Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Intelligence Consensus Grows That Russia Hacked DNC

The consensus is growing that Russian government agencies were behind the hacking of the Democrat National Committee and that the Wilileaks motive for releasing the stolen e-mails and data was to harm Hillary Clinton's campaign and cause disarray among Democrats.  While officials, including President Obama are dancing around the issue and reluctant to call Russia and Vladimir Putin out, the evidence that the Russian military intelligence service was involved ought to be setting off alarm bells with every thinking American.  One outlet suggests that the hackers may even have re-written some of the leaked documents.  The obvious beneficiary: Donald Trump.  A man documented to have a dependence on Russian funding for his real estate empire and who has intimated that he believe NATO should be weakened or disbanded - a dream come true for Putin and his expansionist agenda.  Connect the dots and the possibilities are beyond disturbing.  Here are highlights from a piece in the New York Times
American intelligence agencies have told the White House they now have “high confidence” that the Russian government was behind the theft of emails and documents from the Democratic National Committee, according to federal officials who have been briefed on the evidence.
The emails were released by WikiLeaks, whose founder, Julian Assange, has made it clear that he hoped to harm Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning the presidency. It is unclear how the documents made their way to the group. But a large sampling was published before the WikiLeaks release by several news organizations and someone who called himself “Guccifer 2.0,” who investigators now believe was an agent of the G.R.U., Russia’s military intelligence service.
The assessment by the intelligence community of Russian involvement in the D.N.C. hacking, which largely echoes the findings of private cybersecurity firms that have examined the electronic fingerprints left by the intruders, leaves President Obama and his national security aides with a difficult diplomatic and political decision: whether to publicly accuse the government of President Vladimir V. Putin of engineering the hacking.
Such a public accusation could result in a further deterioration of the already icy relationship between Washington and Moscow, at a moment when the administration is trying to reach an accord with Mr. Putin on a cease-fire in Syria and on other issues. It could also doom any effort to reach some kind of agreement about acceptable behavior in cyberspace, of the kind the United States has been discussing with China.
In an interview with Savannah Guthrie of NBC News on Tuesday, President Obama stopped short of accusing the Russian agencies from seeking to manipulate the election but said, “Anything’s possible.”  He noted that “on a regular basis, they try to influence elections in Europe.”
Asked on Tuesday at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia whether “there’s more to the Trump/Russian relationship that hasn’t come out,” John Podesta, the Clinton campaign chairman, said, “Well, he certainly has a bromance with Mr. Putin, so I don’t know.”
Mr. Podesta said that while Russia had a “history” of interfering in democratic elections in Europe, it would be “unprecedented in the United States.”
Preliminary conclusions were discussed on Thursday at a weekly cyberintelligence meeting for senior officials. The Crowdstrike report, supported by several other firms that have examined the same bits of code and telltale “metadata” left on documents that were released before WikiLeaks’ publication of the larger trove, concludes that the Federal Security Service, known as the F.S.B., entered the committee’s networks last summer.
The G.R.U., a competing, military intelligence unit, was a later arrival. Investigators believe it is the G.R.U. that has played a bigger role in releasing the emails.
In an essay published on Lawfare, a blog that often deals with cyberissues, Susan Hennessey, previously a lawyer for the National Security Agency, called the published evidence about Russian involvement “about as close to a smoking gun as can be expected when a sophisticated nation-state is involved.”
Mr. Assange’s threat to release documents, she wrote, “means, put simply, that actors outside the U.S. are using criminal means to influence the outcome of a US election. That’s a problem.”

No comments: