There’s been a lot of noise about the Russians and the DNC hack — mostly, it’s Democrats and the press (but we repeat ourselves) trying to delegitimize the incoming administration, and mostly, it’s been conducted through the F-6 sources of press reports with anonymous sole sources, like the Washington Post report that the Post and its political fellow travelers call “the CIA report,” while actually it’s a sole anonymous source telling the Post what the CIA supposedly said. (The Post, you may remember, used a [probably nonexistent] sole anonymous source, without plausible access to tell the story of “Jessica Lynch, Amazon woman.” The author of that piece, Dana Priest, has never admitted fabricating the story but never produced a source, either, leading to the inescapable conclusion that Priest fabricated the story. She has never been held accountable).
An interesting dynamic happened in 2015. The FBI warned both parties that they were under attack. According to then-RNC head Reince Priebus on Meet The Democratic Press, the RNC then invited the FBI to work with its own geeks to secure the RNC servers, and the Republicans were not hacked.
According to the Times, the Democrats dumped the FBI call to a low-ranking, unskilled contractor — then they left him on his own to handle it. They left their server unsecure. Result, compromise.
When Special Agent Adrian Hawkins of the Federal Bureau of Investigation called the Democratic National Committee in September 2015 to pass along some troubling news about its computer network, he was transferred, naturally, to the help desk.
His message was brief, if alarming. At least one computer system belonging to the D.N.C. had been compromised by hackers federal investigators had named “the Dukes,” a cyberespionage team linked to the Russian government.
Yared Tamene, the tech-support contractor at the D.N.C. who fielded the call, was no expert in cyberattacks.
OK, so what did he do, like a good DC Millennial? You got it, he googled, and then resumed slacking off.
His first moves were to check Google for “the Dukes” and conduct a cursory search of the D.N.C. computer system logs to look for hints of such a cyberintrusion.
No, serious slacking off.
By his own account, he did not look too hard even after Special Agent Hawkins called back repeatedly over the next several weeks — in part because he wasn’t certain the caller was a real F.B.I. agent and not an impostor.
“Like, how do I, like, know you’re a like real FBI agent, doooood? Thats what I tell girls in bars myself.” Again, this loser is supposedly their cyber-D contractor. You know how to find out if somebody’s really from FBI? Ask for a meeting at the Field Office. Hey, even if you’re a plush-bottomed cyber Weeble unwilling to leave your Aeron chair, you can ask them to send you something from fbi.gov, and then check the headers to see if the address is forged. (If you don’t know how to forge a header and how to spot a forged header, you have no business within grenade range of a mail server).
From there, the Times story collapses into, mostly, the same unsourced stuff in the Post stories. If these guys make something up and repeat it to each other, they call that “corroboration.” That’s not how intelligence works.
It does come back to the tale of the incompetent Tamene and his incompetent 30-something supervisor, Andrew Brown. Tamene ran some over the counter tools — the DNC was not running an IDS, Intrusion Detection System — and thereafter decided that the FBI guy was a phony, lacking Tamene’s great wealth of knowledge, and wrote a couple of CYA memos, and quit taking calls.
Mr. Tamene’s initial scan of the D.N.C. system — using his less-than-optimal tools and incomplete targeting information from the F.B.I. — found nothing. So when Special Agent Hawkins called repeatedly in October, leaving voice mail messages for Mr. Tamene, urging him to call back, “I did not return his calls, as I had nothing to report,” Mr. Tamene explained in his memo.
In November, Special Agent Hawkins called with more ominous news. A D.N.C. computer was “calling home, where home meant Russia,” Mr. Tamene’s memo says, referring to software sending information to Moscow. “SA Hawkins added that the F.B.I. thinks that this calling home behavior could be the result of a state-sponsored attack.”
There are some Democrats quoted by name, generally about the bad feelz that resulted when their misconduct, lying, or biting the hands that fed them got aired in public.
For the people whose emails were stolen, this new form of political sabotage has left a trail of shock and professional damage. Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress and a key Clinton supporter, recalls walking into the busy Clinton transition offices, humiliated to see her face on television screens as punditsdiscussed a leaked email in which she had called Mrs. Clinton’s instincts “suboptimal.”
“It was just a sucker punch to the gut every day,” Ms. Tanden said. “It was the worst professional experience of my life.”
Well, you should probably either work for people you can say positive things about, or take care to stifle your impulses to criticize your lords and masters. Because anything put in writing is at the mercy of anyone who finds it. And anything put on an unsecured server — and from Hawkins’s phone call, the DNC knew they were unsecure, and they kept writing the sort of two-faced stuff they’re now angry about seeing in print.
Bear in mind that no fewer than five New York Times reporters were exposed in Wikileaks, coordinating their stories with the DNC or the Clinton campaign; and one non-Times hack, Glenn Thrush of Politico, who repeatedly gave Democrats the chance to shape his reporting, was hired as a Times hack as of this week. That’s what they’re looking for — partisan subservience. They seem to believe they have a right to collude, lie and slant their stories, and the people who exposed them (even if they’re Russians) are the only villains. Had the US lost the Cold War, every one of those would be licking the boots of their masters in the Soviet Ministry of Propaganda. If they didn’t aim higher than boots. (Hell, those who were old enough to be around pre-1991 probably spent the 70s and 80s doing it already).
A British associate of Julian Assange says that it was not a hack, it was two separate insider leaks. Reported at ZeroHedge:
Update: David Swanson interviewed [Briton Craig] Murray today, and obtained additional information. Specifically, Murray told Swanson that: (1) there were twoAmerican leakers … one for the emails of the Democratic National Committee and one for the emails of top Clinton aide John Podesta; (2) Murray met one of those leakers; and (3) both leakers are American insiders with the NSA and/or the DNC, with no known connections to Russia.
The US Intelligence services consider Assange to be under Russian control, so it’s anybody’s guess whether Murray’s statement is a Russian smokescreen, or absolute truth, and whether or not the leaker(s) exist. The effort to find them itself has risks — an organization can be rendered ineffective completely by a mole hunt. Where does security consciousness end, and paranoia begin? And don’t even paranoids have real enemies.
For your consideration: Russian cyber operators are laughing their asses off at the USA right now — whether or not they had anything to do with the hack, it’s a win for them.