Russia continues to be the bogeyman in Democratic distractions to blame anyone and everyone else for their failure to win the election. Now, the Washington Post is stirring up the pot again in “Secret CIA assessment says Russia was trying to help Trump win White House“. The truth is that the supposed story is a Russian DNC hack crock.
In another example of how far the Washington Post has lost its way (along with all the other so-called “news” media), it recently posted. True, at least they tried to “balance” the article with some dissenting voices sprinkled here and there, but the real fact is that very few “news” outlets have really investigated the truth of the matter in any kind of fact-based way.
Let’s face it: Critical thinking is just not required of journalists these days, and that is why more and more people are turning to alternative sources. Instead of digging into facts, they become opinion pieces based upon “expert” opinions, which may or may not be politically and/or financially motivated. That is what passes for “news” these days.
Having said that, it honestly is far from the worst tech piece I’ve seen recently in the “news” media. At least the Washington Post strived to not be overly biased. They simply did not dig enough into the facts, which is a failing of most of these outlets.
While the DNC is trying to distract everyone with “fake news” stories, it is interesting given that the largest purveyors of fake news are actually CBS, NBC (esp. MSNBC), CNN, ABC and, naturally, Fox News. They have become propaganda machines for their respective masters, many being buoyed up with finances from billionaires who want to spread propaganda rather than objective news.
Let’s look at some facts, shall we?
The DNC and Clinton Despise Security
It is pretty ironic that the loudest voices in the midst of these leaks are from the very people who belittle security at all levels. Use your BlackBerry? No problem! Email server in your closet? Go right ahead! Click on links that give away your email secrets? Why not?
Back in March, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta received a frantic-sounding email about his account security and clicked a shortened link that appeared to be from Google. Instead, it redirected to a spoof page that gave hackers access to his password.
~ engadget, “Evidence ties Russia to Podesta and Powell email hacks“
IOW, Podesta is an idiot and his own worst enemy.
Even worse, you would think that after Hillary got grilled so much over emails, not only would everyone be more careful, but they should have learned the lesson that email is never secure and thus should not be relied upon to be private.
It only takes two seconds to realize the obvious. Emails go in plain text between many unknown and unsecured servers that only an overhaul of a decades old technology could ever change it. Some have tried, but it would require unprecedented cooperation between disparate companies and governments to change it. Not only that, but almost all alternatives would require a vast re-training of many individuals who struggle even with ordinary email.
Frankly, if they are to blame anyone for the breach, they should look in the mirror.
Evidence is “Circumstantial”
The evidence is all circumstantial that it is an official state sponsored hack in the first place.
In fact, what most people don’t know is that there have been multiple hacks, not just one that they are conflating together. That alone contradicts the Russian DNC hack crock. At least three groups have been identified:
That left the media and researchers to connect many dots, but a pair of extensive pieces published yesterday by Motherboard and Esquire all but concluded that Russia is most likely behind the seemingly disparate hacks. The full story is a complex chain explaining the handful of mistakes made by two different groups, nicknamed Fancy Bear and Cozy Bear. It heavily suggests that their separate efforts breaking into the email accounts of Podesta, Powell, and members of the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s campaign staff were directed by the Russian government.
However, when they detail the activities of these two groups, it becomes more and more obvious that any ties to Putin are pure speculation based upon relationships with various generals and such. The article goes on to say:
SecureWorks released this information in a June 16th report, stating with “moderate confidence” that Fancy Bear’s attacks were likely directed by Russia. Most of the group’s targets in the previous year were individuals that were enemies of, or people of interest to, the Russian government.
Again, I want to stress that email is not secure, and there was more than one hack. The engadget article also informs us that “While Cozy Bear was content to target whole departments and quietly collect data for years once inside, it was Fancy Bear’s more aggressive research and intrusion activity that tipped off security experts.” IOW, Cozy Bear was hacking them all along, and it wasn’t until Fancy Bear came along that anything tripped the radar.
And yet, there was a third group in all of this! In fact, this is a good transition point to show that just because certain “tools” are used, that does not necessarily point the finger at the correct party.
Kits Are Bought and Sold
There was yet another hacking group involved:
A third group known as the Shadow Brokers, as detailed by Thomas Rid in Esquire, took documents hacking tools from the NSA itself via its elite cyber infiltration unit, Tailored Access Operations. The group either compromised a computer that TAO used to stage its own attacks or acquired the assets the old-fashioned way using a mole. The Shadow Brokers published these tools on Github and elsewhere, and security researchers confirmed their authenticity.
