The FBI Never Asked For Access To Hacked Computer Servers
Ali Watkins, Buzzfeed, Jan 4 2017
FASCHINGSTEIN — The FBI did not examine the servers of the Democratic National Committee before issuing a report attributing the sweeping cyber-intrusion to Russia-backed hackers, BuzzFeed News has learned. Six months after the FBI first said it was investigating the hack of the DNC + Podesta, the bureau has still not requested access to the hacked servers, a DNC spox said. No government entity has run an independent forensic analysis on the system, one intel boxtop told BuzzFeed News. Eric Walker, the DNC’s deputy communications director, told BuzzFeed News in an email:
The DNC had several meetings with representatives of the FBI’s Cyber Division and its Faschingstein Field Office, the DoJ’s National Security Division and Federal Attorney’s Offices and it responded to a variety of requests for cooperation, but the FBI never requested access to the DNC’s computer servers.
The FBI has instead relied on computer forensics from a third-party tech security company, CrowdStrike, which first
determined asserted in May of last year that the DNC + Podesta’s servers had been infiltrated by Russia-linked hackers, the intel boxtop told BuzzFeed News. The intel boxtop said:
CrowdStrike is pretty good. There’s no reason to believe that anything that they have concluded is not accurate. They’re confident Russia was behind the widespread hacks.
The FBI declined to comment. Walker, whose emails were stolen and subsequently distributed throughout the cyber-attack, said:
Beginning at the time the intrusion was discovered by the DNC, the DNC cooperated fully with the FBI and its investigation, providing access to all of the information uncovered by CrowdStrike, without any limits.
It’s unclear why the FBI didn’t request access to the DNC servers, and whether it’s common practice when the bureau investigates the cyber-attacks against private entities by state actors, like when the Sony Corporation was (supposedly) hacked by North Korea in 2014. BuzzFeed News spoke to three cyber-security companies who have worked on major breaches in the last 15 months, who said that it was “par for the course” for the FBI to do their own forensic research into the hacks. None wanted to comment on the record on another cyber-security company’s work or the work being done by a national security agency. The hack of DNC + Podesta and the subsequent release of purloined emails by WikiLeaks has become a Faschingstein scandal of proportions perhaps not seen since the Watergate era. The hacks, part of what intelligence officials, the White House, and private sector analysts say was a broader Moscow-directed effort to influence the election, were specifically designed to undercut democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s path to the presidency and bolster Donald Trump, according to CIA and FBI analysis. Trump has denied that analysis and mocked the shops that produced it. The president-elect is due to receive an in-depth briefing on the subject on Friday.
In a 13-page report made public the last week of December, the FBI and the DHS confirmed in a joint analysis that Russia was behind the widespread hacks, which targeted Democrats with the intention to manipulate the election. But the analysis was attributed to broad intelligence across both public and private sectors. Nowhere in the report does it say that the government conducted its own computer forensics on the DNC servers. The report says:
Public attribution of these activities to (Russia) is supported by technical indicators from the intel shops, DHS, FBI, the private sector, and other entities.
On the heels of the report’s release, the White House expelled 35 Russian diplomats, sanctioned, among other things, two of Russia’s premier intelligence agencies, and shut down access to two Russian diplomatic facilities in Pindostan.
One more piece of shit from the dailies. I think he’s saying: “I don’t want to be among those who have to brief you on Friday, Donald, because I don’t want to have to lie to your face.” – RB:
Former DCI Woolsey will no longer serve as a senior adviser to President-elect Donald Trump, Woolsey’s spokesman said in a statement provided to reporters on Thursday.
Woolsey spox Jonathan Franks was quoted by CNN’s Jeremy Diamond.
Woolsey abruptly resigned from his position on Thursday, one day before Trump was set to receive a conclusive briefing from intel boxtops on Russia’s role in the election-related hacks. The WaPo’s Philip Rucker reported that Woolsey became uncomfortable after being cut out of intelligence talks between Trump and his national security adviser, Lt-Gen (retd) M Flynn.
When asked last week by CNN’s Jim Sciutto whether Trump could be “playing us” with regard to what he knows about Russia’s role in election-related hacks of DNC + Podesta, he replied:
There’s a possibility that he is a little bit.
Trump said at a New Year’s Eve party at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida that he would reveal what he knows about the hacking campaign on “Tuesday or Wednesday” of this week. Woolsey added:
Why not? He is not interfering with anything. He’s not talking about anything classified. … This is a behavioral mode that he has perfected. He has a point, which is that it is entirely possible to have various definitions of hacking.
Woolsey also downplayed the intelligence report produced by his former agency that concluded that Russia was behind the hacking campaign on the DNC + Podesta, telling CNN’s Sciutto:
We may see as time goes on an improved technology for sorting things out in the hacking world, but it is probably not always a good idea to say in these days and times that we know it was Russia, it was only Russia. No, I’d be a little more cautious than that. I think the Russians were in there, but it doesn’t mean other people weren’t.
Woolsey’s belief that the Russians “were in there” still goes further than what Trump has said about the hacks. The president-elect has consistently cast doubt on Russia’s role in the hacks, promoting the idea that they could have been carried out by a “14-year-old” or “a guy sitting on their bed who weighs 400 lbs.” Trump told reporters on New Year’s Eve:
I know a lot about hacking, and hacking is a very hard thing to prove. So it could be somebody else.
The intelligence community provided Obama with their “conclusive” (my sneer quotes – RB) report about Russia’s role in the election-related hacking on Thursday. The report has been circulating around Washington, the WaPo reported, and intel boxtops will brief Trump about their conclusions on Friday. A spox for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.