blog

    Bears in the Midst: Intru­sion into the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee

    June 15, 2016
    Dmitri Alper­ovitch
    ...

    At DNC, COZY BEAR intru­sion has been iden­ti­fied going back to sum­mer of 2015, while FANCY BEAR sep­a­rate­ly breached the net­work in April 2016. We have iden­ti­fied no col­lab­o­ra­tion between the two actors, or even an aware­ness of one by the oth­er. Instead, we observed the two Russ­ian espi­onage groups com­pro­mise the same sys­tems and engage sep­a­rate­ly in the theft of iden­ti­cal cre­den­tials....

    ...

    ———-
    “Bears in the Midst: Intru­sion into the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee” by Dmitri Alper­ovitch; Crowd­strike blog; 06/15/2016

    That May 13, 2015 inter­view Dot­com gave to Bloomberg is awful­ly close to the date Crowd­strike gave for the first DNC net­work breach. Sure, May isn’t quite “sum­mer”, but it’s close so it would be inter­est­ing to know how con­fi­dent Crowd­strike is of that “sum­mer 2015” date. Might the DNC intru­sions have start­ed a lit­tle ear­li­er?

    So in an inter­view where Kim Dot­com con­tin­ues to assert that he has evi­dence that Seth Rich was the hacked DNC email source, Dot­com then refers to a May 2015 inter­view — long before Seth Rich would have been in a posi­tion to pass along emails or even a motive if he real­ly was a dis­il­lu­sioned Bernie-crat but short­ly before Crowd­strike found con­clud­ed when the DNC was ini­tial­ly hacked — where Dot­com con­fi­dent­ly asserts that Julian Assange already had a bunch of dirt on Hillary and was going to be her worst night­mare. And yet we did­n’t real­ly see any old embar­rass­ing emails emerge from Wik­ileaks dur­ing the cam­paign. Along with being incred­i­bly sleazy it’s all rather curi­ous:

    Giz­mo­do

    Kim Dot­com Says FBI File About Seth Rich Is Fake, But He Won’t Delete It From Twit­ter

    Matt Novak
    5/20/2017 7:30am

    Have you seen that FBI file, pur­port­ing to be about the death of DNC staffer Seth Rich? Kim Dot­com, who thrust him­self into the sto­ry recent­ly by telling Sean Han­ni­ty that he had evi­dence Rich had sent doc­u­ments to Wik­ileaks, pub­lished the doc­u­ment on Twit­ter, help­ing to spread it online. Dot­com now acknowl­edges that the doc­u­ment is fake. But he told Giz­mo­do that he’s not going to delete it.

    The fake FBI doc­u­ment was first pub­lished on a web­site called Bor­der­land Alter­na­tive Media and it wasn’t long before it start­ed to spread on social media, includ­ing by Kim Dot­com. Alex Jones’ Prison Plan­et picked it up, but has since delet­ed its own ver­sion of the sto­ry.

    The internet’s inter­est in the July 2016 mur­der of Seth Rich revolves around claims that he leaked Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty doc­u­ments to Wik­ileaks, an idea that Julian Assange has hint­ed at repeat­ed­ly. The police say that Seth Rich’s mur­der was a rob­bery gone bad. But inter­net con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists believe that Rich was killed as ret­ri­bu­tion for leak­ing emails about the DNC. What­ev­er the case, the FBI file is com­plete bull­shit.

    “I was skep­ti­cal. I tweet­ed that the doc­u­ment could be a fake and that the FBI has to weigh in about it,” Dot­com told me over direct mes­sage on Twit­ter.

    The doc­u­ment is obvi­ous­ly fake to any­one who’s looked at real FBI files. For one thing, the FBI doesn’t use black to redact infor­ma­tion, it uses white box­es. And much more damn­ing­ly, the redac­tions include par­tial words and par­tial dates, as well as the par­tial redac­tion of its clas­si­fi­ca­tion stamp, things that would nev­er be done.

    [see pics of hoax FBI doc­u­ments]

    You can see the com­par­i­son between the fake FBI file on Seth Rich (above left) with a recent­ly obtained FBI file on mil­i­tary his­to­ri­an Robert Dorr (above right). It’s a slop­py fake.

    “After doing some foren­sic analy­sis of the doc­u­ment I came to believe it is not authen­tic. And I have retweet­ed Wik­ileaks which came to the same con­clu­sion,” Dot­com told me.

    But as any Twit­ter user knows, tweets with incor­rect infor­ma­tion spread much faster than cor­rec­tions. So I asked Dot­com why he didn’t delete the tweets with the fake FBI file.

    “There is no need to delete those tweets because I have been very cau­tious and warned with­in an hour of the release of that doc­u­ment that it could be a fake,” Dot­com told me.

    That all seemed rea­son­able, if mis­guid­ed, to me. But then I asked Dot­com for evi­dence of his claims that he knows Rich was involved in the DNC leak. Dur­ing our back and forth on Twit­ter DM, Dot­com sent me a mes­sage say­ing that he knew I wasn’t going to write a bal­anced piece, and insin­u­at­ed that he sim­ply knows because of his close ties to Wik­ileaks.

    I just had a look at your twit­ter feed and it looks like your are very much anti-trump. And that’s ok. I already know that your sto­ry wont be bal­anced. But this is not a Trump issue. Seth was a Sanders sup­port­er. The pro­gres­sives should ask what real­ly hap­pened to Seth. He’s one of yours. And they should be inter­est­ed that the mat­ters I have raised are prop­er­ly inves­ti­gat­ed.

    Please have a look at my Bloomberg inter­view in which I announced long before the elec­tion that Julian is going to be a prob­lem for Clin­ton. My rela­tions to Wik­ileaks are well known. I have said many times in the past that I have been a major donor and Julian has been a guest at my moment of Truth event.

    How do you think I knew?

    The Bloomberg inter­view Dot­com is refer­ring to is from May 13, 2015, where­in he said that Assange would be “Clinton’s worst night­mare.” At this point, Clin­ton had just announced her can­di­da­cy a month ear­li­er and Don­ald Trump hadn’t even entered the race yet.

    Inter­view­er: You’re say­ing Julian Assange is going to be Hillary’s worst night­mare?

    Dot­com: I think so, yeah.

    Inter­view­er: How so?

    Dot­com: Well, he has access to infor­ma­tion.

    Inter­view­er: What infor­ma­tion?

    Dot­com: I don’t know the specifics.

    Inter­view­er: Why Hillary in par­tic­u­lar?

    Dot­com: Hillary hates Julian. She’s just an adver­sary, I think, of inter­net free­dom.

    Inter­view­er: And she signed your extra­di­tion request.

    Dot­com: Yeah.

    Inter­view­er: So, you have a bone to pick with her.

    Dot­com: You know what the cra­zi­est thing is? I actu­al­ly like Hillary. I like Oba­ma. So it’s so crazy that all of this hap­pened.

    Dur­ing the course of our con­ver­sa­tion over Twit­ter DM, Dot­com point­ed me to numer­ous links online, but none of them answered my basic ques­tion: How do you know that Seth Rich was involved in the DNC leak?

    One of the links Dot­com sent me con­tained his open let­ter to the fam­i­ly of Seth Rich, who have asked Dot­com to stop spread­ing con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries about the mur­der of their son.

    In that let­ter, Dot­com says “I sim­ply wish to make sure that the inves­ti­ga­tors have the ben­e­fit of my evi­dence.” Again, I asked Dot­com for that evi­dence and he said that he would only show such things to the Rich fam­i­ly, at the advice of his lawyers and “out of respect for the Rich fam­i­ly.”

    But Dotcom’s most recent pub­lic com­ment on the mat­ter, a let­ter post­ed today direct­ed to the FBI Spe­cial Coun­sel who are inves­ti­gat­ing the Trump regime’s ties to Rus­sia, makes it look like Dotcom’s inter­est in the Seth Rich case may not be alto­geth­er altru­is­tic.

    Dot­com is orig­i­nal­ly from Ger­many but moved to New Zealand from Hong Kong in 2009, and is cur­rent­ly want­ed in the Unit­ed States for run­ning the file host­ing and shar­ing site Megau­pload, which was accused of sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly vio­lat­ing copy­right. His extra­di­tion to the US has been blocked repeat­ed­ly and he’s been in a state of legal lim­bo for years.

    But Dotcom’s new let­ter to the FBI Spe­cial Coun­sel says that he’d be will­ing to share his evi­dence that Seth Rich was involved in leak­ing infor­ma­tion to Wik­ileaks pro­vid­ed he’s giv­en safe pas­sage to the US:

    Mr Dot­com is also com­mit­ted to achiev­ing an out­come where his evi­dence can be prop­er­ly received and reviewed by you as part of the Inves­ti­ga­tion. You will, how­ev­er, appre­ci­ate that, giv­en his cur­rent sta­tus, he is not in a posi­tion to vol­un­tar­i­ly leave New Zealand’s juris­dic­tion. Fur­ther, he is con­cerned that, should he trav­el to the Unit­ed States vol­un­tar­i­ly, he would be arrest­ed and detained in cus­tody on the cur­rent counts on which he has been indict­ed.

    The let­ter goes on to say that after “spe­cial arrange­ments” have been made, he’ll be glad to trav­el to the US to give his evi­dence. One imag­ines that those spe­cial arrange­ments would involve drop­ping the case against him.

    Accord­ing­ly, for Mr Dot­com to attend in per­son in the Unit­ed States to make a state­ment, and/or give oral evi­dence at any sub­se­quent hear­ing, spe­cial arrange­ments would need to be dis­cussed and agreed between all rel­e­vant par­ties. Such arrange­ments would need to include arrange­ments for his safe pas­sage from New Zealand and return. This is because Mr Dot­com is deter­mined to clear his name in New Zealand.

    So make of that what you will. Kim Dot­com clear­ly has rea­son to be angry at the US Jus­tice Depart­ment, but if he real­ly had evi­dence prov­ing that a man was mur­dered for polit­i­cal rea­sons, it seems a bit shady to use it as a bar­gain­ing chip for your own free­dom. It seems unlike­ly that the FBI would grant Dotcom’s request, so if he real­ly does have any infor­ma­tion on the Seth Rich case, we may nev­er get to see it.

    But giv­en the fact that there’s vir­tu­al­ly no evi­dence out­side of the wildest con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry boards that Seth Rich was killed by any­one con­nect­ed to the Clin­ton cam­paign, I wouldn’t hold my breath any­way.

    ...

    ———-

    “Kim Dot­com Says FBI File About Seth Rich Is Fake, But He Won’t Delete It From Twit­ter” by Matt Novak; Giz­mo­do; 5/20/2017

    “The doc­u­ment is obvi­ous­ly fake to any­one who’s looked at real FBI files. For one thing, the FBI doesn’t use black to redact infor­ma­tion, it uses white box­es. And much more damn­ing­ly, the redac­tions include par­tial words and par­tial dates, as well as the par­tial redac­tion of its clas­si­fi­ca­tion stamp, things that would nev­er be done.”

    The doc­u­ment is obvi­ous­ly fake, which Dot­com read­i­ly admits. And yet he tweet­ed it any­way while con­tin­u­ing to assert that he has inside knowl­edge that Rich was the source of the hacked emails. And how does he pos­sess this inside knowl­edge? His close ties to Wik­ileaks, as indi­cat­ed by a May 2015 inter­view where Dot­com talks about how he knows that Assange has a bunch of dirt on Hillary:

    ...
    “There is no need to delete those tweets because I have been very cau­tious and warned with­in an hour of the release of that doc­u­ment that it could be a fake,” Dot­com told me.

    That all seemed rea­son­able, if mis­guid­ed, to me. But then I asked Dot­com for evi­dence of his claims that he knows Rich was involved in the DNC leak. Dur­ing our back and forth on Twit­ter DM, Dot­com sent me a mes­sage say­ing that he knew I wasn’t going to write a bal­anced piece, and insin­u­at­ed that he sim­ply knows because of his close ties to Wik­ileaks.

    I just had a look at your twit­ter feed and it looks like your are very much anti-trump. And that’s ok. I already know that your sto­ry wont be bal­anced. But this is not a Trump issue. Seth was a Sanders sup­port­er. The pro­gres­sives should ask what real­ly hap­pened to Seth. He’s one of yours. And they should be inter­est­ed that the mat­ters I have raised are prop­er­ly inves­ti­gat­ed.

    Please have a look at my Bloomberg inter­view in which I announced long before the elec­tion that Julian is going to be a prob­lem for Clin­ton. My rela­tions to Wik­ileaks are well known. I have said many times in the past that I have been a major donor and Julian has been a guest at my moment of Truth event.

    How do you think I knew?

    The Bloomberg inter­view Dot­com is refer­ring to is from May 13, 2015, where­in he said that Assange would be “Clinton’s worst night­mare.” At this point, Clin­ton had just announced her can­di­da­cy a month ear­li­er and Don­ald Trump hadn’t even entered the race yet.

    Inter­view­er: You’re say­ing Julian Assange is going to be Hillary’s worst night­mare?

    Dot­com: I think so, yeah.

    Inter­view­er: How so?

    Dot­com: Well, he has access to infor­ma­tion.

    Inter­view­er: What infor­ma­tion?

    Dot­com: I don’t know the specifics.

    Inter­view­er: Why Hillary in par­tic­u­lar?

    Dot­com: Hillary hates Julian. She’s just an adver­sary, I think, of inter­net free­dom.

    Inter­view­er: And she signed your extra­di­tion request.

    Dot­com: Yeah.

    Inter­view­er: So, you have a bone to pick with her.

    Dot­com: You know what the cra­zi­est thing is? I actu­al­ly like Hillary. I like Oba­ma. So it’s so crazy that all of this hap­pened.

    ...

    The Bloomberg inter­view Dot­com is refer­ring to is from May 13, 2015, where­in he said that Assange would be “Clinton’s worst night­mare.” At this point, Clin­ton had just announced her can­di­da­cy a month ear­li­er and Don­ald Trump hadn’t even entered the race yet”

    Isn’t that some­thing. Grant­ed, it’s hard to take any­thing Kim Dot­com says seri­ous­ly and it’s not like it would have been dif­fi­cult to pre­dict that Wik­ileaks was going to have a num­ber of Hillary-relat­ed doc­u­ments it had already received pre-2015. Still, giv­en every­thing we know now, that was a pret­ty pre­scient inter­view.

    It’s all a reminder of how potent faked doc­u­ments can be in this age of the Great Hack. Sure, in this case the doc­u­ments were eas­i­ly iden­ti­fied as fakes, but there’s no rea­son to assume that’s always the case. Although even when a hacked doc­u­ment is iden­ti­fied as fake, that does­n’t mean the fake doc­u­ments can’t still wreak hav­oc. For exam­ple...:

    CNN

    Sources: Comey act­ed on Russ­ian intel­li­gence he knew was fake

    By Dana Bash, Shi­mon Proku­pecz and Glo­ria Borg­er
    Updat­ed 1914 GMT (0314 HKT) May 26, 2017

    Wash­ing­ton (CNN)Then-FBI Direc­tor James Comey knew that a crit­i­cal piece of infor­ma­tion relat­ing to the inves­ti­ga­tion into Hillary Clin­ton’s email was fake — cre­at­ed by Russ­ian intel­li­gence — but he feared that if it became pub­lic it would under­mine the probe and the Jus­tice Depart­ment itself, accord­ing to mul­ti­ple offi­cials with knowl­edge of the process.

    As a result, Comey act­ed uni­lat­er­al­ly last sum­mer to pub­licly declare the inves­ti­ga­tion over — with­out con­sult­ing then-Attor­ney Gen­er­al Loret­ta Lynch — while at the same time stat­ing that Clin­ton had been “extreme­ly care­less” in her han­dling of clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion. His press con­fer­ence caused a firestorm of con­tro­ver­sy and drew crit­i­cism from both Democ­rats and Repub­li­cans.

    Comey’s actions based on what he knew was Russ­ian dis­in­for­ma­tion offer a stark exam­ple of the way Russ­ian inter­fer­ence impact­ed the deci­sions of the high­est-lev­el US offi­cials dur­ing the 2016 cam­paign.

    The Wash­ing­ton Post report­ed Wednes­day that this Russ­ian intel­li­gence was unre­li­able. US offi­cials now tell CNN that Comey and FBI offi­cials actu­al­ly knew ear­ly on that this intel­li­gence was indeed false.

    In fact, act­ing FBI Direc­tor Andrew McCabe went to Capi­tol Hill Thurs­day to push back on the notion that the FBI was duped, accord­ing to a source famil­iar with a meet­ing McCabe had with mem­bers of the Sen­ate intel­li­gence com­mit­tee.

    The Russ­ian intel­li­gence at issue pur­port­ed to show that then-Attor­ney Gen­er­al Lynch had been com­pro­mised in the Clin­ton inves­ti­ga­tion. The intel­li­gence described emails between then-Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee Chair Deb­bie Wasser­man Schultz and a polit­i­cal oper­a­tive sug­gest­ing that Lynch would make the FBI inves­ti­ga­tion of Clin­ton go away.

    In clas­si­fied ses­sions with mem­bers of Con­gress sev­er­al months ago, Comey described those emails in the Russ­ian claim and expressed his con­cern that this Russ­ian infor­ma­tion could “drop” and that would under­mine the Clin­ton inves­ti­ga­tion and the Jus­tice Depart­ment in gen­er­al, accord­ing to one gov­ern­ment offi­cial.

    Still, Comey did not let on to law­mak­ers that there were doubts about the verac­i­ty of the intel­li­gence, accord­ing to sources famil­iar with the brief­in­gs. It is unclear why Comey was not more forth­com­ing in a clas­si­fied set­ting.

    Sources close to Comey tell CNN he felt that it did­n’t mat­ter if the infor­ma­tion was accu­rate, because his big fear was that if the Rus­sians released the infor­ma­tion pub­licly, there would be no way for law enforce­ment and intel­li­gence offi­cials to dis­cred­it it with­out burn­ing intel­li­gence sources and meth­ods. There were oth­er fac­tors behind Comey’s deci­sion, sources say.

    In at least one clas­si­fied ses­sion, Comey cit­ed that intel­li­gence as the pri­ma­ry rea­son he took the unusu­al step of pub­licly announc­ing the end of the Clin­ton email probe.

    In that brief­ing, Comey did not even men­tion the oth­er rea­son he gave in pub­lic tes­ti­mo­ny for act­ing inde­pen­dent­ly of the Jus­tice Depart­ment — that Lynch was com­pro­mised because Bill Clin­ton board­ed her plane and spoke to her dur­ing the inves­ti­ga­tion, these sources told CNN.

    ...

    ———-

    “Sources: Comey act­ed on Russ­ian intel­li­gence he knew was fake” by Dana Bash, Shi­mon Proku­pecz and Glo­ria Borg­er; CNN; Updat­ed 05/26/2017

    “Sources close to Comey tell CNN he felt that it did­n’t mat­ter if the infor­ma­tion was accu­rate, because his big fear was that if the Rus­sians released the infor­ma­tion pub­licly, there would be no way for law enforce­ment and intel­li­gence offi­cials to dis­cred­it it with­out burn­ing intel­li­gence sources and meth­ods. There were oth­er fac­tors behind Comey’s deci­sion, sources say”

    Yep. The his­toric deci­sion by FBI direc­tor James Comey to hold a press con­fer­ence to announce that the FBI was­n’t going to be pros­e­cut­ing Hillary over her pri­vate email serv­er while he con­tin­ued to trash her for being “extreme­ly care­less” was prompt­ed by a report from a Russ­ian intel­li­gence source describ­ing an email which would have com­pro­mised the inde­pen­dence of the Depart­ment of Jus­tice that the FBI knew was fake. No one even had the email. The FBI just had a descrip­tion of the email from this source and assumed that it had­n’t been dis­persed in the ini­tial leaks. At least ini­tial­ly, before it con­clud­ed that it was fake. But even after it con­clud­ed the email did­n’t exist, the sheer ter­ror that the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment might even­tu­al­ly leak this fake email was alleged­ly used as an excuse for that his­toric press con­fer­ence.

