Sunday, December 11, 2016

It was the Russians

It was the Russians
By James Baxley

It all started when Clinton made an allegation that Russia, Putin to be more specific was helping Trump to win the election. This is partly what caused Green Party’s Jill Stein to force a recount of three swing states (that Trump won by the way): Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.

In the third presidential debate, Clinton accused Trump of
pandering to Russia’s President Putin, "It’s pretty clear you won’t admit that the Russians have engaged in cyberattacks against the United States of America, that you encouraged espionage against our people, that you are willing to spout the Putin line, sign up for his wish list, break up NATO, do whatever he wants to do, and that you continue to get help from him, because he has a very clear favorite in this race” Clinton exclaims.

In some ways it is Trump’s fault that people starting speculating about Russia’s alleged participation in the hacking of the 2016 elections, after all Trump quite often talks positive about Putin.

"If he says great things about me, I'm going to say great things about him."

"I've already said he is very much of a leader. The man has very strong control over his country."

"Look at Putin -- what he's doing with Russia -- I mean, you know, what's going on over there. I mean this guy has done -- whether you like him or don't like him -- he's doing a great job in rebuilding the image of Russia and also rebuilding Russia period."

Ever since Clinton made that statement, every pundit; every media personality; and quite frankly, anybody who dislikes Trump or the GOP has made the claim that Russia has hacked the election.

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) email hack, which caused such an embarrassment to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., it caused her to resign from the DNC chair position. This, according to Clinton and the DNC (as well as others) is claimed to be the most concrete example of the Russians meddling in the elections even though Julian Assange of WikiLeaks hasn’t named who supplied the leaked emails.

The December 2nd issue of the Washington Post has an article which claims that “Intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee.” 

“The CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system, according to officials briefed on the matter.”

 Half way through the article, the Washington Post writes that “there were minor disagreements among intelligence officials about the agency’s assessment.” The Washington Post falls short of accepting the outcome of the assessment and really admits in no uncertain words that “intelligence agencies do not have specific intelligence showing officials in the Kremlin “directing” the identified individuals to pass the Democratic emails to WikiLeaks.” 

The tactics of the hack resembled traits of two Russian intelligence groups, dubbed APT28 and APT29, also known as Fancy Bear and Cozy Bear. It was originally thought that Guccifer 2.0 (not to be confused with the original Guccifer, who is a known lone hacker) was the hacker but Guccifer 2.0 is considered to be a decoy for the Russian government according to cybersecurity experts.

“As of yet, there’s no evidence anyone other than Russia breached the DNC. So unless someone hacked the Russian agencies, the Russian government is likely WikiLeaks’ source” according to Susan Hennessey, a Brookings Institution fellow and a former lawyer for the National Security Agency.

"Added together, the most logical inference is that the Russians gave the documents to WikiLeaks," Hennessey said. "Circumstantial, yes, but strong enough to be the operating assumption for the intelligence community."

Jeffrey Carr, CEO of cybersecurity firm Taia Global, isn’t so sure that the Russian government is involved in the hack, "It makes much more sense to me that the Russian government had nothing to do with this, but that Russian-speaking hackers did it on their own for fun or profit or both."