Posted by on December 14, 2016 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Categories: American intelligence B+ central intelligence agency Computer security Computing Congress democratic national committee Department of State Economy Espionage F.B.I. Fancy Bear FBI Google Guccifer 2.0 hacking Information sensitivity John McCain national security National Security Agency New York Times None North Atlantic Treaty Organization Obama Administration Politics President Obama Prevention Reality Reuters Russian Foreign Ministry Russian government Russian intelligence Security Senate SPY U.S. intelligence Ukraine United States Cyber Command white house WikiLeaks

In a massive (in a literal sense, printing at 25 pages and over 8,000 words as there is little new information revealed in the piece itself) expose issued by the NYT tited “The Perfect Weapon: How Russian Cyberpower Invaded the U.S.” and meant to piggyback on the WaPo’s recent reporting and solidify the left-leaning media’s case that Hillary lost the election, the New York Times try to summarize all the recent publicly available information on alleged Russian hackings of everything from the DNC server to the Podesta email.

While the 8,000 words do provide a good recap of the widely accepted mainstream media version of events, we hoped to find some actual incremental news, like, for example: proof, so we promptly scoured the report for any incremental evidence that Russia was indeed behind the hack – after all that’s what the NYT is writing about. Alas, we could not find it, instead there was nothing but more innuendo, more “believes”, and more “possible linkages.” Some examples:

  • American intelligence officials said they believed that the hackers were associated with two Russian intelligence agencies.
  • Investigators believe that the G.R.U., or a hacking group known as Fancy Bear or A.P.T. 28, was the second group to break into the D.N.C., but it has played a bigger role in releasing the committee’s emails.
  • A self-proclaimed hacker that investigators believe was a group acting as an agent of the G.R.U. It published documents itself and leaked a series of D.N.C. documents.
  • A hacking group possibly linked to the agency, the main successor to the K.G.B., entered Democratic National Committee servers undetected for nearly a year, security researchers said. The group was nicknamed Cozy Bear, the Dukes or A.P.T. 29 for “advanced persistent threat.”

Finally, on Wikileaks:

  • The website released about 50,000 emails from the Democratic National Committee’s computer servers. It is unclear how WikiLeaks obtained the emails. But Russian intelligence agencies are prime suspects, researchers said.

This, despite recent refutations by both Wikileaks, and those close to them, that the source is not Russian, although short of naming the disgruntled employee, this particular case of fingerpointing will remain an impasse indefinitely. Making matters for the mainstream narrative – i.e. the one pushed by the NYT – worse, overnight Reuters reported that the ODNI – the top US spy agency – refused to endorse the CIA’s “assessment” that Russia was behind the hacking, citing a “lack of evidence” – which just happens to be the weakest link in the attempt to demonize Putin – one which the NYT likewise fails to address.

That out of the way, the NYT does an awesome job of presenting even more unconfirmed innuendo as undisputed fact, all of which points in one direction. Russia in general, and the Kremlin in particular, are responsible for Hillary’s failure: there are 98 instance of the word Russia or Russian in the article. Some examples:

  • 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.
  • An examination by The Times of the Russian operation — based on interviews with dozens of players targeted in the attack, intelligence officials who investigated it and Obama administration officials who deliberated over the best response — reveals a series of missed signals, slow responses and a continuing underestimation of the seriousness of the cyberattack.
  • The D.N.C.’s fumbling encounter with the F.B.I. meant the best chance to halt the Russian intrusion was lost. The failure to grasp the scope of the attacks undercut efforts to minimize their impact. And the White House’s reluctance to respond forcefully meant the Russians have not paid a heavy price for their actions, a decision that could prove critical in deterring future cyberattacks.
  • The low-key approach of the F.B.I. meant that Russian hackers could roam freely through the committee’s network for nearly seven months before top D.N.C. officials were alerted to the attack and hired cyberexperts to protect their systems. In the meantime, the hackers moved on to targets outside the D.N.C., including Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chairman, John D. Podesta, whose private email account was hacked months later.
  • By last summer, Democrats watched in helpless fury as their private emails and confidential documents appeared online day after day — procured by Russian intelligence agents, posted on WikiLeaks and other websites, then eagerly reported on by the American media, including The Times. Mr. Trump gleefully cited many of the purloined emails on the campaign trail.

