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10 May 2019

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Fred

Cyberwarrior! Robert Johnson, one time employee of Crowsdstrike, now with his own cyberwarrior! company, was pushing Russia, Russia, Russia on MSNBC just a few days ago.
https://www.msnbc.com/ali-velshi/watch/dnc-investigator-on-russian-meddling-it-s-the-new-normal-1499992643539

In the broadcast he states 1) there were months of planning (presumably by the Russians 2) the GRU personnel were “specifically assigned” and 3)“Instructions were to do nothing else but….”
One really does wonder just how he came to these conclusions.

It seems to me that there not only wasn't a "chain of custody" of the evidence but that he's just another link in the chain to whomever is the anchor of the this disinformation campaign. The Democratic Party organizations, to include Hilary's camapaign, spent almost a billion USD on a losing campaign. I have to wonder who were major recipients of any of that money and just what it would buy.

"Since when does the FBI need permission to investigate an alleged crime site where it is claimed a foreign government’s intelligence attacked political files in order to interfere in a US presidential election?"

A great question to ask that nice grandmother who met grandpa Clinton on the tarmac in Phoenix. Or her subornidate, FBI director Comey; or her boss, the guy defeated by Putin, Barack Obama.

The Twisted Genius

Adam Carter’s critique of sections of Mueller’s report suffers from too strong a focus on CrowdStrike’s work as an attribution source. While CrowdStrike did provide the bulk of the forensic data of the target network, the IC and Mueller’s team made use of much more effective methods of attribution than just those digital forensics. It was clear from the indictment of the GRU 12, that the IC had much of the GRU hacker’s activities and infrastructure under surveillance. The story of the Dutch penetration of the FSB hackers illustrates a similar capability. This is a capability, at least to this level, not available to CrowdStrike. Bill Binney acknowledges the NSA’s capability to do a large part of this surveillance while admitting such evidence has not been made available to the public. Unfortunately, Bill Binney, Larry Johnson and others rely on NSA’s refusal to release such data as proof that such data does not exist and, therefore, Russia could not have hacked the DNC. I doubt that data will ever be make public. Frankly, I’m surprised so much was released in the GRU 12 indictment.

I was present at the birth of another aspect of this digital surveillance capability. We did what amounted to HUMINT operations on the internet, targeting both foreign nongovernment and government hackers. Coupled with NSA capabilities, this became an effective means to determine attribution and even plans and intentions. It worked and that’s all I say about that. It was far more effective that relying on forensic examination, even the long term forensic examination used by CrowdStrike and others to assert attribution.

Given that full accounts of major hacks of any government or major private systems have ever been released, my guess is that it will be years before more of the IC data regarding the DNC, GRU and Wikileaks is released, if at all. Too bad. I’m confident researchers like Adam Carter and Stephen McIntyre would do a bang up and honest job of getting to the full truth if they had access to that data.

blue peacock
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

― Upton Sinclair

As more evidence is being uncovered like the the Kathy Kavalec contemporaneous notes & email to FBI on her meeting with Steele, it is getting more & more apparent that there was a program to entrap and smear Trump as a Putin stooge by top officials in the Obama administration, directly interfering in a presidential election.

Mueller was conflicted right from the very beginning. The fact that Strzok, Page & Weisman were on his initial staff points to that conflict. Considering the inherent bias it should be instructive that they could not find any evidence and had to conclude that the Trump campaign did not collude with agents of the Russian government.

Jack

TTG

Is it possible that the GRU may have hacked the DNC and used social media to sow discord but it didn't mount to a hill of beans considering the $1+billion spent by the Hillary campaign and the $100 million spent by the Trump campaign just on Facebook? Is it also possible that top officials in the Obama administration did interfere in the election campaign by attempting to entrap and then smeared Trump and his campaign?

Larry Johnson

You really do not understand the difference between evidence submitted to a court and intelligence. If we were talking strictly intelligence findings then you would be correct in stating that the full proof was being withheld in order to not disclose sources and methods. Once that information, however, is introduced as "EVIDENCE" in a judicial proceeding, you can no longer hide behind the normal protections accorded classified information. The failure to produce actual evidence and the Government's reliance on the CrowdStrike bullshit is prima facia evidence that the Russian hacking is a lie.

But Bill and I do not rely on that absence of evidence as the primary reason to dismiss the false claim of hacking. The actual forensic evidence from Guccifer 2.0 documents blows the Mueller case out of the water.

Haralambos

It very possible that I am completely out of my depth here, but is it also possible that this sentence needs a "never": "Given that full accounts of major hacks of any government or major private systems have ever been released. . . "?

The Twisted Genius

Jack, all that's possible. As to the effectiveness of the Russian social media campaign, I offer the Congressional testimony of the Facebook GC from November 2017, "We estimate that roughly 29 million people were served content in their News Feeds directly from the IRA's 80,000 posts over the two years. Posts from these Pages were also shared, liked, and followed by people on Facebook, and, as a result, three times more people may have been exposed to a story that originated from the Russian operation. Our best estimate is that approximately 126 million people may have been served content from a Page associated with the IRA at some point during the two-year period." That effort cost near nothing. What did the Clinton campaign spend it's 1+ billion dollars on? Ineffective yard signs, campaign buttons and TV ads? The Clinton campeign's inability to grasp more effective marketing techniques is not Russia's fault. That's all on Clinton's people. Even with that, whether the Russian IO was effective or not was immaterial to the legitimacy of the 2016 election. It was a legitimate election with no votes illegally changed. Neither side seems to be willing to accept this fact.

The DOJ investigation of the FBI should offer more insight into whether there was attempted entrapment and smearing of Trump and his people. Perhaps this investigation will also shed light on the effect of Trump's denial of any Russian contacts and refusal to report Russian approaches on the normally suspicious and paranoid LE and IC. There was a time when our CI had suspicions of my Russian connections. Of course my refusing to tell a roomful of FBI lawyers what I did with viruses I created years ago didn't help matters. That lot has no sense of humor.

The Twisted Genius

Fred, Johnson was the lead CrowdStrike investigator of the DNC hack. Before that he was a DOD "cyberwarrior" fighting a very aggressive FSB penetration of DOS and DOD systems when he was still on active duty. Real time Intelligence from the Dutch AVID was ket to his ability to finally defeat that penetration.

I also believe there were months of planning and preparation prior to the Russian operation. I learned from individuals close to Putin that tactics, techniques and support structure for such operations were being actively developed prior to 2010 for such things.

turcopolier

Having been tormented by the CI creeps for things that the NCA sent me to do, I can only share your feelings about them.

The Twisted Genius

Yes, I meant they have never been released.

Fred

TTG,

Yes, a contractor for the DNC, he had access to the evidence and the FBI did not. Kind of like former intelligence official Mr. Steele was a contractor for Fusion GPS, source of the evidence leading to the FISA warrants, which led to spying on the Trump campaign. That was our government not the Russians.

The Twisted Genius

Larry, release of some intelligence information does not automatically require all such intelligence must be released. Even in an indictment, a prosecutor never releases all his evidence. Some of the indictment evidence may even be made deliberately vague. You're still relying on the fact that not all evidence is available to you and I as proof that evidence doesn't exist. That's just silly, as is your effort to attribute all such evidence only to CrowdStrike. You don't seriously think CrowdStrike identified GRU personnel do you?

I do agree that the analysis of Guccifer 2.0 documents is fairly solid and good work, but the conclusions you make from that analysis are desperately far reaching and off center. Even some of your fellow VIPS members find your conclusions troubling. The forensic data does not prove a local transfer to a thumb drive. OTOH, I have not seen any analysis (or alternate explanation) of the evidence concerning Guccifer 2.0 in the indictment of the GRU 12 or the Mueller report.

Larry Johnson

More bullshit from you. The VIPS members who protested lack the technical background. They are not qualified to comment. You are wrong and future developments will prove that. Stop digging.

Larry Johnson

Dude,
You have never been involved in a criminal case that has used intel information. I have. I know what I'm talking about. You are offering up uninformed opinion. My first case was Pan Am 103. It is real simple. If the prosecutors are using actual intelligence for their allegations they will be forced to reveal it. That intel DOES NOT EXIST. If it did, they would have been able to track the packets back to the source. That did not happen. Please put aside your bias and deal with the facts.

blue peacock

TTG

80,000 posts on Facebook over a 2 year election campaign is rather small. Just for some perspective there are 500,000 new posts every minute and 300 million photo uploads every day on Facebook. How many posts do you think the Trump campaign who spent a $100 million on Facebook made in contrast?

IMO, the Russian influence on the 2016 presidential election is substantially over-stated. Of course the establishment of both parties and the media who were all in on the losing side needed a scapegoat rather than make a painful after-action analysis of the zeitgeist that enabled a candidate like Trump to defeat both the Bush & Clinton dynasties. No, that would require intellectual honesty. Unfortunately they're all so far down the rabbit hole of their own groupthink & propaganda that they can't see out of it.

walrus

The problem I have is that if, as TTG strongly suggests, the NSA and associated organisations were privy to Russian intentions and actions, why didn’t they blow the whistle early, protect the DNC, warn the Trump campaign and nip this whole Russian project in the bud?

Fred

Because the Obama administration felt its own spying on domestic political opponents was both necessary and more effective.

The Twisted Genius

"How many posts do you think the Trump campaign who spent a $100 million on Facebook made in contrast?"

That's a good question. I did some quick calculations on what that money would buy on Facebook. It would pay for 10 ads to reach 37 million people. That's comparable to IRA's reaching 28 million directly and 126 million eventually. Compare that to the just under 139 million who voted in 2016. The IRA conducted a substantial operation.

Fred

" Ineffective yard signs, campaign buttons and TV ads? "

That is quite disingenious when that information is readily available.
https://www.opensecrets.org/pres16/expenditures?id=N00000019

You'll notice that GMMB, recipient of $205 million from the Clinton campaign, doesn't advertise that success. And a whole lot of potential Clinton Administration employees lost a 4-8 year opportunity for involvement in setting government policy, starting lucrative government careers and all the potential civilian opportunities that come with a political victory. By all means don't discuss that complete failure in leadership, it had to be somebody's fault, Trump couldn't win on his own.
https://gmmb.com/political-campaigns

"The DOJ investigation of the FBI should offer more insight into whether there was attempted entrapment and smearing of Trump and his people."
You mean charge career FBI/DOJ employees for criminal conduct? I agree.

".... refusal to report Russian approaches..."
Just what the hell is the legal requirement is there for that? Did Senator Feinstein report on Chinese contacts, especially after her career staffer was caught spying for China?
https://nypost.com/2018/08/08/dianne-feinstein-was-an-easy-mark-for-chinas-spy/
Of course we should forget about Huma Abedin, Congressman Weinter, the laptop, the emails and the destruction of evidence because the head of the FBI said they were not significant. That would be James Comey. By all means lets talk about Trump not reporting conmen trying to get money out of him contacts with 'Russians'.
https://www.judicialwatch.org/press-room/press-releases/judicial-watch-fbi-documents-detail-weiner-laptop-clinton-email-find-just-before-the-2016-election/

The Twisted Genius

Walrus, remember that the FBI first warned the DNC of a Russian penetration in September 2015. Both the FBI and the DNC dropped the ball until it was too late. That was the same group that assaulted the JCS and DOS systems and not the GRU attackers that created such havoc in 2016. Both the DNC and the Trump campaign were warned of the potential hacking threat. Both the FBI and the DNC were taken by surprise when the material stolen was publicly released the way it was. IMO given the repeated pattern of disclosure of proprietary information by Wikileaks and others, that possibility should have been anticipated as a possibility. Unfortunately, such hactivism has been traditionally viewed more as a nuisance than a national security threat. The ability to "weaponize" social media was also downplayed by most of the IC. There was only a small minority who tried to sound the alarm about the growing capability and intentions of Russia in this field. The bureaucrats prevailed.

Systems get penetrated and information gets stolen all the time in spite of the surveillance capabilities of the NSA and others. I watched a group of hackers take down a major ISP in real time and couldn't do anything to stop it. The Dutch AVID allowed Johnson and others to defeat the FSB penetration of the JCS and DOS in 2014, but they did not prevent the attack. The DNC, like all other private organizations, are under near constant cyber attack. The FBI, beyond issuing warnings, can't step in until invited. Perhaps as CYBERCOM matures, a reliable capability to proactively keep the attackers heads down will be developed and employed.

jjc

The numbers of 36 million and 126 million were never anything more than high-end guesstimates, based on all IRA activity over several years and with most of the postings not political in content.The real takeaway number is that IRA activity represented merely four ten-thousands of a single percentage point (0.0004) of total news feed activity. The term for that is "statistically insignificant". It is absurd to consider this as "substantial", "massive", or any of the other adjectives.

blue peacock

If your math is correct, then it would seem the IRA has a very good business opportunity. I recall they spent less than a $1 million. Google CEO in testimony to Congress said that Russian expenditure on his platform was less than $5,000.

Listening to Brad Pasrcale's interview on the 2016 election the ads on Facebook were only one part of how they used Facebook. I believe they also generated substantial ordinary posts like where rallies were being held and images from those rallies which were then liked and forwarded by many Trump supporters. Trump himself generates probably 5 tweets a day which I'm sure gets cross-posted to FB.

I unfortunately don't share your conviction that the Russian social media activities moved the influence needle in our 2016 election.

The Twisted Genius

BP, you grasp the concept perfectly. The bulk of what the IRA did cost nothing, just setting up bogus accounts and releasing content through those accounts. Use more accounts and bot accounts to assist in spreading that content. It's an extension of guerrilla advertising currently in vogue in the marketing industry. The purchasing of ads was a small part of the campaign. Couple that with the ideas and techniques discussed by Parscale, who I think is one smart SOB, and you really have something going. Trump's tweets also cost nothing and are brilliant in execution coupled with his party rallies, far more effective that paid political ads.

I respect your view on the effectiveness of the Russian campaign. I don't think there is a way to measure it after the fact. I've always thought such an influence operation could only work on the edges of trends already in place.

DJ

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