    And yet some­how the fake/non-exis­tent sta­tus of this email was nev­er brought to the atten­tion of con­gress. Even dur­ing clas­si­fied hear­ings:

    ...
    The Russ­ian intel­li­gence at issue pur­port­ed to show that then-Attor­ney Gen­er­al Lynch had been com­pro­mised in the Clin­ton inves­ti­ga­tion. The intel­li­gence described emails between then-Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee Chair Deb­bie Wasser­man Schultz and a polit­i­cal oper­a­tive sug­gest­ing that Lynch would make the FBI inves­ti­ga­tion of Clin­ton go away.

    In clas­si­fied ses­sions with mem­bers of Con­gress sev­er­al months ago, Comey described those emails in the Russ­ian claim and expressed his con­cern that this Russ­ian infor­ma­tion could “drop” and that would under­mine the Clin­ton inves­ti­ga­tion and the Jus­tice Depart­ment in gen­er­al, accord­ing to one gov­ern­ment offi­cial.

    Still, Comey did not let on to law­mak­ers that there were doubts about the verac­i­ty of the intel­li­gence, accord­ing to sources famil­iar with the briefings.It is unclear why Comey was not more forth­com­ing in a clas­si­fied set­ting.
    ...

    “Still, Comey did not let on to law­mak­ers that there were doubts about the verac­i­ty of the intel­li­gence, accord­ing to sources famil­iar with the briefings.It is unclear why Comey was not more forth­com­ing in a clas­si­fied set­ting.”

    Behold, the pow­er of fake doc­u­ments. They don’t even have to exist to exert their influ­ence. Although if they do exist and are bla­tant forg­eries then they may not have very much influ­ence, as Kim Dot­com now knows. He should prob­a­bly just stick to vague hints of pos­sess­ing evi­dence that he’s nev­er able to reveal for some mys­te­ri­ous rea­son. It’s clear­ly a much more effec­tive tech­nique.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 31, 2017, 3:16 pm
  27. Kim Dot­com upped the ante on his quest to ‘prove’ that Seth Rich, the DNC staffer who was mur­dered days before the Wik­ileaks release of the DNC’s emails, was the source of those leaks: Dot­com is claim­ing that he was con­tact­ed by a per­son going by the moniker “Pan­da” — said to be Rich’s favorite ani­mal — back in 2014 who said they worked at the DNC and talked to Dot­com about start­ing a US branch of Dot­com’s “Inter­net Par­ty”. Pan­da also alleged­ly told Dot­com of his plans to leak DNC con­tent expos­ing cor­rup­tion in 2015. That’s the essence of what Dot­com is claim­ing.

    And Dot­com report­ed­ly offered Robert Mueller — the spe­cial coun­sel inves­ti­gat­ing the Trump/Russia col­lu­sion inves­ti­ga­tion — his will­ing­ness to tes­ti­fy to all this in the US, as long as the Jus­tice Depart­ments cuts him a deal that he won’t be detained if he trav­els to the US (the US has been seek­ing his extra­di­tion since 2012 for a vari­ety of charges). Dot­com claims to have evi­dence of all this too. But here’s the thing: he’s only offer­ing “ver­bal tes­ti­mo­ny”. Yep:

    The Dai­ly Mail

    EXCLUSIVE: Accused hack­er Kim Dot­com says he will tes­ti­fy that mur­dered DNC staffer Seth Rich passed doc­u­ments to Wik­ileaks under the inter­net moniker ‘Pan­da’ — IF the Jus­tice Depart­ment cuts him a deal

    * Mega-upload founder Kim Dot­com’s lawyers have writ­ten a let­ter to the DOJ ask­ing for him to be allowed to tes­ti­fy about Seth Rich’s mur­der with­out being detained
    * The New Zealand res­i­dent faces extra­di­tion to the US where he faces a slew of charges includ­ing copy­right infringe­ment and mon­ey laun­der­ing
    * His lawyer told DailyMail.com Dot­com is not try­ing to get his charges dis­missed in exchange for the tes­ti­mo­ny
    * Dot­com claims he spoke to some­one he believed to be Rich who spoke of plans to leak DNC doc­u­ments
    * He claims Rich first con­tact­ed him online in 2014, using the inter­net moniker ‘Pan­da’ – known to be the DNC staffer­’s favorite ani­mal.
    * Rich’s fam­i­ly dis­missed Dot­com’s claims when he did­n’t pro­vide proof when they asked for doc­u­men­ta­tion of the exchange

    By Alana Good­man For Dailymail.com

    Pub­lished: 11:45 EDT, 2 June 2017 | Updat­ed: 12:16 EDT, 2 June 2017

    Tech mogul and accused fraud­ster Kim Dot­com is seek­ing to cut a deal with the U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice in exchange for his ver­bal tes­ti­mo­ny claim­ing that slain Demo­c­ra­t­ic staffer Seth Rich leaked DNC emails to Wik­ileaks last sum­mer.

    Dot­com – the Mega-upload founder and New Zealand res­i­dent who is fac­ing fraud and rack­e­teer­ing charges in the Unit­ed States – offered to meet with the U.S. spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller on Tues­day. He claims to have evi­dence that Rich, not the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment, was behind the DNC email leak last sum­mer.

    Dot­com has yet to pro­vide evi­dence of his alle­ga­tions, which are fuel­ing inter­net the­o­ries that Rich’s unsolved shoot­ing death in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. last July may have been a polit­i­cal assas­si­na­tion. Police believe the 27-year-old was like­ly killed dur­ing an armed rob­bery gone wrong.

    Dot­com is ask­ing the feds to promise not to detain him if he trav­els to the Unit­ed States to give tes­ti­mo­ny about Rich. He is cur­rent­ly fac­ing U.S. extra­di­tion from his home in New Zealand on a litany of unre­lat­ed charges, includ­ing copy­right infringe­ment and mon­ey laun­der­ing.

    ‘[Dot­com] is con­cerned that, should he trav­el to the Unit­ed States vol­un­tar­i­ly, he would be arrest­ed and detained in cus­tody on the cur­rent counts on which he has been indict­ed,’ wrote his lawyers in the let­ter to Mueller.

    The inter­net mogul is ask­ing for a deal that ‘include[s] arrange­ments for his safe pas­sage from New Zealand and return.’

    ...

    An attor­ney for Dot­com vehe­ment­ly denied that the entre­pre­neur is using the case to try to lessen his legal trou­bles, in com­ments to Dailymail.com.

    ‘There will be no part of this deal where his giv­ing of tes­ti­mo­ny will be con­di­tioned on the Unit­ed States dis­miss­ing the alleged crim­i­nal copy­right charge against him,’ said Dot­com’s Amer­i­can attor­ney Ira Rothken. ‘That’s not some­thing that’s being asked for or con­tem­plat­ed.’

    Mueller was recent­ly appoint­ed to inves­ti­gate alle­ga­tions of Russ­ian gov­ern­ment inter­fer­ence in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. U.S. intel­li­gence agen­cies say Rus­sia hacked the DNC servers last sum­mer and hand­ed over the inter­nal emails to Wik­ileaks.

    Although Dot­com’s asser­tions about Rich have drawn inter­na­tion­al atten­tion – and sup­port from Fox News host Sean Han­ni­ty – the inter­net mogul has pro­vid­ed few details on his sen­sa­tion­al sto­ry.

    Dot­com declined an inter­view with Dailymail.com, and his attor­ney said he has no plans to release more infor­ma­tion to the pub­lic.

    In a vague state­ment post­ed to his web­site, Dot­com said he had an online asso­ci­a­tion with Rich for sev­er­al years and that he ‘know[s] Seth Rich was involved in the DNC leak.’

    He claims Rich first con­tact­ed him online in 2014, using the inter­net moniker ‘Pan­da’ – known to be the DNC staffer­’s favorite ani­mal.

    ‘Pan­da’ alleged­ly said he was inter­est­ed in set­ting up a U.S. branch of the Dot­com’s polit­i­cal par­ty, the Inter­net Par­ty.

    ‘I now know that Pan­da was Seth Rich,’ said Dot­com. ‘I com­mu­ni­cat­ed with Pan­da on a num­ber of top­ics includ­ing cor­rup­tion and the influ­ence of cor­po­rate mon­ey in pol­i­tics.’

    Dot­com hints, but does not specif­i­cal­ly state, that ‘Pan­da’ informed him of plans to leak DNC doc­u­ments at some point in 2015.

    A spokesper­son for Rich’s fam­i­ly has dis­missed Dot­com’s claims, not­ing that he has pro­duced lit­tle to back them up.

    The spokesper­son told Dailymail.com that Dot­com con­tact­ed Rich’s fam­i­ly by email recent­ly, but Dot­com nev­er replied when the fam­i­ly asked him to pro­vide doc­u­men­ta­tion of his alleged con­tacts with Seth Rich.

    Dot­com’s attor­ney said the Megau­pload founder has no plans to turn over infor­ma­tion to the Rich fam­i­ly at the moment.

    ‘To con­verse with the Rich fam­i­ly at this time would prob­a­bly be pre­ma­ture,’ said Rothken. ‘That should be up to the inves­ti­ga­tors to do from the spe­cial coun­sel’s office.’

    Rothken declined to say whether Dot­com had any doc­u­ment­ed evi­dence to offer out­side of his ver­bal tes­ti­mo­ny.

    ‘He’s offer­ing to give tes­ti­mo­ny, and in terms of the details, that will have to be dis­cussed at the appro­pri­ate time with who­ev­er does the inves­ti­ga­tion,’ said Rothken. ‘We’re specif­i­cal­ly not com­ment­ing on the range of mate­ri­als that could be pro­vid­ed. That will be dealt with prop­er­ly with the inves­ti­ga­tors in the spe­cial coun­sel’s office.’

    In addi­tion to the charges he is cur­rent­ly fac­ing, Dot­com was pre­vi­ous­ly con­vict­ed of com­put­er fraud and embez­zle­ment in Ger­many.

    Rich’s fam­i­ly implored the pub­lic to stop spread­ing unfound­ed the­o­ries about his mur­der, after a Fox News arti­cle revived spec­u­la­tion about his death ear­li­er this month.

    The arti­cle, which has since been retract­ed, stat­ed that the FBI uncov­ered evi­dence on Rich’s com­put­er show­ing that he leaked DNC emails to Wik­ileaks short­ly before he was killed.

    FBI sources and the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Police Depart­ment denied the sto­ry, and Fox News lat­er retract­ed it, say­ing it did not meet its report­ing stan­dards.

    A team of pri­vate inves­ti­ga­tors work­ing on Seth Rich’s case also told Dailymail.com that they pre­vi­ous­ly reviewed his emails and did not find evi­dence that he was in con­tact with Wik­ileaks.

    Rich was shot in the back twice in the ear­ly morn­ing hours of July 10 last year. He had spent the night out at his favorite bar, where staff said he seemed depressed about his rocky rela­tion­ship with his girl­friend and drank more than usu­al.

    Rich was on the phone with his girl­friend, on a des­o­late street cor­ner just a cou­ple of blocks from his home in north­west D.C., in the moments before he was shot around 4 a.m. Accord­ing to inves­ti­ga­tors, near­by sur­veil­lance footage cap­tured grainy images of two men stand­ing near Rich and an ensu­ing scuf­fle.

    At 4.19am., police respond­ed to the sound of gun­shots. They found Rich, wound­ed but still con­scious and talk­ing. The 27-year-old DNC staffer died from blood loss at the hos­pi­tal two hours lat­er, accord­ing to pri­vate inves­ti­ga­tors. His fam­i­ly said he had been excit­ed about a job offer to join the Hillary Clin­ton pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

    “ ‘He’s offer­ing to give tes­ti­mo­ny, and in terms of the details, that will have to be dis­cussed at the appro­pri­ate time with who­ev­er does the inves­ti­ga­tion,’ said Rothken. ‘We’re specif­i­cal­ly not com­ment­ing on the range of mate­ri­als that could be pro­vid­ed. That will be dealt with prop­er­ly with the inves­ti­ga­tors in the spe­cial coun­sel’s office.’ ”

    So Dot­com offered Robert Mueller “tes­ti­mo­ny” in exchange for a deal that would avoid his arrest. And then hint­ed of fur­ther doc­u­men­tary evi­dence that could be pro­vid­ed upon fur­ther nego­ti­a­tion. He’s clear­ly invest­ing heav­i­ly in this sto­ry­line so, unless he real­ly does have some sort of evi­dence (or fab­ri­cates some), it looks like the “Seth Rich was mur­dered by Hillary for being the leak­er which is total­ly proven by Kim Dotcom”-meme is not only going to become a per­ma­nent fix­ture of con­tem­po­rary and future inci­dents of Clin­ton Derange­ment Syn­drome but will prob­a­bly flower into all sorts of dif­fer­ent nar­ra­tive that Dot­com and oth­ers feed with vague hints in com­ing months and years. Vague hints like the one Dot­com hint­ed at about how “Pan­da” told him in 2015 of his plans to leak the DNC doc­u­ments:

    ...
    In a vague state­ment post­ed to his web­site, Dot­com said he had an online asso­ci­a­tion with Rich for sev­er­al years and that he ‘know[s] Seth Rich was involved in the DNC leak.’

    He claims Rich first con­tact­ed him online in 2014, using the inter­net moniker ‘Pan­da’ – known to be the DNC staffer­’s favorite ani­mal.

    ‘Pan­da’ alleged­ly said he was inter­est­ed in set­ting up a U.S. branch of the Dot­com’s polit­i­cal par­ty, the Inter­net Par­ty.

    ‘I now know that Pan­da was Seth Rich,’ said Dot­com. ‘I com­mu­ni­cat­ed with Pan­da on a num­ber of top­ics includ­ing cor­rup­tion and the influ­ence of cor­po­rate mon­ey in pol­i­tics.’

    Dot­com hints, but does not specif­i­cal­ly state, that ‘Pan­da’ informed him of plans to leak DNC doc­u­ments at some point in 2015..
    ...

    We’ll see if Mueller bites. It does­n’t seem like­ly con­sid­er­ing both the lack of Dot­com’s cred­i­bil­i­ty or evi­dence he’s will­ing to pro­vide and the seem­ing­ly sin­gu­lar focus of Mueller’s probe on Rus­sia (as opposed to, say, a non-Russ­ian hack­er hired by Roger Stone or some­thing). But it’s pret­ty clear right-wing media is going to keep bit­ing on Dot­com’s nuggets of ‘tes­ti­mo­ny’, giv­en its seem­ing­ly insa­tiable appetite for this sto­ry­line already and the long-held appetite for seem­ing­ly any sto­ry­line that pro­motes the ‘Clin­ton Body Count’ nar­ra­tive and por­trays Hillary and ‘Kil­lary’:

    Vox

    The bonkers Seth Rich con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry, explained
    How a young Democ­ra­t’s mur­der became the right’s favorite fake news.

    Updat­ed by Jeff Guo
    May 24, 2017, 2:10pm EDT

    The life of Seth Rich, a 27-year-old Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee staffer, end­ed near­ly a year ago when he was shot to death near his house in Wash­ing­ton, DC. Then came the trag­ic and bizarre after­life: Since July, Rich has been the focus of intense right-wing con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries that have only esca­lat­ed as the Trump administration’s scan­dals have deep­ened.

    As the police have repeat­ed­ly stat­ed, there is no evi­dence that Rich’s death was any­thing oth­er than the con­se­quence of a botched rob­bery. But some peo­ple, espe­cial­ly on the right, believe Rich was mur­dered by the Clin­tons for know­ing too much about some­thing. The most recent the­o­ries claim that Rich, not the Rus­sians, was respon­si­ble for leak­ing the emails, pub­lished in Wik­iLeaks, that revealed Demo­c­ra­t­ic par­ty lead­ers had talked dis­parag­ing­ly about Bernie Sanders.

    Thanks to an erro­neous Fox News sto­ry last week, which was final­ly retract­ed on Tues­day, Rich recent­ly became the focus of an intense media blitz from con­ser­v­a­tive out­lets — many of which were eager for some­thing to talk about besides the scan­dals swirling around Don­ald Trump.

    Fox News’s Sean Han­ni­ty was one of the most enthu­si­as­tic rumor­mon­gers, devot­ing seg­ments on three sep­a­rate occa­sions last week to Rich. Even after Fox News retract­ed its sto­ry, Han­ni­ty promised he would con­tin­ue to inves­ti­gate. “I retract­ed noth­ing,” he said defi­ant­ly on his radio show Tues­day.

    Rich’s fam­i­ly has been beg­ging right-wing news out­lets to stop spread­ing unfound­ed rumors about him, but by now the sit­u­a­tion seems to have got­ten out of con­trol.

    In death, Rich has become a mar­tyr to the right, buoyed by a host of char­ac­ters each with their own ulte­ri­or motives: There is Wik­iLeaks founder Julian Assange, who wants to down­play the con­nec­tions between Wik­iLeaks and the Rus­sians; there are the Clin­ton haters, who want to spread the idea that the Clin­tons are mur­der­ers; there are the Trump sup­port­ers, who want to min­i­mize the idea that Russ­ian hack­ers helped deliv­er the elec­tion to their can­di­date; and there are the talk­ing heads on Fox News, who last week need­ed some­thing oth­er than neg­a­tive Trump sto­ries to make con­ver­sa­tion about.

    We might not know who killed Seth Rich, but we do know who turned his lega­cy into a text­book study of where fake news comes from, how it spreads, and the vic­tims it cre­ates.

    Seth Rich was mur­dered in a sense­less act of vio­lence

    Seth Rich worked in Demo­c­ra­t­ic pol­i­tics for most of his career. He grew up and went to col­lege in Oma­ha, Nebras­ka, where as a stu­dent he vol­un­teered on two Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­ate cam­paigns. After grad­u­at­ing, he moved to Wash­ing­ton, DC, for a job at Green­berg Quin­lan Ros­ner, a pro­gres­sive opin­ion research and con­sult­ing firm. He was lat­er hired by the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee, where he worked on a project to help peo­ple find where to vote.

    On Sun­day, July 10, Rich was shot to death about a block from where he lived in the Bloom­ing­dale neigh­bor­hood of DC. Gun­shot detec­tion micro­phones place the time of the shoot­ing at around 4:20 am. Rich had last been seen at around 1:30 am leav­ing Lou’s City Bar in Colum­bia Heights, about a 40-minute walk from where he lived.

    It is unclear exact­ly what hap­pened dur­ing those three inter­ven­ing hours. The Wash­ing­ton Post report­ed that, accord­ing to his par­ents, cell­phone records show that Rich called his girl­friend at 2:05 am and talked to her for more than two hours. He hung up just min­utes before he was shot.

    The police found Rich on the side­walk with mul­ti­ple gun­shot wounds, at least two in the back. He still had his watch, his cell­phone, and his wal­let. There were signs of a strug­gle: bruis­es on his hands, knees, and face, and a torn wrist­watch strap. Accord­ing to the police report, he was still “con­scious and breath­ing.” Fam­i­ly mem­bers say they were told that Rich was “very talk­a­tive,” though it is not pub­licly known if he was able to describe his assailant or assailants. Rich died a few hours lat­er in the hos­pi­tal.

    The police sus­pect­ed Rich had been the vic­tim of an attempt­ed rob­bery. Bloom­ing­dale is a gen­tri­fy­ing part of Wash­ing­ton that still suf­fers from vio­lent crime. In 2016, there were 24 report­ed rob­beries with a gun that occurred with­in a quar­ter-mile of the street cor­ner where Rich was shot.

    The first con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries grew out of the “Clin­ton body count” rumor

    Almost imme­di­ate­ly after news of Rich’s death, con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries began cir­cu­lat­ing on social media. A few fac­tors helped make Rich a tar­get of spec­u­la­tion:

    * The mur­der­ers left behind Rich’s valu­ables. (Though, by that same para­noid log­ic, wouldn’t a pro­fes­sion­al hit­man have tak­en Rich’s wal­let and phone in order to make it look like a reg­u­lar mug­ging?)
    * Rich worked at the DNC, where in Decem­ber there had been a minor scan­dal involv­ing a soft­ware glitch that allowed the Bernie Sanders cam­paign to access pri­vate vot­er data col­lect­ed by the Clin­ton cam­paign.
    * Hillary Clin­ton had just clinched the nom­i­na­tion after a sur­pris­ing­ly bruis­ing pri­ma­ry, and there were still sore feel­ings in the air.
    * There’s a long-run­ning con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry that the Clin­tons have assas­si­nat­ed dozens of their polit­i­cal ene­mies.

