Hillary Clinton and her party believe it’s Russia’s fault that various scandals surrounding her and the Democratic National Committee have come to light in recent weeks. From the organization’s early unfair treatment of Bernie Sanders to the fact that the DNC knew Donald Trump was the candidate Hillary could most likely beat, and therefore pushed for him to be the Republican nominee, voters in this election have a clearer picture of what goes on behind closed political doors than perhaps any previous one.
Russia, and many other countries in the world, for that matter, have a vested interest in who will become the next US president. With one of the largest military forces and perhaps the most resources, whoever is at the helm of the US government come January will swing a mighty stick. Donald Trump has publicly expressed a bizarre admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin, a Cold War-era KGB officer and all-around strongman leader. This, along with various digital forensics, has led Hillary Clinton and many in her party to simplify the issue of scandals regarding internal communications now made public: blame Russia.
Before we get into a breakdown of the various things which outline – or dispel – the likelihood of Russian interference, a timeline of events seems in order.
- March, 2015: Hillary Clinton becomes the subject of an investigation that she had illegally used a private e-mail server while acting in an official capacity as the Secretary of State. Various debacles take place as Clinton makes the appearance of co-operating with the investigation. Ultimately, it is proven that on at least a couple of occasions, Clinton’s server, which was insecure by modern computer security standards, contained classified information – which is illegal.
- March, 2016: WikiLeaks posts a massive trove of Hillary Clinton e-mails.
- May, 2016: The State Department’s Office of the Inspector General releases a report stating that Clinton was never officially permitted to use her own server while Secretary of State, a claim the candidate had made on multiple occasions.
- June, 2016: Guccifer 2.0, whose name references Guccifer, the Romanian hacker who said in May that Clinton’s e-mail server was “like an open orchid on the Internet,” breaches Democratic National Committee servers and leaks internal communications revealing that long before the primaries had ever commenced, the organization already assumed Hillary Clinton would be the candidate. Scandalously, it was revealed that the organization may have been involved in some of the uglier smear campaigns against Bernie Sanders, including the “Bernie Bros” who actively harassed Clinton supporters.
- July, 2016: WikiLeaks posts a large DNC e-mail archive.
- October, 2016: WikiLeaks posts a trove of e-mails belonging to Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. The Clinton campaign continues to attribute such leaks to Russians, with Clinton spokesman Glen Caplin making a public statement on the matter:
It is absolutely disgraceful that the Trump campaign is cheering on a release today engineered by Vladimir Putin to interfere in this election, and this comes after Donald Trump encouraged more espionage over the summer and continued to deny the hack even happened at Sunday’s debate. he timing shows you that even Putin knows Trump had a bad weekend and a bad debate.
Russian Statecraft Or Hacker-Induced Political Transparency?
Members of the US government intelligence community view the hacks as being directly sponsored by the Russian government, a typical play and well-documented method of Russian statecraft. Robert Dietz, a veteran of the CIA and NSA, said Russian interests would be in determining which candidate was more likely to be friendly to their policies, telling the Washington Post that the information gathered by also hacking Trump:
… may provide tips for understanding his style of negotiating. In short, this sort of intelligence could be used by Russia, for example, to indicate where it can get away with foreign adventurism.
Yet few leaks on Trump have come to light, making it seem that the hacking endeavors of the Russian government, as confirmed by a security called CrowdStrike who reviewed DNC computer systems and identified two Russians working for the Russian government, are not simply about causing disruption in the US election cycle, but rather have a specific goal in mind: the elevation of Donald Trump to the presidency.
Further illustrating the likelihood of official Russian involvement is the release of altered leaked documents, as reported by Newsweek writer Kurt Eichenwald. Eichenwald’s writing was incorrectly attributed to Sidney Blumenthal by a Russian news organization. Donald Trump used the doctored, leaked e-mail in a recent speech, believing that the long-time friend of Hilary Clinton had actually said that more could have been done about Benghazi. In response, Eichenwald has written:
This is not funny. It is terrifying. The Russians engage in a sloppy disinformation effort and, before the day is out, the Republican nominee for president is standing on a stage reciting the same manufactured story as truth.
The Obama administration recently officially acknowledged that it believed the Russian government had been involved in meddling in US politics this election season, and the president is currently considering a “proportional” response, according to White House press secretary Josh Earnest.
