Posts Tagged ‘Democratic National Committee’

Estonia Leads the Way in NATO’s Cyberdefense

April 30, 2017

Baltic country’s response to 2007 cyberattacks has put it at the forefront of NATO’s defenses against hacking

Participants work during the Locked Shields 2017 exercise in Tallinn, Estonia.

Participants work during the Locked Shields 2017 exercise in Tallinn, Estonia. PHOTO: INTS KALNINS/REUTERS

TALLINN, Estonia—A hotel conference room in the Baltic republic of Estonia recently became the front line in a rehearsal for cyberwarfare, in an exercise that tested the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s readiness to repel hackers.

Last week, nearly 900 cybersecurity experts from across Europe and the U.S. participated in an event hosted in Tallinn to focus on defending a fictional country against a simulated cyberattack. The defenders faced real-world scenarios: a knocked-out email server, fake news accusing a NATO country of developing drones with chemical weapons, and hackers compromising an air base’s fueling system.

The exercise—dubbed Locked Shields 2017—was unprecedented in complexity, organizers say. And for the Estonian cybersecurity team hosting the event, it marked the 10-year anniversary of cyberattacks that crippled the Baltic nation’s nascent digital infrastructure. The attacks, blamed on Russia, swamped Estonian banking and government websites and threatened to take the country offline.

Since the 2007 cyberattacks, the former Soviet republic of 1.3 million has transformed into one of Europe’s most tech-savvy countries. Its importance to NATO is vast: As well as playing a central role in hosting the alliance’s deterrent force in the Baltic region, Estonia is at the forefront of the alliance’s defenses against hacking.

Following Russia’s alleged hacking of the Democratic National Committee ahead of last year’s U.S. presidential election, the urgency has never been greater.

To establish a stronger line of cyberdefense, Estonia established a volunteer body that can be called on to protect the country’s digital infrastructure. The unit’s volunteers donate their free time to regular training, much like a national guard. And they are responsible for defending everything from online banking to the country’s electronic voting system if an attack occurred.

Participants work on their tasks during a live-fire cyberdefense exercise in Tallinn.

Participants work on their tasks during a live-fire cyberdefense exercise in Tallinn. PHOTO: VALDA KALNINA/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

“We have lots of talented people who work in the private sector and we offered them the possibility of working once a week for a more patriotic cause,” said Toomas Hendrik Ilves, the former Estonian president who oversaw the creation of the unit. “You basically think of the most dystopian future imaginable and try to defend against that.”

The Russian government consistently maintains that it doesn’t interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, and denies orchestrating cyberattacks. But NATO officials say they have seen an increase in cyberattacks on their networks.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said earlier this year there were an average of 400 attacks a month on alliance networks, up 60% from the previous year. He didn’t indicate who may have been behind them.

“Our aim is to give [people] the proper mind-set and capabilities to defend against attacks and to protect the lifestyle we are used to,” said Aare Reintam, one of the organizers of the event.

You basically think of the most dystopian future imaginable and try to defend against that.

—Former Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves

During the exercise—the eighth in an annual series—teams faced not only simulated attacks on computer software, but also on critical infrastructure. Planners introduced another challenge: fake news. Participants in this year’s exercise had to confront questions from a hostile press.

Organizers hope the experience gives other countries a chance to bolster their own defenses against cyberattacks. The Maryland National Guard has consulted with Estonia over its use of a cyber variant of a national guard. Neighboring Latvia, also a NATO member, implemented the cyber national guard model in 2014.

“We’re not gearing up to go and invade anyone, we’re worried about building up our defensive skill set,” said Rain Ottis, a 36-year-old university professor who is a longtime organizer in Locked Shields. “We have much to protect and much to lose in terms of cyberspace and way of life.”

While the event wasn’t an official NATO training exercise, the alliance had an official presence, and its NATO-accredited hosting center has been praised by Mr. Stoltenberg.

For Estonians, the Russian hacking threat is viewed as real and urgent. Earlier this year, Estonian parliamentarian Marko Mihkelson received an email that appeared to be from NATO, offering a link to what claimed to be an official analysis of a North Korean missile launch.

Mr. Mihkelson, who is chairman of the parliamentary foreign-affairs committee, didn’t click the link. Instead, he flagged the email to cyber experts who said it employed the same malware used last year against the DNC by an alleged group of Russian hackers known as Fancy Bear.

A man stands next to screens during the Locked Shields 2017 event.

A man stands next to screens during the Locked Shields 2017 event. PHOTO: INTS KALNINS/REUTERS

“Their activity in cyberspace is more aggressive, and they’re not even hiding it any more,” the lawmaker said, blaming Russia for stepping up hacking attacks.

Some analysts say Fancy Bear’s use of less-sophisticated phishing attacks that use fake links to compromise system networks is meant not to steal data as much as to announce Russia’s growing cyber presence to Western countries.

“Since 2014 we’ve seen a real shift in Russian operations in which they didn’t really care if they got caught,” said Robert M. Lee, founder and chief executive of cybersecurity company Dragos.

Write to Thomas Grove at thomas.grove@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/estonia-leads-the-way-in-natos-cyberdefense-1493550002?=e2fb&mod=e2fb

Latest Liberal Talking Point: Trump Guilty of Treason

March 27, 2017

By AARON KLEIN

Breitbart

27 Mar 2017

TEL AVIV – Over the past week, numerous Democratic Party operatives and establishment pundits have used the word “treason” in a seeming attempt to smear President Donald Trump over unproven claims of collusion with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign.