In the case of those “Russian” hackers identified by the NYT, the publication itself admits that “attribution, as the skill of identifying a cyberattacker is known, is more art than science.”

It is often impossible to name an attacker with absolute certainty. But over time, by accumulating a reference library of hacking techniques and targets, it is possible to spot repeat offenders. Fancy Bear, for instance, has gone after military and political targets in Ukraine and Georgia, and at NATO installations.

And here, once again, comes inference which the NYT – and apparently the CIA – is happy to use in lieu of firm evidence:

That largely rules out cybercriminals and most countries, Mr. Alperovitch said. “There’s no plausible actor that has an interest in all those victims other than Russia,” he said. Another clue: The Russian hacking groups tended to be active during working hours in the Moscow time zone.

And hey, presto: it must be Russia. Which, incidentally, the Democrats quickly tried to spin in their favor:

In mid-June, on Mr. Sussmann’s advice, D.N.C. leaders decided to take a bold step. Concerned that word of the hacking might leak, they decided to go public in The Washington Post with the news that the committee had been attacked. That way, they figured, they could get ahead of the story, win a little sympathy from voters for being victimized by Russian hackers and refocus on the campaign.

But the very next day, a new, deeply unsettling shock awaited them. Someone calling himself Guccifer 2.0 appeared on the web, claiming to be the D.N.C. hacker — and he posted a confidential committee document detailing Mr. Trump’s record and half a dozen other documents to prove his bona fides.

For Zero Hedge readers who have followed our writing over the past 6 months, there is really nothing new in the entire NYT article, with one exception: despite not providing any proof that Russia is behind the hacks, the article drowns the readers in constant accusations that the Russian government is the guilty party, to the point where this allegation becomes fact, and in the process the NYT itself succumbs to spreading, you guessed it, “fake news” and government “propaganda.” Amusingly , the NYT does realize this, and notes that “in recent days, a skeptical president-elect, the nation’s intelligence agencies and the two major parties have become embroiled in an extraordinary public dispute over what evidence exists that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia moved beyond mere espionage to deliberately try to subvert American democracy and pick the winner of the presidential election.”

So is there actual evidence? Alas, on this one most important topic, the NYT is silent: there are 5 instances of the word “evidence” in the entire 8000+ word piece, and 0 instances of “proof” – the authors had hoped that drowning readers with “Russia, Russia, Russia” would be sufficient. It also had no problem presenting belief as fact, as noted above. To wit:

“There shouldn’t be any doubt in anybody’s mind,” Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency and commander of United States Cyber Command said at a postelection conference. “This was not something that was done casually, this was not something that was done by chance, this was not a target that was selected purely arbitrarily,” he said. “This was a conscious effort by a nation-state to attempt to achieve a specific effect.”

Well, Mr. Rogers, we do have some doubt: could you please show us the evidence that would eradicate it? Alas, so far not a single liberal publication has been able to provide that particular missing link, and is why the latest rift between the pro-Clinton CIA and the pro-Trump FBI has opened up. As the NYT writes, “This tale of ‘hacks’ resembles a banal brawl between American security officials over spheres of influence,” Maria Zakharova, the spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, wrote on Facebook.

Over the weekend, four prominent senators, two Republicans and two Democrats, joined forces to pledge an investigation while pointedly ignoring Mr. Trump’s skeptical claims.

“Democrats and Republicans must work together, and across the jurisdictional lines of the Congress, to examine these recent incidents thoroughly and devise comprehensive solutions to deter and defend against further cyberattacks,” said Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Chuck Schumer and Jack Reed.

“This cannot become a partisan issue,” they said. “The stakes are too high for our country.”

We agree: so let’s see the evidence that would align everyone on the same side of the argument. What, there is none? And instead the objective press is making an emotional appeal is lieu of actual proof? That does not sound very professional. In fact, it sounds very “fake news”-ish.