But is the fact that Russian hackers have been involved in securing the documents, or that Russian news agencies have made false claims in relation to the leaked documents, as important as the contents of the documents themselves? The deflection strategy from the Clinton campaign to “blame Russia” fails to address what is actually at issue: the anti-democratic means by which the candidate came by her candidacy, the failure of the DNC to properly consider all would-be nominees, with Debbie Wasserman-Schultz actively supporting Hillary Clinton in her capacity as DNC Chairwoman long before the nominee had even been decided.
There is even the lingering possibility that the nomination vote in Brooklyn, New York was, in effect, rigged, with tens of thousands of voters falling off the rolls. Such things are interesting because they are true, regardless of who made them public information.
WikiLeaks has a long history of publicizing information about governments and other powerful organizations around the world. In the most recent leaks, it has acted as the primary source of dissemination. So while the government and the Democratic party are quick to place blame at the feet of Vladimir Putin, whom Donald Trump has openly expressed admiration for, it seems WikiLeaks is intent, as always, on forcing the matter of transparency.
The contents of the e-mail archives and other leaks have not been disputed, but the method by which they were obtained is called into question. So, American voters are basically being told that they should disregard the nefarious activities of Clinton and the DNC even if they are true because the Russian government wants them to vote for Donald Trump. The odds of people voting in favor of Trump as a result of Hillary Clinton and the DNC’s e-mail scandals are pretty small, by the way. The first scandal, regarding her use of a private server and privately trafficking in classified information, has been going on for the duration of her campaign, and yet the candidate enjoys a double-digit favoritism among American voters polled.
More Interesting Than Bernie’s Plight: Hillary Clinton’s Secret Wall Street Speeches
As recently as February, Bernie Sanders urged Clinton to release the transcripts of various paid speeches she has given to Wall Street. Clinton had failed to do so when WikiLeaks managed to do so itself. The speeches reveal a person who opposes the legalization of marijuana and believes the financial industry should reform and essentially regulate itself.
The friendliness and favorable tone of Clinton’s remarks to various Wall Street banks would seem to make clear the reason that her campaign would not release these transcripts themselves: many liberals, including especially those who supported Bernie Sanders, want to see intense regulation and forced reform of the financial industry, along with higher taxation. That Clinton was personally enriched in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for each speech doesn’t help, either.
So, is Russia really looking to hack the U.S. presidential elections? The answer seems to be yes, but this should not detract from the value of the information the public now has at its disposal. The character of executive politics for at least the next four years can be previewed in the method by which the nomination was obtained – by any means necessary – and the beliefs privately expressed by Clinton to Wall Street cronies.
At an October 2015 debate, Clinton said she supports the use of medical marijuana and wanted to use a “wait and see” approach in regards to recreational legalization. But in one of her speeches to Wall Street, Clinton said that regarding the legalization of marijuana she was “short in all senses of the word,” which in the context of the conversation meant she was against it. Many younger voters have grown up with an attitude that the end of the Drug War and the lack of support for medical marijuana is long overdue.
While Russian interference seems likely, the Clinton campaign has only themselves to blame for any backlash from the leaks at hand. WikiLeaks is merely doing its job of providing secret documents to the press and public, and whether Russians would prefer to see Trump as the next president or not, a move which represented the taking of accountability would be more likely to assuage voter concerns than would the continual deflection strategy employed by the Clinton campaign.
Images from Shutterstock.
Alleged FBI Hacker Lauri Love Ordered to US Extradition by UK Home Secretary
The long-running court saga of Lauri Love, a British hacker and activist accused of compromising and stealing data from the likes of the FBI, NASA and the US Federal Reserve has been ordered by the UK’s home secretary for his extradition to the United States.
31-year-old Love who has Asperger’s syndrome launched a legal challenge to avoid his extradition to the U.S., following a court ruling by a UK judge in September 2016. Love, who suffers from depression and eczema argued against the extradition ruling, claiming it could lead him to a mental breakdown or suicide. Despite his plea, the ruling district judge, Nina Tempia, determined that Love would be cared for by medical facilities in the United States, while accepting that Love suffered “both physical and mental issues.”
On the other side of the pond, Love potentially faces legal proceedings in three different US jurisdictions, reports the Guardian. Meanwhile, the UK home secretary had been given a deadline of November 16, in order to decide if Love was to be extradited or not. A day before the deadline, Rudd signed the order for Love’s extradition to the US. His lawyers believe he faces up to 99 years in prison if convicted of charges related to hacking.
