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Hillary supporters: The Russians are coming, the Russians are coming!

Hillary supporters: The Russians are coming, the Russians are coming!

Unprovable and non-disprovable DNC leak conspiracy theories.

Believe me, I’m sympathetic to Russian conspiracy claims.

I grew up reading John le Carre novels. No joke, I first read The Spy Who Came in From The Cold while riding the Moscow Metro back and forth from my dormitory on the outskirts to the classrooms in the center.

When studying in the Soviet Union I learned that everyone was paranoid — and justifiably so! The fire detectors on the ceilings of our dorm were really listening devices, a Hungarian student who hated the Soviets whispered to me.

I couldn’t prove it or disprove it. But based on circumstantial evidence of Soviet spying elsewhere, it certainly could have made sense.

I had random, but minor, brushes with obvious KGB types.

Like the time years later when my wife and I were visiting a refusenik family in Moscow I was friendly with as a student. We entered the wrong entrance to the apartment block, and walked to the fourth floor only to realize we were off by one stairwell. The guy in the apartment was mortified that two foreigners showed up at his door. As we walked back down two thick-necked men from KGB central casting were walking up, and all I remember is the man in the apartment pleading with them, “I don’t know who they are, I don’t know who they are.”

So I start from a base of knowledge and experience that is ready to believe in Russian intrigue.

Which brings me to the DNC email hack.

The attempt to isolate Hillary from the DNC email leak damage is proceeding as predicted: The Russians are coming, The Russians are coming.

There is repeated and increasing focus on the allegation that Russia hacked the DNC and gave the files to Wikileaks in order to help Donald Trump.

I express no view on the technical details because I claim no technical expertise. But based on the accounts I’ve read, the technical view comes down to indications in the data reflecting a connection to Russia. “Metadata” and other such stuff, and use of Russian or Russian related descriptors (if that’s the right term) lingering in the background.

Motherboard elaborates on background on why the hack looks similar to other Russian hacks and methods, and describes the technical aspects as follows, in part, All Signs Point to Russia Being Behind the DNC Hack:

The metadata in the leaked documents are perhaps most revealing: one dumped document was modified using Russian language settings, by a user named “Феликс Эдмундович,” a code name referring to the founder of the Soviet Secret Police, the Cheka, memorialised in a 15-ton iron statue in front of the old KGB headquarters during Soviet times. The original intruders made other errors: one leaked document included hyperlink error messages in Cyrillic, the result of editing the file on a computer with Russian language settings. After this mistake became public, the intruders removed the Cyrillic information from the metadata in the next dump and carefully used made-up user names from different world regions, thereby confirming they had made a mistake in the first round.

I have no  way, based on my own knowledge, to evaluate this technical information.

Fortunately, Andy LoCascio, who maintains Legal Insurrection’s server and has extensive experience with computer security issues, emailed me his thoughts. He scoffs at the popular technical analysis floating around in the media:

The idea that that the Russians were sophisticated enough to hack an email account and then stupid enough to leave meta data in place that implicates them (or any other breadcrumbs) is beyond ludicrous. Thinking that Wikileaks isn’t sophisticated enough to scrub the data is even further beyond the pale of reason.

Hacks of this nature are typically done by very sophisticated individuals who in turn sell that information to the highest bidder. Their only motive is profit.

The media love the Russian angle because it makes another story of carelessness, into something that is more exciting. It is possible that hack came from some individual(s) in Russia, but unlikely that some state sponsored hacking attack would be so sloppy.

Marching high ranking Dems in front of the camera and have them making vague references to how this came from Russia is silly. They will never have any evidence that this is the case.

The other angle is correlation. Trump has said some nice things about Putin; some of Trump’s statements about NATO align with Russian interests; Trump’s campaign manager had a business relationship to people aligned with Putin; and so on.

The problem with these correlations is that they are often based on exaggeration or suppositions as to facts, and confuse correlation with causation.

An article by Jeffrey Carr posted at Medium takes apart these correlation arguments, by focusing on a widely shared post by Josh Marshall of the left-wing Talking Points Memo, Fact-Checking That “Trump & Putin” Thing:

Josh Marshall asked me to substantiate my criticism on Twitter of his use of facts in his article “Trump & Putin. Yes, It’s Really A Thing”.

As background, Josh published the above mentioned post. Mark Cuban called him out for jumping to conclusions. Josh replied that he stuck narrowly to the facts. I disagreed w/ Josh and gave a few reasons why. Josh asked me for specifics.

What follows are seven statements from the TPM article which Josh has claimed are facts. He only got two out of seven correct.

Read the whole thing, here are his conclusions:

A fact is defined as a “true piece of information”. How many of Josh’s facts were true?

  • Trump’s debt load was a Bloomberg estimate, not a fact.
  • Trump is highly reliant upon money from Russia. Open to interpretation, not a fact.
  • Trump Soho took investment money from Russian criminals. Fact.
  • Trump’s campaign manager used to work for Viktor Yanukovych when he was running for Prime Minister of Ukraine. Fact.
  • Putin could put Carter Page, Trump’s foreign policy advisor, out of business at any time. Not only not a fact, but untrue and ridiculous on its face.
  • Putin has aligned all state-controlled media behind Trump. False.
  • The Trump Camp only cared about softening the platform on arming Ukraine. False.

For the record, I despise Donald Trump. I can’t imagine a worse candidate for President and I’m shocked and appalled that he is the Republican nominee. However, there’s no need to invent Russian conspiracies to make the Trump boogeyman appear worse than he is.

Carr had an earlier post in June, before Marshall’s viral hypothesis, The DNC Breach and the Hijacking of Common Sense:

Who Is Responsible?

The person or persons responsible are unknown, but let’s assume that CrowdStrike is correct and the responsible party are Russian hackers employed by one or more of Russia’s intelligence services. They used APT28 malware developed and maintained by a Russian lab.

Or — the DNC was breached by a Russian-speaking hacker (Guccifer 2.0?) who is not employed by the Russian intelligence services but has access to the APT28 malware.

Or — the DNC was breached by a Russian hacker who does contract work for the FSB when he isn’t running his own hacker-for-hire business for Russian oligarchs and Swiss lawyers.

Or — the DNC was breached by multiple actors including all of the above.

Attribution is hard enough without cybersecurity companies picking the evidence they need to support the conclusion that they want with threat actor models that are completely devoid of common sense. We can do better.

UPDATED 6/21/16

Here’s a perfect example of how flawed attribution by technical indicators is. Bloomberg reported that the initial attribution of the Bangladesh Central Bank cyber heist to North Korean hackers due to similarity to the malware used against Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2014, may actually be the work of Russian hackers.

So did the Russians to it, and do it to help Trump?

I don’t know, maybe it was the Chinese trying to make it look like the Russians.

What I do know, is that it’s politically convenient to blame the Russians, as it distracts from the content of the communications, which are tearing the Democratic Party apart.

[Featured Image, “Emergency” scene from The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming]


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I don’t think the distraction is working out as well as the Democratic Party elite hoped.

My lotto numbers last week were winners, until #RussianHackers changed the numerals. I should try that logic with our lottery officials!

    MattMusson in reply to Leslie Eastman. | July 25, 2016 at 10:05 pm

    Hillary left the front door open and now they are arguing about who walked in.

      That’s the funniest part about it. The Dims were slapping themselves on the back about how badly they (thought they) punked Romney during the last cycle. “The 80’s called, and they want their foreign policy back!” And all that juvenile, naive bullshit they spewed.

      Then the world got a remedial lesson in Progressive weakness, leading from behind, and abandoning your allies in order to embrace your enemies. The Russians bent Barry and Hill over and rammed them so hard and so often their colons are prolapsed. Putin is running roughshod like Attila the Hun.

      And now this? How stupid do they think the average voter is? Oh, wait…

        DaveGinOly in reply to Paul. | July 27, 2016 at 1:01 am

        Regarding Hillary’s and Obama’s medical condition – caused by not enough lube. I hope, however, that any lube that may have been used was environmentally friendly and not petroleum-based.

Professor, when you say you can’t imagine a worse candidate for President than Donald Trump, it makes me wonder why I should trust your judgment about anything.

I’m serious.

We have right now a spectacle in Philadelphia showcasing Hillary Clinton.

If you don’t see Hillary as a worse possible President than Trump…

Nobody remembers Obama’s smug bullshit about the Cold War wanting its foreign policy back when Romney brought up the Russians?

Just the truth | July 25, 2016 at 9:19 pm

What difference does it make if the Russians are helping Trump? It doesn’t change the fact that the whole Democrat nominating process was rigged in favor of Hillary … that’s the outrage.

It’s my opinion that this conspiracy theory is nothing more than a red herring that’s designed to take the heat off of the Democrat establishment.

    Arminius in reply to Just the truth. | July 26, 2016 at 11:39 pm

    When the truth which Hillary Clinton always works so hard to conceal escapes into the wild and becomes known, her first instinct is to claim its the work of someone conspiring against her. Because the truth always helps her opponents and hurts her.

    It’s the only true thing Hillary Clinton ever says, if only indirectly.

      DaveGinOly in reply to Arminius. | July 27, 2016 at 1:05 am

      On the other hand, with the number of enemies she’s made over the years, it would be surprising if there weren’t conspiracies in operation against her. Although the Russians walked all over her, to their advantage, they probably despise her and would prefer not to sully themselves by engaging with a Clinton administration. They would rather wrestle with a lion, to their credit, than with a skunk.

Greg Toombs | July 25, 2016 at 9:22 pm

Did the Russian write the DNC emails? Collude vs the Bernster? Delete Hillary!’s SOS emails? Distraction via dissembling. Distraction, denial, delay, dissembling, destruction. They really have delivered the big D into the Democratic Party.

Before we do anything we do anything else. How did you manage to keep a LeCarre book in Moscow?

    tom swift in reply to RodFC. | July 26, 2016 at 1:06 am

    They probably loved LeCarre. His tedious English schoolboy anti-Americanism would have fit right in anywhere in the Warsaw Pact.

      MAB in reply to tom swift. | July 26, 2016 at 7:37 am

      Agreed. Tedious, very tedious. I still can’t see what our generation saw in Le Carre. I went back an tried to read him again and my opinion hasn’t changed.

Oh, I believe the Russians are involved. They have been a staple of the democrat party for 50+ years.

    alaskabob in reply to Barry. | July 25, 2016 at 10:12 pm

    More like 75+ years if one includes FDR’s VP prior to Harry. I am referring to fellow travelers and not useful idiots. The facts in the hacks are what count… and so the push to divert attention.

The same FBI that in a few days determined that this was Russians, took how long to decide not to prosecute Hillary? Not buying it.

Second why would Dzerzhinsky be embedded by a Russian intelligence agent? That’s the kind of name that a hacker is more likely to adopt. Hackers like that sort of name.

It really does not have signatures opf being Russian tradecraft. First the Russians would have scrubed the documents of any metadata.
Second. It takes an hour to create a new machine with impeccable false credentials. Just installl a brand new Windows and programs using false user informtion. Or even better, just start with a new computer and put false information in it. Say some lowly DNC official.

BTW isn’t Snowden in Russia? I can see him getting some Russian hackers to do it.

legacyrepublican | July 25, 2016 at 10:05 pm

Poor Chinese. They have hackers too you know. But no one notices their work on attacking our servers.

Hillary least of all.

    They built the servers, they probably have remote access and data miners built in.

      Paul in reply to genes. | July 25, 2016 at 10:37 pm

      Yep, why bother to hack when you can build trojan horses right into the CPUs and network routers?

        legacyrepublican in reply to Paul. | July 26, 2016 at 8:54 am

        Yeah, and to make matters worse, under Obama’s FCC regs, it is getting harder and harder to find a router that you can install DD-WRT on.

          The Friendly Grizzly in reply to legacyrepublican. | July 26, 2016 at 10:39 am

          I agree with your point, but, the FCC has been a pain in the backside about many things, going all the way back to the Federal Radio Commission days.

          Ear Leader has much blame for many things, but the FCC being a crazy agency drunk with power is not one of them.

inspectorudy | July 25, 2016 at 10:10 pm

This was the same reaction about the Benghazi e-mails. The msm was indignant that some outside party was so evil as to release these “Private” e-mails and completely ignored the content which showed that hillary lied about the video to the survivors and parents of the fallen. Expect no more than that from them as we see this tragedy, the DNC, develop. They are in “Circle the wagon” mode for hillary and we will have to find out the facts here and other places but not from the msm.

Hillary, If the Russians hacked the DNC, did the Russians hack your home server?

    To be a Democrat in these times, you must believe two completely contrary things at once:

    1) The DNC server was insecure and hacked by the evil Russians because they hate Hillary and Baww Wawa! Meanies!

    2) Hillary’s server that threw Top Secret information around like popcorn had never been touched by any evil hackers at all, as it was perfectly safe and secure, and anybody who says otherwise is sexist.

APT28 is a group, not software. They’re basing the believe in Russian hackers on the fact that software and methods used are similar to those used by APT28. All indications are that APT28 is not sloppy. I’ll hazard to say that APT28 members have sold copies of the software. IMHO someone else could use that software, copy their methods(several cyber-security firms are well aware of those methods)and deliberately left those “errors” to be found.
Of course cyber-security firm Kaspersky is based in Moscow. Won’t surprise me if they provided the Kremlin with everything they need to access any device “protected” by their software.

I haven’t seen that movie in at least 20 years but from what I recall, it’s still far more entertaining than the Democratic National Convention.

Professor, anyone who follows Russian media knows that Trump is their preferred candidate the way Obama was not eight years ago. Obama was simply a guy they expected to be able to take advantage of easier than the other guy. Trump is the one they feel affinity for. Foer spoke about this and more:
The Donald is very popular there. They don’t care much for a yuppie girl like Hillary. Personalities like Cruz or Walker are absolutely alien to them. Bernie is a holly fool. But Trump, he’s their guy. And if in New York he’s just another excentric, albeit with a lot of dough, in Moscow he’s a standard-bearer. They can relate to Trump the way Americans generally don’t. This is their one chance to put their guy in the White House.
That Kremlin manipulates foreign elections is a well-known fact. Russians are kind of good but then kind of not very good at a lot of things. It’s pretty obvious where some of Trump supporters came from during the primaries… And then they disappeared… Why they couldn’t cover their tracks better I don’t know, but If it’s not Kremlin itself, it’s ordinary Russians, which is even worse, considering how much they hate the US there. But it’s Kremlin.
And where are the Priebus-Manafort emails, I want to know.

    Edge :
    Why are you taking a democrat manufactured & resultant clusterflark & making it about Trump? Why do you consistently insist on doing that?
    Are you a Russian double agent plant, & if so, why are you doing it?

      So it doesn’t bother you that Your Orange Sun is so deeply involved with the Russians?

      Because the real scandal is not sarcasm in internal Democratic communications. The real scandal is the Russian hand in US politics.
      Perfectly timed release of secretly recorded conversations/hacked emails to influence foreign elections is a Kremlin’s tactic. They’ve done it before – in Poland, in Hungary, in Ukraine.
      If you are OK with voting for Putin’s stooge, do it. Just don’t lie to yourself about who you are voting for.

