Since the exposure of DNC emails back in 2016, it has been widely assumed that the communications were hacked — almost certainly by Russia — and that a character known as “Guccifer 2.0” had something to do with it.
Not only the DNC told us this, but the Obama White House made the claim as well as the Justice Department, the CIA, and the FBI. The big, bad Russians were trying to swing the election to Donald Trump by embarrassing Hillary Clinton.
For the record, the published DNC emails did not move the poll needle a bit. Nor did the revelations of Trump’s misogynistic remarks or scoops on the Clinton Foundation. The voters had already made up their minds about Clinton and Trump, accepted their flaws, and would support them come hell or high water. It’s a myth the Clinton lost because of DNC emails that became public.
But it also appears to be a myth that the emails were hacked by the Russians.
Last week the respected left-liberal magazine The Nation published an explosive article that details in great depth the findings of a new report — authored in large part by former U.S. intelligence officers — which claims to present forensic evidence that the Democratic National Committee was not hacked by the Russians in July 2016. Instead, the report alleges, the DNC suffered an insider leak, conducted in the Eastern time zone of the United States by someone with physical access to a DNC computer.
This report also claims there is no apparent evidence that the hacker known as Guccifer 2.0 — supposedly based in Romania — hacked the DNC on behalf of the Russian government. There is also no evidence, the report’s authors say, that Guccifer handed documents over to WikiLeaks. Instead, the report says that the evidence and timeline of events suggests that Guccifer may have been conjured up in an attempt to deflect from the embarrassing information about Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign that was released just before the Democratic National Convention. The investigators found that some of the “Guccifer” files had been deliberately altered by copying and pasting the text into a “Russianified” word-processing document with Russian-language settings.
If all this is true, these findings would constitute a massive embarrassment for not only the DNC itself but the media, which has breathlessly pushed the Russian hacking narrative for an entire year, almost without question but with little solid evidence to back it up.
You could easily be forgiven for not having heard about this latest development — because, perhaps to avoid potential embarrassment, the media has completely ignored it. Instead, to this point only a few right-wing sites have seen fit to publish follow-ups.
The original piece, authored by former Salon columnistPatrick Lawrence (also known as Patrick L. Smith) appeared in The Nation on Aug. 9. The findings it details are supported by a group of strongly credentialed and well-respected forensic investigators and former NSA and CIA officials. The group call themselves Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, or VIPS, and originally came together in 2003 to protest the use of faulty intelligence to justify the invasion of Iraq under President George W. Bush.
Don’t expect a rush to the exits by the media to correct their own reporting.
The silence from mainstream outlets on this is interesting, if for no other reason than the information appears in a highly-regarded liberal magazine with a reputation for vigorous and thorough reporting — not some right-wing fringe conspiracy outlet carrying water for Donald Trump.
VIPS is a whistleblower organization — intel professionals who came together for mutual protection. I have no idea if their “experts” are “strongly credentialed and well-respected.”
But this report is capable of shocking even the most casual observer.
How about this?
In a memorandum sent to President Trump, VIPS questions why the FBI, CIA and NSA neglected to perform any forensic analysis of the Guccifer documents, which were central to the narrative of Russian hacking.
Investigators found that 1,976 megabytes of data were downloaded locally on July 5, 2016. The information was downloaded with a memory key or some other portable storage device. The download operation took 87 seconds — meaning the speed of transfer was 22.7 megabytes per second — “a speed that far exceeds an internet capability for a remote hack,” as Lawrence puts it. What’s more, they say, a transoceanic transfer would have been even slower (Guccifer claimed to be working from Romania).
“Based on the data we now have, what we’ve been calling a hack is impossible,” Folden told The Nation.
So why the story about complete agreement among our intel agencies that the DNC emails were hacked?
Is this a case of “political intelligence” — that is, intelligence presented to principals (including President Obama and AG Lynch) telling them what the top-level intel professionals think they want to hear?
The media has invested more than a year in “breaking” the Russian collusion story. There are other aspects of that story being examined by Special Counselor Mueller that this report does not clear up.
But it certainly raises questions about the role of our intelligence agencies in Mueller’s investigation and whether they can be trusted to objectively supply him with quality product that is unbiased and based on solid analysis.