    If those facts don’t seem to add up to a coher­ent sto­ry, well, you’re think­ing too hard. Con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries don’t oper­ate log­i­cal­ly. They start from an assump­tion — for instance, “the Clin­tons are shady” — and spi­ral out­ward in search of cor­rob­o­ra­tion.

    On Red­dit, for instance, one user wrote a 1,400-word post list­ing things that he found “sus­pi­cious.” Here were some of the stray facts the red­di­tor claimed were evi­dence of a hit job by the DNC or the Clin­tons:

    * Rich’s for­mer employ­er, Green­berg Quin­lan Ros­ner, once did some con­sult­ing work for British Petro­le­um. (“Is it pos­si­ble that Mr. Rich was aware of the pub­lic’s dis­dain for oil industry/fracking?”)
    * Rich once worked on Ben Nelson’s cam­paign for sen­a­tor. (“[Nel­son] con­tributed a cru­cial vote to help pass Oba­macare back in 2009.”)
    * The polit­i­cal con­ven­tions were com­ing up. (“The TIMING of this tragedy seems too ‘coin­ci­den­tal’”)

    It’s unclear what any of these facts have to do with the Clin­tons, but some­how the Red­dit user con­clud­ed: “giv­en his posi­tion & tim­ing in pol­i­tics, I believe Seth Rich was mur­dered by cor­rupt politi­cians for know­ing too much infor­ma­tion on elec­tion fraud.”

    Oth­ers on Twit­ter and the trolling web­site 4chan also spec­u­lat­ed that Rich might have crossed the Clin­tons in some way. Rich’s death seemed to fit in with the “Clin­ton body count” the­o­ry, which dates to the 1990s and claims that the Clin­tons are so vin­dic­tive that they hire hit­men to mur­der peo­ple they don’t like.

    Peo­ple who believe the Clin­tons are mur­der­ers often point to deputy White House coun­sel Vince Fos­ter, who suf­fered from clin­i­cal depres­sion and died of a gun­shot wound to the mouth in 1993. Sev­er­al inves­ti­ga­tions all ruled Foster’s death a sui­cide, but some con­ser­v­a­tives insist­ed there must have been foul play. They claimed that Fos­ter, who was look­ing into the Clin­tons’ tax­es, may have uncov­ered evi­dence of cor­rup­tion in con­nec­tion to the White­wa­ter con­tro­ver­sy, a guilt-by-asso­ci­a­tion scan­dal involv­ing friends of the Clin­tons’.

    The “Clin­ton body count” the­o­ry has endured over the years sim­ply because peo­ple don’t live for­ev­er. Any time some­one dies who was con­nect­ed to the Clin­tons — and since Bill Clin­ton was the pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States, lit­er­al­ly thou­sands of peo­ple were in his orbit — this the­o­ry is dredged up again by the tin­foil hat crowd. And then it slow­ly fades.

    At first it seemed the spec­u­la­tion about Seth Rich would die down quick­ly as well. But then 12 days lat­er, on July 22, Wik­iLeaks pub­lished thou­sands of pri­vate emails from the DNC, and Rich became a polit­i­cal­ly use­ful dis­trac­tion.

    Julian Assange and Wik­iLeaks super­charged the Seth Rich rumors

    A month before Rich was mur­dered, the DNC admit­ted that Russ­ian hack­ers had bro­ken into its com­put­er net­work, gain­ing access to all of the DNC’s emails. The thought of Russ­ian inter­fer­ence in Amer­i­can pol­i­tics was infu­ri­at­ing to Rich, accord­ing to one per­son “who was very close” to him, the Wash­ing­ton Post report­ed: “It was crazy. Espe­cial­ly for Seth. He said, ‘Oh, my God. We have a for­eign enti­ty try­ing to get involved in our elec­tions?’ That made him so angry.”

    When Wik­iLeaks released its dump of DNC emails on July 22, the obvi­ous expla­na­tion was that it had obtained those emails from the Russ­ian hack­ers. This con­nec­tion was lat­er con­firmed by top US intel­li­gence agen­cies, who con­clud­ed “with high con­fi­dence” that DNC servers were hacked by top Russ­ian gov­ern­ment hack­ers, who had then giv­en the emails to Wik­iLeaks. “Moscow most like­ly chose Wik­iLeaks because of its self-pro­claimed rep­u­ta­tion for authen­tic­i­ty,” the US intel­li­gence report explained, as well as for its con­nec­tion to the Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­da out­let Rus­sia Today.

    But Wik­iLeaks has repeat­ed­ly denied its ties to Rus­sia, and ever since last sum­mer it has used Seth Rich as a way to dis­tract from claims that it abet­ted Russ­ian inter­fer­ence in the US elec­tion. Wik­iLeaks founder Julian Assange had his own rea­sons to fear a Clin­ton pres­i­den­cy — as sec­re­tary of state, Clin­ton want­ed to indict Assange for his involve­ment in releas­ing the mil­lions of US diplo­mat­ic cables leaked by Chelsea Man­ning.

    On Dutch tele­vi­sion in August 2016, Assange hint­ed that Rich, not Rus­sia, may have been the source for the Wik­iLeaks emails. “Whistle­blow­ers go to sig­nif­i­cant efforts to get us mate­r­i­al, and often very sig­nif­i­cant risks,” he said. “As a 27-year-old, works for the DNC, was shot in the back, mur­dered just a few weeks ago for unknown rea­sons as he was walk­ing down the street in Wash­ing­ton.”

    “Was he one of your sources then?” the anchor asked.

    “We don’t com­ment on who our sources are,” Assange replied.

    “Then why make the sug­ges­tion about a young guy being shot in the streets of Wash­ing­ton?” the anchor replied.

    Pressed repeat­ed­ly for clar­i­fi­ca­tion, Assange con­clud­ed that “oth­ers, oth­ers have sug­gest­ed that. We’re inves­ti­gat­ing to under­stand what hap­pened in that sit­u­a­tion with Seth Rich. I think it’s a con­cern­ing sit­u­a­tion; there’s not a con­clu­sion yet.”

    As part of its “inves­ti­ga­tion,” Wik­iLeaks offered a $20,000 prize in August for infor­ma­tion about Rich’s mur­der.

    This is the point where Seth Rich became a prop in a game of inter­na­tion­al espi­onage.

    Trump sup­port­ers and the alt-right ampli­fied the the­o­ry that Rich was some kind of Demo­c­ra­t­ic whistle­blow­er or leak­er, even though the facts didn’t real­ly fit this pat­tern. He didn’t have access to the DNC emails, and he had nev­er shown any prowess at hack­ing — being a data ana­lyst involves a very dif­fer­ent set of skills. Besides, the DNC wasn’t the only orga­ni­za­tion that was hacked: Clin­ton cam­paign chair John Podesta’s per­son­al emails, for instance, were stolen sep­a­rate­ly, as were the emails at the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Con­gres­sion­al Cam­paign Com­mit­tee.

    Nev­er­the­less, many on the right were inspired by the Wik­iLeaks insin­u­a­tions and start­ed to con­coct their own con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries about Rich’s mur­der. In August, for­mer House speak­er and pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Newt Gin­grich told a con­ser­v­a­tive talk show host that Rich’s death was sus­pi­cious. “First of all, of course it’s worth talk­ing about,” he said. “And if Assange says he is the source, Assange may know. That’s not com­pli­cat­ed.”

    That same month, Trump advis­er Roger Stone claimed, with­out evi­dence, that Rich was mur­dered “on his way to meet with the FBI to dis­cuss elec­tion fraud.”

    To Trump sup­port­ers, the claim that Rich had been mur­dered by the Clin­tons had twofold appeal: It rein­forced the rumor that the Clin­tons were shady oper­a­tives, and it dis­tract­ed from the mount­ing evi­dence that Rus­sia had inter­fered with the US elec­tion — pos­si­bly in col­lu­sion with the Trump cam­paign.

    In the pres­i­den­tial debate on Sep­tem­ber 26, Trump famous­ly sug­gest­ed that it could have been a lone hack­er who was respon­si­ble for the stolen DNC emails. “It could be Rus­sia, but it could also be Chi­na. It could also be lots of oth­er peo­ple. It also could be some­body sit­ting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds,” he said.

    Thanks to a weird mis­com­mu­ni­ca­tion, the con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry comes back in May

    After the elec­tion, the con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries about Seth Rich fad­ed from pub­lic con­scious­ness, as the focus turned instead to the FBI’s inves­ti­ga­tion of con­nec­tions between Trump staffers and Russ­ian agents. Sus­pi­cions still bub­bled in right-wing cor­ners of Red­dit and on alt-right web­sites like Gate­way Pun­dit, and Assange con­tin­ued to claim that it wasn’t the Rus­sians who pro­vid­ed the hacked emails — but most of Amer­i­ca had moved on.

    But Rich returned to the news last week, when the local TV sta­tion FOX 5 DC aired an inter­view with pri­vate inves­ti­ga­tor Rod Wheel­er, who claimed that sources in the FBI told him there was evi­dence of a con­nec­tion between Rich and Wik­iLeaks:

    FOX 5 DC: You have sources at the FBI say­ing that there is infor­ma­tion...

    WHEELER: For sure...

    FOX 5 DC: ...that could link Seth Rich to Wik­iLeaks?

    WHEELER: Absolute­ly. Yeah. That’s con­firmed.

    Con­ser­v­a­tive media out­lets jumped on the sto­ry, which aired the night of Mon­day, May 15. By Tues­day morn­ing, con­ser­v­a­tive out­lets like Bre­it­bart, the Blaze, and the Dai­ly Caller all had their own pieces relay­ing Wheeler’s claims.

    On Tues­day, Fox News added its own rev­e­la­tion: It claimed that an unnamed “fed­er­al inves­ti­ga­tor” had con­firmed that Rich had been in con­tact with Wik­iLeaks. “I have seen and read the emails between Seth Rich and Wik­ileaks,” the source said, accord­ing to Fox News. Fox News addi­tion­al­ly claimed this source had evi­dence that Rich had giv­en thou­sands of DNC emails to Wik­iLeaks.

    This was a two-source sto­ry: The report also said that Wheel­er had inde­pen­dent­ly cor­rob­o­rat­ed what the anony­mous “fed­er­al inves­ti­ga­tor” had told Fox News.

    But here’s where it gets con­fus­ing. By Tues­day after­noon, Wheel­er told CNN that he had mis­spo­ken. It turns out he didn’t have any evi­dence of his own.

    What had hap­pened, appar­ent­ly, was that ear­li­er in the week, Fox News had con­tact­ed Wheel­er for its own sto­ry on Rich. That was when Wheel­er learned that Fox News had a source alleg­ing there was con­tact between Rich and Wik­iLeaks. When Wheel­er went on local TV on Mon­day night to talk about Rich, he believed he was giv­ing view­ers a “pre­view” of the Fox News sto­ry set to run on Tues­day.

    That, at least, is how Wheel­er explained the sit­u­a­tion to CNN last Tues­day. Some­how, through mis­com­mu­ni­ca­tion or slop­py report­ing, the Fox News report used Wheel­er to back up its claims about the Rich-Wik­iLeaks con­nec­tion. This was incor­rect, Wheel­er said. He had no inde­pen­dent knowl­edge.

    “I only got that [infor­ma­tion] from the reporter at Fox News,” he told CNN.

    Yes­ter­day, after leav­ing it up for a week, Fox News final­ly retract­ed its Seth Rich sto­ry, which was down to one anony­mous source. “The arti­cle was not ini­tial­ly sub­ject­ed to the high degree of edi­to­r­i­al scruti­ny we require for all our report­ing,” an editor’s note explained. “Upon appro­pri­ate review, the arti­cle was found not to meet those stan­dards and has since been removed.”

    Con­ser­v­a­tive media has a field day

    It’s unlike­ly that any of this would have been a big deal had there not been a stun­ning series of dam­ag­ing reports about Don­ald Trump last week.

    Among oth­er things, it was revealed that Trump had shared state secrets with the Rus­sians, that he had pres­sured FBI Direc­tor James Comey to drop his inves­ti­ga­tion into ties between Trump affil­i­ates and Rus­sia, and that the Rus­sia probe had reached a cur­rent high-lev­el White House offi­cial, who many sus­pect is Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kush­n­er.

    One way the con­ser­v­a­tive media min­i­mized all the bad news was to focus on oth­er sto­ries. The lat­est Seth Rich alle­ga­tions became a wel­come dis­trac­tion from the con­stant rev­e­la­tions com­ing out of the Wash­ing­ton Post and the New York Times.

    For instance, while most out­lets were cov­er­ing the rev­e­la­tion that Trump had vol­un­teered clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion to Rus­sians, the alt-right web­site Bre­it­bart devot­ed its front page to the Seth Rich con­spir­a­cy. Bre­it­bart even slammed the main­stream media for ignor­ing the rumors about Rich: “Silence from Estab­lish­ment Media over Seth Rich Wik­iLeaks Report” was the title of one sto­ry.

    Fox News in par­tic­u­lar devot­ed out­size atten­tion to the Rich sto­ry, repeat­ed­ly rehash­ing the con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry. On his 10 pm show, Fox pun­dit Sean Han­ni­ty devot­ed seg­ments to Rich on Tues­day, Thurs­day, and Fri­day last week. “I’m not back­ing off ask­ing ques­tions even though there is an effort that nobody talk about Seth Rich,” he said on Fri­day night.

    On Tues­day, even after Fox News retract­ed the sto­ry that ignit­ed the lat­est round of spec­u­la­tion, Han­ni­ty remained con­vinced that the Seth Rich con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry had legs. “I am not Fox.com or FoxNews.com,” he said on his radio show. “I retract­ed noth­ing.”

    Lat­er that evening, on his tele­vi­sion show, Han­ni­ty said that for now, he would stop talk­ing about Rich “out of respect for the fam­i­ly’s wish­es.” On Twit­ter, though, he was defi­ant, claim­ing that “lib­er­al fas­cism” was try­ing to silence his voice.

    “Ok TO BE CLEAR, I am clos­er to the TRUTH than ever,” he tweet­ed. “Not only am I not stop­ping, I am work­ing hard­er.”

    “Please retweet,” he added.

    Rich was an unlucky vic­tim of the con­ser­v­a­tive media

    The recent atten­tion has reignit­ed the old Seth Rich con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries, bring­ing forth even more unsub­stan­ti­at­ed claims.

    On Fox News’s Sun­day morn­ing talk show, Newt Gin­grich repeat­ed his belief that Rich, not Rus­sia, was respon­si­ble for the DNC hack. “It turns out, it wasn’t the Rus­sians,” he said. “It was this young guy who, I sus­pect, was dis­gust­ed by the cor­rup­tion of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee.”

    On Mon­day, Assange issued a cryp­tic tweet using the hash­tag “#SethRich” which fanned the flames even fur­ther: “Wik­iLeaks has nev­er dis­closed a source. Sources some­times talk to oth­er par­ties but iden­ti­ties nev­er emerge from Wik­iLeaks. #SethRich.”

    And on Tues­day, New Zealand file-shar­ing entre­pre­neur Kim Dot­com, who is want­ed by the US gov­ern­ment for copy­right infringe­ment and rack­e­teer­ing, claimed that Rich had per­son­al­ly con­tact­ed him in 2014, and that the two had talked about “a num­ber of top­ics includ­ing cor­rup­tion and the influ­ence of cor­po­rate mon­ey in pol­i­tics.”

    “I know that Seth Rich was involved in the DNC leak,” Dot­com wrote in a state­ment.

    ...

    ———-

    “The bonkers Seth Rich con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry, explained” by Jeff Guo; Vox; 05/24/2017

    In death, Rich has become a mar­tyr to the right, buoyed by a host of char­ac­ters each with their own ulte­ri­or motives: There is Wik­iLeaks founder Julian Assange, who wants to down­play the con­nec­tions between Wik­iLeaks and the Rus­sians; there are the Clin­ton haters, who want to spread the idea that the Clin­tons are mur­der­ers; there are the Trump sup­port­ers, who want to min­i­mize the idea that Russ­ian hack­ers helped deliv­er the elec­tion to their can­di­date; and there are the talk­ing heads on Fox News, who last week need­ed some­thing oth­er than neg­a­tive Trump sto­ries to make con­ver­sa­tion about.”

    Yep, on top of the obvi­ous incen­tive to pro­mote the hell out of this “Seth Rich was the leak­er” nar­ra­tive in light of the DNC hack­ing and the need to con­fuse that inves­ti­ga­tion, the way it plays into the “Clin­ton Body Count” nar­ra­tive that the far-right has been pro­mot­ing for decades makes this case absolute­ly irre­sistible to the US right-wing media com­plex. And giv­en how it’s already been repeat­ed­ly endorsed by right-wing fig­ures like Newt Gin­grich and out­lets like Fox News, we will be prob­a­bly be hear­ing about “how Hillary had Seth Rich killed in revenge for the leaks and to cov­er up all the DNC corruption”-meme for decades to come. A per­ma­nent fix­ture of the Amer­i­can ‘com­mon wis­dom dis­in­for­ma­tion’ land­scape. Despite all the prob­lems with that narrative...like how, if this was a ‘hit’ on Rich, the hit­men did­n’t even both­er to make it look like a reg­u­lar mug­ging by tak­ing Rich’s valu­ables and how that part of DC had seen 24 armed rob­beries with gun with­in a quar­ter-mile of that street cor­ner in 2016 alone:

    ...
    The first con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries grew out of the “Clin­ton body count” rumor

    Almost imme­di­ate­ly after news of Rich’s death, con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries began cir­cu­lat­ing on social media. A few fac­tors helped make Rich a tar­get of spec­u­la­tion:

    * The mur­der­ers left behind Rich’s valu­ables. (Though, by that same para­noid log­ic, wouldn’t a pro­fes­sion­al hit­man have tak­en Rich’s wal­let and phone in order to make it look like a reg­u­lar mug­ging?)
    * Rich worked at the DNC, where in Decem­ber there had been a minor scan­dal involv­ing a soft­ware glitch that allowed the Bernie Sanders cam­paign to access pri­vate vot­er data col­lect­ed by the Clin­ton cam­paign.
    * Hillary Clin­ton had just clinched the nom­i­na­tion after a sur­pris­ing­ly bruis­ing pri­ma­ry, and there were still sore feel­ings in the air.
    * There’s a long-run­ning con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry that the Clin­tons have assas­si­nat­ed dozens of their polit­i­cal ene­mies.

    ...

    Trump sup­port­ers and the alt-right ampli­fied the the­o­ry that Rich was some kind of Demo­c­ra­t­ic whistle­blow­er or leak­er, even though the facts didn’t real­ly fit this pat­tern. He didn’t have access to the DNC emails, and he had nev­er shown any prowess at hack­ing — being a data ana­lyst involves a very dif­fer­ent set of skills. Besides, the DNC wasn’t the only orga­ni­za­tion that was hacked: Clin­ton cam­paign chair John Podesta’s per­son­al emails, for instance, were stolen sep­a­rate­ly, as were the emails at the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Con­gres­sion­al Cam­paign Com­mit­tee.

    ...

    The police sus­pect­ed Rich had been the vic­tim of an attempt­ed rob­bery. Bloom­ing­dale is a gen­tri­fy­ing part of Wash­ing­ton that still suf­fers from vio­lent crime. In 2016, there were 24 report­ed rob­beries with a gun that occurred with­in a quar­ter-mile of the street cor­ner where Rich was shot.
    ...

    Of course, it’s pos­si­ble that the DC police will even­tu­al­ly release more details on the ongo­ing inves­ti­ga­tion that con­clu­sive­ly debunks these nar­ra­tives. After all, we still have no idea what Rich said dur­ing the few hours after he was shot and was report­ed­ly very talk­a­tive:

    ...
    On Sun­day, July 10, Rich was shot to death about a block from where he lived in the Bloom­ing­dale neigh­bor­hood of DC. Gun­shot detec­tion micro­phones place the time of the shoot­ing at around 4:20 am. Rich had last been seen at around 1:30 am leav­ing Lou’s City Bar in Colum­bia Heights, about a 40-minute walk from where he lived.

    It is unclear exact­ly what hap­pened dur­ing those three inter­ven­ing hours. The Wash­ing­ton Post report­ed that, accord­ing to his par­ents, cell­phone records show that Rich called his girl­friend at 2:05 am and talked to her for more than two hours. He hung up just min­utes before he was shot.