On Monday, Hillary Clinton’s former campaign manager, Robby Mook, demanded Trump’s campaign aides be “prosecuted for treason” if evidence emerges of coordination with Moscow during the recent presidential campaign.

One day later, on Tuesday, Michael Winship, senior writer for BillMoyers.com, wrote an opinion piece titled, “‘There’s a Smell of Treason in the Air’” Winship is a former senior writing fellow at the progressive advocacy group Demos, which is financed by billionaire George Soros.

Winship’s piece, which was republished at the Huffington Post, argued that last Monday’s House Intelligence Committee hearing that probed alleged ties between the Trump administration and Russia was “proof positive of the absolute need for both a special prosecutor and an independent, bipartisan commission with subpoena power to conduct a full investigation” on the matter.

Last week, this reporter found serious problems with the main anti-Trump charges at the hearing, delivered in opening remarks by Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on a House intelligence committee. The charges included wild conspiracy theories and heavy reliance on a questionable source.

The title of Winship’s article, meanwhile, comes from a quote in the Washington Post last week provided by presidential historian Douglas Brinkley, who told the newspaper, “There’s a smell of treason in the air. Imagine if J. Edgar Hoover or any other FBI director would have testified against a sitting president? It would have been a mindboggling event.”

Winship went on to compare the hacking of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to the Watergate scandal under the Nixon administration:

During Schiff’s questioning on Monday, Comey seemed to nod toward agreeing that Russia’s hacking of the Democratic National Committee was not unlike the 1972 physical break-in at the DNC. You know, the one that precipitated the revelations, resignations and prison convictions of Watergate. Drip, drip, drip…

On Thursday, Nicholas Kristof wrote an oped in the New York Times using the same title as Winship, also citing Brinkley’s quotes to the Washington Post.

Kristof starts off his piece, titled, “‘There’s a Smell of Treason in the Air,’” by citing President Richard Nixon:

The greatest political scandal in American history was not Aaron Burr’s shooting of Alexander Hamilton, and perhaps wasn’t even Watergate. Rather it may have been Richard Nixon’s secret efforts in 1968 to sabotage a U.S. diplomatic effort to end the Vietnam War.

Nixon’s initiative, long rumored but confirmed only a few months ago, was meant to improve his election chances that year. After Nixon won, the war dragged on and cost thousands of additional American and Vietnamese lives; it’s hard to see his behavior as anything but treason.

Like Winship, Kristof tries to link Trump to Nixon in order to make the “treason” argument. “Now the F.B.I. confirms that we have had an investigation underway for eight months into whether another presidential campaign colluded with a foreign power so as to win an election,” Kristof wrote. “To me, that too would amount to treason.”

Kristof relied on his own “intelligence experts” who “mostly (but not entirely) believe” that there is a Trump-Russia connection.

He wrote:

I’ve been speaking to intelligence experts, Americans and foreigners alike, and they mostly (but not entirely) believe there was Trump-Russia cooperation of some kind. But this is uncertain; it’s prudent to note that James Clapper, the intelligence director under Barack Obama, said that as of January he had seen no evidence of collusion but that he favors an investigation to get to the bottom of it.

Kristof claimed he was “told (not by a Democrat!) that there’s a persuasive piece of intelligence on ties between Russia and a member of the Trump team that isn’t yet public.”

Kristof speculated the “most likely scenario for collusion seems fuzzier and less transactional than many Democrats anticipate.”

Despite there being no evidence of significant Trump investments in Russia, Kristof then guesses at what it might be – alleged Trump investments in Russia:

The Russians for years had influence over Donald Trump because of their investments with him, and he was by nature inclined to admire Vladimir Putin as a strongman ruler. Meanwhile, Trump had in his orbit a number of people with Moscow ties, including Paul Manafort, who practically bleeds borscht.

The Times’ columnist goes on to channel Winship and also demand the same talking point – a “public and bipartisan investigation by an independent commission.”

On cue, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) warned Friday of a “cloud of treason” hanging over the Trump administration. “The bombshell revelation that US officials have information that suggests Trump associates may have colluded with the Russians means we must pause the entire Trump agenda,” he said.

Lieu called for the “total and complete” shutdown of Trump’s legislative agenda in the wake of the claims.

“We may have an illegitimate President of the United States currently occupying the White House,” Lieu said in a statement. “Congress cannot continue regular order and must stop voting on any Trump-backed agenda item until the FBI completes its Trump-Russia collusion investigation.”

Lieu made similar “treason” comments on Twitter.

Cloud of treason means we must have total shutdown of any @POTUS agenda item. No votes on any item. My stmt https://lieu.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/rep-lieu-statement-report-trump-associates-possible-collusion-russia 

REP. LIEU STATEMENT ON REPORT OF TRUMP ASSOCIATES’ POSSIBLE COLLUSION WITH RUSSIA

Washington – Today, Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D | Los Angeles County) issued the following statement regarding the CNN report that Trump associates possibly colluded with Russia to affect the outcome…

lieu.house.gov

Last week, Lieu also tweeted to Trump: “You truly are an evil man…”

“President” @realDonaldTrump: You truly are an evil man. Your job is to help Americans. Not intentionally try to destroy their lives. https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/845645916732358656 

Writing in the Washington Post on Friday, Jennifer Palmieri, Director of Communications for Clinton’s presidential campaign, also referenced “treason” but from a different angle.

“If Clinton had won with the help of the Russians, the Republicans would have impeachment proceedings underway for treason,” she contended. “No doubt. Instead, dealing with Russia falls nearly solely on Democrats’ shoulders.”

To Palmieri, the case is already closed. She writes that Trump won because of a Russian “plot” as if it were an established fact.

“Now that Trump is president, though, the stakes are higher because the Russian plot succeeded,” Palmieri claims.

Like Winship and Kristof, Palmieri references Watergate to make her point: “The possibility of collusion between Trump’s allies and Russian intelligence is much more serious than Watergate. It is a constitutional crisis. It represents a violation of our republic’s most sacred trust.”

Writing in The Week on Friday, senior correspondent Damon Linker also claims Trump could be guilty of “treason.”

Here is what I can’t understand: FBI Director James Comey testified on Monday that Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is under investigation by the FBI over its potential ties to Russia. Let’s be clear about what this might mean: treason.

James Comey. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images (File Photo)

We don’t yet know what the outcome of the investigation will be (though subsequent press reports have certainly underlined the importance of seeing it through to the end). But the very possibility that a sitting president and his circle could end up credibly accused of having advanced the interests of a hostile foreign power and of having colluded with that power in an effort to undermine the campaign of the president’s political opponent should be more than enough to persuade Republican officeholders and pundits to treat the investigation with utmost seriousness — and to distance themselves from the man at the center of the investigation until such time as he is cleared of any wrongdoing.

And like the others, Linker likens the Russia claims to “Watergate” to advance the “treason” narrative.

Finally, there’s the relative gravity of the allegations in the two scandals. The Watergate break-in itself was obviously a crime, but what led to Nixon’s downfall was the cover-up, which implicated the president in multiple acts of obstruction of justice, abuse of power, and contempt of Congress. That would have been more than enough to impeach Nixon, remove him from office, and indict him. Bad? You bet. But far from treason.

The allegations swirling around the Trump campaign are far more serious.

Also on Friday, journalist Carl Bernstein – who is known for breaking the Watergate story in 1972 – slammed Trump as “more treacherous” than Nixon.

Meanwhile, former Bill Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich, who has been working closely with the Soros-financed MoveOn.org, penned a piece published in Newsweek arguing Trump’s Supreme Court pick Neil Gorsuch “shouldn’t be confirmed until Trump comes clean” about alleged ties to Russia.

Like Lieu’s reference to a “cloud of treason” hanging over the Trump administration, Reich claimed a “true cloud of illegitimacy now hangs over the presidency of Donald Trump.”

Reich’s piece was followed up by a MoveOn.org petition calling for Trump’s agenda to be “shut down” while he is investigated over the Russia claims.

The petition states: “Congress must pause all Trump-related legislation and appointments—starting with a halt to Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation process—until the American people learn the full truth about Trump and Russia.”

In recent days, the hashtag #TrumpTreason has been trending on Twitter.

Prominent users of the hashtag include Trump critic Rosie O’Donnell

This is not the first time this reporter documented the theme of establishment-types parroting similar anti-Trump talking points. In February, a trend emerged in which news media outlets featured articles quoting health care professionals who questioned the billionaire’s mental stability in a seeming bid to delegitimize the president.

Following those reports, some Democratic politicians – and at least one Republican – called for Trump to be subjected to a psychiatric examination to determine whether he was fit for office. Some commentators have even suggested invoking the 25th Amendment of the Constitution, which allows for the commander-in-chief’s removal from office if the “president is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.

With research by Joshua Klein.

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/03/27/establishment-parrots-latest-talking-point-trump-may-guilty-treason/

FBI investigating ties between Russia and Trump campaign

March 20, 2017

AFP and The Associated Press

© Nicholas Kamm, AFP | FBI Director James Comey (pictured left) and NSA Director Mike Rogers on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. on March 20, 2017

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2017-03-20

FBI Director James Comey confirmed Monday that the bureau is investigating possible links and coordination between Russia and associates of President Donald Trump as part of a probe of Russian interference in last year’s presidential election.

The extraordinary revelation came at the outset of Comey’s opening statement in a congressional hearing examining Russian meddling and possible connections between Moscow and Trump‘s campaign. He acknowledged that the FBI does not ordinarily discuss ongoing investigations, but said he’d been authorized to do so given the extreme public interest in this case.

“This work is very complex, and there is no way for me to give you a timetable for when it will be done,” Comey told the House Intelligence Committee.

Earlier in the hearing, the chairman of the committee contradicted an assertion from Trump by saying that there had been no wiretap of Trump Tower. But Rep. Devin Nunes, a California Republican whose committee is one of several investigating, said that other forms of surveillance of Trump and his associates have not been ruled out.

Comey was testifying at Monday’s hearing along with National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers.

Trump, who recently accused President Barack Obama of wiretapping his New York skyscraper during the campaign, took to Twitter before the hearing began, accusing Democrats of making up allegations about his campaign associates’ contact with Russia during the election. He said Congress and the FBI should be going after media leaks and maybe even Hillary Clinton instead.

“The real story that Congress, the FBI and others should be looking into is the leaking of Classified information. Must find leaker now!” Trump tweeted early Monday as news coverage on the Russia allegations dominated the morning’s cable news.

Trump also suggested, without evidence, that Clinton’s campaign was in contact with Russia and had possibly thwarted a federal investigation. U.S. intelligence officials have not publicly raised the possibility of contacts between the Clintons and Moscow. Officials investigating the matter have said they believe Moscow had hacked into Democrats’ computers in a bid to help Trump’s election bid.

The real story that Congress, the FBI and all others should be looking into is the leaking of Classified information. Must find leaker now!

Monday’s hearing, one of several by congressional panels probing allegations of Russian meddling, could allow for the greatest public accounting to date of investigations that have shadowed the Trump administration in its first two months.

The top two lawmakers on the committee said Sunday that documents the Justice Department and FBI delivered late last week offered no evidence that the Obama administration had wiretapped Trump Tower, the president’s New York City headquarters. But the panel’s ranking Democrat said the material offered circumstantial evidence that American citizens colluded with Russians in Moscow’s efforts to interfere in the presidential election.

“There was circumstantial evidence of collusion; there is direct evidence, I think, of deception,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” ”There’s certainly enough for us to conduct an investigation.”

The Democrats made up and pushed the Russian story as an excuse for running a terrible campaign. Big advantage in Electoral College & lost!

Nunes said: “For the first time the American people, and all the political parties now, are paying attention to the threat that Russia poses.”

“We know that the Russians were trying to get involved in our campaign, like they have for many decades. They’re also trying to get involved in campaigns around the globe and over in Europe,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.”

The Senate Intelligence Committee has scheduled a similar hearing for later in the month.

It is not clear how much new information will emerge Monday, and the hearing’s open setting unquestionably puts Comey in a difficult situation if he’s asked to discuss an ongoing investigation tied to the campaign of the president.

At a hearing in January, Comey refused to confirm or deny the existence of any investigation exploring possible connections between Trump associates and Russia, consistent with the FBI’s longstanding policy of not publicly discussing its work. His appearances on Capitol Hill since then have occurred in classified settings, often with small groups of lawmakers, and he has made no public statements connected to the Trump campaign or Russia.

Any lack of detail from Comey on Monday would likely be contrasted with public comments he made last year when closing out an investigation into Clinton’s email practices and then, shortly before Election Day, announcing that the probe would be revived following the discovery of additional emails.

(AP)

Related:

FBI Director Comey: Justice Dept. has no information that supports President Trump’s tweets alleging he was wiretapped by Obama

March 20, 2017

James Comey. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images (File Photo)

.

The Washington Post
March 20 at 11:27 AM
.
FBI Director James B. Comey acknowledged on Monday the existence of a counterintelligence investigation into the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election, and said that probe extends to the nature of any links between Trump campaign associates and the Russian government.
.
Testifying before the House Intelligence Committee, Comey said the investigation is also exploring whether there was any coordination between the campaign and the Kremlin, and “whether any crimes were committed.”
.The acknowledgment was an unusual move, given that the FBI’s practice is not to confirm the existence of ongoing investigations. “But in unusual circumstances, where it is in the public interest,” Comey said, “it may be appropriate to do so.”

Comey said he had been authorized by the Justice Department to confirm the wide-ranging probe’s existence.

He spoke at the first intelligence committee public hearing on alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election, along with National Security Agency head Michael S. Rogers.

Comey: No information to support Trump’s wiretapping tweets

FBI Director James B. Comey said at a House Intelligence Committee hearing that he has no information that Trump Tower was wiretapped by former president Barack Obama. (Reuters)

The hearing comes amid the controversy fired up by President Trump two weeks ago when he tweeted, without providing evidence, that President Barack Obama ordered his phones tapped at Trump Tower.

Comey says there is “no information’’ that supports Trump’s claims that his predecessor Barack Obama ordered surveillance of Trump Tower during the election campaign.

“I have no information that supports those tweets,’’ said Comey. “We have looked carefully inside the FBI,’’ and agents found nothing to support those claims, he said. He added the Justice Department had asked him to also tell the committee that that agency has no such information, either.

Under questioning from the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif,), Comey said no president could order such surveillance.

Committee chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said in his opening statement, “The fact that Russia hacked U.S. election-related databases comes as no shock to this committee. We have been closely monitoring Russia’s aggressions for years…However, while the indications of Russian measures targeting the U.S. presidential election are deeply troubling, one benefit is already clear – it has focused wide attention on the pressing threats posed by the Russian autocrat. In recent years, Committee members have issued repeated and forceful pleas for stronger action against Russian belligerence. But the Obama administration was committed to the notion, against all evidence, that we could ‘reset’ relations with Putin, and it routinely ignored our warnings.”

Nunes said he hoped the hearing would focus on several key questions, including what actions Russia undertook against the United States during the 2016 election and did anyone from a political campaign conspire in these activities? He also wants to know if the communications of any campaign officials or associates were subject to any improper surveillance.

“Let me be clear,” he said. “We know there was not a wiretap on Trump Tower. However, it’s still possible that other surveillance activities were used against President Trump and his associates.”

Finally, Nunes said he is focused on leaks of classified information to the media. “We aim to determine who has leaked or facilitated leaks of classified information so these individuals can be brought to justice,” he said.

In his opening statement, Schiff said, “We will never know whether the Russian intervention was determinative in such a close election. Indeed it is unknowable in a campaign in which so many small changes could have dictated a different result. More importantly, and for the purposes of our investigation, it simply does not matter. What does matter is this: the Russians successfully meddled in our democracy, and our intelligence agencies have concluded that they will do so again.”

He added: “Most important, we do not yet know whether the Russians had the help of U.S. citizens, including people associated with the Trump campaign. Many of Trump’s campaign personnel, including the president himself, have ties to Russia and Russian interests. This is, of course, no crime. On the other hand, if the Trump campaign, or anybody associated with it, aided or abetted the Russians, it would not only be a serious crime, it would also represent one of the most shocking betrayals of our democracy in history.”

Just hours before the start of the hearing, Trump posted a series of tweets claiming Democrats “made up” the allegations of Russian contacts in an attempt to discredit the GOP during the presidential campaign. Trump also urged federal investigators to shift their focus to probe disclosures of classified material.

“The real story that Congress, the FBI and all others should be looking into is the leaking of Classified information,” Trump wrote early Monday. “Must find leaker now!”

Republican members pressed hard on the subject of leaks to the media that resulted in news stories about contacts between Russian officials and the Trump campaign or administration officials. Nunes sought an admission from the officials that the leaks were illegal under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court act, the law that governs foreign intelligence-gathering on U.S. soil or of U.S. persons overseas.

“Yes,” Comey answered. “In addition to being a breach of our trust with the FISA court.”

One story in particular that apparently upset the Republicans was a Feb. 9 story by The Washington Post reporting that Trump’s national security advisor, Michael Flynn, discussed the subject of sanctions with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, in the month before Trump took office. The Post reported that the discussions were monitored under routine, court-approved monitoring of Kislyak’s calls.

Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) pressed Rogers to clarify under what circumstances it would be legitimate for Americans caught on tape speaking with people under surveillance to have their identities disclosed publicly, and whether leaking those identities would “hurt or help” intelligence collection.

“Hurt,” Rogers noted.

Rogers stressed that the identities of U.S. persons picked up through “incidental collection” – that being the way intelligence officials picked up on Flynn’s phone calls with Kislyak – are disclosed only on a “valid, need to know” basis, and usually only when there is a criminal activity or potential threat to the United States at play.

Rogers added that there are a total of 20 people in the NSA he has delegated to make decisions about when someone’s identity can be unmasked.

The FBI probe combines an investigation into hacking operations by Russian spy agencies with efforts to understand how the Kremlin sought to manipulate public opinion and influence the election’s outcome.

In January, the intelligence community released a report concluding that Russian President Vladi­mir Putin wanted to not only undermine the legitimacy of the election process but also harm the campaign of Hillary Clinton and boost Trump’s chances of winning.

Hackers working for Russian spy agencies penetrated the computers of the Democratic National Committee in 2015 and 2016 as well as the email accounts of Democratic officials, intelligence official said in the report. The material was relayed to WikiLeaks, the officials said, and the anti-secrecy group began a series of damaging email releases just before the Democratic National Convention that continued through the fall.

On Friday, the Justice Department delivered documents to the committee in response to a request for copies of intelligence and criminal wiretap orders and applications. Nunes, speaking Sunday, said the material provided “no evidence of collusion” to sway the election toward Trump and repeated previous statements that there is no credible proof of any active coordination.

But Schiff, also speaking Sunday, said there was “circumstantial evidence of collusion” at the outset of the congressional investigations into purported Russian election meddling, as well as “direct evidence” that Trump campaign figures sought to deceive the public about their interactions with Russian figures.

The concerns about Moscow’s meddling are also being felt in Europe, where France and Germany hold elections this year. “Our allies,” Schiff said, “are facing the same Russian onslaught.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/fbi-director-to-testify-on-russian-interference-in-the-presidential-election/2017/03/20/cdea86ca-0ce2-11e7-9d5a-a83e627dc120_story.html?utm_term=.2b44421224ec

*******************************

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON – FBI Director James Comey confirmed Monday that the bureau is investigating possible links and coordination between Russia and associates of President Donald Trump as part of a broader probe of Russian interference in last year’s presidential election.

The extraordinary revelation came at the outset of Comey’s opening statement in a congressional hearing examining Russian meddling and possible connections between Moscow and Trump’s campaign. He acknowledged that the FBI does not ordinarily discuss ongoing investigations, but said he’d been authorized to do so given the extreme public interest in this case.

“This work is very complex, and there is no way for me to give you a timetable for when it will be done,” Comey told the House Intelligence Committee.

Earlier in the hearing, the chairman of the committee contradicted an assertion from Trump by saying that there had been no wiretap of Trump Tower. But Rep. Devin Nunes, a California Republican whose committee is one of several investigating, said that other forms of surveillance of Trump and his associates have not been ruled out.

Comey was testifying at Monday’s hearing along with National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers.

Trump, who recently accused President Barack Obama of wiretapping his New York skyscraper during the campaign, took to Twitter before the hearing began, accusing Democrats of making up allegations about his campaign associates’ contact with Russia during the election. He said Congress and the FBI should be going after media leaks and maybe even Hillary Clinton instead.

“The real story that Congress, the FBI and others should be looking into is the leaking of Classified information. Must find leaker now!” Trump tweeted early Monday as news coverage on the Russia allegations dominated the morning’s cable news.

Trump also suggested, without evidence, that Clinton’s campaign was in contact with Russia and had possibly thwarted a federal investigation. U.S. intelligence officials have not publicly raised the possibility of contacts between the Clintons and Moscow. Officials investigating the matter have said they believe Moscow had hacked into Democrats’ computers in a bid to help Trump’s election bid.

Monday’s hearing, one of several by congressional panels probing allegations of Russian meddling, could allow for the greatest public accounting to date of investigations that have shadowed the Trump administration in its first two months.

The top two lawmakers on the committee said Sunday that documents the Justice Department and FBI delivered late last week offered no evidence that the Obama administration had wiretapped Trump Tower, the president’s New York City headquarters. But the panel’s ranking Democrat said the material offered circumstantial evidence that American citizens colluded with Russians in Moscow’s efforts to interfere in the presidential election.