        Edge :
        I’m simply trying to figure out where you’re coming from. With your smart assed, defensive, dismissive, & disingenuous responses you don’t do anything to help that understanding. If you see yourself as a Russian voice of experience calling out the warning of the dangers of Putin you’re not furthering that effort at all.

        By choosing sides & making Trump your focus you’re furthering the confusion. To be blunt with you you’re furthering Putin’s purpose. I expect you’ll respond to this with either more smart-assed & condescending remarks or with hostility. At which point I’ll add you to the list of the many on this site who allow themselves to be defined by their agenda as opposed to a set of principles & purpose to something higher than their own ego.

          1. You failed to address the substance of my argument while writing this ad hominem.
          2. You are accusing me of taking sides, but how can I not? And didn’t you yourself took sides?
          3. I do believe that the Russian connection is something that will define the Trump presidency… By the way, where are his tax returns?

        DaveGinOly in reply to edgeofthesandbox. | July 27, 2016 at 1:27 am

        If it weren’t for dirty tricks employed by the DNC against the Sanders campaign, and other indiscretions, the Russians (if they are in fact behind the exposure of the e-mails) wouldn’t have had squat. The DNC shot itself in the foot, whoever exposed the e-mails did nothing more than reveal the self-inflicted wound to the world. Whoever did it doesn’t necessarily like Trump, they may even dislike him – they just dislike Hillary even more.

Also: do we know who killed Litvinenko or Nemtsov? Yes, we do. Can we prove it?

Yes, the Russians are coming. They are coming to work in the uranium mines that Hillary allowed them to buy.

American Human | July 26, 2016 at 6:40 am

“Emergency…everybody to get from street!”

Common Sense | July 26, 2016 at 7:51 am

Poor democrats falling apart and desperately looking for some one to blame.

Why is this happening? 3 reasons!

Because this is what voters think of Crooked Hillary:
liar dishonest untrustworthy

Isn’t it more likely that some home-grown geek with access to the DNC servers took the emails?

Mister Natural | July 26, 2016 at 8:07 am

that would be JOHN LeCarre

    gulfbreeze in reply to Mister Natural. | July 26, 2016 at 9:24 am

    That would be John le Carré.
    But that would anal retentive.
    Or is it anal-retentive?
    Or does asking the question prove I am?
    Or only if I answer it?

“The 1980s are calling, They know nothing about something called ’email’ “

The Friendly Grizzly | July 26, 2016 at 10:15 am

Slightly off-topic: that picture at the top of the article – the room full of men – is obviously a frame grab from a movie. Which movie. Thank you.

need to separate russians as a state entity from russians as a group of people.
this looks to be a gucifer 2.0 type of setup.
and if so there are russians involved.

lecascio touched upon it in his response but really should have expanded

I suppose the Russians wrote the e-mails, too.

Maybe it was the Russians. Then again, it could have been any one of a long and distinguished list of “allies” that Obama/Clinton/Kerry have repeatedly screwed over the last eight years. Maybe it’s time for the Democrats to pay the price for having meddled in the internal election processes of our friends. Some of our friends tend to play for keeps. This ain’t over yet.

“Like everyone in DC, I immediately searched my name,” said the strategist, who works with the DNC. “I wasn’t in there, which I was happy about, until I realized just how sinister this leak actually was.”

The staffer, like cybersecurity officials who spoke to BuzzFeed News, said the leaks were sinister because those behind the attack might be drip-feeding the emails to the public to create maximum damage for the Clinton campaign.

Yeah, if you are comfortable with bringing Russian mafia into the US federal government.

We should not forget Israel ,Hillary will be a third term of Obama and even though she gives lip service to Israels security ,we know she would keep many of Obamas Israeli haters around.
His Iran deal would be secure .
The Israelis have to hate Obama with the condescending way he treated Netannayu ( sic I know so don’t kill me on that one)).
They would be more likely to want Trump and they certainly have the capability to hack.