    The police found Rich on the side­walk with mul­ti­ple gun­shot wounds, at least two in the back. He still had his watch, his cell­phone, and his wal­let. There were signs of a strug­gle: bruis­es on his hands, knees, and face, and a torn wrist­watch strap. Accord­ing to the police report, he was still “con­scious and breath­ing.” Fam­i­ly mem­bers say they were told that Rich was “very talk­a­tive,” though it is not pub­licly known if he was able to describe his assailant or assailants. Rich died a few hours lat­er in the hos­pi­tal.
    ...

    Maybe one day Seth Rich’s own last words will final­ly be released to help put an end to the new Dot­com/Wik­ileak­s/right-wing media cot­tage indus­try of Seth Rich the­o­ries. But in the mean time, we should prob­a­bly expect a grow­ing cho­rus of “Kil­lary Killed Seth Rich!” chants across the right-wing media com­plex.

    So, since spec­u­la­tion about Seth Rich’s mur­der is still a ‘hot top­ic’ thanks to the work of Fox News, Dot­com, and Wik­ileaks, it’s prob­a­bly worth not­ing that, when we put all the known facts on this case togeth­er, if we’re look­ing for the like­li­est cul­prit on who might have had a polit­i­cal motive to kill Seth Rich, should­n’t we be look­ing at the Trump campaign/GOP?

    Seri­ous­ly. After all, look at just how per­fect­ly Rich’s death worked to both fuel their anti-Hillary dis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paign and act as a smoke­screen for the ori­gins of the hack­ing. Don’t for­get that Rich was mur­dered on July 10th, the DNC leaks were released by Wik­ileaks on July 22nd, and the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Con­ven­tion was July 25–28. So even if Hillary real­ly is a mur­der­ous Illu­mi­nati witch queen, would she have real­ly had Rich mur­dered in such a sus­pi­cious way just two weeks before that con­ven­tion? That seems like hor­ri­ble tim­ing.
    But if you’re, say, a Trump cam­paign oper­a­tive who knows the DNC was hacked because that was already wide­ly report­ed in June — mean­ing you know a big leak is prob­a­bly com­ing and you know there’s going to be exten­sive spec­u­la­tion on who did the leak — does­n’t is make a lot of Machi­avel­lian sense to have a young DNC staffer mur­dered in such a sus­pi­cious man­ner (no items taken...not a great hit­man) just two weeks before the DNC con­ven­tion? In terms of tim­ing and motive, the idea that this was a GOP hit, intend­ed to both con­fuse the hack­ing inves­ti­ga­tion while pro­mot­ing the “Clin­ton Body Count” nar­ra­tive, right before the DNC con­ven­tion real­ly does align with the Trump cam­paign’s inter­ests more than any oth­er fac­tion in this mur­der mys­tery.

    Grant­ed, there’s no evi­dence that the Trump campaign/GOP was behind Rich’s mur­der. But since we’re all spec­u­lat­ing about it...

    Along those spec­u­la­tive lines, you know how Trump kept refer­ring to how the real hack­er might have been a 400 pound guy sit­ting in his bed...are we sure Kim Dot­com does­n’t have an addi­tion­al motive to cloud that hack­ing inves­ti­ga­tion?

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 3, 2017, 3:00 pm
  28. @Pterrafractyl–

    Eclipsed in the long, tor­tu­ous dis­cus­sion of Kim Dot­com etc. is the fact that Craig Mur­ray, for­mer UK ambas­sador to Uzbek­istan, claims he con­veyed the DNC mate­r­i­al to Wik­iLeaks via a flash dri­ve and that he got it “from a dis­gust­ed DNC insid­er.”

    I sus­pect that, if he is being truth­ful, that was good ol’ Tul­si Gab­bard, a left-cov­er fas­cist and Bernie Bot.

    Do NOT lose sight of Mur­ray’s claim.

    Best,

    Dave

    Posted by Dave Emory | June 6, 2017, 7:48 pm
  29. @Dave: There was an inter­est­ing piece by Robert Par­ry back in Decem­ber dis­cussing a par­tic­u­lar­ly chill­ing sce­nario that Par­ry based on one of his intel­li­gence sources: that senior intel­li­gence offi­cials real­ly hat­ed both Trump and Hillary and want­ed to see both of them no where near the White House. The over­all plan in the sce­nario Par­ry describes would be an intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty plot to first take down Hillary while set­ting Trump up for a lat­er take down while fram­ing Rus­sia to guar­an­tee no future nor­mal­iza­tion of rela­tions.

    Par­ry’s spec­u­la­tion relies heav­i­ly on the claims of Craig Mur­ray and how they would play into Par­ry’s ‘spy coup’ sce­nario. In par­tic­u­lar, Par­ry relies on an inter­view Mur­ray gave to the Scott Hor­ton radio show where Mur­ray goes into greater detail about his alleged inter­ac­tion with these leak­ers. And it’s a pret­ty impor­tant inter­view in terms of
    clar­i­fy­ing Mur­ray’s claims because it strong­ly sug­gests that, even if we accept what Mur­ray says as truth­ful, the per­son he alleged­ly met in the woods in DC was some­one involved with the Podes­ta emails and NOT the DNC emails and he is bas­ing his DNC email leak­er claims pure­ly on the word of Julian Assange.

    Mur­ray states that there was actu­al­ly two sep­a­rate leak­ers. For the DNC emails he says is was a dis­grun­tled DNC insid­er. But for the Podes­ta email leaks Mur­ray sim­ply says that it was an Amer­i­can with access to the infor­ma­tion while point­ing out that the Podes­ta, as a lob­by­ist for the Sau­di gov­ern­ment, prob­a­bly would have had his emails mon­i­tored by the US spy agen­cies, imply­ing that some­one in the US intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty was actu­al­ly behind the Podes­ta emails leaks. And based on the infor­ma­tion Mur­ray pro­vides it would strong­ly sug­gest that the per­son he alleged­ly met was a Podes­ta email leak­er. How so? Well, Par­ry’s piece notes that Mur­ray denies in the inter­view (~5:30) that when he met with mys­tery per­son in the woods in DC that he was receiv­ing a fresh batch of leaks that was report­ed else­where(like in the Dai­ly­Mail). Mur­ray states in the inter­view that he did not receive new leaks dur­ing that meet­ing in the woods and that he is pret­ty con­fi­dent that Wik­ileaks already received them. Mur­ray does­n’t go on to describe why exact­ly he was meet­ing this per­son but mere­ly leaves is at, “The mate­r­i­al, I think, was already safe­ly with Wik­iLeaks before I got there in September...I had a small role to play.”

    So why does that strong­ly point towards Mur­ray meet­ing this hypo­thet­i­cal Podes­ta leak­er? Because this alleged meet­ing in the woods hap­pened on Sep­tem­ber 25, months after the DNC emails were already released to the pub­lic (and Seth Rich was mur­dered) but only about two weeks before the release of the Podes­ta emails. So of course Wik­ileaks would have already received the DNC emails...they already leaked them. But they had­n’t yet released the Podes­ta emails. Plus, is there’s a com­pelling rea­son why the DNC email leak­er (or a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the leaker...Murray sug­gests that the per­son he met may have be a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of a leak­er) would want to meet with Mur­ray, some­one known to be close­ly asso­ci­at­ed with Wik­ileaks, in Wash­ing­ton DC? Was there was lots of mon­ey exchanged or some­thing. But it’s not near­ly as hard to imag­ine that a Podes­ta email leaker/representative would want to meet with Mur­ray a cou­ple weeks before the big release although it’s still kind of hard to under­stand since the Podes­ta leak­er appar­ent­ly had oth­er means of com­mu­ni­cat­ing with Wik­ileaks oth­er than via Mur­ray. And again, this is all assum­ing there’s any truth to Mur­ray’s claims.

    But here’s anoth­er twists to Mur­ray’s claims about a meet­ing in the woods: that meet­ing appar­ent­ly hap­pened in the woods near Amer­i­can Uni­ver­si­ty dur­ing an awards cer­e­mo­ny for for­mer CIA offi­cer John Kiri­ak­ou. Kiri­ak­ou was being hon­ored by the “Sam Adams Asso­ciates”, a group of for­mer West­ern intel­li­gence offi­cials. And accord­ing to Ray McGov­ern, one of the atten­dees of the event, Mur­ray was m‑c-ing the event, but then he slipped away dur­ing the recep­tion fol­low­ing the awards cer­e­mo­ny. So in Sep­tem­ber — a time when DC was ful­ly engulfed in spec­u­la­tion about Russ­ian hacks and Wik­ileaks — Mur­ray, a known Wik­ileaks rep­re­sen­ta­tive, trav­eled to DC to meet with dis­si­dent intel­li­gence agents, he m‑c-ed the event, and then slipped away dur­ing the recep­tion to meet with a leak­er in the woods...a leak­er who was prob­a­bly a Podes­ta email leak­er and there­fore prob­a­bly with­in the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty. It’s quite a claim:

    Con­sor­tium News

    A Spy Coup in Amer­i­ca?

    Exclu­sive: As the Elec­toral Col­lege assem­bles, U.S. intel­li­gence agen­cies are step­ping up a cam­paign to dele­git­imize Don­ald Trump as a Russ­ian stooge, rais­ing con­cerns about a spy coup in Amer­i­ca, reports Robert Par­ry.

    By Robert Par­ry
    Decem­ber 18, 2016

    As Offi­cial Washington’s lat­est “group think” solid­i­fies into cer­tain­ty – that Rus­sia used hacked Demo­c­ra­t­ic emails to help elect Don­ald Trump – some­thing entire­ly dif­fer­ent may be afoot: a months-long effort by ele­ments of the U.S. intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty to deter­mine who becomes the next pres­i­dent.

    I was told by a well-placed intel­li­gence source some months ago that senior lead­ers of the Oba­ma administration’s intel­li­gence agen­cies – from the CIA to the FBI – were deeply con­cerned about either Hillary Clin­ton or Don­ald Trump ascend­ing to the pres­i­den­cy. And, it’s true that intel­li­gence offi­cials often come to see them­selves as the stew­ards of America’s fun­da­men­tal inter­ests, some­times need­ing to pro­tect the coun­try from dan­ger­ous pas­sions of the pub­lic or from inept or cor­rupt polit­i­cal lead­ers.

    It was, after all, a senior FBI offi­cial, Mark Felt, who – as “Deep Throat” – guid­ed The Wash­ing­ton Post’s Bob Wood­ward and Carl Bern­stein in their Water­gate inves­ti­ga­tion into the crim­i­nal­i­ty of Pres­i­dent Richard Nixon. And, I was told by for­mer U.S. intel­li­gence offi­cers that they want­ed to block Pres­i­dent Jim­my Carter’s reelec­tion in 1980 because they viewed him as inef­fec­tu­al and thus not pro­tect­ing Amer­i­can glob­al inter­ests.

    It’s also true that intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty sources fre­quent­ly plant sto­ries in major main­stream pub­li­ca­tions that serve pro­pa­gan­da or polit­i­cal goals, includ­ing sto­ries that can be mis­lead­ing or entire­ly false.

    What’s Going On?

    So, what to make of what we have seen over the past sev­er­al months when there have been a series of leaks and inves­ti­ga­tions that have dam­aged both Clin­ton and Trump — with some major dis­clo­sures com­ing, overt­ly and covert­ly, from the U.S. intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty led by CIA Direc­tor John Bren­nan and FBI Direc­tor James Comey?

    Some sources of dam­ag­ing dis­clo­sures remain mys­te­ri­ous. Clinton’s cam­paign was hob­bled by leaked emails from the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee – show­ing it under­cut­ting Clinton’s chief rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders – and from her cam­paign chair­man John Podes­ta – expos­ing the con­tent of her speech­es to Wall Street banks that she had tried to hide from the vot­ers and reveal­ing the Clin­ton Foundation’s ques­tion­able con­tacts with for­eign gov­ern­ments.

    Clin­ton – already bur­dened with a rep­u­ta­tion for secre­cy and dis­hon­esty – suf­fered from the drip, drip, drip of releas­es from Wik­iLeaks of the DNC and Podes­ta emails although it remains unclear who gave the emails to Wik­iLeaks. Still, the com­bi­na­tion of the two email batch­es added to pub­lic sus­pi­cions about Clin­ton and remind­ed peo­ple why they didn’t trust her.

    But the most crip­pling blow to Clin­ton came from FBI Direc­tor Comey in the last week of the cam­paign when he reopened and then re-closed the inves­ti­ga­tion into whether she broke the law with her slop­py han­dling of clas­si­fied mate­r­i­al in her State Depart­ment emails fun­neled through a home serv­er.

    Fol­low­ing Comey’s last-minute revival of the Clin­ton email con­tro­ver­sy, her poll num­bers fell far enough to enable Trump to grab three nor­mal­ly Demo­c­ra­t­ic states – Penn­syl­va­nia, Michi­gan and Wis­con­sin – enough to give him a vic­to­ry in the Elec­toral Col­lege.

    Tak­ing Down Trump

    How­ev­er, over the past few weeks, the U.S. intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty, led by CIA Direc­tor Bren­nan and sec­ond­ed by FBI Direc­tor Comey, has tried to dele­git­imize Trump by using leaks to the main­stream U.S. news media to pin the release of the DNC and Podes­ta emails on Rus­sia and claim­ing that Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin was per­son­al­ly try­ing to put Trump into the White House.

    This remark­able series of assess­ments from the CIA – now endorsed by the lead­er­ship of the FBI – come on the eve of the Elec­toral Col­lege mem­bers assem­bling to cast their for­mal votes to deter­mine who becomes the new U.S. pres­i­dent. Although the Elec­toral Col­lege process is usu­al­ly sim­ply a for­mal­i­ty, the Russ­ian-hack­ing claims made by the U.S. intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty have raised the pos­si­bil­i­ty that enough elec­tors might with­hold their votes from Trump to deny him the pres­i­den­cy.

    If on Mon­day enough Trump elec­tors decide to cast their votes for some­one else – pos­si­bly anoth­er Repub­li­can – the pres­i­den­tial selec­tion could go to the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives where, con­ceiv­ably, the Repub­li­can-con­trolled cham­ber could choose some­one oth­er than Trump.

    In oth­er words, there is an arguable sce­nario in which the U.S. intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty first under­cut Clin­ton and, sec­ond­ly, Trump, seek­ing — how­ev­er unlike­ly — to get some­one installed in the White House con­sid­ered more suit­able to the CIA’s and the FBI’s views of what’s good for the coun­try.

    Who Did the Leak­ing?

    At the cen­ter of this con­tro­ver­sy is the ques­tion of who leaked or hacked the DNC and Podes­ta emails. The CIA has plant­ed the sto­ry in The Wash­ing­ton Post, The New York Times and oth­er main­stream out­lets that it was Rus­sia that hacked both the DNC and Podes­ta emails and slipped the mate­r­i­al to Wik­iLeaks with the goal of assist­ing the Trump cam­paign. The sug­ges­tion is that Trump is Putin’s “pup­pet,” just as Hillary Clin­ton alleged dur­ing the third pres­i­den­tial debate.

    But Wik­iLeaks founder Julian Assange has pub­licly denied that Rus­sia was the source of the leaks and one of his asso­ciates, for­mer British Ambas­sador to Uzbek­istan Craig Mur­ray, has sug­gest­ed that the DNC leak came from a “dis­grun­tled” Demo­c­rat upset with the DNC’s sand­bag­ging of the Sanders cam­paign and that the Podes­ta leak came from the U.S. intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty.

    Although Assange recent­ly has sought to muz­zle Murray’s pub­lic com­ments – out of appar­ent con­cern for pro­tect­ing the iden­ti­ty of sources – Mur­ray offered pos­si­bly his most expan­sive account of the sourc­ing dur­ing a a pod­cast inter­view with Scott Hor­ton on Dec. 13.

    Mur­ray, who became a whistle­blow­er him­self when he protest­ed Britain’s tol­er­ance of human rights abus­es in Uzbek­istan, explained that he con­sults with Assange and coop­er­ates with Wik­iLeaks “with­out being a for­mal mem­ber of the struc­ture.”

    But he appears to have under­tak­en a mis­sion for Wik­iLeaks to con­tact one of the sources (or a rep­re­sen­ta­tive) dur­ing a Sept. 25 vis­it to Wash­ing­ton where he says he met with a per­son in a wood­ed area of Amer­i­can Uni­ver­si­ty. At the time, Mur­ray was at Amer­i­can Uni­ver­si­ty par­tic­i­pat­ing in an awards cer­e­mo­ny for for­mer CIA offi­cer John Kiri­ak­ou who was being hon­ored by a group of for­mer West­ern intel­li­gence offi­cials, the Sam Adams Asso­ciates, named for the late Viet­nam War-era CIA ana­lyst and whistle­blow­er Sam Adams.

    For­mer CIA ana­lyst Ray McGov­ern, a founder of the Sam Adams group, told me that Mur­ray was “m‑c-ing” the event but then slipped away, skip­ping a recep­tion that fol­lowed the award cer­e­mo­ny.

    Read­ing Between LInes

    Though Mur­ray has declined to say exact­ly what the meet­ing in the woods was about, he may have been pass­ing along mes­sages about ways to pro­tect the source from pos­si­ble retal­i­a­tion, maybe even an extrac­tion plan if the source was in some legal or phys­i­cal dan­ger.

    Mur­ray has dis­put­ed a report in London’s Dai­ly Mail that he was receiv­ing a batch of the leaked Demo­c­ra­t­ic emails. “The mate­r­i­al, I think, was already safe­ly with Wik­iLeaks before I got there in Sep­tem­ber,” Mur­ray said in the inter­view with Scott Hor­ton. “I had a small role to play.”

    Mur­ray also sug­gest­ed that the DNC leak and the Podes­ta leak came from two dif­fer­ent sources, nei­ther of them the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment.

    “The Podes­ta emails and the DNC emails are, of course, two sep­a­rate things and we shouldn’t con­clude that they both have the same source,” Mur­ray said. “In both cas­es we’re talk­ing of a leak, not a hack, in that the per­son who was respon­si­ble for get­ting that infor­ma­tion out had legal access to that infor­ma­tion.”

    Read­ing between the lines of the inter­view, one could inter­pret Murray’s com­ments as sug­gest­ing that the DNC leak came from a Demo­c­ra­t­ic source and that the Podes­ta leak came from some­one inside the U.S. intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty, which may have been mon­i­tor­ing John Podesta’s emails because the Podes­ta Group, which he found­ed with his broth­er Tony, served as a reg­is­tered “for­eign agent” for Sau­di Ara­bia.

    “John Podes­ta was a paid lob­by­ist for the Sau­di gov­ern­ment,” Mur­ray not­ed. “If the Amer­i­can secu­ri­ty ser­vices were not watch­ing the com­mu­ni­ca­tions of the Sau­di government’s paid lob­by­ist in Wash­ing­ton, then the Amer­i­can secu­ri­ty ser­vices would not be doing their job. … His com­mu­ni­ca­tions are going to be of inter­est to a great num­ber of oth­er secu­ri­ty ser­vices as well.”

    Leak by Amer­i­cans

    Scott Hor­ton then asked, “Is it fair to say that you’re say­ing that the Podes­ta leak came from inside the intel­li­gence ser­vices, NSA [the elec­tron­ic spy­ing Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agency] or anoth­er agency?”

    “I think what I said was cer­tain­ly com­pat­i­ble with that kind of inter­pre­ta­tion, yeah,” Mur­ray respond­ed. “In both cas­es they are leaks by Amer­i­cans.”

    In ref­er­ence to the leak of the DNC emails, Mur­ray not­ed that “Julian Assange took very close inter­est in the death of Seth Rich, the Demo­c­ra­t­ic staff mem­ber” who had worked for the DNC on vot­er data­bas­es and was shot and killed on July 10 near his Wash­ing­ton, D.C., home.

    Mur­ray con­tin­ued, “Wik­iLeaks offered a $20,000 reward for infor­ma­tion lead­ing to the cap­ture of his killers. So, obvi­ous­ly there are sus­pi­cions there about what’s hap­pen­ing and things are some­what murky. I’m not say­ing – don’t get me wrong – I’m not say­ing that he was the source of the [DNC] leaks. What I’m say­ing is that it’s prob­a­bly not an unfair indi­ca­tion to draw that Wik­iLeaks believes that he may have been killed by some­one who thought he was the source of the leaks … whether cor­rect­ly or incor­rect­ly.

    Though acknowl­edg­ing that such killings can become grist for con­spir­a­cy buffs, Mur­ray added: “But peo­ple do die over this sort of stuff. There were bil­lions of dol­lars – lit­er­al­ly bil­lions of dol­lars – behind Hillary Clinton’s elec­tion cam­paign and those peo­ple have lost their mon­ey.

    “You have also to remem­ber that there’s a big finan­cial inter­est – par­tic­u­lar­ly in the arma­ments indus­try – in a bad Amer­i­can rela­tion­ship with Rus­sia and the worse the rela­tion­ship with Rus­sia is the larg­er con­tracts the arma­ments indus­try can expect espe­cial­ly in the most high-tech high-prof­it side of fight­er jets and mis­siles and that kind of thing.

    “And Trump has actu­al­ly already indi­cat­ed he’s look­ing to make sav­ings on the defense bud­get par­tic­u­lar­ly in things like fight­er [jet] projects. So, there are peo­ple stand­ing to lose bil­lions of dol­lars and any­body who thinks in that sit­u­a­tion bad things don’t hap­pen to peo­ple is very naïve.”

    An Intel­li­gence Coup?

    There’s anoth­er pos­si­bil­i­ty in play here: that the U.S. intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty is felling a num­ber of birds with one stone. If indeed U.S. intel­li­gence big­wigs deemed both Clin­ton and Trump unfit to serve as Pres­i­dent – albeit for dif­fer­ent rea­sons – they could have become involved in leak­ing at least the Podes­ta emails to weak­en Clinton’s cam­paign, set­ting the can­di­date up for the more severe blow from FBI Direc­tor Comey in the last week of the cam­paign.

    Then, by blam­ing the leaks on Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Putin, the U.S. intel­li­gence lead­er­ship could set the stage for Trump’s defeat in the Elec­toral Col­lege, open­ing the door to the ele­va­tion of a more tra­di­tion­al Repub­li­can. How­ev­er, even if that unlike­ly event – defeat­ing Trump in the Elec­toral Col­lege – proves impos­si­ble, Trump would at least be weak­ened as he enters the White House and thus might not be able to move very aggres­sive­ly toward a détente with Rus­sia.

    Fur­ther, the Rus­sia-bash­ing that is all the rage in the main­stream U.S. media will sure­ly encour­age the Con­gress to esca­late the New Cold War, regard­less of Trump’s desires, and thus ensure plen­ty more mon­ey for both the intel­li­gence agen­cies and the mil­i­tary con­trac­tors.

    Offi­cial Washington’s “group think” hold­ing Rus­sia respon­si­ble for the Clin­ton leaks does draw some log­i­cal sup­port from the near cer­tain­ty that Russ­ian intel­li­gence has sought to pen­e­trate infor­ma­tion sources around both Clin­ton and Trump. But the gap between the like­ly Russ­ian hack­ing efforts and the ques­tion of who gave the email infor­ma­tion to Wik­iLeaks is where main­stream assump­tions may fall down.

    As ex-Ambas­sador Mur­ray has said, U.S. intel­li­gence was almost sure­ly keep­ing tabs on Podesta’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions because of his ties to Sau­di Ara­bia and oth­er for­eign gov­ern­ments. So, the U.S. intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty rep­re­sents anoth­er sus­pect in the case of who leaked those emails to Wik­iLeaks. It would be a smart play, rem­i­nis­cent of the con­vo­lut­ed spy tales of John LeCar­ré, if U.S. intel­li­gence offi­cials sought to cov­er their own tracks by shift­ing sus­pi­cions onto the Rus­sians.

    ...

    ———-

    “A Spy Coup in Amer­i­ca?” by Robert Par­ry; Con­sor­tium News; 12/18/2016

    “Mur­ray has dis­put­ed a report in London’s Dai­ly Mail that he was receiv­ing a batch of the leaked Demo­c­ra­t­ic emails. “The mate­r­i­al, I think, was already safe­ly with Wik­iLeaks before I got there in Sep­tem­ber,” Mur­ray said in the inter­view with Scott Hor­ton. “I had a small role to play.””

    That sure sounds like Mur­ray is claim­ing he met with a Podes­ta with­out say­ing it explic­it­ly.

    And regard­ing Seth Rich, Mur­ray gives the inter­est­ing answer that, while he def­i­nite­ly isn’t say­ing that Seth Rich was the DNC email source, he does think it’s very rea­son­able of Wik­ileaks to think that Seth Rich was killed by some­one who thought Seth Rich was the source:

    ...
    In ref­er­ence to the leak of the DNC emails, Mur­ray not­ed that “Julian Assange took very close inter­est in the death of Seth Rich, the Demo­c­ra­t­ic staff mem­ber” who had worked for the DNC on vot­er data­bas­es and was shot and killed on July 10 near his Wash­ing­ton, D.C., home.

    Mur­ray con­tin­ued, “Wik­iLeaks offered a $20,000 reward for infor­ma­tion lead­ing to the cap­ture of his killers. So, obvi­ous­ly there are sus­pi­cions there about what’s hap­pen­ing and things are some­what murky. I’m not say­ing – don’t get me wrong – I’m not say­ing that he was the source of the [DNC] leaks. What I’m say­ing is that it’s prob­a­bly not an unfair indi­ca­tion to draw that Wik­iLeaks believes that he may have been killed by some­one who thought he was the source of the leaks … whether cor­rect­ly or incor­rect­ly.
    ...

    And while that might sound like Mur­ray is hint­ing, with­out explic­it­ly say­ing, that Julian Assange knows Seth Rich was the source, keep in mind that what he said was­n’t actu­al­ly rev­e­la­to­ry at all. All he said was that it’s not unrea­son­able to assume that Assange may have won­dered if Seth Rich was killed by some­one who assumed Rich was the source. It’s not like that’s some sort of exot­ic spec­u­la­tion giv­en the cir­cum­stances. Large swaths of the inter­net jumped to the exact same con­clu­sion.

    And what about all the reports about the hack­ing? Let’s not for­get the reports of the sad saga of the FBI’s flac­cid warn­ings to the DNC that it was hacked. Or the spear-phish­ing cam­paign against Podes­ta that went hor­ri­bly awry due to a DNC IT per­son acci­den­tal­ly telling Podes­ta that the spear-phish­ing email was “legit­i­mate” and not “ille­git­i­mate”. Is Mur­ray claim­ing that those sto­ries are fab­ri­cat­ed or coin­ci­den­tal and not involved with actu­al leak? That’s unclear, but he does claim that in both cas­es the per­son respon­si­ble for get­ting that infor­ma­tion to Wik­ileaks had no need to hack any com­put­ers because they had legal access to the infor­ma­tion:

    ...
    Mur­ray also sug­gest­ed that the DNC leak and the Podes­ta leak came from two dif­fer­ent sources, nei­ther of them the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment.

    “The Podes­ta emails and the DNC emails are, of course, two sep­a­rate things and we shouldn’t con­clude that they both have the same source,” Mur­ray said. “In both cas­es we’re talk­ing of a leak, not a hack, in that the per­son who was respon­si­ble for get­ting that infor­ma­tion out had legal access to that infor­ma­tion.”
    ...

    All in all, it appears that Mur­ray is mak­ing no real claims based on per­son­al expe­ri­ences about the DNC leak­er. Instead he’s falls back on Julian Assange’s assur­ances that the leak­er was an Amer­i­can. But he is imply­ing that he per­son­al­ly met with the Podes­ta email leak­er (or rep­re­sen­ta­tive) who Mur­ray hints is a mem­ber of the US intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty. And he met this intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty mem­ber in DC right after m‑c-ing an awards cer­e­mo­ny for intel­li­gence agents. And while he won’t say what the meet­ing in the woods was about, he did say that he did­n’t actu­al receive any of the leaked emails dur­ing this meet­ing but instead played a “small role” in the whole oper­a­tion.

    Sure, there’s absolute­ly no evi­dence for any of this, with the excep­tion of Ray McGov­ern con­firm­ing that Mur­ray left the awards cer­e­mo­ny recep­tion ear­ly. But if what Mur­ray is claim­ing turns out to be true, and the Podes­ta emails real­ly were released by some­one in the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty, it would be pret­ty chill­ing. Although not near­ly as chill­ing as Robert Par­ry’s ‘spy coup’ sce­nario. Yikes. But per­haps about as chill­ing as how the FBI open­ly treat­ed Hillary dur­ing the cam­paign in a man­ner that was bla­tant­ly and egre­gious­ly biased. Dou­ble yikes.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 7, 2017, 10:59 pm
  30. Here’s a rather bizarre fol­lowup to the rather bizarre sto­ry about the retract­ed Fox News piece about the mur­der of Seth Rich that claimed to have an FBI source who con­firmed that Seth Rich’s lap­top con­tained emails to Wik­ileaks:

    Rod Wheel­er, the Fox News com­men­ta­tor who was por­trayed in the sto­ry as the per­son who in con­tact with the unnamed FBI source, is now suing Fox News for fab­ri­cat­ing the quotes from Wheel­er in the sto­ry where Wheel­er said he was in con­tact with the FBI source and had con­firmed the alle­ga­tions. But it gets a lot messier than that. The pri­ma­ry per­son push­ing the sto­ry was Ed Butowsky, a wealthy right-wing Trump sup­port­er whose pri­ar accom­plish­ments include hyp­ing up the Beng­hazi attack into a major scan­dal. Accord­ing to Wheel­er’s law­suit, Butowsky had offered to pay Wheel­er to ‘inves­ti­gate’ Rich’s mur­der on behalf of Rich’s par­ents. And over the course of devel­op­ing the sto­ry Wheel­er and Butowsky actu­al­ly met with for­mer White House press sec­re­tary Sean Spicer on April 20, a month before the sto­ry’s pub­li­ca­tion. The law­suit also includes a voice­mail and text from Butowsky where But­wowsky tells Wheel­er that Trump him­self had reviewed drafts of the Fox News sto­ry and accord­ing to Wheel­er is was those claims that were used to pres­sure him into going along with a sto­ry involv­ing fab­ri­cat­ed quotes. And Spicer admits the meet­ing took place, although he says the meet­ing was sim­ply a favor for But­wosky and denies Trump had any knowl­edge of it.

    And accord­ing to Wheel­er’s law­suit, the whole thing was con­coct­ed for the pur­pose of dif­fuse the Trump/Russia hack­ing nar­ra­tive. And while it’s undoubt­ed­ly the case that the White House would have loved to see inter­est in the Trump/Russia sto­ry squashed, it’s impor­tant to keep in mind both the myr­i­ad of rea­sons to doubt the the offi­cial expla­na­tion of ‘Russ­ian hack­ers’ being behind the stolen DNC doc­u­ments cou­pled with the fact that the Trump team would have plen­ty of incen­tive to under­mine the Trump/Russia sto­ry whether or not there was any col­lu­sion, espe­cial­ly if if the Trump team itself, or an allied group, was actu­al­ly behind the hacks. The say­ing “the coverup is greater than the crime”, is actu­al­ly lit­er­al­ly true if the coverup helps pro­pel us towards WWIII. And even if the Trump team had no actu­al involve­ment in the hacks, the fact that the Trump/Russia sto­ry trig­gered an open-end­ed inves­ti­ga­tion into Trump’s shady past is incen­tive enough for Trump to obsess about chang­ing the nar­ra­tive. So keep that all in mind while digest­ing this law­suit that appears to give us a peak Fox News ‘mak­ing the sausage’:

    Nation­al Pub­lic Radio

    Behind Fox News’ Base­less Seth Rich Sto­ry: The Untold Tale

    David Folken­flik
    August 1, 2017 7:23 AM ET

    The Fox News Chan­nel and a wealthy sup­port­er of Pres­i­dent Trump worked in con­cert under the watch­ful eye of the White House to con­coct a sto­ry about the death of a young Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee aide, accord­ing to a law­suit filed Tues­day.

    The explo­sive claim is part of a law­suit filed against Fox News by Rod Wheel­er, a long­time paid com­men­ta­tor for the news net­work. The suit was obtained exclu­sive­ly by NPR.

    Wheel­er alleges Fox News and the Trump sup­port­er intend­ed to deflect pub­lic atten­tion from grow­ing con­cern about the admin­is­tra­tion’s ties to the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment. His suit charges that a Fox News reporter cre­at­ed quo­ta­tions out of thin air and attrib­uted them to him to pro­pel her sto­ry.

    Fox’s pres­i­dent of news, Jay Wal­lace, told NPR on Mon­day that there was no “con­crete evi­dence” that Wheel­er was mis­quot­ed by the reporter, Malia Zim­mer­man. The news exec­u­tive did not address a ques­tion about the sto­ry’s alleged­ly par­ti­san ori­gins. Fox News declined to allow Zim­mer­man to com­ment for this sto­ry.

    The sto­ry, which first aired in May, was retract­ed by Fox News a week lat­er. Fox News has, to date, tak­en no action in response to what it said was a fail­ure to adhere to the net­work’s stan­dards.

    The law­suit focus­es par­tic­u­lar atten­tion on the role of the Trump sup­port­er, Ed Butowsky, in weav­ing the sto­ry. He is a wealthy Dal­las investor and unpaid Fox com­men­ta­tor on finan­cial mat­ters who has emerged as a reli­able Repub­li­can sur­ro­gate in recent years. Butowsky offered to pay for Wheel­er to inves­ti­gate the death of the DNC aide, Seth Rich, on behalf of his griev­ing par­ents in Oma­ha, Neb.

    On April 20, a month before the sto­ry ran, Butowsky and Wheel­er — the investor and the inves­ti­ga­tor — met at the White House with then-press sec­re­tary Sean Spicer to brief him on what they were uncov­er­ing.

    The first page of the law­suit quotes a voice­mail and text from Butowsky boast­ing that Trump him­self had reviewed drafts of the Fox News sto­ry just before it went to air and was pub­lished.

    Spicer now tells NPR that he took the meet­ing as a favor to Butowsky. Spicer says he was unaware of any con­tact involv­ing the pres­i­dent. And Butowsky tells NPR that he was kid­ding about Trump’s involve­ment.

    “Rod Wheel­er unfor­tu­nate­ly was used as a pawn by Ed Butowsky, Fox News and the Trump admin­is­tra­tion to try and steer away the atten­tion that was being giv­en about the Russ­ian hack­ing of the DNC emails,” says Dou­glas Wig­dor, Wheel­er’s lawyer.

    The back sto­ry

    On May 16, the Fox News Chan­nel broke what it called a “bomb­shell” sto­ry about an unsolved homi­cide: the July 2016 shoot­ing of 27-year-old Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty staffer Seth Rich.

    Unfound­ed con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries involv­ing Rich abound­ed in the months after his death, in part because Wik­iLeaks founder Julian Assange cryp­ti­cal­ly sug­gest­ed that Rich’s death may have been relat­ed to the leaks of tens of thou­sands of emails from Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty offi­cials and their allies at the peak of the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

    Fox News’ sto­ry, which took flight online and ran in seg­ments across major shows, breathed fresh life into the rumors. Fox report­ed that the leaks came from inside the par­ty and not from hack­ers linked to Rus­sia — despite the con­clu­sions of the nation’s most senior intel­li­gence offi­cials. The net­work sug­gest­ed that Democ­rats might have been con­nect­ed to Rich’s death and that a cov­er-up had thwart­ed the offi­cial inves­ti­ga­tion.

    The net­work cit­ed an unnamed FBI offi­cial. And the report relied heav­i­ly on Wheel­er, a for­mer police detec­tive, hired months ear­li­er on behalf of the Rich­es by Butowsky.

    These devel­op­ments took place dur­ing grow­ing pub­lic con­cern over a fed­er­al inves­ti­ga­tion into the Trump cam­p’s pos­si­ble col­lu­sion with the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment dur­ing the cam­paign. The alle­ga­tions have since touched the pres­i­den­t’s son and son-in-law, his for­mer cam­paign man­ag­er, his attor­ney gen­er­al and his first nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er, who resigned as a result.

    The ques­tion of Rich’s death took on greater urgency for Butowsky after Trump fired FBI Direc­tor James Comey in ear­ly May. Comey had been over­see­ing the Rus­sia inves­ti­ga­tion. The sto­ry ran just a week lat­er.

    Fox’s report went side­ways short­ly after it was post­ed online and aired on Fox & Friends. It was denounced by the Rich fam­i­ly, D.C. police, Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty offi­cials and even, pri­vate­ly, by some jour­nal­ists with­in the net­work. With­in hours, Wheel­er told oth­er news out­lets that Fox News had put words in his mouth.

    Despite those con­cerns, Wheel­er appeared on the shows of Fox Busi­ness host Lou Dobbs and Fox News star Sean Han­ni­ty, who devot­ed sig­nif­i­cant time to the sto­ry that night and in sub­se­quent days. In speak­ing with Wheel­er, Han­ni­ty said: “If this is true and Seth Rich gave Wik­iLeaks the DNC e‑mails ... this blows the whole Rus­sia col­lu­sion nar­ra­tive com­plete­ly out of the water.”

    A week lat­er, on May 23, Fox retract­ed the sto­ry, say­ing the report­ing process failed to live up to its stan­dards. Han­ni­ty said he would take a break from talk­ing about Rich’s death out of respect for the fam­i­ly. And there it has large­ly stood — until now.

    The fake news sto­ry

    In the law­suit, the pri­vate inves­ti­ga­tor sets out a dif­fer­ent ver­sion of events. Wheel­er, a paid Fox News con­trib­u­tor since 2005, alleges the sto­ry was orches­trat­ed behind the scenes and from the out­set by Butowsky, who hired him on behalf of the Rich fam­i­ly.

    The fol­low­ing account reflects the ver­ba­tim quotes pro­vid­ed from the texts, emails, voice­mails and record­ed con­ver­sa­tions cit­ed in Wheel­er’s law­suit, except as oth­er­wise not­ed.

    Accord­ing to the law­suit, Trump press sec­re­tary Sean Spicer meets at the White House with Wheel­er and Butowsky to review the Rich sto­ry a month before Fox News ran the piece.

    On May 14, about 36 hours before Fox News’ sto­ry appears, Butowsky leaves a voice­mail for Wheel­er, say­ing, “We have the full, uh, atten­tion of the White House on this. And tomor­row, let’s close this deal, what­ev­er we’ve got to do.”

    Butowsky also texts Wheel­er: “Not to add any more pres­sure but the pres­i­dent just read the arti­cle. He wants the arti­cle out imme­di­ate­ly. It’s now all up to you.”

    Spicer con­firms meet­ing with the two but denies claims about the pres­i­dent.

    “Ed’s been a long­time sup­port­er of the pres­i­dent and asked to meet to catch up,” Spicer tells NPR on Mon­day night.

    “I did­n’t know who Rod Wheel­er was. Once we got into my office, [Butowsky] said, ‘I’m sure you rec­og­nize Rod Wheel­er from Fox News.’ ”

    Spicer says Butowsky laid out what had been found about the case. “It had noth­ing to do with advanc­ing the pres­i­den­t’s domes­tic agen­da — and there was no agen­da,” Spicer says. “They were just inform­ing me of the [Fox] sto­ry.”

    Spicer says he is not aware of any con­tact, direct or not, between Butowsky and Trump. And Butowsky now tells NPR he has nev­er shared drafts of the sto­ry with Trump or his aides — that he was jok­ing with a friend.

    Instead, Butowsky repeat­ed­ly claims that the meet­ing was set up to address Wheel­er’s pleas for help land­ing a job for the Trump admin­is­tra­tion. Wheel­er’s attor­ney, Wig­dor, says there is no evi­dence to sup­port that claim.

    In the suit, Wheel­er alleges that Butowsky was using the White House ref­er­ences to pres­sure him.

    Wheel­er did play his own role in fur­ther­ing the sto­ry. But he con­tends that he regret­ted it the same day it aired. His suit alleges Fox News defamed him by man­u­fac­tur­ing two false quo­ta­tions attrib­uted to him and ruin­ing his rep­u­ta­tion by blam­ing him as the decep­tive sto­ry fell apart. Wheel­er, an African-Amer­i­can, is also suing the net­work for racial dis­crim­i­na­tion, say­ing he failed to advance as promi­nent­ly as white coun­ter­parts. Fox News had no com­ment on that alle­ga­tion.

    Who is Ed Butowsky?

    Butowsky is a sil­ver-haired brash investor who became known for help­ing new­ly rich ath­letes fig­ure out how to man­age their mon­ey — and avoid get­ting fleeced. A native New York­er and son of a for­mer top enforce­ment offi­cer for the U.S. Secu­ri­ties and Exchange Com­mis­sion, Butowsky attend­ed the Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas in the ear­ly 1980s. He set up his own com­pa­ny, Chap­wood Cap­i­tal Invest­ment Man­age­ment in Addi­son, Texas, out­side Dal­las, after a long stint at Mor­gan Stan­ley.

    Fed­er­al records com­piled by the elec­tion finance data­base OpenSecrets.org show Butowsky has giv­en mon­ey to the cam­paigns of nine politi­cians: sev­en Repub­li­cans and two Democ­rats, includ­ing $1,000 to Barack Oba­ma’s cam­paign in Jan­u­ary 2008.

    In recent years, Butowsky has become out­spo­ken about his polit­i­cal beliefs, becom­ing a famil­iar face on Fox News and its sis­ter chan­nel, the Fox Busi­ness Net­work. Butowsky has also appeared on Bre­it­bart News’ radio pro­grams fea­tur­ing then-Bre­it­bart Chair­man Steve Ban­non, who became Trump’s cam­paign chief and is now the pres­i­den­t’s senior polit­i­cal strate­gist.

    Butowsky emerged as a vocal backer of Trump’s can­di­da­cy. He attend­ed Trump’s inau­gu­ra­tion, post­ing pic­tures from the day on social media. In the Seth Rich case, Butowsky pre­sent­ed him­self as a good Samar­i­tan who came across a sliv­er of infor­ma­tion about Seth Rich’s death and shared it with the Rich­es.

    “I thought, ‘You know what? I’m going to help these peo­ple out,’ ” Butowsky said on the radio show of David Webb, a con­ser­v­a­tive Fox News con­trib­u­tor. “Some­how, these peo­ple need to know what hap­pened to their lit­tle boy.” He gave a sim­i­lar account in an inter­view Mon­day with NPR.

    Wheel­er’s law­suit alleges that Butowsky’s gen­eros­i­ty is clear­ly polit­i­cal­ly moti­vat­ed.

    On Feb. 23, more than six months after Rich’s death, Butowsky intro­duces him­self to Wheel­er with a flat­ter­ing text, cit­ing mutu­al friends from Fox News. “Behind the scenes, I do a lot of work, (unpaid) help­ing to uncov­er cer­tain sto­ries,” Butowsky writes, as recount­ed in the suit.

    “[M]y biggest work was reveal­ing most of what we know today about Beng­hazi,” the dead­ly attack in Libya that sparked a con­gres­sion­al inves­ti­ga­tion of for­mer Sec­re­tary of State Hillary Clin­ton. Lat­er that day, Butowsky speaks to Wheel­er for about 20 min­utes by phone, say­ing his pri­ma­ry aim is to help the Rich fam­i­ly.

    The man behind the law­suit: Rod Wheel­er

    Wheel­er, a 57-year-old for­mer Wash­ing­ton, D.C., homi­cide detec­tive, was part of the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Police Depart­ment from 1990 to 1995, when he was dis­missed, accord­ing to the agency. His New York City-based attor­ney, Wig­dor, says Wheel­er was fired for insub­or­di­na­tion after his urine test­ed pos­i­tive for trace amounts of mar­i­jua­na.

    At the time he meets with Butowsky, Wheel­er has been a paid con­trib­u­tor to Fox News for more than 11 years and has been active­ly but unsuc­cess­ful­ly seek­ing greater expo­sure on the net­work, accord­ing to the suit.

    Five days lat­er, the two men meet in per­son at a lunch in Wash­ing­ton. Butowsky intro­duces an unex­pect­ed third guest: Malia Zim­mer­man, a Fox News inves­tiga­tive reporter based in Los Ange­les known for enter­prise report­ing from a con­ser­v­a­tive stand­point.

    Accord­ing to the account in the suit, Butowsky cau­tions Wheel­er before they set out to meet the Rich­es: “[M]ake sure to play down Fox News. Don’t men­tion you know Malia.”

    And Butowsky lays out a dif­fer­ent mis­sion than aid­ing the Rich fam­i­ly. Butowsky says he became con­vinced that the FBI had a report con­clud­ing that Seth Rich’s lap­top showed he had had con­tacts with Wik­iLeaks after speak­ing to the leg­endary reporter Sey­mour Hersh, who was also inves­ti­gat­ing Rich’s death. Accord­ing to the tran­scripts in the law­suit, Butowsky says Hersh had an FBI source who con­firmed the report.

    In an inter­view this week, Hersh sounds uncon­vinced.

    “I hear gos­sip,” Hersh tells NPR on Mon­day. “[Butowsky] took two and two and made 45 out of it.”

    Rich’s par­ents ini­tial­ly wel­come Wheel­er’s help and Butowsky’s largesse. On March 14, Butowsky pays Wheel­er $5,000, through a lim­it­ed part­ner­ship com­pa­ny called Goo­gie LP. (NPR found that Butowsky is list­ed in Texas pub­lic records as its gen­er­al part­ner.)

    Wheel­er does not make great head­way. The FBI informs Butowsky, Wheel­er and Zim­mer­man that the agency is not assist­ing the Wash­ing­ton, D.C., police on the inves­ti­ga­tion — under­cut­ting claims about an FBI report.

    A Metro D.C. police detec­tive tells Wheel­er that Rich’s death was like­ly a rob­bery gone awry and that the FBI is not involved.

    Prepar­ing to pub­lish

    On May 9, Trump fires Comey.

    On May 10, Butowsky and Zim­mer­man call Wheel­er to say they have an FBI source con­firm­ing emails were sent from Seth Rich to Wik­iLeaks, though they do not share the source’s iden­ti­ty, accord­ing to the inves­ti­ga­tor’s suit. Wheel­er will lat­er say this is the only fed­er­al law enforce­ment source that Fox News — or he — has relat­ed to this sto­ry.

    Wheel­er says he does­n’t know whether that source emerged from Butowsky’s con­ver­sa­tion with Sey­mour Hersh or whether it was a fab­ri­ca­tion.

    The next day, Zim­mer­man sends Wheel­er a draft of her sto­ry, which is to run ini­tial­ly on the net­work’s web­site. It includes no quotes from Wheel­er.

    On the evening of May 14, Butowsky leaves a voice­mail for Wheel­er rais­ing the stakes by invok­ing the White House and say­ing, “Let’s close this deal.”

    A bit lat­er that night, at 9:10 p.m., Butowsky texts Wheel­er, accord­ing to Wheel­er’s suit: “Not to add any more pres­sure but the pres­i­dent just read the arti­cle. He wants the arti­cle out imme­di­ate­ly. It’s now all up to you. But don’t feel the pres­sure.”

    As the night before the sto­ry is aired pro­gress­es, Butowsky is awake, online and antic­i­pat­ing what is to unfold in a few short hours.

    Butowsky sends an email to Fox News pro­duc­ers and hosts coach­ing them on how to frame the Rich sto­ry, accord­ing to the law­suit. Recip­i­ents includ­ed Fox & Friends hosts, Steve Doocy, Ains­ley Earhardt and Bri­an Kilmeade.

    “I’m actu­al­ly the one who’s been putting this togeth­er but as you know, I keep my name out of things because I have no cred­i­bil­i­ty,” Butowsky writes, as reflect­ed in the Wheel­er suit. “One of the big con­clu­sions we need to draw from this is that the Rus­sians did not hack our com­put­er sys­tems and ste[a]l emails and there was no col­lu­sion” between “Trump and the Rus­sians.”

    The night before the sto­ry ran and the day of the sto­ry itself, Butowsky coach­es Wheel­er on what to say on the air: “[T]he nar­ra­tive in the inter­views you might use is that you and [Fox News reporter Malia Zim­mer­man’s] work prove that the Rus­sians did­n’t hack into the DNC and steal the emails and impact our elec­tions.” In anoth­er text, he writes: “If you can, try to high­light this puts the Russ­ian hack­ing sto­ry to rest.”

    Fox goes with the sto­ry

    The sto­ry breaks ear­li­er than expect­ed.

    On the evening of May 15, Fox News’ sis­ter local sta­tion in Wash­ing­ton, Fox 5 DC, runs a sto­ry online at once pro­mot­ing and pre-empt­ing the net­work’s appar­ent scoop. “The police depart­ment nor the FBI have been forth­com­ing,” Wheel­er tells the sta­tion. “They haven’t been coop­er­at­ing at all. I believe that the answer to solv­ing his death lies on that com­put­er, which I believe is either at the police depart­ment or either at the FBI. I have been told both.”

    Asked whether his sources have told him about infor­ma­tion link­ing Rich to the Wik­iLeaks email dump, Wheel­er says, “Absolute­ly. Yeah. That’s con­firmed.”

    The next morn­ing, the sto­ry goes nation­al.

    Fox News reports that evi­dence from Rich’s lap­top showed he had been in con­tact with Wik­iLeaks just days before the site post­ed those emails. Fox also reports that pow­er­ful forces were try­ing to quash the offi­cial inves­ti­ga­tion into his death.

    On Fox & Friends, the hosts call the sto­ry a “bomb­shell.”

    Zim­mer­man’s online sto­ry cites an unnamed “fed­er­al inves­ti­ga­tor who reviewed an FBI report” for its find­ings. It also cites Wheel­er, incor­po­rat­ing two key quo­ta­tions from Wheel­er that do not appear on video. In each, the pri­vate inves­ti­ga­tor seem­ing­ly takes own­er­ship of the accu­sa­tions.

    The first: “My inves­ti­ga­tion up to this point shows there was some degree of email exchange between Seth Rich and Wik­iLeaks.”

    The sec­ond: “My inves­ti­ga­tion shows some­one with­in the D.C. gov­ern­ment, Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee or Clin­ton team is block­ing the mur­der inves­ti­ga­tion from going for­ward. That is unfor­tu­nate. Seth Rich’s mur­der is unsolved as a result of that.”

    The Rich­es torch Wheel­er, say­ing they have seen no proof for his con­tentions.

    Wheel­er alleges both quo­ta­tions were fab­ri­cat­ed and untrue.

    Accord­ing to the law­suit, Zim­mer­man promis­es to have those lines removed — but they stay in the sto­ry. Zim­mer­man then tells him that her boss­es at Fox News had instruct­ed her to leave those quotes in.

    That same day, the suit recounts, Zim­mer­man writes a let­ter to Seth Rich’s father, Joel, dis­tanc­ing Fox News from respon­si­bil­i­ty for what the net­work report­ed: “Much of our infor­ma­tion came from a pri­vate inves­ti­ga­tor, Rod Wheel­er, who we under­stand was work­ing on behalf of you.”

    Wheel­er chal­lenges Zim­mer­man over the let­ter in a three-way phone con­ver­sa­tion that also includ­ed Butowsky. The Fox News reporter defends her­self: “That’s the email that Fox asked me to send him. They wrote it for me.”

    Wheel­er replies: “That’s not accu­rate, though, because much, much of the infor­ma­tion did not come from me.”

    “Not about the emails. Not the part about, I mean, the con­nec­tion to Wik­iLeaks,” Zim­mer­man acknowl­edges. “But the rest of the quotes in the sto­ry did.”

    Butowsky weighs in: “One day you’re going to win an award for hav­ing said those things you did­n’t say.” Lat­er, accord­ing to the record­ings tran­scribed in the suit, Butowsky acknowl­edges Wheel­er had­n’t made any claims of per­son­al knowl­edge about emails between Rich and Wik­iLeaks. “I know that’s not true,” Butowsky says. “If I’m under oath, I would say I nev­er heard him say that.”

    Both try to keep Wheel­er on board, how­ev­er.

    Zim­mer­man issues instruc­tions for Wheel­er’s appear­ance on Sean Han­ni­ty’s show lat­er that evening. “Reread the sto­ry we sent you last night [that con­tained the invent­ed quotes] and stick to the script,” she texts Wheel­er.

    Despite his mis­giv­ings, Wheel­er plays along. On Han­ni­ty’s show, Wheel­er says he does­n’t per­son­al­ly know about Rich’s emails or com­put­ers but says that a “very cred­i­ble” fed­er­al inves­ti­ga­tor says “he laid eyes on the case file.” Wheel­er offers ener­getic spec­u­la­tion though not much more: “When you look at that with the total­i­ty of every­thing else that I found in this case it’s very con­sis­tent for a per­son with my expe­ri­ence to begin to think well per­haps there were some e‑mail com­mu­ni­ca­tions between Seth and Wik­iLeaks.”

    The after­math

    On May 23, Fox News posts an unsigned state­ment retract­ing Zim­mer­man’s online sto­ry.

    The net­work does not apol­o­gize or explain what went wrong. “The arti­cle was not ini­tial­ly sub­ject­ed to the high degree of edi­to­r­i­al scruti­ny we require for all our report­ing,” the state­ment reads. “Upon appro­pri­ate review, the arti­cle was found not to meet those stan­dards and has since been removed.”

    In ear­ly June, Wheel­er meets with Dianne Bran­di, gen­er­al coun­sel for the net­work, and Jay Wal­lace, the net­work’s pres­i­dent for news. He makes his case that fab­ri­cat­ed quotes had know­ing­ly been attrib­uted to him. Nei­ther ever pub­licly speak of the mat­ter after­ward, until now. “Since meet­ing with Rod Wheel­er, we have also met with Malia Zim­mer­man to try to deter­mine whether Rod was mis­quot­ed,” Wal­lace says in a state­ment to NPR. “As of now, we don’t have con­crete evi­dence that he was.”

    A Fox News exec­u­tive knowl­edge­able about the con­tro­ver­sy, who would only speak if grant­ed anonymi­ty, tells NPR, “The sto­ry was pub­lished to the web­site with­out review by or per­mis­sion from senior man­age­ment.” The exec­u­tive notes that Wal­lace had placed the broad­cast and dig­i­tal news­gath­er­ing teams under the same lead­er­ship for the first time after a series of man­age­ment changes fol­low­ing the forced depar­ture of the net­work’s founder, the late Roger Ailes, and many of his top deputies.

    In late June, Wheel­er warns Fox News and Butowsky that he may file suit. Three days lat­er, Butowsky tweets: “Fox News sto­ry was pulled b/c Rod Wheel­er said [he] did­n’t say a quote ... How much did DNC pay him?” And then Butowsky tweets: “This shows Rod Wheel­er has a major bat­tle with the truth.”

    ...

    A spokes­woman for the FBI tells NPR this week that the agency has played no part in the inves­ti­ga­tion of the unsolved homi­cide. And a spokes­woman for Wash­ing­ton’s Met­ro­pol­i­tan Police Depart­ment says, “MPD stands behind its orig­i­nal asser­tion that Seth Rich was the vic­tim of a botched armed rob­bery.”

    ———-

    “Behind Fox News’ Base­less Seth Rich Sto­ry: The Untold Tale” by David Folken­flik; Nation­al Pub­lic Radio; 08/01/2017

    “Butowsky weighs in: “One day you’re going to win an award for hav­ing said those things you did­n’t say.” Lat­er, accord­ing to the record­ings tran­scribed in the suit, Butowsky acknowl­edges Wheel­er had­n’t made any claims of per­son­al knowl­edge about emails between Rich and Wik­iLeaks. “I know that’s not true,” Butowsky says. “If I’m under oath, I would say I nev­er heard him say that.””

    Well, if Ed Butowsky actu­al­ly said that it’s pret­ty clear that quotes real­ly were false­ly attrib­uted to Wheel­er. Specif­i­cal­ly, these two quotes:

    ...
    Zim­mer­man’s online sto­ry cites an unnamed “fed­er­al inves­ti­ga­tor who reviewed an FBI report” for its find­ings. It also cites Wheel­er, incor­po­rat­ing two key quo­ta­tions from Wheel­er that do not appear on video. In each, the pri­vate inves­ti­ga­tor seem­ing­ly takes own­er­ship of the accu­sa­tions.

    The first: “My inves­ti­ga­tion up to this point shows there was some degree of email exchange between Seth Rich and Wik­iLeaks.”

    The sec­ond: “My inves­ti­ga­tion shows some­one with­in the D.C. gov­ern­ment, Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee or Clin­ton team is block­ing the mur­der inves­ti­ga­tion from going for­ward. That is unfor­tu­nate. Seth Rich’s mur­der is unsolved as a result of that.”

    The Rich­es torch Wheel­er, say­ing they have seen no proof for his con­tentions.

    Wheel­er alleges both quo­ta­tions were fab­ri­cat­ed and untrue.
    ...

    And accord­ing to the law­suit, Malia Zim­mer­man, the Fox News reporter who wrote the sto­ry, promised Wheel­er the fab­ri­cat­ed quotes would be removed but her boss­es ordered her to leave the quotes in. And then she sends an email to Seth Rich’s par­ents blam­ing the whole sto­ry on Wheel­er. Some­thing she tells Wheel­er her Fox News boss­es ordered her to do:

    ...
    Accord­ing to the law­suit, Zim­mer­man promis­es to have those lines removed — but they stay in the sto­ry. Zim­mer­man then tells him that her boss­es at Fox News had instruct­ed her to leave those quotes in.

    That same day, the suit recounts, Zim­mer­man writes a let­ter to Seth Rich’s father, Joel, dis­tanc­ing Fox News from respon­si­bil­i­ty for what the net­work report­ed: “Much of our infor­ma­tion came from a pri­vate inves­ti­ga­tor, Rod Wheel­er, who we under­stand was work­ing on behalf of you.”

    Wheel­er chal­lenges Zim­mer­man over the let­ter in a three-way phone con­ver­sa­tion that also includ­ed Butowsky. The Fox News reporter defends her­self: “That’s the email that Fox asked me to send him. They wrote it for me.”

    Wheel­er replies: “That’s not accu­rate, though, because much, much of the infor­ma­tion did not come from me.”

    “Not about the emails. Not the part about, I mean, the con­nec­tion to Wik­iLeaks,” Zim­mer­man acknowl­edges. “But the rest of the quotes in the sto­ry did.”
    ...

    And all of this was done with the full and eager knowl­edge of the White House, includ­ing Pres­i­dent Trump, and was with Butowsky asser­tions that Trump want­ed the sto­ry soon that intim­i­dat­ed Wheel­er into going along with what he knew was a sto­ry fab­ri­cat­ed sto­ry, accord­ing to Wheel­er’s law­suit:

    ...
    Accord­ing to the law­suit, Trump press sec­re­tary Sean Spicer meets at the White House with Wheel­er and Butowsky to review the Rich sto­ry a month before Fox News ran the piece.

    On May 14, about 36 hours before Fox News’ sto­ry appears, Butowsky leaves a voice­mail for Wheel­er, say­ing, “We have the full, uh, atten­tion of the White House on this. And tomor­row, let’s close this deal, what­ev­er we’ve got to do.”

    Butowsky also texts Wheel­er: “Not to add any more pres­sure but the pres­i­dent just read the arti­cle. He wants the arti­cle out imme­di­ate­ly. It’s now all up to you.”

    Spicer con­firms meet­ing with the two but denies claims about the pres­i­dent.

    “Ed’s been a long­time sup­port­er of the pres­i­dent and asked to meet to catch up,” Spicer tells NPR on Mon­day night.

    “I did­n’t know who Rod Wheel­er was. Once we got into my office, [Butowsky] said, ‘I’m sure you rec­og­nize Rod Wheel­er from Fox News.’ ”

    Spicer says Butowsky laid out what had been found about the case. “It had noth­ing to do with advanc­ing the pres­i­den­t’s domes­tic agen­da — and there was no agen­da,” Spicer says. “They were just inform­ing me of the [Fox] sto­ry.”

    Spicer says he is not aware of any con­tact, direct or not, between Butowsky and Trump. And Butowsky now tells NPR he has nev­er shared drafts of the sto­ry with Trump or his aides — that he was jok­ing with a friend.

    Instead, Butowsky repeat­ed­ly claims that the meet­ing was set up to address Wheel­er’s pleas for help land­ing a job for the Trump admin­is­tra­tion. Wheel­er’s attor­ney, Wig­dor, says there is no evi­dence to sup­port that claim.

    In the suit, Wheel­er alleges that Butowsky was using the White House ref­er­ences to pres­sure him.
    ...

    So there was have it: as sto­ry about a whole bunch of peo­ple with no cred­i­bil­i­ty assert­ing that the oth­er side is the real liar in this case. Although despite the fact that Wheel­er played along with a sto­ry he knew was fab­ri­cat­ed after the sto­ry first broke, cir­cum­stan­tial­ly it does seem like Wheel­er’s sto­ry is prob­a­bly the clos­est to the truth.

    And note the per­son with actu­al cred­i­bil­i­ty involved in this mess: Sey­mour Hersh:

    ...
    At the time he meets with Butowsky, Wheel­er has been a paid con­trib­u­tor to Fox News for more than 11 years and has been active­ly but unsuc­cess­ful­ly seek­ing greater expo­sure on the net­work, accord­ing to the suit.

    Five days lat­er, the two men meet in per­son at a lunch in Wash­ing­ton. Butowsky intro­duces an unex­pect­ed third guest: Malia Zim­mer­man, a Fox News inves­tiga­tive reporter based in Los Ange­les known for enter­prise report­ing from a con­ser­v­a­tive stand­point.

    Accord­ing to the account in the suit, Butowsky cau­tions Wheel­er before they set out to meet the Rich­es: “[M]ake sure to play down Fox News. Don’t men­tion you know Malia.”

    And Butowsky lays out a dif­fer­ent mis­sion than aid­ing the Rich fam­i­ly. Butowsky says he became con­vinced that the FBI had a report con­clud­ing that Seth Rich’s lap­top showed he had had con­tacts with Wik­iLeaks after speak­ing to the leg­endary reporter Sey­mour Hersh, who was also inves­ti­gat­ing Rich’s death. Accord­ing to the tran­scripts in the law­suit, Butowsky says Hersh had an FBI source who con­firmed the report.

    In an inter­view this week, Hersh sounds uncon­vinced.

    “I hear gos­sip,” Hersh tells NPR on Mon­day. “[Butowsky] took two and two and made 45 out of it.”
    ...

    “I hear gos­sip,” Hersh tells NPR on Mon­day. “[Butowsky] took two and two and made 45 out of it.”

    So it sounds like this whole thing was trig­gered, in part, by Sy Hersh relay­ing some gos­sip to Butowsky about Rich’s lap­top, which Butowsky, Fox News, and the White House sub­se­quent­ly engi­neered into the now dis­cred­it­ed sto­ry. So that’s one more rea­son to avoid gos­sip. Espe­cial­ly gos­sip­ing to the guy who says his biggest claim to fame is hyp­ing Beng­hazi.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 2, 2017, 9:43 pm
  31. And the Seth Rich mur­der mys­tery extrav­a­gan­za just took anoth­er turn for the weird. Yep: First, recall the Fox News mini-scan­dal that recent­ly erupt­ed after long-time right-wing financier Ed Butowsky essen­tial­ly con­coct­ed a sto­ry that ran on Fox News about an FBI source who was alleged­ly telling Rod Wheel­er, a paid Fox News com­men­ta­tor, that Seth Rich’s lap­top con­tained evi­dence that he was in con­tact with Wik­ileaks and then the whole sto­ry implod­ed after it was dis­cov­ered that there was no FBI source. And then Wheel­er sued Fox News alleg­ing that Butowsky, Fox News, and maybe the White House essen­tial­ly pres­sured Wheel­er into pre­tend­ing that he had this source when in real­i­ty he did­n’t. And Sey­mour Hersh was one of the peo­ple Butowsky was appar­ent­ly in con­tact with who talked to Butowsky about the rumors that such evi­dence did actu­al­ly exist, but Hersh just dis­missed it as ““I hear gossip...[Butowsky] took two and two and made 45 out of it.”.

    Well, the Sey­mour Hersh angle to the sto­ry just got a lot more inter­est­ing. Because it turns out that Butowsky was appar­ent­ly secret­ly tap­ing his con­ver­sa­tions with Hersh about that gos­sip and that taped con­ver­sa­tion just appeared on a right-wing web­site called Big League Pol­i­tics. And in that con­ver­sa­tion Hersh does­n’t make it sound at all like he thinks its all a bunch of “gos­sip”. He talks about his own source in the FBI who con­firmed for him that such an FBI report exists and also ref­er­ences an “NSA report” on the mat­ter, indi­cat­ing that the NSA got involved in con­firm­ing that Rich did indeed con­tact Wik­ileaks. On top of that, Hersh asserts that Rich’s pri­ma­ry moti­va­tion was mon­ey. At the same times, Hersh sees no indi­ca­tion that Rich’s mur­der was any­thing oth­er than a coin­ci­dence that comes with the ter­ri­to­ry of liv­ing in a high-crime neigh­bor­hood.

    And while Hersh has indi­cat­ed since this tape was leaked that he isn’t plan­ning on writ­ing his own piece on the mat­ter, he also isn’t deny­ing the authen­tic­i­ty of the con­ver­sa­tion. So, yeah, the Seth Rich mur­der mys­tery extrav­a­gan­za just got a lot weird­er:

    Con­sor­tium News

    A New Twist in Seth Rich Mur­der Case

    Exclu­sive: The U.S. main­stream media dis­miss­es any link between the mur­der of DNC offi­cial Seth Rich and leaked DNC emails as a “con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry” – while blam­ing Rus­sia instead – but a new pos­si­bil­i­ty has arisen, writes Joe Lau­ria.

    By Joe Lau­ria
    August 8, 2017

    With U.S.-Russia ten­sions as dan­ger­ous­ly high as they’ve been since the worst days of the Cold War, there is poten­tial new evi­dence that Rus­sia was not behind a hack of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee, although Con­gress and the U.S. main­stream media accept the unproven alle­ga­tion of Russia’s guilt as indis­putable fact.

    The pos­si­ble new evi­dence comes in the form of a leaked audio­tape of vet­er­an inves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ist Sey­mour Hersh in which Hersh is heard to say that not Rus­sia, but a DNC insid­er, was the source of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic emails pub­lished by Wik­iLeaks just before the start of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Con­ven­tion in late July 2016.

    Hersh said on the tape that the source of the leak was for­mer DNC employ­ee Seth Rich, who was mur­dered on a dark­ened street in a rough neigh­bor­hood of North­west Wash­ing­ton D.C. two weeks before the Con­ven­tion, on July 10, 2016. But Hersh threw cold water on a the­o­ry that the mur­der was an assas­si­na­tion in retal­i­a­tion for the leak. Instead, Hersh con­curs with the D.C. police who say the mur­der was a botched rob­bery.

    Main­stream news out­lets have mocked any link­age between Rich’s mur­der and the dis­clo­sure of the DNC emails as a “con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry,” but Hersh’s com­ments sug­gest anoth­er pos­si­bil­i­ty – that the mur­der and the leak were unre­lat­ed while Rich may still have been the leak­er.

    In dis­miss­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty that Rich was the leak­er, main­stream media out­lets often ignore one of the key rea­son why some peo­ple believe that he was: Short­ly after his mur­der, Wik­iLeaks, which has denied receiv­ing the emails from the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment, post­ed a Tweet offer­ing a $20,000 reward for infor­ma­tion lead­ing to the solu­tion of the mys­tery of who killed Rich.

    Julian Assange, Wik­iLeaks founder and pub­lish­er, brought up Rich’s mur­der out of con­text in an inter­view with Dutch TV last August. “Whis­tle-blow­ers go to sig­nif­i­cant efforts to get us mate­r­i­al and often very sig­nif­i­cant risks,” Assange said. “As a 27-year-old, works for the DNC, was shot in the back, mur­dered just a few weeks ago for unknown rea­sons as he was walk­ing down the street in Wash­ing­ton.”

    Pressed by the inter­view­er to say whether Rich was the source of the DNC emails, Assange said Wik­iLeaks nev­er reveals its sources. Yet, it appeared to be an indi­rect way of nam­ing Rich, while for­mal­ly main­tain­ing WikiLeak’s pol­i­cy. An alter­na­tive view would be to believe that Assange is cyn­i­cal­ly using Rich’s death to divert the trail from the real source.

    But Assange is like­ly one of the few peo­ple who actu­al­ly knows who the source is, so his pro­fessed inter­est in Rich’s mur­der presents a clue regard­ing the source of the leak that any respon­si­ble news orga­ni­za­tion would at least acknowl­edge although that has not been the case in many recent main­stream arti­cles about the sup­posed Seth Rich “con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry.”

    Hersh’s Unwit­ting Tapes

    Hersh’s taped com­ments add anoth­er ele­ment to the mys­tery, giv­en his long record of shed­ding light into the dark cor­ners of the U.S. government’s crimes, lies and cov­er-ups. He exposed the My Lai mas­sacre dur­ing the Viet­nam War; revealed ille­gal CIA spy­ing in the 1970s spurring wide-rang­ing Con­gres­sion­al inves­ti­ga­tions and reform; and uncov­ered U.S. tor­ture in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

    In the audio­tape – which Hersh told me was made with­out his per­mis­sion – he quot­ed an unnamed gov­ern­ment source who told him that Rich offered the DNC emails to Wik­iLeaks in exchange for mon­ey.

    “What I know comes off an FBI report. Don’t ask me how. You can fig­ure it out, I’ve been around a long time,” Hersh says on the tape. “I have some­body on the inside who will go and read a file for me. This per­son is unbe­liev­ably accu­rate and care­ful, he’s a very high-lev­el guy and he’ll do a favor. You’re just going to have to trust me.”

    The FBI cyber unit got involved after the D.C. police were unable to access pro­tect­ed files on Rich’s com­put­er, Hersh said. So the FBI “found what he’d done. He had sub­mit­ted a series of doc­u­ments, of emails. Some juicy emails from the DNC,” to Wik­ileaks, Hersh said.

    “He offered a sam­ple, an exten­sive sam­ple, you know I’m sure dozens of emails and said ‘I want mon­ey.’ Then lat­er Wik­ileaks did get the pass­word, he had a Drop­box, a pro­tect­ed Drop­box,” Hersh said.

    “Wik­ileaks got access, and before he was killed … he also, and this is also in the FBI report, he also let peo­ple know, with whom he was deal­ing. … I don’t know how he dealt with the Wik­ileaks and the mech­a­nism but … the word was passed accord­ing to the NSA report, ‘I’ve also shared this box with a cou­ple of friends so if any­thing hap­pens to me it’s not going to solve your prob­lem.’” Hersh said he didn’t know what this “prob­lem” was.

    Either Hersh mis­spoke when he men­tioned an “NSA report,” instead mean­ing the FBI report, or the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agency may have pro­vid­ed a record of Rich’s com­mu­ni­ca­tion to the FBI. Both the FBI and the D.C. police have denied that the FBI got involved in the case.

    The Tape Is Leaked

    The Hersh audio­tape was post­ed on a web­site called Big League Pol­i­tics, which dis­plays links to Project Ver­i­tas, a right-wing group run by James O’Keefe, though there is no evi­dence that Ver­i­tas was involved in the Hersh tape. Ver­i­tas does under­cov­er audio and video record­ings of unsus­pect­ing sub­jects and has been accused of doc­tor­ing its video and audio­tapes. But a recent O’Keefe under­cov­er video of a CNN med­ical pro­duc­er say­ing the network’s cov­er­age of the Rus­sia-gate sto­ry was “bull­shit” was con­firmed by CNN, which took no action against the pro­duc­er.

    Peo­ple who believe that Hersh’s appar­ent rev­e­la­tion could reduce Russia‑U.S. ten­sions are clam­or­ing for him to con­firm what he said. Pop­u­lar blog­ger Caitlin John­stone wrote: “If Hersh has any infor­ma­tion at all indi­cat­ing that the Wik­iLeaks releas­es last year came not from Russ­ian hack­ers but from a leak­er on the inside, he is moral­ly oblig­at­ed to vol­un­teer all the infor­ma­tion that he has. Even the slight­est pos­si­bil­i­ty that his infor­ma­tion could help halt America’s col­li­sion course with Rus­sia by killing pub­lic sup­port for new cold war esca­la­tions makes his remain­ing silent absolute­ly inex­cus­able.”

    Only Hersh’s voice is heard on the taped inter­view, which was con­duct­ed by Ed Butowsky, a wealthy Repub­li­can donor and Trump sup­port­er. Until now, Hersh’s only pub­lic com­ment about the tape was to Nation­al Pub­lic Radio. “I hear gos­sip,” Hersh said. “[Butowsky] took two and two and made 45 out of it.”

    I con­tact­ed Hersh on Fri­day via email. He con­firmed to me that it was his voice on the tape by angri­ly con­demn­ing those who he said secret­ly record­ed him, with­out iden­ti­fy­ing them. He did not respond when I asked him whether he thought the tape may have been altered. Hersh refused to com­ment fur­ther.

    On June 2, in an exchange of emails between Hersh and Butowsky, Hersh denied any knowl­edge of the FBI report. That was two months before Hersh dis­cov­ered that he had been secret­ly record­ed when the tape was made pub­lic on Aug. 1 by Big League Pol­i­tics. A screen­shot of the Hersh-Butowsky email exchange was pub­lished by Big League Pol­i­tics last week.

    “I am curi­ous why you haven’t approached the house com­mit­tee telling them what you were read by your FBI friend relat­ed to Seth Rich that you in turn read to me,” Butowsky wrote.

    Hersh replied: “ed –you have a lousy memory…i was not read any­thing by my fbi friend..i have no first­hand infor­ma­tion and i real­ly wish you would stop telling oth­ers infor­ma­tion that you think i have…please stop relay­ing infor­ma­tion that you do not have right…and that i have no rea­son to believe is accu­rate…”

    With­out inform­ing him that he had been record­ed, Butowsky replies: “I know it isn’t first hand knowl­edge but you clear­ly said, my mem­o­ry is per­fect, that you had a friend at the FBI who read / told you what was in the file on Seth Rich and I won­der why you aren’t help­ing your coun­try and shar­ing that infor­ma­tion on who it was?”

    Fur­ther sug­gest­ing that Rich may have been the source of the DNC emails, Wik­iLeaks post­ed a link to the audio­tape on Twit­ter.

    Hersh has giv­en no indi­ca­tion he’s plan­ning to write a piece based on his source who he said has seen the FBI report. Hersh has found it dif­fi­cult to be pub­lished in recent years in the Unit­ed States. He has been writ­ing for the Lon­don Review of Books until that pub­li­ca­tion ear­li­er this year reject­ed a piece chal­leng­ing the pur­port­ed U.S. evi­dence blam­ing a chem­i­cal weapons attack in Syr­ia, which led to Trump’s bomb­ing of a Syr­i­an air field. Hersh’s sto­ry was pub­lished instead in a major Ger­man week­ly, Die Welt.

    MSM Con­tempt

    Cor­po­rate media’s uni­form reac­tion has been to treat the idea of Seth Rich being WikiLeak’s source as a “con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry” – while most­ly ignor­ing Assange’s hints and now the Hersh tape. Major U.S. media out­lets cov­er Rus­sia-gate as if Russ­ian inter­fer­ence in last November’s U.S. elec­tion is proven, rather than based on a shaky “assess­ment” by “hand-picked” ana­lysts from three – not all 17 – U.S. intel­li­gence agen­cies.

    If Rus­sia-gate spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor Robert Mueller is seri­ous about get­ting to the bot­tom of who WikiLeak’s source is there are sev­er­al avenues he could pur­sue. He could check Rich’s bank accounts to see if there was a trans­fer of mon­ey from a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Wik­iLeaks. He could try to find Rich’s friends who may have been giv­en his Drop­Box pass­word. He could seek to inter­view Hersh.

    “Some­one ought to ask Mueller, if he had an ounce of integri­ty (which he doesn’t), why he’s not show­ing these FBI and/or NSA reports to his Grand Jury which could blow the lid off of ‘Rus­si­a­gate’ that Mueller was appoint­ed to inves­ti­gate,” for­mer FBI offi­cial and whistle­blow­er Coleen Row­ley told me in an email. “It’s sad the FBI could be keep­ing this secret. But I think the [Rich] fam­i­ly could sue to get the FBI Report that Hersh men­tioned or now that FOX is sued, its attor­neys could try to sub­poe­na the FBI doc­u­ments in dis­cov­ery.” She added that the FBI would like­ly fight such a sub­poe­na, how­ev­er.

    The law­suit that Row­ley men­tioned was filed by Rod Wheel­er, a D.C. pri­vate detec­tive, against Butowsky and Fox News. Wheel­er was hired by Butowsky on behalf of the Rich fam­i­ly to find the killer. In a Fox News item on May 16, Wheel­er was quot­ed refer­ring to a Fox source in the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment who said that Rich was WikiLeak’s source.

    Fox News retract­ed the sto­ry a week lat­er cit­ing unspe­cif­ic breach­es of its edi­to­r­i­al poli­cies. At the time Fox had suf­fered ad boy­cotts when its chair­man, Roger Ailes, and then its top pre­sen­ter, Bill O’Reilly, faced sex­u­al harass­ment alle­ga­tions. Both lat­er resigned. Sean Han­ni­ty, anoth­er top pre­sen­ter, con­tin­ued to pur­sue the Rich sto­ry until he was threat­ened with an ad boy­cott, at which point Fox retract­ed the sto­ry.

    Wheeler’s suit now alleges that he was mis­quot­ed and that the pur­pose of the Fox sto­ry was to dis­tract atten­tion from Russia’s con­nec­tion with the DNC emails. Big League Pol­i­tics has post­ed audio of Wheel­er say­ing that Aaron Rich, the victim’s broth­er, blocked him from pur­su­ing leads on Seth Rich’s com­put­er.

    It is not clear if Hersh’s source is the same as Fox’s (or if Fox was using Hersh in a sec­ond-hand way). Butowsky has a con­nec­tion with Fox as an on-air com­men­ta­tor. The date of the Hersh audio record­ing has not been made known although it pre­sum­ably pre­dat­ed his email exchange with Butowsky on June 2.

    ...

    On Jan. 6 – before leav­ing office – Pres­i­dent Obama’s intel­li­gence chiefs over­saw “hand-picked” ana­lysts from the CIA, FBI and NSA cre­at­ing an “assess­ment” blam­ing Rus­sia for the hacked emails albeit with­out pre­sent­ing any hard evi­dence. Russ­ian offi­cials have denied sup­ply­ing the emails to Wik­iLeaks and Wik­iLeaks has denied receiv­ing them from Rus­sia.

    Nev­er­the­less, the unproven alle­ga­tions of Russ­ian inter­fer­ence in the elec­tion have raised ten­sions between the two nuclear pow­ers to lev­els not seen since the dark­est days of the Cold War and pos­si­bly worse. Stephen Cohen, a lead­ing U.S. expert on Rus­sia, said the cur­rent show­down may be even more haz­ardous than the Cuban mis­sile cri­sis.

    “I think this is the most dan­ger­ous moment in Amer­i­can-Russ­ian rela­tions, at least since the Cuban mis­sile cri­sis. And arguably, it’s more dan­ger­ous, because it’s more com­plex,” he told Democ­ra­cy Now! in April. “There­fore, we … have in Wash­ing­ton these – and, in my judg­ment, fact-less – accu­sa­tions that Trump has some­how been com­pro­mised by the Krem­lin.”

    In the mis­sile cri­sis “there was no doubt what the Sovi­ets had done, putting mis­sile silos in Cuba,” Cohen said. “No evi­dence has been pre­sent­ed today of any­thing. Imag­ine if Kennedy had been accused of being a secret Sovi­et Krem­lin agent. He would have been crip­pled. And the only way he could have proved he wasn’t was to have launched a war against the Sovi­et Union. And at that time, the option was nuclear war.”

    As it still is today.

    ———-

    “A New Twist in Seth Rich Mur­der Case” by Joe Lau­ria; Con­sor­tium News; 08/08/2017

    ““What I know comes off an FBI report. Don’t ask me how. You can fig­ure it out, I’ve been around a long time,” Hersh says on the tape. “I have some­body on the inside who will go and read a file for me. This per­son is unbe­liev­ably accu­rate and care­ful, he’s a very high-lev­el guy and he’ll do a favor. You’re just going to have to trust me.””

    A “very high-lev­el guy” at the FBI is appar­ent­ly Her­sh’s source for all that. So that’s one leak­er the Trump admin­is­tra­tion is pre­sum­ably fine with.