One notable interlude is the previously reported story of one possible way that hackers penetrated John Podesta’s email. As the NYT explains, for those who missed it, the hack and eventual release of a decade’s worth of Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails may have been caused by a typo.  Last March, Podesta received an email purportedly from Google saying hackers had tried to infiltrate his Gmail account. When an aide emailed the campaign’s IT staff to ask if the notice was real, Clinton campaign aide Charles Delavan replied that it was “a legitimate email” and that Podesta should “change his password immediately.”

Instead of telling the aide that the email was a threat and that a good response would be to change his password directly through Google’s website, he had inadvertently told the aide to click on the fraudulent email and give the attackers access to the account.  Delavan told the Times he had intended to type “illegitimate,” a typo “he still has not forgiven himself for making.”

The email was a phishing scam that ultimately revealed Podesta’s password to hackers. Soon after, WikiLeaks began releasing 10 years of his emails. In late October the firm SecureWorks identified a account and WikiLeaks-released email that appeared to have been used to attack Podesta’s account.

Naturally, the fact that – according to this narrative – the crack group of Russian cyber hacks had to resort to a simplistic, childish malware  attack to get to a person’s password, is seemingly completely ignored, as it the reality that if the “Russians” wanted Podesta’s email, there were countless many, far more sophisticated ways of obtaining it.

But all is fair in “fake news” ans perpetuating a narrative.

And since this particular narrative is extremely time consuming, here is a simplifying infographic that supposedly explains all anyone who wants to believe the government’s side of the story, needs to know.

But wait a minute, if it was common knowledge that the Russians were hacking the DNC, Podesta and anyone else close to Clinton with a computer – but not her own server of course, that was impenetrable to hacking by Russia, just ask the FBI – why didn’t Obama call out the Russians? And here is the laugh out loud part of the entire NYT piece:

Mr. Obama was briefed regularly on all this, but he made a decision that many in the White House now regret: He did not name Russians publicly, or issue sanctions. There was always a reason: fear of escalating a cyberwar, and concern that the United States needed Russia’s cooperation in negotiations over Syria.

“We’d have all these circular meetings,” one senior State Department official said, “in which everyone agreed you had to push back at the Russians and push back hard. But it didn’t happen.”

So the Russians escalated again — breaking into systems not just for espionage, but to publish or broadcast what they found, known as “doxing” in the cyberworld.

That this is beyond stupid goes without saying, however if – in the odd chance it is also true – then it is not Russia, but president Obama who should be held accountable for not standing up to protecting US interests in what he clearly understood was a cyberwar.

But let’s blame Putin for apparently outsmarting the entire US intelligence apparatus.

Actually, Putin also outsmarted the New York Times itself: as the paper admits, “by last summer, Democrats watched in helpless fury as their private emails and confidential documents appeared online day after day — procured by Russian intelligence agents, posted on WikiLeaks and other websites, then eagerly reported on by the American media, including The Times. Mr. Trump gleefully cited many of the purloined emails on the campaign trail.”

And the punchline:

Though Mr. Assange did not say so, WikiLeaks’ best defense may be the conduct of the mainstream American media. Every major publication, including The Times, published multiple stories citing the D.N.C. and Podesta emails posted by WikiLeaks, becoming a de facto instrument of Russian intelligence.

To which, all we can say, is well done comrades: Vladimir is very proud of you for helping take down the candidate you yourselves endorsed.

Or something just as stupid, which continues the now month-old campaign of deflecting blame and accepting responsibility for Hillary’s campaign which failed not because of some “Kremlin mastermind hackers”, but because millions of disenfranchised workers in battleground states had had enough with a system that had forgotten all about them.

And now we sit back and wait for the next “fake news”, “Russian hacker propaganda” hit piece to come out. Why not: after all just last week the Senate took the first step toward banning free speech with the passage of the “Countering Disinformation And Propaganda Act.” If nothing else, once passed into law, it will help mainstream outlets like the NYT regain the narrative they so painfully lost control over in 2016.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *