On Wednesday, the Nation confirmed previous reports by Big League Politics that DNC emails were provided to WikiLeaks by an inside source — not some shadowy Russian hacker.
On August 9, the Nation finally covered a report from the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) — a 30 member group made up of well respected former experts from the National Security Agency (NSA), tech companies, and other intelligence agencies.
The report from VIPS states that “forensic studies of ‘Russian hacking’ into Democratic National Committee computers last year reveal that on July 5, 2016, data was leaked (not hacked) by a person with physical access to a DNC computer. After examining metadata from the ‘Guccifer 2.0’ July 5, 2016 intrusion into the DNC server, independent cyber investigators have concluded that an insider copied DNC data onto an external storage device.”
Additionally, the former intelligence operatives detail how the FBI neglected to perform any independent forensics on the original “Guccifer 2.0.” They assert that “the reason the U.S. government lacks conclusive evidence of a transfer of a ‘Russian hack’ to WikiLeaks is because there was no such transfer.”
Among those who signed on to the report is William Binney, former NSA Technical Director for World Geopolitical & Military Analysis; Co-founder of NSA’s Signals Intelligence Automation Research Center, Larry C Johnson, who is retired from the CIA & State Department, Kirk Wiebe, former Senior Analyst at SIGINT Automation Research Center of the NSA, and many more.
For the Nation, Patrick Lawrence wrote this summary of the VETS findings:
“There was no hack of the Democratic National Committee’s system on July 5 last year—not by the Russians, not by anyone else. Hard science now demonstrates it was a leak—a download executed locally with a memory key or a similarly portable data-storage device. In short, it was an inside job by someone with access to the DNC’s system. This casts serious doubt on the initial “hack,” as alleged, that led to the very consequential publication of a large store of documents on WikiLeaks last summer.”
As we previously reported, the Forensicator concluded that the files were most likely obtained through a USB drive directly plugged into a DNC computer — not a Russian hacker.
Additionally, the report found that the files were copied five days before the murder of Seth Rich, a data analyst for the Democratic National Committee, who WikiLeaks has hinted may have been their source.
The analyst found that the transfer took place at speeds of 23 MB/s, which means that a remote data transfer over the internet would be extremely unlikely. Instead, the report states that a more likely scenario would be “that the individual who was collecting the data either had physical access to the computer where the data was stored, or the data was copied over a local high speed network (LAN).”
“This initial copying activity was done on a system where Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) settings were in force. Most likely, the computer used to initially copy the data was located somewhere on the East Coast,” Forensicator reported.
The Forensicator found that the data was initially copied to a computer which was running Linux, as “the file last modified times all reflect the apparent time of the copy and this is a characteristic of the the Linux ‘cp’ command (using default options).” The report noted that a simple explanation for this would be that the Linux OS was booted from a USB flash drive — and that the data was subsequently copied back to the same drive. Using this method, the person transferring the files would be able to download a very large amount of data quickly.
“With all the billions of dollars we spend on this collection access system that the NSA has, there’s no way that could have missed all the packets being transferred from those servers to the Russians,” Binney told Sputnik News for my report at the outlet in December. “I mean, they should know exactly how and when those packets left those servers and went to the Russians, and where specifically in Russia it went. There’s no excuse for not knowing that.”
If it was a hack, Binney revealed, the NSA would know who the sender and recipients of the data are, thanks to mass internet surveillance programs. The intelligence apparatus does not depend on “circumstantial evidence,” as has been reported to point to Russia.
Disobedient Media reported at the time that “the very small proportion of files eventually selected for use in the creation of the “NGP-VAN” files were later published by the creators of the Guccifer 2.0 persona. This point is especially significant, as it suggests the possibility that up to 90% of the information initially copied was never published.”
Lawrence wrote that these revelations “split the DNC case open like a coconut.”
In April, we reported on Carter’s findings that alleged Democratic National Committee hacker and WikiLeaks source Guccifer 2.0 deliberately planted fake Russian fingerprints on documents linked to his persona.
Carter believes that this demonstrates that Guccifer 2.0 was actually a misdirection effort by people working for the Democratic Party, to have the upcoming WikiLeaks release blamed on Russian hackers — and therefore discredited. Speaking to Big League Politics, Carter referred to the persona as a “donkey in a bear costume.”
In the Guccifer documents in question, Warren Flood, an IT worker with links to the DNC and the Obama administration, appears to be the original author of the leaked documents, while they were last modified by “Феликс Эдмундович,” which translates to Felix Dzerzhinsky, the name of the founder of the Soviet secret police.
“For one thing, we know Flood was not the original author of the docs,” Carter told BLP. “So, it’s definitely odd to see that he’s shown as author of any of them initially.”
Carter elaborated that “Flood (or someone using a computer that had MS-Word set up by Flood using his own details in the past) actually started out by creating a blank file with a Russian stylesheet entry in it.”
“This was then saved as 1.doc, 2.doc and 3.doc,” he said. “Then 30 minutes later, on another computer, with MS-Word registered to the Russian name (the Soviet secret police founder that has been dead for almost a century). Each of those files was opened, had content copied into it (assumably from the original documents) and was then saved (writing the Russian name into the metadata at that time).”
Carter explained that the documents also had the same RSID, or Revision Save ID number. An RSID is a unique and random number that is generated whenever you create a new document or open a document that allows changes to be tracked
“So… because of the matching RSIDs we know the Russian stylesheets we see in all 3 documents were all from the same original document and revision session,” Carter said. “Because the content in each document has different RSIDs we also know the content was added later to the files. So, effectively, content from real DNC documents were copied into the pre-tainted ‘Russian’ template files. Which is bizarre.”
Ultimately, Carter says that there were too many hints dropped that Guccifer 2.0 was a Russian to have been carried out by a seasoned hacker with privacy concerns. He noted the persona’s choice to use a Russian VPN, the use of a Russian smiley (“)))”) in his first blog post, and his reference to hacks as “deals” in an interview.
Guccifer 2.0 also claimed to use an exploit that did not exist at the time.
“G2 claimed to hack into the DNC via NGP-VAN… something that wasn’t even installed on the DNC’s server. It’s actually a cloud-hosted SaaS platform, so a zero day exploit in that still wouldn’t really give him access to tie himself in with Fancy Bear/Apt28,” Carter explained. Cyber defense company ThreatConnect explained this factor in detail here.
Meanwhile, as all signs continue to point to a leak from inside, the media has began to change their tune on Seth Rich, the DNC analyst that WikiLeaks has consistently hinted was their source.
On August 9, Newsweek published a report that seemed to call into question if Rich was working with the Russians to undermine the Democratic Party. Previous reports, including from Big League, that Rich was the source of the WikiLeaks release have continuously been written off as “conspiracy theories” until this week. The report included a quote from DC lobbyist Jack Burkman claiming that Rich “may be the ‘missing link’ that connects otherwise incongruent events relating to Russia collusion in the 2016 presidential election.”
No matter what new evidence comes to light, it seems as though the swamp is unwilling to give up their “Russia did it” narrative.
Rich was an American citizen and a progressive, who many sources have told Big League Politics was simply a disenchanted Bernie Sanders supporter — upset at the DNC’s efforts to undermine the fiery Vermont senator’s campaign. This scenario seems far more likely than “he was working for the Russians,” though as nothing has been proven any guesses to his motives remain speculation.
On August 1, Big League Politics released audio of Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh asserting that Seth Rich had contacted WikiLeaks with sample emails from the leak. Hersh cites an FBI document as proof for his claim.
“There are no DNC or Podesta emails that exist beyond May 21 or 22, last email from either one of those groups. What the report says is that some time in late Spring… he makes contact with WikiLeaks, that’s in his computer,” he says. “Anyway, they found what he had done is that he had submitted a series of documents — of emails, of juicy emails, from the DNC.”
Hersh explains that it was unclear how the negotiations went, but that WikiLeaks did obtain access to a password protected DropBox where Rich had put the files.
“All I know is that he offered a sample, an extensive sample, I’m sure dozens of emails, and said ‘I want money.’ Later, WikiLeaks did get the password, he had a DropBox, a protected DropBox,” he said. They got access to the DropBox.”
Hersh describes Rich, fearing for his safety, giving access to the DropBox to others incase something happened to him.
“The word was passed, according to the NSA report, he also shared this DropBox with a couple of friends, so that ‘if anything happens to me it’s not going to solve your problems,’” he added. “WikiLeaks got access before he was killed.”
Rich was shot in the back in the early morning hours of July 10, 2016, near his home while he was on the phone with his girlfriend — 12 days before the publication of the DNC emails by WikiLeaks. The police initially ruled that it was a botched robbery — but his wallet, watch, and necklace were still on his person when he was discovered by police.
Though Assange has infamously expressed interest in Rich, he has always maintained that WikiLeaks will never name a source. WikiLeaks has offered a $20,000 reward for Rich’s murderer however, and has retweeted articles that asserted he was their source, as well as our Hersh audio, without providing any additional comment.
As we previously revealed, the lead detective working on the Rich case — while refusing to comment about whether or not he had been the WikiLeaks source — stated that he had attempted to get in contact with Julian Assange and WikiLeaks for “help with the case.”
Perhaps the only person who could say for sure who the source was is Assange, and since he isn’t talking, the case is likely to remain a mystery. One thing seems certain however, this was a leak — and not a hack. Assange has said from day one that the emails were not provided to him by a state actor, which is backed by a mounting pile of evidence. This simple conclusion should put to bed the conspiracy theories about Russia hacking the election, and it is insane that it hasn’t.
Warren Flood did not return requests for comment for this or our previous report.
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Exiled Turkish Journalist Warns: Authoritarian Leaders like Erdogan Use Guise of Populism to Destroy Democracy
The exiled former Editor-in-Chief of Turkey’s now-defunct daily Zaman newspaper Abdulhamit Bilci explained how Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan fooled Turkey and the world as he strategically destroyed the secular model that was put in place by his predecessor and implemented an Islamic form of government which is changing the face of the nation.
Now, Bilci devotes his time to warning other people about the early signs of the destruction of democracy. He is currently living in exile in the United States.
In a stunning tell-all with The Investigative Journal, Bilci detailed Erdogan’s path from local-level politics to his rise as one of the world’s most notorious authoritarian rulers.
Bilci started his career as a reporter in the 1990s covering political rallies and events for then-candidate Erdogan who ran a successful campaign to become the mayor of Istanbul. He said he developed a familiarity with Erodgan through years of his political coverage of him as a reporter and leading up to his time as editor-in-chief of Zaman — a role he held until he fled the county in March 2016, four months before the failed coup attempt.
In the 1990s, before Erdogan was imprisoned for being seen as a threat to Turkey’s secularism – a model that was instated by the late Mustafa Kemal Ataturk – Erdogan had stated “Democracy is like a train: when you reach your destination, you get off.” That quote can be sourced to a newspaper, “Milliyet Gazete Arsivi.”
“He was jailed in the 1990s, for four months, for reciting a poem because the secular establishment did not like his ideas and they were trying to stop him. But he was a successful mayor with his crazy ideology,” Bilci said. Erdogan was imprisoned between March to July of 199. During his conviction, he was forced to forfeit his mayoral position. “When he was mayor of Istanbul he was from the Islamist Party,” Bilci said.
Bilci said it was unfortunate that the secular establishment by jailing him made him more popular because then he became a victim; a tool of manipulation Erodgan used to his political advantage.
“When Erdogan got out of prison, he told the powers that be that he had changed his mind and that he was no longer an Islamist and had become democratic. And when he founded the AK Party he said we are not Islamists. We are conservative democrats; we are like Christian democrats in Europe. He then pushed for Turkey to become a member of the EU.”
However, prior to this, Erdogan had vehemently been opposed to having Turkey join the European Union. According to Bilci, “Erodgan saw the EU as a Christian club and believed Turkey has no place in that according to his Islamist vision.”
With his cosmetic change away from Islamism, Erdogan began receiving the support of democracies throughout the world. He was seen as the rising example and model of a Muslim leader who was trying to democratize his country. In fact, Turkey became a model for the Muslim world for democracy.
“I believed in him and I supported him in those years. But things started to change in his third term in 2011,” he said. “There were some signals of change and he gradually stopped the policy of Turkey becoming a better democracy and part of the EU. Instead, he turned increasingly to the Middle East. These were the Arab spring years.”
For a period of about 8-9 years, Zaman Daily supported Erdogan. The publication had approximately 1 million daily subscribers at its peak.
“The newspaper was supporting him during his first eight years as prime minister,” Bilci said. “And the whole world was supporting him; the international media, the New York Times.” He continued, “but that was during the Obama years. He was trying to make reforms in democracy and improve the economy and make Turkey a member of the European Union. All of these policies were in line with our newspaper’s interior line as well.”
Bilci said Erodgan played a very clever game.
“He was showing himself as being democratic for 8-9 years during the time we were supporting him in an attempt to control all the power because he needed that support since the secular establishment in Turkey hated him. So, to counterbalance the secular establishment, he needed the support of democrats and to show up as a democrat.”
But around 2012-2013, things started to change and Erdogan took on an authoritarian approach which Bilci says the world is seeing to this day.
“Obama and the Europeans continued to legitimize Erdogan in 2013 and beyond. They were not candid in criticizing him and it is a pity they did not stop him,” he said. “We were telling them that Erdogan is destroying democracy and the rule of law and you should be candid to protest that and not appease the guy because it will be bad for the Turkish people and the entire democratic world.” However, despite these warnings, many western, democratic leaders, including Obama continued to appease Erdogan who continued to get closer to Russia and jail journalists even going so far as attacking America’s allies, the Kurds, and procuring negative policies in Libya and Syria that benefited jihadists.
“Once his authoritarianism and corruption were revealed, we exposed it and that made him the enemy,” Bilci said of Erdogan. He said the Turkish government was providing the crux of the publication’s funding and the newspaper fell on hard times between 2015 and 2016 because Erdogan “was calling companies and telling them not to purchase advertisements from our media and there were financial and legal pressures applied.” Similar attempts to crush opposition media were made against conservative publications like Breitbart News by progressives in the United States.
“Our reporters were not able to attend press conferences. He revoked our press cards. In those three years, there were crazy things occurring but we continued our critical editorial line. We did not fall down,” Bilci said. “Finally, he used the nuclear option. He used appointees that he controlled and sent police forces to come to our offices and fired me.” He said in his place, “Erdogan’s thugs” hired a mouthpiece journalist from the pro-government daily paper (Akit), which he described as “a hardline Islamist newspaper,” to be the new editor. “Within 24 hours, Zaman newspaper became a propaganda mouthpiece for the Erdogan regime.”
The move by Erdogan to strangle press freedom had dire consequences for the publication.
“Our readers did not approve of that change,” Bilci said. “At the time of occupation, our circulation was around 700,000 people a day, which had come down from 1 million people per day due to the government takeover of it.” He continued, “our readers did not approve that change and they protested by stopping to buy it. So, within one week the circulation decreased to 5,000 people per day. This was the total and complete and total destruction of a private media company.”
Once the coup took place, Zaman was shut down altogether. In addition to this, Erdogan’s government shut down around 200 critical media outlets. They raided the homes of journalists and columnists from media outlets critical of Erdogan and arrested them. “Luckily, I was not home. But colleagues of mine who were arrested in July 2016 are still in jail. Some of them received life sentences, others 10 years, and others still 6 years.”
Academics, teachers, lawyers, doctors, are among those who have been locked up unjustly.
“I feel lucky that I got out and I am free but I feel so sad that I left my friends behind,” Bilci said. “The only thing I can do is continue speaking out to tell this story.” Despite having over 200,000 followers on Twitter, Bilci’s message does not reach those inside of Turkey. “A court order in Turkey has blocked my Twitter from being visible to the Turkish people. Unfortunately, Twitter cooperated with the Turkish court’s decision.”
“When he grabbed power, he showed his real identity. He used Islamism but I don’t think that he is a sincere Muslim. I think he is using Islam to fool people; specifically –Turkey’s conservative people which are his constituency — to cover up his authoritarianism and corruption.” Bilci added, “Democracies are fragile and anyone living in democracy today should be careful about the ways and methods that are being used to destroy democracy using democratic mechanisms.”
He concluded, “Turkey should be studied more by the democratic world, by the media, and by academics so that we don’t repeat the same mistakes again. Erdogan is one of the prime examples of populism gone wrong. He should become an example of what not to let happen. So, in that regard, Turkey is a prime example for learning lessons in history.”
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