    And accord­ing to this alleged source, Rich was indeed in con­tact with Wik­ileaks and want­ed mon­ey. And while it’s unclear what exact­ly Hersh meant when he ref­er­enced and “NSA report”, it appears that he was say­ing the FBI source passed along to Hersh that the NSA con­firmed these details about Rich’s activ­i­ty to the FBI:

    ...
    The FBI cyber unit got involved after the D.C. police were unable to access pro­tect­ed files on Rich’s com­put­er, Hersh said. So the FBI “found what he’d done. He had sub­mit­ted a series of doc­u­ments, of emails. Some juicy emails from the DNC,” to Wik­ileaks, Hersh said.

    “He offered a sam­ple, an exten­sive sam­ple, you know I’m sure dozens of emails and said ‘I want mon­ey.’ Then lat­er Wik­ileaks did get the pass­word, he had a Drop­box, a pro­tect­ed Drop­box,” Hersh said.

    “Wik­ileaks got access, and before he was killed … he also, and this is also in the FBI report, he also let peo­ple know, with whom he was deal­ing. … I don’t know how he dealt with the Wik­ileaks and the mech­a­nism but … the word was passed accord­ing to the NSA report, ‘I’ve also shared this box with a cou­ple of friends so if any­thing hap­pens to me it’s not going to solve your prob­lem.’” Hersh said he didn’t know what this “prob­lem” was.

    Either Hersh mis­spoke when he men­tioned an “NSA report,” instead mean­ing the FBI report, or the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agency may have pro­vid­ed a record of Rich’s com­mu­ni­ca­tion to the FBI. Both the FBI and the D.C. police have denied that the FBI got involved in the case.
    ...

    So that’s all rather remark­able. And at this point it’s just dan­gling out there, with­out Hersh pro­vid­ing any fol­lowup or clar­i­fi­ca­tion.

    But per­haps one of the most intrigu­ing aspects of this sto­ry is that it’s hard to see how Pres­i­dent Trump isn’t going to learn about it. And if there is any truth to these inter­nal FBI and NSA reports, it’s unclear why Trump could­n’t some­how make them pub­lic. And that’s part of what’s going to make this sto­ry some­thing to watch: If these reports do exist, what are the odds that they won’t be leaked at some point. Sure, Trump is all anti-leak­er these days, but this seems like the kind of leak he would be fine with. Or maybe he’ll just tri­umphant­ly declas­si­fied by Trump him­self.

    But if those reports nev­er get leaked it’s kind of hard to believe they exist at all. After all, accord­ing to Rod Wheel­er’s law­suit, the White House itself was keen­ly inter­est­ed in see­ing that debunked Fox News sto­ry go pub­lic. A sto­ry about fed­er­al gov­ern­ment agency doc­u­ments that would essen­tial­ly destroy the ‘Russ­ian hack­ers’ nar­ra­tive. Isn’t that some­thing the Trump admin­is­tra­tion would real­ly, real­ly, real­ly want to see released to the pub­lic? Is there some­thing that would pre­vent the White House from get­ting that evi­dence released if it exists? These are the kinds of ques­tions that, say, Sey­mour Hersh would be a good per­son to help answer. Or at least a jour­nal­ist who isn’t work­ing for a right-wing media orga­ni­za­tion. Oh well. This is where we are.

    So there’s no short­age unan­swered ques­tions raised by all this and it’s very unclear where we’re going to get cred­i­ble answers. Most of the media is avoid­ing this sto­ry like the plague and Hersh isn’t talk­ing. And that leaves it to the right-wing dis­in­fo­tain­ment sphere like Fox News and Big League Pol­i­tics, enti­ties so untrust­wor­thy that the only thing you should trust them to do is deceive you. It’s a big rea­son why this mys­tery is sad­ly prob­a­bly going to remain mys­tery.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 9, 2017, 8:53 pm
  32. @Pterrafractyl–

    It isn’t a mys­tery, it is the same old Fresh Fer­til­iz­er in a different–though not very different–bucket. Nor is it “heat­ing up,” although, if the Fer­til­iz­er were Fresh enough, it would be at body tem­per­a­ture, at least for a while.

    Points of inter­est:

    1‑Joe Lau­ria is a right wing jour­nal­ist, habit­u­at­ing the likes of “The Wall Street Jour­nal” and “The Amer­i­can Con­ser­v­a­tive.”

    2‑Hersh’s sources are an unnamed FBI source–the same enti­ty that was all in on the anti-Hillary effort from the get go–and an unnamed NSA source–which has been all in on the “Rus­sia-did-it” non­sense on the high-pro­file hacks. (I sus­pect NSA is being black­mailed by CIA–with which Snow­den and his assis­tant in his flight from Hawaii to Hong Kong Jacob Apple­baum are affiliated–and Under­ground Reich behind it. Mid-lev­el and “ex” NSA peo­ple have spo­ken can­did­ly about how ridicu­lous the “Rus­sia-did-it” pro­pa­gan­da is, but the agency as a whole but­tress­es the dis­in­fo. They have to know it is non­sense.)

    3‑AFTER Hersh is con­tact­ed by two anony­mous sources from fun­da­men­tal­ly com­pro­mised and dis­cred­it­ed insti­tu­tions, a right-wing financier meets with him, tapes him (appar­ent­ly sur­rep­ti­tious­ly, which is ille­gal) and resus­ci­tates the Seth Rich meme, one of the jour­nal­is­tic “Walk­ing Dead” that peo­ple our political/intellectual land­scape.

    4‑Project Ver­i­tas is yet anoth­er right-wing media pro­pa­gan­da out­fit. Same old, same old.

    5‑Interesting that nei­ther Hersh, nor the FBI has seen fit to look into the sur­rep­ti­tious tap­ing of Hersh,which is ille­gal.

    Also inter­est­ing is that NO ONE is look­ing into Tul­si Gab­bard, the Hin­dut­va fas­cist who was St. Bernard’s prospec­tive VP can­di­date.

    I would start any inves­ti­ga­tion there. She is a favorite of team Modi and team Ban­non.

    Best,

    Dave

    Posted by Dave Emory | August 11, 2017, 1:32 pm
  33. Here’s some­thing that could present a fas­ci­nat­ing test of what­ev­er rela­tion­ship Don­ald Trump and Julian Assange have fol­low­ing Assange’s invalu­able con­tri­bu­tion to the Trump 2016 elec­tion effort: the gov­ern­ment of Ecuador repeat­ed­ly warned Julian Assange to stop pub­licly crit­i­ciz­ing the Span­ish gov­ern­ment as the Cat­alo­nia seces­sion cri­sis plays out. And Assange has vocif­er­ous­ly reject­ed those warn­ings. So now the gov­ern­ment of Ecuador is warn­ing Assange that he might need to find a new liv­ing arrange­ment:

    teleSur

    Ecuador Seeks Third Par­ty to Medi­ate ‘Safe Pas­sage’ for Assange

    The Ecuadore­an pres­i­dent warned Assange to refrain from com­ment­ing on pol­i­tics of the nation’s allies

    Pub­lished 9 Jan­u­ary 2018

    After liv­ing five years behind the safe­ty of Ecuador’s Lon­don embassy, Julian Assange may be in for a change of scenery.

    Ecuador is seek­ing out a third coun­try or indi­vid­ual to medi­ate the safe pas­sage of Assange from its Embassy in the Unit­ed King­dom, the coun­try’s for­eign min­is­ter told a press con­fer­ence on Tues­day.

    “The for­eign min­is­ter of Ecuador Maria Fer­nan­da Espinosa said they are seek­ing the medi­a­tion of a third coun­try or per­son­al­i­ty so that Julian Assange can leave the embassy in Lon­don,” teleSUR’s Orlan­do Perez tweet­ed.

    The legal team for the dig­i­tal pub­lish­er did not respond direct­ly the Ecuadore­an min­is­ter’s state­ments, but reassert Assange’s right to be released from being “unlaw­ful­ly and arbi­trar­i­ly detained.”

    “The UN rul­ing – issued almost two years ago – is crys­tal clear in its lan­guage – Mr. Assange is unlaw­ful­ly and arbi­trar­i­ly detained by the UK author­i­ties and must be released,” said Mr Assange’s legal team in a mes­sage to teleSUR.

    “The UK should not per­mit itself to be intim­i­dat­ed by the Trump administration’s pub­lic threats to ‘take down’ Mr. Assange.”

    Assange has received numer­ous warn­ings from the new­ly elect­ed Ecuadore­an pres­i­dent Lenin Moreno request­ing the jour­nal­ist refrain from com­ment­ing on pol­i­tics of the nation’s allies.

    How­ev­er, the Wik­iLeaks founder pub­licly reject­ed the idea in a Tweet in Sep­tem­ber say­ing: “If Pres­i­dent Moreno wants to gag my report­ing of human rights abus­es in Spain he should say so explicitly–together with the legal basis.”

    Moreno has defend­ed the activist on numer­ous occa­sions, con­tin­u­ing in his pre­de­ces­sor, Rafael Correa’s, foot­steps in main­tain­ing amnesty for as long as “his life may be in dan­ger.”

    “I respect the sit­u­a­tion he is in, which calls for respect of his human rights, but we also ask that he respects the sit­u­a­tion he is in,” Moreno said fol­low­ing his elec­tion to the pres­i­den­cy.

    Assange was grant­ed asy­lum as a “jour­nal­ist” in 2012 to avoid extra­di­tion to Swe­den over rape alle­ga­tions.

    Assange, who denies the alle­ga­tions, feared Swe­den would hand him over to the Unit­ed States to face pros­e­cu­tion over Wik­iLeaks’ pub­li­ca­tion of thou­sands of clas­si­fied mil­i­tary and diplo­mat­ic doc­u­ments in one of the largest infor­ma­tion leaks in U.S. his­to­ry.

    The inves­ti­ga­tion was lat­er dropped in May of 2017, though British police warned he would be arrest­ed imme­di­ate­ly fol­low­ing any attempts to leave the Ecuadore­an embassy.

    Right-wing oppo­si­tion fig­ures in the Andean nation have long object­ed to the amnesty.

    “The sit­u­a­tion of Assange in the embassy is unsus­tain­able,” said César Ricau­rte, head of a Quito-based non­prof­it for press free­dom, Fun­dame­dios. “He has con­vert­ed him­self into this great con­spir­a­tor against the major democ­ra­cies. I think the gov­ern­ment is look­ing for a way out.”

    ...

    ———-

    “Ecuador Seeks Third Par­ty to Medi­ate ‘Safe Pas­sage’ for Assange”; teleSur; 01/09/2018

    ““The for­eign min­is­ter of Ecuador Maria Fer­nan­da Espinosa said they are seek­ing the medi­a­tion of a third coun­try or per­son­al­i­ty so that Julian Assange can leave the embassy in Lon­don,” teleSUR’s Orlan­do Perez tweet­ed.”

    Want­ed: A third coun­try or per­son­al­i­ty will­ing and able to safe­ly escort Assange out of the Lon­don embassy. Any tak­ers?

    And who, exact­ly, would be the kind of “per­son­al­i­ty” that could pull this off? The Pope? How about Pres­i­dent Trump? Well, if the Wik­ileak­s’s state­ment reflects their cur­rent pub­lic atti­tude towards Trump, it does­n’t sound like Trump’s assis­tance is expect­ed:

    ...
    The legal team for the dig­i­tal pub­lish­er did not respond direct­ly the Ecuadore­an min­is­ter’s state­ments, but reassert Assange’s right to be released from being “unlaw­ful­ly and arbi­trar­i­ly detained.”

    “The UN rul­ing – issued almost two years ago – is crys­tal clear in its lan­guage – Mr. Assange is unlaw­ful­ly and arbi­trar­i­ly detained by the UK author­i­ties and must be released,” said Mr Assange’s legal team in a mes­sage to teleSUR.

    “The UK should not per­mit itself to be intim­i­dat­ed by the Trump administration’s pub­lic threats to ‘take down’ Mr. Assange.”
    ...

    “The UK should not per­mit itself to be intim­i­dat­ed by the Trump administration’s pub­lic threats to ‘take down’ Mr. Assange.”

    That’s a pret­ty caus­tic mes­sage direct­ed at the Trump team at the very moment Assange could real­ly use a lit­tle help from the guy he helped make the most pow­er­ful man in the world.

    It’s also a very dif­fer­ent sen­ti­ment from the one Assange him­self tweet­ed back in Decem­ber, when he pre­dict­ed that the “Deep State” is still intent on tak­ing down Trump and replac­ing him with Pence:

    Trump’s polit­i­cal cap­i­tal has been open­ly loot­ed for months now by GOP, CIA, Netanyahu, Gold­man Sachs, etc. Game is clear­ly to extract as many unpop­u­lar posi­tions as pos­si­ble (e.g tax cuts for the super rich), push the result­ing polit­i­cal corpse to Mueller & install Mike Pence.— Julian Assange ? (@JulianAssange) Decem­ber 14, 2017

    So Julian appears to still have con­cerns about Trump’s treat­ment. Will Trump rec­i­p­ro­cate? Well, let’s not for­get that Attor­ney Gen­er­al Jeff Ses­sions declared back in April that the arrest of Assange was a “pri­or­i­ty”. So the US gov­ern­ment has­n’t changed its stance. At least not offi­cial­ly. But what about unof­fi­cial­ly? What does Trump actu­al­ly feel about this? We might find out soon if Ecuador goes through with its plans.

    In the mean time, it’s going to be inter­est­ing to watch how Assange man­ages to walk that line between trash­ing the Trump admin­is­tra­tion and court­ing Trump direct­ly. Because the inves­ti­ga­tions in Trump that Assange was refer­ring to in that tweet point towards a “ ‘Deep State’ vs Julian and Don­ald togeth­er” theme avail­able for Assange to push. After all, if Trump can arrange for a place (with­out an extra­di­tion treaty with the US) to take in Assange, who knows, maybe Trump him­self would be in need of such a place some­day? There’s a poten­tial syn­er­gy here. But it’s a very unseem­ly syn­er­gy which is part of what’s going to make this so inter­est­ing to see play out.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 9, 2018, 8:59 pm
  34. Here’s a rather inter­est­ing new claim regard­ing the mur­der of Seth Rich and the alle­ga­tions that he was the Wik­ileaks source of the hacked DNC emails: Ed Butowsky, the wealthy right-wing Trump sup­port­er who has been financ­ing the var­i­ous efforts to prove Rich was the source of those emails, was a guest on Rick Ungar’s radio show Wednes­day. Recall that Butowsky was the indi­vid­ual who secret­ly record­ed and release his con­ver­sa­tion with Sey­mour Hersh where Hersh talks about his own sources inside the FBI that Rich was indeed the source for the the DNC emails but he was also killed dur­ing a ran­dom rob­bery that had noth­ing to do with the emails. Ungar is a left-wing host who makes a point of invit­ing con­ser­v­a­tive guests for inter­view and dur­ing this inter­view Butowsky made an asser­tion he’s nev­er pub­licly made before regard­ing how he got involved in the whole Seth Rich sto­ry in the first place. Accord­ing to Butowsky, in the fall of 2016, he was approached by Ellen Rat­ner. Rat­ner is the sis­ter of Michael Rat­ner, who was Julian Assange’s civ­il lib­er­ties attor­ney at the time (he died in May of 2016). Ellen had just trav­eled to Lon­don to meet with Assange and when she returned she con­tact­ed Butowsky and told him that Assange had asked her to share some­thing with Seth’s par­ents and she want­ed Butowsky to actu­al­ly deliv­er the mes­sage to them. She want­ed Butowsky to tell them that Seth and his broth­er Aaron were the ones who sold the emails to Wik­ileaks. “That’s how I got involved,” accord­ing to Butowsky. So it’s going to be very inter­est­ing to hear Ellen Rat­ner’s response to what Butowsky just pub­licly alleged for the first time:

    RickUngarShow.com

    Ex-Fox News Com­men­ta­tor Reveals Source For Claims That Seth Rich Sold DNC Emails To Wik­ileaks

    by Beowulf | Jul 10, 2019

    Invest­ment man­ag­er and for­mer Fox News com­men­ta­tor Ed Butowsky revealed the source for his asser­tion that DNC staffer Seth Rich, who was mur­dered in July of 2016, sold DNC emails to Wik­ileaks.

    Butowsky claims the infor­ma­tion came from for­mer Fox News Ana­lyst and Talk Media News DC Bureau Chief Ellen Rat­ner.

    “A lady that you and I both know, Ellen Rat­ner,” Butowsky told host Rick Ungar, “met with [Wik­ileaks founder] Julian Assange because her broth­er was Julian Assange’s attor­ney.” Michael Rat­ner, who passed away in 2016, was a civ­il lib­er­ties attor­ney who worked with both Assange and ter­ror­ism sus­pects at detained at Guan­tá­namo Bay.

    “Ellen Rat­ner met with [Assange] in the fall of 2016,” said Butowsky. “When she came back, she asked me to share some­thing with [Seth Rich’s par­ents] Joel and Mary Rich, that Julian Assange want­ed them to know. And that was that Seth and [his broth­er] Aaron Rich were the ones who sold the [DNC] emails to Wik­ileaks. That’s how I got involved.” Ellen Rat­ner could not be reached for com­ment.

    Rich’s par­ents sued Butowsky for inten­tion­al inflic­tion of emo­tion­al dis­tress in 2018, cit­ing his role in track­ing them down to offer to pay for a pri­vate detec­tive, Rod Wheel­er, to inves­ti­gate the death of their son. The suit was lat­er dis­missed.

    Julian Assange lived in Lon­don inside the Ecuado­ri­an embassy for sev­en years after being grant­ed asy­lum while flee­ing extra­di­tion to Swe­den over sex­u­al assault accu­sa­tions. He was arrest­ed ear­li­er this year after Ecuador with­drew his asy­lum.

    ...

    ———-

    “Ex-Fox News Com­men­ta­tor Reveals Source For Claims That Seth Rich Sold DNC Emails To Wik­ileaks” by Beowulf, RickUngarShow.com, 07/10/2019

    “Ellen Rat­ner met with [Assange] in the fall of 2016,” said Butowsky. “When she came back, she asked me to share some­thing with [Seth Rich’s par­ents] Joel and Mary Rich, that Julian Assange want­ed them to know. And that was that Seth and [his broth­er] Aaron Rich were the ones who sold the [DNC] emails to Wik­ileaks. That’s how I got involved.” Ellen Rat­ner could not be reached for com­ment.”

    So Ed Butowsky goes on a left-wing radio show and claims a left-wing jour­nal­ist told him that Assange told her that Seth and Aaron Rich were the sources of the DNC emails. That’s what Butowsky just pub­licly claimed for the first time. You can lis­ten to the rest of the ~10 minute inter­view here. At ~5 min­utes into the full inter­view Butowsky dis­cuss­es Rat­ner con­tact­ing him on Assange’s behalf. Appar­ent­ly Assange felt hor­ri­ble about what hap­pened to Seth and he want­ed his par­en­t’s to know about the role Seth played so they could find a way to have his mur­der thor­ough­ly inves­ti­gat­ed.

    Accord­ing to Butowsky, when he told Rich’s par­ents about this their response was that they already knew Seth and Aaron were the sources of the emails and their main focus was on who killed him. Rich’s par­ents also asked Butowsky to keep this admis­sion on their part qui­et. Giv­en that Rich’s par­ents have already sued Butowsky for inten­tion­al inflic­tion of emo­tion­al dis­tress in 2018 that’s quite a pub­lic asser­tion on Butowsky’s part, although that suit was even­tu­al­ly dis­missed.

    Ellen Rat­ner has yet to com­ment on the sto­ry. Giv­en that she’s a left-wing jour­nal­ist it’s going to be hard­er to dis­miss this as just more right-wing dis­in­for­ma­tion if she does back up Butowsky’s claims. But even if Rat­ner does end up back­ing up the claims she’s still just recount­ing what Julian Assange told her and he’s not exact­ly a trust-wor­thy fig­ure on these mat­ters.

    Also keep in mind that “Guc­cifer 2.0” was pub­licly offer­ing stolen doc­u­ments in June of 2016, before Rich’s mur­der and before Wik­ileaks first start­ed releas­ing doc­u­ments and “Guc­cifer 2.0” con­tin­ue inter­act­ing with the pub­lic long after Rich’s mur­der. So unless Seth’s broth­er Aaron was also act­ing as “Guc­cifer 2.0” this whole time there were clear­ly oth­er peo­ple involved even if Seth and Aaron Rich real­ly were part of this.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 11, 2019, 2:24 pm

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