I’m hesitant to even publish this. If this were reported by some other outlets, I’d of ignored it. I’m not into conspiracy theories and my general, long standing disposition has been that Russia hacked the DNC.
Before we get started, do not take my writing on this as anything but a third party observation of a report. I’m not endorsing the report that I’m about to share. I do not know enough about the details to know how trustworthy some of the sources cited are. There’s probably not a writer or diarist here that can claim to be an expert on cyber-security and I won’t pretend to be one either. Take this information for what it is and analyze it for yourself. I am not drawing conclusions, saying this makes Seth Rich conspiracy theorists right, or anything else of the sort.
With that said, let’s get started.
“The Nation” is a fairly left-wing publication. They can in noway be described as right-wing, pro-Trump, pro-Russia, or any other such nomenclature we’d normally associate with a report that questions whether the DNC was hacked. That’s why this first caught my eye. Why would they be publishing something like this?
Some background on the situation is necessary.
First, regardless of what any of us thinks happened (and like I said, I’ve always said it’s the Russians who hacked the DNC), we do not know that the DNC was hacked or who did it as a matter of technical fact. Why? Because the DNC refused to turn the server over to the FBI or give them access to their systems. Jeh Johnson recently scolded them in a Congressional hearing for this. We know it to be true that they did obstruct any attempt at confirming the hack. That is precisely why so many questions remain.
Secondly, while there was an Intelligence report that assigned this hack to Russia, they did so on the back of claims from “CrowdStrike,” a private security firm hired by the DNC which has now retracted several of their original claims. Those retractions happened after Clapper’s report on Russian hacking in December. CrowdStrike was also caught up in controversy by assigning a Russian hack of Ukrainian artillery batteries in 2016. The Ukrainian Defense Minister says that the hack did not happen.
The author, Peter Lawrence begins the article with this disclaimer:
One, there are many other allegations implicating Russians in the 2016 political process. The work I will now report upon does not purport to prove or disprove any of them. Who delivered documents to WikiLeaks? Who was responsible for the “phishing” operation penetrating John Podesta’s e-mail in March 2016? We do not know the answers to such questions. It is entirely possible, indeed, that the answers we deserve and must demand could turn out to be multiple: One thing happened in one case, another thing in another. The new work done on the mid-June and July 5 events bears upon all else in only one respect. We are now on notice: Given that we now stand face to face with very considerable cases of duplicity, it is imperative that all official accounts of these many events be subject to rigorously skeptical questioning. Do we even know that John Podesta’s e-mail was in fact “phished”? What evidence of this has been produced? Such rock-bottom questions as these must now be posed in all other cases.
The point of this passage is clear. If your default position is to dismiss any legitimate questioning of any part of the Russian narrative, you might as well stop reading. You aren’t going to like the evidence nor conclusions drawn. In this case, the author wants to make it known that this report is not meant in any way to absolve Russia. This is dealing with a very specific event, i.e. the DNC hack. It’s not attempting to disprove Russian interference as a totality.
In fact, given what is laid out as the probable source of the documents getting out, it’s perfectly possible it still could of been an act organized by the Russians. Remember, this is just about the assertions of a physical hack. That’s it.
These are the basic starter conclusions by which the report goes into great detail to attempt to prove. How compelling the evidence is will be up to the reader.
Forensic investigators, intelligence analysts, system designers, program architects, and computer scientists of long experience and strongly credentialed are now producing evidence disproving the official version of key events last year. Their work is intricate and continues at a kinetic pace as we speak. But its certain results so far are two, simply stated, and freighted with implications:
- 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.
- Forensic investigations of documents made public two weeks prior to the July 5 leak by the person or entity known as Guccifer 2.0 show that they were fraudulent: Before Guccifer posted them they were adulterated by cutting and pasting them into a blank template that had Russian as its default language. Guccifer took responsibility on June 15 for an intrusion the DNC reported on June 14 and professed to be a WikiLeaks source—claims essential to the official narrative implicating Russia in what was soon cast as an extensive hacking operation. To put the point simply, forensic science now devastates this narrative.
This article is based on an examination of the documents these forensic experts and intelligence analysts have produced, notably the key papers written over the past several weeks, as well as detailed interviews with many of those conducting investigations and now drawing conclusions from them. Before proceeding into this material, several points bear noting.
As to addressing those assertions, the article continues in detail:
These statistics are matters of record and essential to disproving the hack theory. No Internet service provider, such as a hacker would have had to use in mid-2016, was capable of downloading data at this speed. Compounding this contradiction, Guccifer claimed to have run his hack from Romania, which, for numerous reasons technically called delivery overheads, would slow down the speed of a hack even further from maximum achievable speeds.
What is the maximum achievable speed? Forensicator recently ran a test download of a comparable data volume (and using a server speed not available in 2016) 40 miles from his computer via a server 20 miles away and came up with a speed of 11.8 megabytes per second—half what the DNC operation would need were it a hack. Other investigators have built on this finding. Folden and Edward Loomis say a survey published August 3, 2016, by www.speedtest.net/reports is highly reliable and use it as their thumbnail index. It indicated that the highest average ISP speeds of first-half 2016 were achieved by Xfinity and Cox Communications. These speeds averaged 15.6 megabytes per second and 14.7 megabytes per second, respectively. Peak speeds at higher rates were recorded intermittently but still did not reach the required 22.7 megabytes per second.
“A speed of 22.7 megabytes is simply unobtainable, especially if we are talking about a transoceanic data transfer,” Folden said. “Based on the data we now have, what we’ve been calling a hack is impossible.”
This can all be a bit confusing. Remember that bits and bytes are different. You may have an advertised download speed of 100mbps yet that only translates to 12mpbs of actual download. You can test this yourself. Download speeds will always be 1/8th of advertised because one is in bits and the other bytes. In July of 2016, Xfinity had highest rated cable internet at 125mbps. This works out to 15mpbs download speed. Because the hack required 22.7mpbs, this would seem to be impossible.
So what’s this all trying to assert? That the download had to of happened internally on a LAN, not via an external internet connection from across the globe.
Your next question is likely, “well, how do they have access to this information?” Remember that Guciffer 2.0, the one who claimed responsibility for the hack, released the documents himself on July 15th, 2016. This was separate from the Wikileaks disclosure of the same files.
I won’t copy and paste anymore so as to not run into any copyright issues. There’s a ton more here you’ll have to process yourself. They go on to claim that the documents released by Guciffer 2.0 were doctored as well.
Ok, so who are the people behind this new report?
VIPS is one of them. This is a group of intelligence veterans who formed in 2003 in response to their disapproval of how intel reports on Iraq’s WMDs were presented. These are named sources. William Binney (former NSA technical director), Kirk Wiebe (former NSA analyst with SIGINT), Edward Loomis (former NSA technical director), and Ray McGovern (former intel analyst). VIPS is also working with Skip Folden, a former IBM official of 33 years.
Two other sources are anonymous. One is called “Forensicator” and the other is operating as “Adam Carter.” We only know that one lives on the west coast and the other in England. Both claim to be former intel officials.
What does “CrowdStrike,” the outfit that first addressed the hack, have to say? They stand by their original report that malware was present.
Where does any of this leave us? I don’t really know. There’s not enough here yet for me to embrace such a theory. It’s certainly interesting though. It’s always struck me as incredibly shady and odd that the DNC refused to cooperate with the FBI and did not allow access to the server. Why do that? I think it’s fair to continue to ask questions and expect answers.
As an aside, “Bloomberg News” has also published this report.
I understand this is a sensitive subject and it brings up lots of emotions from all sides. Like I first said, had this been posted on a partisan source, I’d of not bothered writing about it. In this case, I felt there were enough mainstream (supposedly trustworthy) news sources to cite as to make it viable for analysis and discussion. We’ll see where this leads, which may be nowhere at all.