The Hacking: What We Know and What We Do Not Know

The Hacking: What We Know and What We Do Not Know

The Hacking: What We Know and What We Do Not Know

By: Lt. Col. John Howard, US Army (Ret.)

All parties agree: John Podesta’s email inbox was hacked when he responded to a phishing email requesting that he enter his email credentials.

1.     The White House and the  upper echelons  of US intelligence agencies now publicly claim that that they believe the hack of Podesta’s email inbox originated somewhere in Russia.

2.     An outside contractor [Dmitr Alperovich] specializing in computer  security claims the following: ”The phishing email itself bore hallmarks of prior Russian espionage attempts and the link in the phishing email directed him to a server used by the “Fancy Bear” cyber espionage group, which is widely considered by cyber experts to be affiliated with the Russian FSB. The same “Fancy Bear” group has been implicated in attacks aimed at dissidents in Ukraine and Georgia, as well as military attaches in Western Europe and dissident Russian journalists.”

3.     The maximum statement to this belief can be found during the interview of Angela Stent on the PBS news hour, December 15, 2016    [transcript below].4.     The Russian government disputes that they were actively involved.

5.     FBI Director James Comey has suggested that the hack might have been carried out by a private individual operating from within Russia.

6.     Julian Assange,in an interview with Sean Hannity  December 15, 2016 states that “no state actor was involved.” They then play the statement by national security director James Clapper which supports this view. [James Clapper’s statement begins approximately at the 2.3 minute point].

Also,Assange participated in a virtual seminar with several hundred hackers who quizzed him intensively and were satisfied with his explanations of how he obtained the materials. Viewing the tapes creates a presumption that Russia, in fact, had nothing to do with their acquisition   nor with dissemination.

7.     The best review of the entire actual situation is:  MILITARY INTELLIGENCE  Monday, November 7, 2016 WHAT IS PUTIN’s REAL GAME

8.     To put  these specific hacking’s into  perspective, in the year 2o16 ,there have been many hundreds of hackings, intrusions, compromises, hijackings, etc.   The following site presents a very vivid graphic  illustration of the scope and magnitude of the hacking phenomena:

Here is a sample of 5 other links:

9. There is significant skepticism with the current White House operation.

a.     To pass Obamacare, the political consultant/architect was Jonathan Gruber,the Obamacare Architect: “Yeah, We Lied to The “Stupid” American People to Get It Passed”

b.     Ben Rhodes’ Iran Deal ( “wag the dog”) echo chamber operation) which was  explicitly intended to mislead the US public in order to sell this administration’s desired  Iran agreement [ The aspiring novelist who became Obama’s foreign-policy guru  by David Samuels  New York Times May 5, 2016]

Below, is an excerpt from the New York Times which reproduces in Ben Rhodes’ own words Rhodes’s  campaign to sell the Iran

“We created an echo chamber,’ he admitted, when I asked him to explain the onslaught of freshly minted experts cheerleading for the deal. ‘They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say.”

c.      Intelligence analysts  have complained that their  output is being distorted by the political echelon [50 Spies Say ISIS Intelligence Was Cooked];

d.  The false certainty of the US intelligence community that  Saddam Hussein  actually possessed nuclear weapons



HARI SREENIVASAN:We look at Putin’s role now with Angela Stent.  She served in the State Department during the Clinton administration.  She’s now a professor at Georgetown University.

Does it make sense that Vladimir Putin would have a role?…

 Can something like this — it’s a big government, like all governments are — can something like this happen without his knowledge or approval?

ANGELA STENT:  I think he must have known on some level that this was happening.  I mean, hackers couldn’t just have done this freelance without at least having a sense that this was permitted.  Whether he personally directed it, I think that’s much more difficult to say.  I haven’t seen the evidence.  None of us have.  We’ve had contradictory statements from our own officials.

So, I think we’d have to know more about the personal direction.  But, clearly, there was an environment that encouraged this to happen.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  Well, what about the assessment by the intelligence community that this was an effort to help Trump win?  Was it, as you said, perhaps revenge against Hillary Clinton, or was it that other element, too, to actually help Donald Trump?

ANGELA STENT: Well, clearly on the campaign trail, Donald Trump consistently praised Vladimir Putin.  It was only world leader that he consistently praised.  He said we need to do a deal with Russia.  We shouldn’t have such bad relations with Russia.

Whereas Hillary Clinton took a pretty tough line, as she had since leaving secretary of state.  So, I think it’s credible to believe the Russians wanted Donald Trump to win.  I’m not sure they expected him to win, but I think they saw an opportunity there.  Also, really, to help muddy the waters here and to have Americans questioning what was really going on.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  What could the U.S. do in response?

ANGELA STENT:  It’s very difficult to respond in kind.  I mean, we may be retaliating in ways that we don’t know.  It would be very hard to prosecute the hackers themselves.  And to do what they did, which is to then hack into people’s e-mails, and then release information that might help another candidate in an election.

I mean, Vladimir Putin is going to run for president in 2018, but it’s not going to be a competitive election.  So, we can’t — we couldn’t respond in kind anyway.

And so, I think, you know, that — there’s the possibility of sanctions that’s talked about in the Congress.  I’m not sure that that would do any good.  And I don’t think a Trump administration would want those sanctions.

So, I actually think one of the things that we should do, once the next administration is in office, is to try and work out with the Russians, as we have with the Chinese, at least some kind of a cyber agreement, some rules of the game, which — which we don’t have now with the Russians.  I’m not saying this would prevent this from happening again, but I think we need to at least try and work on out rules of the game with them.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  I was going to say, do these kind of agreements hold?

ANGELA STENT:  Well, with the Chinese, there are different views on this.  I mean, some aspect of it, apparently, have worked.  Others haven’t.  It’s really the best one can do because we’re in a very shadowy world there.

I mean, it’s very hard to know exactly who did the hacking and then, you know, who directed them.  As I said, it’s very difficult to prosecute.

Paul Ebeling, Editor

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