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FTR #917 Wiki-Fascism, 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

32 comments for “FTR #917 Wiki-Fascism, 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

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