the bastards – this is a knife in the throat to putin

Top-Secret NSA Report Details Russian Hacking Effort Days Before 2016 Election
Matthew Cole, Richard Esposito, Sam Biddle, Ryan Grim, Intercept, Jun 5 2017

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Russian military intelligence executed a cyberattack on at least one Pindosi voting software supplier and sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials just days before last November’s presidential election, according to a highly classified intelligence report obtained by The Intercept. The top-secret NSA document, which was provided anonymously to The Intercept and independently authenticated, analyzes intelligence very recently acquired by the agency about a months-long Russian intelligence cyber effort against elements of the Pindo election and voting infrastructure. The report, dated May 5 2017, is the most detailed Pindo government account of Russian interference in the election that has yet come to light. While the document provides a rare window into the NSA’s understanding of the mechanics of Russian hacking, it does not show the underlying “raw” intelligence on which the analysis is based. A Pindosi intelligence officer who declined to be identified cautioned against drawing too big a conclusion from the document because a single analysis is not necessarily definitive. The report indicates that Russian hacking may have penetrated further into Pidno voting systems than was previously understood. It states unequivocally in its summary statement that it was Russian military intelligence, specifically the Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate, or GRU, that conducted the cyber attacks described in the document:

Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate actors … executed cyber espionage operations against a named Pindosi company in Aug 2016, evidently to obtain information on elections-related software and hardware solutions. … The actors likely used data obtained from that operation to … launch a voter registration-themed spear-phishing campaign targeting U.S. local government organizations.

This NSA summary judgment is sharply at odds with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s denial last week that Russia had interfered in foreign elections:

We never engaged in that on a state level, and have no intention of doing so.

Putin, who had previously issued blanket denials that any such Russian meddling occurred, for the first time floated the possibility that freelance Russian hackers with “patriotic leanings” may have been responsible. The NSA report, on the contrary, displays no doubt that the cyber assault was carried out by the GRU. The NSA analysis does not draw conclusions about whether the interference had any effect on the election’s outcome and concedes that much remains unknown about the extent of the hackers’ accomplishments. However, the report raises the possibility that Russian hacking may have breached at least some elements of the voting system, with disconcertingly uncertain results. The NSA and the ODNI were both contacted for this article. Officials requested that we not publish or report on the top secret document and declined to comment on it. When informed that we intended to go ahead with this story, the NSA requested a number of redactions. The Intercept agreed to some of the redaction requests after determining that the disclosure of that material was not clearly in the public interest. The report adds significant new detail to the picture that emerged from the unclassified intelligence assessment about Russian election meddling released by the Obama administration in January. The January assessment presented the Pindo intelligence community’s conclusions but omitted many specifics, citing concerns about disclosing sensitive sources and methods. The assessment concluded with high confidence that the Kremlin ordered an extensive, multi-pronged propaganda effort, with the following goals:

to undermine public faith in the Pindo democratic process, denigrate Sec Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency.

That review did not attempt to assess what effect the Russian efforts had on the election, despite the fact:

Russian intelligence obtained and maintained access to elements of multiple state or local electoral boards.

According to the DHS, the assessment reported reassuringly:

The types of systems we observed Russian actors targeting or compromising are not involved in vote tallying.

The NSA has now learned, however, that Russian government hackers, part of a team with a “cyber espionage mandate specifically directed at Pindosi and foreign elections,” focused on parts of the system directly connected to the voter registration process, including a private sector manufacturer of devices that maintain and verify the voter rolls. Some of the company’s devices are advertised as having wireless internet and Bluetooth connectivity, which could have provided an ideal staging point for further malicious actions.

(There follows an extremely long article, as usual, spurious diagrams, etc, etc, crap fictitious detail, but here is the link to the document – Link.

FBI Arrests NSA Contractor Who Leaked The Document (first half)
Tyler Durden, Zero Hedge, Jun 5 2017

Earlier this afternoon, the Intercept reported that according to a “top secret NSA document,” Russian Military Intelligence “executed a cyber-attack on at least one Pindo voting software supplier and sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials days before election.” The NSA document, reportedly dated May 5, analyzes recently acquired intelligence about “a months-long Russian intelligence cyber-effort against elements of the Pindosi election and voting infrastructure.” The document notes that investigation only began in the last few months and was spurred by “information that became available in Apr 2017.” This is what the document alleges:

Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate actors … executed cyber espionage operations against a named Pindo company in Aug 2016, evidently to obtain information on elections-related software and hardware solutions. … The actors likely used data obtained from that operation to … launch a voter registration-themed spear-phishing campaign targeting Pindo local government organizations.

While the manufacturer victimized by the attack has its name masked throughout the report, the Hill suggests that it might be VR Systems. The email account used to spear-phish customers is listed as vr.elections at gmail com, and the attack made use of malware-infected files with titles that reference to the EViD poll book system. The report makes reference to voter-registration-themed phishing attacks against third parties possibly using information from the account, making it likely the company is somehow related to registration or voter roles. VR’s website says EViD products were used in California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, North Carolina, New York and Virginia. The company is based in Florida. The NSA document alleges the GRU hacked the voting systems company using a false Google alert requiring a target to enter login credentials, and also attempted a parallel campaign using a false email account meant to be confused with a second company. Yet despite all that “sophistication,” Russia’s smartest government hackers somehow left a trail so obvious that it would allow the NSA to conclude in under a month that they were behind it, which is also where the story become questionable, because at roughly the same time, another set of alleged Russian hackers, the Shadow Brokers, was in possession (and trying to sell) weaponized CIA methods, allowing any potential hacker to adopt the identity of anyone else, even the CIA or NSA. Lack of coherent narrative aside, according to the official report, on one hand the NSA summary judgment conflicts with Vladimir Putin’s ongoing denials that Russia had interfered in foreign elections:

We never engaged in that on a state level, and have no intention of doing so.

The NSA report, the Intercept claims, “displays no doubt that the cyber assault was carried out by the GRU.” That said, the report does not claim that voting machines were hacked, a once-popular post-election theory from Demagogs, nor does it state whether the information pertaining to the voting systems could be used to hack those systems. On the other hand, the same Intercept article notes:

A Pindosi intelligence officer who declined to be identified cautioned against drawing too big a conclusion from the document because a single analysis is not necessarily definitive.

Still, the assessment concluded with high confidence that the Kremlin ordered an extensive, multi-pronged propaganda effort “to undermine public faith in the Pindo democratic process, denigrate Sec Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency.” It is not immediately clear how Russian GRU hackers would make the leap between a spear-phishing campaign of election officials to successfully “denigrating Sec Clinton, and her electability and potential presidency,” unless of course that is merely the biased assessment of the original report’s author, in which case it is no different or “useful” than the intel report released in January which “found” Russian involvement, much like this one allegedly did. Since the document is confidential, and is only held by the Intercept, and since it will not be unclassified, nothing that is contained inside it can be verified, aside from the Intercept’s own summary take. Furthermore, according to the author, not even the leaked document “shows the underlying raw intelligence on which the analysis is based.” In other words, just like the January Russian hacking report, it is yet another allegation. At that point, it once again devolves to “he said, she said” mutual allegations. Where the story gets more interesting is that just hours after the Intercept reported on the top secret document, the FBI arrested and charged the woman (with the peculiar name Reality Leigh Winner) they say leaked a TS document to The Intercept. This is what the DOJ released moments ago:

Federal Government Contractor in Georgia Charged With Removing and Mailing Classified Materials to a News Outlet

A criminal complaint was filed in the Southern District of Georgia today charging Reality Leigh Winner, 25, a federal contractor from Augusta, Georgia, with removing classified material from a government facility and mailing it to a news outlet, in violation of §18 USC Section 793(e). Winner was arrested by the FBI at her home on Saturday Jun 3, and appeared in federal court in Augusta this afternoon. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said:

Exceptional law enforcement efforts allowed us quickly to identify and arrest the defendant. Releasing classified material without authorization threatens our nation’s security and undermines public faith in government. People who are trusted with classified information and pledge to protect it must be held accountable when they violate that obligation.

According to the allegations contained in the criminal complaint: “Winner is a contractor with Pluribus Int Corp, assigned to a govt facility in Georgia. She has been employed at the facility since on or about Feb 13, and has held a TS clearance during that time. On or about May 9, Winner printed and improperly removed classified intelligence reporting, which contained classified national defense information from an intelligence agency, and unlawfully retained it. Approximately a few days later, Winner unlawfully transmitted by mail the intelligence reporting to an online news outlet. Once investigative efforts identified Winner as a suspect, the FBI obtained and executed a search warrant at her residence. According to the complaint, Winner agreed to talk with agents during the execution of the warrant. During that conversation, Winner admitted intentionally identifying and printing the classified intelligence reporting at issue despite not having a “need to know,” and with knowledge that the intelligence reporting was classified. Winner further admitted removing the classified intelligence reporting from her office space, retaining it, and mailing it from Augusta, Georgia, to the news outlet, which she knew was not authorized to receive or possess the documents. An individual charged by criminal complaint is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings. The prosecution is being handled by Trial Attorney Julie Edelstein of the DoJ and Assistant Federal Attorney Jennifer Solari of the Southern District of Georgia. The investigation is being conducted by the FBI.

NSA Leaks Seemingly Contradict Obama’s Public Promises On ‘Russian Election Hacking’
Tyler Durden, Zero Hedge, Jun 6 2017

Last night, courtesy of an NSA contractor named Reality Winner who was arrested for leaking top secret intelligence to The Intercept, we learned that Russian Military Intelligence was supposedly conducting hacking operations on Pindosi election infrastructure pretty much right up until election day. And while those Russian military hackers were smart enough to launch a coup of the most advanced democracy on the face of the planet, luckily they were also dumb enough to leave plenty of clues behind to allow the NSA to track their digital footprints all the way back to the Kremlin. And while the latest intelligence leak managed to progress the mainstream media’s “Russian hacking” narrative, it also seems to have potentially ensnared another victim that they would never intentionally attempt to harm, namely Pres Obama. As you may recall, after taking heat from the MSM for failing to intervene against the Russian hackers, at least in a manner sufficient to salvage Hillary’s campaign, Obama held a press conference in Dec 2016 in which he told reporters that Russian efforts to hack the Pindosi election ceased after his September meeting with Putin, in which he allegedly told the Russian President to “cut it out.”

What I was concerned about in particular was making sure [the DNC hack] wasn’t compounded by potential hacking that could hamper vote counting, affect the actual election process itself, and so in early September when I saw Pres Putin in China, I felt that the most effective way to ensure that that didn’t happen was to talk to him directly and tell him to cut it out, because there were going to be some serious consequences if he didn’t, and in fact we did not see further tampering of the election process, but the leaks through WikiLeaks had already occurred, so when I look back, in terms of how we handled it, I think we handled it the way it should have been handled.

Of course, if Obama was being honest when he said that “in fact, we did not see further tampering of the election process” after his Sep 2016 meeting with Putin then perhaps he can explain how & why the NSA had intelligence of a hack targeting election infrastructure as late as “Oct 31 or Nov 1?” Per The Intercept:

The NSA assessed that this phase of the spear-fishing operation was likely launched on either Oct 31 or Nov 1 and sent spear-fishing emails to 122 email addresses “associated with named local government organizations,” probably to officials “involved in the management of voter registration systems.” The emails contained Microsoft Word attachments purporting to be benign documentation for VR Systems’ EViD voter database product line, but which were in reality maliciously embedded with automated software commands that are triggered instantly and invisibly when the user opens the document. These particular weaponized files used PowerShell, a Microsoft scripting language designed for system administrators and installed by default on Windows computers, allowing vast control over a system’s settings and functions.

As far as we can tell, there are 3 possible explanations which might possibly account for this inconsistency:

  1. Obama lied.
  2. Obama was incompetent and simply unaware of the latest NSA intelligence when he hosted his press conference in mid-December.
  3. Obama had both a “public and private” position on whether or not he actually wanted Hillary in the White House. Perhaps he was somewhat more “flexible” on her candidacy than what was portrayed publicly.

2 Comments

  1. Posted June 6, 2017 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    What I’m wondering is …will a transgender defence be attempted?

  2. Fanny
    Posted June 6, 2017 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    The thing that makes this sensitive is the amazingly lame attribution to Russia, Not a word substantiating the headline accusation except yellow lines in a diagram representing ‘analyst judgement.’ This is more embarrassing than aluminum tubes.

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