“There was circumstantial evidence of collusion; there is direct evidence, I think, of deception,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” `’There’s certainly enough for us to conduct an investigation.”

Nunes said: “For the first time the American people, and all the political parties now, are paying attention to the threat that Russia poses.”

“We know that the Russians were trying to get involved in our campaign, like they have for many decades. They’re also trying to get involved in campaigns around the globe and over in Europe,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.”

The Senate Intelligence Committee has scheduled a similar hearing for later in the month.

It is not clear how much new information will emerge Monday, and the hearing’s open setting unquestionably puts Comey in a difficult situation if he’s asked to discuss an ongoing investigation tied to the campaign of the president.

At a hearing in January, Comey refused to confirm or deny the existence of any investigation exploring possible connections between Trump associates and Russia, consistent with the FBI’s longstanding policy of not publicly discussing its work. His appearances on Capitol Hill since then have occurred in classified settings, often with small groups of lawmakers, and he has made no public statements connected to the Trump campaign or Russia.

Any lack of detail from Comey on Monday would likely be contrasted with public comments he made last year when closing out an investigation into Clinton’s email practices and then, shortly before Election Day, announcing that the probe would be revived following the discovery of additional emails.


PUBLISHED: MARCH 20, 2017, 8:01 A.M. 

Democrats Turn Against Israel

March 20, 2017

In 1972 ours was the first party to back moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.

Rep. Keith Ellison on Capitol Hill, Feb. 1.

Rep. Keith Ellison on Capitol Hill, Feb. 1. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

Rep. Keith Ellison’s selection as deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee is the latest ratification of our party’s turn away from Israel. Mr. Ellison, who complained in 2010 that “United States foreign policy in the Middle East is governed by what is good or bad through a country of seven million people,” narrowly lost a bid for DNC chairman, then was chosen by acclamation as deputy.

The Democrats used to be the pro-Israel party. President Truman recognized the Jewish state within minutes of its independence in 1948. In 1972 the convention that nominated George McGovern ratified the first major-party platform to support moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. The Republicans didn’t follow until 1996.

A lot has changed for the Democrats in 45 years. President Obama created an atmosphere of outright hostility between the U.S. and Israel. He made a nuclear deal with Iran and refused to veto the United Nations Security Council resolution in December that condemned settlements in the disputed West Bank.

Hillary Clinton might have been an improvement, but her commitment to Israel has long been questioned. As secretary of state, she referred to Israeli settlements as “illegitimate.” In 2015 she had to reassure donors to her presidential campaign that she still supported Israel. Even during Bill Clinton’s administration, pro-Israel Democrats worried that Mrs. Clinton would influence her husband in the wrong direction.

Then there’s Sen. Bernie Sanders, who as a presidential candidate in April 2016 accused Israel of being “indiscriminate” in “attacks against civilian areas” when defending itself against rockets fired by terrorists from Gaza. Mr. Sanders received 43% of Democratic primary votes.

How did this happen? There was once an inexorable link between support for Israel and for the civil-rights movement. Both were responses to invidious discrimination—anti-Semitism and racism. Starting in the mid-1960s, however, an anti-Israel minority emerged in the form of the New Left. These groups—such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Students for a Democratic Society, and the Black Panthers—saw Israelis as oppressors and Palestinians as engaged in a “just struggle for liberation” as Panthers founder Huey P. Newton put it.

In the 1970s elements of the left became steadily more hostile to Israel. A turning point came in 1975, when the U.N. passed a resolution equating Zionism with racism. That provided an intellectual and political opening for those who wanted to drive a wedge between supporters of Israel and of civil rights.

An organization called Basic—Black Americans to Support Israel Committee—was formed to condemn the resolution. “We seek to defend democracy in the Mideast, and therefore we support Israel,” the civil-rights leader Bayard Rustin declared. Unfortunately, that was the last time the organized Jewish and black communities worked together.

In 1979 President Carter fired U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, the first African-American to hold that position, for violating U.S. policy by meeting with a representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Mr. Young’s dismissal led several black leaders to break with their Jewish allies on Israel.

In 1984 Jesse Jackson, who’d publicly embraced PLO head Yasser Arafat five years earlier, ran for the Democratic presidential nomination. A Washington Post story about his difficult relationship with Jews quoted him as using the slur “Hymie” and calling New York City “Hymietown.” Mr. Jackson won 3.3 million votes in the primaries. He ran again in 1988 and more than doubled the total, to 6.9 million—another sign of the party’s slow shift.

There are still pro-Israel Democrats, but they are beleaguered and equivocal. New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, now the minority leader, described himself in 2010 as the Senate’s protector of Israel: “My name . . . comes from a Hebrew word. It comes from the word shomer, which mean guardian.” But how effectively has he played that role?

In 2015 Mr. Schumer was one of four Senate Democrats to vote against Mr. Obama’s Iran deal. But killing it would have taken 13 Democrats, and Politico reported Mr. Schumer phoned Democratic colleagues to “assure them he would not be whipping opposition to the deal.” Mr. Schumer—whose Brooklyn apartment building has been protested by leftist opponents of President Trump—was also an early backer of Mr. Ellison for the party chairmanship.

One reason Democrats have continued the move away from Israel is that Jewish voters haven’t exacted a price for it. Exit polls in 2016 found they supported Mrs. Clinton over Mr. Trump, 71% to 23%, in line with their historic levels of Democratic support.

There’s still an opportunity here for the GOP. Especially if Mr. Trump delivers on his promise to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, the Jewish vote could start trending Republican. Unless Democrats reaffirm their support for Israel, many lifelong party members—ourselves included—may decide that the time has come to find new political affiliations.