What the average Joe probably doesn’t realize that on the “deep, dark web” that the media likes to scarily portray in “news” segments really does exist. It isn’t just credit card numbers getting exchanged, for you can literally find any kind of service you want, even assassins for the right price. It also has all sorts of cracking forums that sell anything from hacking as a service to actual kits you can purchase and deploy yourself.
In short, just because a certain toolkit is used, that does not necessarily mean it was its creator that used it.
So, even if Russian is used accidentally in a comment somewhere, that does not necessarily mean it came from Russia. In the first place, that would be as stupid as saying any hack containing English must have come from the United States. Russian was the official language in the Soviet Union, so it is likely any hacker in the former Eastern Bloc counties can speak and write it. And, even then, there is no guaranty that it wasn’t purchased on the dark web.
Even IP addresses, which tell the Internet packets where to go, can be spoofed. “Geographic” information is usually based upon IP information. If a hacker has even normal intelligence, they will use tools that will cover their real IP address.
The fact is that the only smoking gun is the shortened URL in the email that Podesta stupidly clicked on, and that points to one, count ’em one out of at least three, agencies, which may or may not have ties to the upper echelons of Putin’s government.
Seriously, is this strong enough evidence to go around poking the Bear? Why do we seem to be in a habit of treating them like they don’t have their own sovereignty and nation to look after? I’m no bleeding liberal, but if we were smart (and evidence says otherwise), we would quit lying to Russia and then wonder why they ignore our desires as much as we ignore theirs, and, to make matters worse, baldly accuse them of all sorts of things without proof.
Maybe we shouldn’t forget that they too are a nuclear power. Just sayin’!
At a time when US-Russia relations are the worst they’ve been in decades, that question — what does Trump have to do with Putin? — still lingers.
No Evidence of Link
Yet, in spite of the stupid CNN.com title, there actually is not only not a solid link between the hackers and the Kremlin, and there is no evidence at all of a link between the Kremlin and WikiLeaks! The former is based upon circumstantial evidence, and the latter is based purely on hearsay.
The connection? There is only one stated connection: Julian Assange hosts a show on Russia Today. That is it!
Does that mean the American journalists on the network have the ear of Putin? If that sounds silly, and it should, then it should point out how silly the theory about the connection between Assange and RT means Assange got his documents from the Kremlin is.
“It is now clear that the illegal hack of my personal email account was — just like the other recent, election-related hacks — the work of the Russian government,” Podesta said in a statement. “This level of meddling by a foreign power can only be aimed at boosting Donald Trump and should send chills down the spine of all Americans, regardless of political party.”
Stringing together a series of accusations does not a logical argument make. If you are going to accuse someone of something, prove it.
The Russia idea was first floated during the Democratic National Convention. The theory was propagated by the DNC itself, and it was backed up by unnamed “experts” who were bought and paid for by the Clintons. That much is fact and can easily be corroborated online.
The devil is in the details. It turns out that the third “expert” based their opinion upon the “expert” opinion of the first two! They were hired by the Clintons, so there is an obvious bias. And, let’s face it that if you are going to invoke “experts”, then wouldn’t you want to name names?
Now, we have “intelligence” communities stepping all over each other to follow the party line, literally. These are the same ones who got Iraq WMDs all wrong, the same ones filled with James Clappers who lied and then said it wasn’t exactly a lie, and the same ones who doctored intelligence about ISIS.
To begin with, CIA officials are professional, systematic liars; they lie constantly, by design, and with great skill, and have for many decades, as have intelligence officials in other agencies.
I couldn’t put it better myself! In fact, that last article is a must-read, as that author goes into many more things than I cover here, since I’m concentrating on technical facts first and foremost.
In short, they are making it all up to fit an agenda that is hawkish towards Russia — a very dangerous game to play.
Perhaps the best evidence against the entire argument is to read an article supporting the opposite opinion. It is obvious that NBC News has a vested interest in propagating the Russian DNC Hack crock.
Here’s why the experts are so confident the Russians did it:
GEOGRAPHY: At least one of the hacker groups attacking the DNC appeared to cease operations on Russian holidays, and its work hours aligned with a Russian time zone, cybersecurity company FireEye concluded in a report.
LANGUAGE: The hackers also left an obvious digital fingerprint, one cybersecurity expert said, perhaps on purpose: a signature in Russia’s Cyrillic alphabet.
FORENSIC EVIDENCE: After a different batch of hacked Democratic emails was released last month, a wide spectrum of cyber-security experts concluded that it was the work of Russian intelligence agencies through previously known proxy groups known as COZY BEAR or APT 29, and FANCY BEAR or APT 28. “We’ve had lots of experience with both of these actors … and know them well,” according to the DNC’s own contract cybersecurity firm, Crowdstrike, which blogged that one of the two groups had already gained illegal access to the White House, State Department and even the military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.
MOTIVE: Given their mutual and very public bromance, Putin would much prefer a Trump presidency to a Clinton one, and the timing suggests the leak was timed for maximum embarrassment to the Democrats and their presumptive nominee. Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said the campaign was told by cyber experts that Russian hackers stole and released the emails to help Trump. “I don’t think it’s coincidental that these emails were released on the eve of our convention here,” said Mook, “and I think that’s disturbing.”
HISTORY: U.S. intelligence officials, including Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, said they had previously seen evidence of foreign hackers spying on U.S. presidential candidates, including some state-sponsored ones, and that such cyber-intrusions would become even more commonplace.
~ NBC News, “Why Experts Are Sure Russia Hacked the DNC Emails“
Obviously, if NBC News printed it, it is a lie. However, it is worthwhile to engage in critical thinking nonetheless. I know, I know, the very fact that they, once again, bring up the “bromance” idea should be enough to discredit them, but that is only one of their points.
GEOGRAPHY — We already partially covered this. This assumes it isn’t somewhere else in the Eastern Bloc. Assumes that even if Russian it has ties to Putin. Neither are a given, especially since there were 3 different groups hacking it (that we know of!).
LANGUAGE — Already covered this. Russians and former Eastern Bloc countries are filled with hackers. Many of them would rather sell the hacking kits than get caught actually hacking. Lower risk with an almost guaranteed payoff.
FORENSIC EVIDENCE — Again, kits will have the fingerprints of the maker, not necessarily the one using it. This is all circumstantial, and any “expert” that tells you otherwise is a liar. The only real proof is one organization that sloppily created shortened URLs. Yet, even then, it is still to be proven they have ties to the Kremlin.
MOTIVE — This is the really stupid one. It assumes you can read Putin’s mind. If we were good at that, then how do you explain Crimea? If we could read his mind, then it is our fault for not stopping it.
What is really galling is that there is no evidence that Trump will actually get along with Putin. Having said that, Clinton pokes the Bear enough that with her in the White House, it is more likely to end up in an all-out war with Russia. Still, I sincerely doubt any “friendship” will occur under a Trump presidency, and he has surrounded himself with hawkish enough people that the relationship will still likely be strained.
HISTORY — If we are to go by history, then who are the real hackers? Who put Stuxnet in Iran’s nuclear reactors? How many times did we hack China? Are there any others? Perhaps there are others we haven’t yet been told about?
Talk About Circumstantial!
If you want to get into circumstantial evidence, there is no denying that scandals follow the Clintons. I’m just talking about the known Clinton scandals, not the ultra-conspiracy theory ones, which number in the dozens if not hundreds.
At 4:19 a.m., police patrolling nearby responded to the sound of gunfire in Bloomingdale and found Rich lying mortally wounded at a dark intersection a block and a half from a red-brick row house he shared with friends. He had multiple gunshot wounds in his back. About an hour and 40 minutes later, he died at a local hospital. Police have declined to say whether he was able to describe his assailants.
The cops suspected Rich was a victim of an attempted robbery, one of many that plague the neighborhood. Strangely, however, they found his wallet, credit cards and cellphone on his body. The band of his wristwatch was torn but not broken.
~ Newsweek, “”
Of course, this may all be speculation, but Julian Assange later indicated that Rich was indeed one of his sources and even offered a reward for finding Rich’s killer (ibid). This series of circumstances may be more mundane than a Russian DNC hack crock, but that in itself makes it a lot more believable. If Russia said it hacked the DNC, that would at least be a point, but there isn’t even that. However, in this case, we have Julian Assange making a rather bold statement!
In a nutshell, there is a larger danger in all of this. If we keep on poking the Bear, the Bear might just strike back in a most unwelcome way.