The UK Home Office stated that Rudd had “carefully considered all relevant matters” before ruling:
[Love] has been charged with various computer hacking offences which included targeting US military and federal government agencies.
The case drew parallels to that of Gary McKinnon, a British hacker whose extradition to the US was blocked by Theresa May in 2012, as the home secretary at the time.
Love’s legal battle with the ruling garnered support from The Courage Foundation, whose acting director Sarah Harrison stated:
The US has ruthlessly persecuted hackers and digital activists for years, and nobody expects that to improve under President Trump. Theresa May set a good example by protecting Gary McKinnon back in 2012. For a home secretary in her government now to willingly send a brilliant and vulnerable UK citizen to Donald Trump’s America beggars belief.
Love was bailed earlier this year in June when US prosecutors were already doing plenty to extradite him stateside.
Lori’s alleged hacking endeavors were a part of #Oplastresort, an operation by Anonymous, the global hacktivist collective. This particular operation was in response to the treatment endured by Aaron Swartz a prominent programmer and hacktivist. Swartz faced 35 years In prison, asset forfeiture and a million dollars in fines with two counts of wire fraud. Swartz committed suicide for his alleged computer crimes.
Love’s legal defense is certain to bring up the unfortunate series of events that led to Swartz committing suicide under the threat of persecution. Love has 14 days to appeal against Rudd’s order and will almost certainly do so.
Images from YouTube/AP.
WikiLeaks: Podesta Received E-mails On Extraterrestrial Disclosure
While most fallout from the Podesta emails has been political, there are extraterrestrial implications for some of the e-mails released by whistleblower source WikiLeaks.
An email on behalf of Apollo astronaut Dr. Edgar Mitchell to Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta turned up in the recent data dumps. The email was sent by Rebecca Wright of the Institute of Exoconsciousness.
Mitchell requested in an email dated July 29, 2014 to meet with President Barack Obama to discuss extraterrestrial disclosure, but was partially rebuffed.
“Fifty years ago Battelle, Brookings and RAND studies on UFOs convinced the government to remove knowledge of the extraterrestrial presence from the citizens of our country. These organizations advised with their best information. However, today much, if not most, of the extraterrestrial reality they examined is known by our citizens,” the e-mail states. “These organizations’ resultant strategies and policies of 50 years ago no longer hold credibility or benefit.” Mitchell says a well-informed public is important to further disclosure.
Podesta’s secretary wrote Mitchell saying Mr. Podesta would rather meet alone before arranging a meeting with Obama. A Skype meeting was scheduled for Aug 11, but whether or not the meeting happened is unclear. Mitchell died in February 2016.
According to the leaks, former Blink 182 frontman Tom Delonge emailed John Podesta twice about extraterrestrial beings.
“Things are moving with the project. The novels, films and nonfiction works are blooming and finishing,” DeLonge said in an October 2015 email to Podesta. “I would like to bring two very ‘important’ people out to meet you in DC. I think you will find them very interesting, as they were principal leadership relating to our sensitive topic.” DeLonge emailed again later.
“When Roswell crashed, they shipped it to the laboratory at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. General McFasland was in charge of that exact laboratory up to a couple years ago,” DeLonge wrote. “He not only knows what I’m trying to achieve, he helped assemble my advisory team. He’s a very important man.”
Hacked reported in 2015 that DeLonge was working on various ET-related projects, and the former pop-punk superstar, whose 1999 album Enema of the State sold 15 million copies worldwide, has since released books and plans to release a documentary on extra terrestrials.
Featured image from Shutterstock.
12 Hacktivists You Should Know About
Hacktivism, a phenomenon specific to the digital age, represents the subversive use of computers and computer networks. The term was coined by the Cult of the Dead Cow in 1994.
Hacktivists represent a broad range of personalities and goals. They’ve recently played a greater role in the collective conscious as cyber attacks at banks and governments become a more regular occurrence.
1. Edward Snowden
President Obama once said of Edward Snowden: “I’m not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker.”
Edward Snowden became notorious after blowing the whistle on mass surveillance in the United States and abroad. It’s been estimated that, since the whistleblowing, Snowden is one of the most powerful figures on Twitter.
I forgot to turn off notifications. Twitter sent me an email for each:
47 gigs of notifications. #lessonlearned
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) October 1, 2015
2. Aaron Swartz
American hacktivist Aaron Swartz took part in the development of the web feed format RSS, as well as the organization Creative Commons. A partner in Reddit, he ultimately committed suicide while under federal investigation for data-theft.
Arrested by MIT police on January 6, 2011, Swartz faced breaking-and-entering charges due to installing a computer in an Institute closet to download academic journal articles from JSTOR. Federal prosecutors charged him with two counts wire fraud and eleven violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
Swartz faced $1 million in fines and 35 years in prison. Swartz declined a plea bargain under which he would have served six months in federal prison. When prosecution rejected his counteroffer, he was found dead by hanging in his Brooklyn apartment two days later. In June 2013, Swartz was posthumously inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame.
3. The Jester
Who The Jester is, nobody knows. He claims responsibility for many, many DoS (Denial of Service) attacks against WikiLeaks, Islamist sites, homophobic sites and the President of Iran. He claims responsibility for developing DoS software, XerXes.
With Wikileaks in the news, almost makes you wonder: Where’s The Jester now?
4. Barrett Brown
Barrett Brown worked closely with Anonymous. The former writer was not a formidable coder or hacker, but he became a marketing figure for the hacking group, including news appearances. Brown has faced numerous charges related to hacking. In January 2015, he was sentenced to 63 months.
5. Hector Xavier Monsegur (Sabu)
Sabu co-founded Lulzsec, going onto receiving press attention after a 50-day hacking spurt targeting the likes of the CIA, Fox, Stratfor, and the US Senate and others. Sabu later turned away from hacktivism, becoming an informant for the FBI and working for them for more than ten months.
6. Jake Davis (Topiary)
This once active member of Anonymous moved onto LulzSec. During a court appearance in 2011, he pleaded guilty to a charge related to a hack on the Serious Organised Crime Agency’s (SOCA) website. Davis ran the LulzSec Twitter account. Details on his computer leaked him to a hack of Sony.
7. Oxblood Ruffin
Canadian hacker Oxblood Ruffin is the “Foreign Minister” of the Cult of the Dead Cow network, a hacktivist group. Oxblood can often be seen in the media criticizing the actions of Anonymous and LulzSec.
8. Deric Lostutter (KYAnonymous)
When two members of an Ohio high school football team were charged with the rape of an intoxicated 16-year-old girl, Lostutter helped leak a video of two Ohio high school football players joking about the rape of an intoxicated 16-year-old girl. He faces charges for hacking a fan page of the football team and could face a 10-year prison sentence.
9. Ron Gonggrijp
This Dutch hacker speaks out against surveillance on citizens by governments and the lack of security in public electronic voting systems. He became a well-known teenage hacker and even appeared in the Jan Jacobs’s book Kraken en Computers (Hacking and computers, Veen uitgevers 1985, ISBN 90-204-2651-6) which details the early hacking scene in the Netherlands. Authorities in the Netherlands and the United States considered him a “major security threat.’
10. Jacob Appelbaum
Appelbaum, a Cult of the Dead Cow member, is reportedly a key player behind Tor and now an American journalist. He is the co-founder of the San Francisco hackerspace Noisebridge and has worked for kink.com and Greenpeace. Appelbaum was a trusted confidant of NSA’s Edward Snowden and had access to Snowden’s top secret documents during the 2013 global surveillance disclosure.
11. Gary Mckinnon
Mckinnon is responsible for what’s called the “biggest military computer hack of all time.” He hacked almost 100 American military and NASA servers in 13 months from 2001 to 2002. His goal while hacking NASA was to discover evidence of extraterrestrials.
“A NASA photographic expert said that there was a Building 8 at Johnson Space Center where they regularly airbrushed out images of UFOs from the high-resolution satellite imaging,” he said. “I logged on to NASA and was able to access this department. They had huge, high-resolution images stored in their picture files. They had filtered and unfiltered, or processed and unprocessed, files.”
12. John McAfee
The 2016 Presidential Candidate, John McAfee, had a run-in with authorities who he claims set him up for murder. He hacked every major computer of Belize government bureaucracies to prove his innocence. He found evidence that implicated officials in corruption, laundering, drug running and murder. He organized his own escape out of Belize to avoid arrest. He recently posted on social media he got into a shootout with police, though this was a joke.
Featured image from YouTube/The Guardian.
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