Mr. Stein, who held elective office in New York between 1969 and 1994, is now a business consultant. Mr. Schoen served as a political adviser and pollster for President Clinton, 1994-2000.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/democrats-turn-against-israel-1489957479?mod=e2two

Donna Brazile Now Knows: There Are Emails That Cannot Lie — Brazile Says Russian DNC Narrative Played Out Exactly As They Hoped (How does she know what they hoped?)

March 19, 2017

DKIM Verification

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Donna Brazile, vice chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), walks through the spin room after the second U.S. presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S., on Oct. 9, 2016.  Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Domain Keys Identified Mail, or DKIM, is a highly regarded email security system that can be used to independently authenticate the contents and sender of an email that uses it.

DKIM was developed and is widely deployed as an email server anti-spam mechanism, including on Gmail.com and HillaryClinton.com. DKIM-enabled mail servers cryptographically sign the emails they relay so that the recipients’ mail servers can authenticate them. DKIM has the beneficial side-effect of causing messages to become “cryptographically non-repudiable”; that is, after the email has been sent, the sender cannot credibly repudiate the message and say that it is a forgery. A DKIM mail server creates a cryptographically strong proof attesting to the authenticity of the email, which it adds to each of the headers of each email it sends. This cryptographic proof can then be tested by anyone who obtains a copy of the email.

In the Podesta email archive, many of the politically significant emails use DKIM authentication, including several contentious emails which some politicians have attempted to repudiate. These mails are, in fact, signed by HillaryClinton.com’s email provider, Google. This authentication is on top of the journalistic validations of the email archive already carried out by WikiLeaks.

For example, an email that DNC Chair Donna Brazile falsely claimed to be “doctored by Russian sources” is in fact validated. Similarly validated is the email referencing a future appointment of  Tim Kaine as Vice-President of the United States, which Mr Kaine publicly attempted to allege was fake. Both these emails have been secondarily validated by Google as being sent, with the content exactly as published by WikiLeaks.

You can see on our pages a notice when an email has additional validation through DKIM. What does this mean? It means that the content of the email has been independently verified to be authentic in its entirety and this verification process can be performed by anyone. Most DKIM- authenticated emails are essentially indisputable.

You can see the DKIM signatures on emails that have them by clicking on the “view source” tab and looking at the email’s headers for “DKIM-Signature:”, for example:

DKIM-Signature: v=1; a=rsa-sha256; c=relaxed/relaxed; d=gmail.com; s=20120113; h=mime-version:in-reply-to:references:date:message-id:subject:from:to:cc:content-type; bh=LMXa7c2eNKxvY4PrcbVDYCrY8kI1NpfrYq0D1CP9cM0=; b=cGVf2qJhuzMfD3qsH8q9pABcHFE3ll1t/sw8jT3fNJ…..==

Technical note:

Due to the complexities of modern email systems, and the fragility of cryptographic signatures, any formatting or character change to a message or many of its headers, no matter how small, will prevent a message from being validated. As a result, while the proof conveyed by a valid signature is strong (the message is authentic), the failure of the validation process has little meaning. It definitely does not mean the email is invalid, it just has not been positively validated in this way. The reasons vary by message. Many email systems routinely modify mail after it has been sent and before it is delivered, doing such things as adding footers, legal notices and updating certain mail headers or the message’s content encoding. These include thousands of messages from Google Groups and other mailing lists, as well as Google Calendar reminders, and many mails that have been forwarded through one or more systems, including mini mail servers on portable devices, before arriving in Mr Podesta’s Gmail inbox. Some of these types of message do validate, but large numbers of them do not. It is easy to independently verify, using other email collections such as your own inbox, that these types of emails are frequent. Emails with any of the headers “X-Google-Loop”, “Resent-From”, “List-Id”, or “Sender” are disproportionately represented in this group. Keys also change over time or multiple keys may be active at one time due to mail server or DNS (mis)configuration. In some cases, non-validating messages can be made to validate by attempting to guess the suspected formatting or forwarding modifications to the headers or body and reversing them.

For more information, see http://www.dkim.org/ and https://blog.returnpath.com/how-to-explain-dkim-in-plain-english-2/

https://wikileaks.org/DKIM-Verification.html

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Donna Brazile: Russian DNC Narrative Played Out Exactly As They Hoped

Mar 17, 2017
Brazile is a Democratic political strategist

For weeks now, we’ve seen a steady stream — not just leaks — of information about possible contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russians. This is after the F.B.I. and our intelligence community determined that Russia interfered in the United States election with the aim of electing Donald Trump president.

For the sake of our country, and our democracy, this level of interference calls for a thorough and independent investigation. And that investigation needs to start now.

These malicious attacks were not a momentary cyber intrusion. The attacks were coordinated by a foreign adversary and executed for over a year with devastating results for those of us who were targeted, and ultimately for every American.

The recent spate of revelations shows communications between Trump officials and Russian operatives, conversations between Kremlin officials about their contacts with Trump associates, and information from our allies about meetings between the Trump team and Russian operatives in Europe.

We now know that Attorney General Jeff Sessions met with the Russian ambassador at least twice last year, despite his sworn testimony before Congress that he had no contact with Russian officials during the campaign. But it is not just Mr. Sessions and Michael Flynn (who has resigned over his conversations with the Russians) who have misled officials and the public about the campaign’s contact with Moscow. The Trump campaign and Trump White House – up to and including Mr. Trump himself – have repeatedly claimed there was no contact between the Trump team and Russia during the campaign, which we now know is not true.

Despite all the deeply troubling evidence, the White House continues to insist that “there’s no there there.”

In light of all of this, you would think Republican leaders in Congress would put their country before politics and call for an impartial investigation. Yet even now, the number of congressional Republicans who have come forward to demand a proper, independent investigation by a special prosecutor is embarrassingly small.

As a former presidential campaign manager, I know that the very essence of a campaign is its strategy, the ability to design a winning plan. A winning plan requires research, resources and personnel. Russia’s attacks on the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 election cycle compromised each of these elements.

When I was asked last July to step in temporarily as D.N.C. Chair, I knew things were amiss. The D.N.C. had been hacked, and thousands of staff emails and documents were plastered on various websites. Staff were harassed, morale suffered, and we lost weeks of planning. Donors were harassed, and fundraising fell off.

Then in October, a subsequent release of emails revealed that among the many things I did in my role as a Democratic operative and D.N.C. Vice Chair prior to assuming the interim D.N.C. Chair position was to share potential town hall topics with the Clinton campaign. I had been working behind the scenes to add more town hall events and debates to the primary calendar, and I helped ensure those events included diverse moderators and addressed topics vital to minority communities. My job was to make all our Democratic candidates look good, and I worked closely with both campaigns to make that happen. But sending those emails was a mistake I will forever regret.

By stealing all the DNC’s emails and then selectively releasing those few, the Russians made it look like I was in the tank for Secretary Clinton. Despite the strong, public support I received from top Sanders campaign aides in the wake of those leaks, the media narrative played out just as the Russians had hoped, leaving Sanders supporters understandably angry and sowing division in our ranks. In reality, not only was I not playing favorites, the more competitive and heated the primary got, the harder D.N.C. staff worked to be scrupulously fair and beyond reproach. In all the months the Russians monitored the D.N.C.’s email, they found just a handful of inappropriate emails, with no sign of anyone taking action to disadvantage the Sanders campaign.

But the damage was done. Politics has never been considered a clean sport, but 2016 marked a new low. The D.N.C., a political party committee dedicated in part to defending free and fair elections, was attacked by the Russians while the Republican nominee for president openly encouraged it. This was not a Hollywood movie about rogue spies and super agents. This was real life.

Despite the widely accepted conclusion that Russia launched an unprecedented attack on our democracy, our new President and many in the Republican party are brushing this off. President Trump claims the R.N.C.’s cyber defenses thwarted the Russians’ best efforts to penetrate them, and the D.N.C. has only itself to blame for inadequate security. But this wasn’t a “400-pound hacker” in a basement, as Mr. Trump suggested; this was a foreign military cyber command that also penetrated the White House and the Joint Chiefs. If they did not break in somewhere, it’s not because they couldn’t—it’s because they didn’t want to.

Let me be clear: This is not just the price of politics. This is not normal. We cannot let this stand. Our democratic process itself was attacked and harmed, and all Americans should be concerned.

Senator Chuck Schumer has called for an independent investigation of these attacks. He wants the Deputy Attorney General to appoint a special prosecutor, or, if the Department of Justice refuses, then Congress needs to create a new and improved version of the Independent Counsel Law, giving a three-judge panel the authority to appoint an independent counsel. And while Attorney General Sessions has recused himself from any investigation into contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, the inspector general of the Department of Justice still needs to investigate Mr. Sessions’ own involvement in this matter.

There is still much we don’t know about the methods and specific objectives of the Russian government and others involved in these cyberattacks. Americans deserve to know what happened, and who knew what and when. Without an independent investigation to uncover the truth, these troubling questions will not go away. We also need a 9/11-style independent commission to make sure our country identifies the steps we need to take to prevent similar attacks in the future. We let this happen once, but we must never let it happen again.

Donna Brazile, a Democratic political strategist, is the author of Cooking With Grease: Stirring the Pots in American Politics.

Related:

Yahoo Hacking Charges Cast New Light on Ties Between Russia’s FSB, Cybercriminals

March 16, 2017

U.S. indictments overlap with major cybercrime scandal that rocked Russian political establishment

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Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow. AFP photo

By Nathan Hodge
The Wall Street Journal
March 15, 2017 6:11 p.m. ET

MOSCOW — The U.S. government’s indictment of Russian government officials in connection with the hacking of Yahoo Inc. casts new light on the nexus between Russia’s intelligence services and the world of cybercriminals.

The Justice Department on Wednesday alleged two officers of Russia’s Federal Security Service, the successor agency to the Soviet-era KGB, recruited hackers to breach the Yahoo’s networks.

It isn’t the first time the U.S. government has accused Russia’s spies of tapping the expertise of hackers. U.S. intelligence agencies last year accused the Russian government of trying to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections by orchestrating the hacking of emails from the Democratic National Committee and other entities. The Russians have consistently denied any interference in U.S. domestic politics.

“Washington did not communicate with Moscow through the channels available to address issues related to cybersecurity in this case,” a Russian official said Wednesday following the Justice Department’s allegations. “This fact, as well as the lack of specifics in this case, suggest the next round of raising the theme of ‘Russian hackers’ in the domestic political squabbles in the U.S.”

The new U.S. indictments also appear to overlap with a major cybercrime scandal that has rocked the Russian political establishment.

Earlier this year, Russian news media were abuzz over the news of arrests tied to a high-profile treason case. Those arrested included at least two intelligence officials at the FSB and an employee at Kaspersky Lab, Russia’s most prominent cybersecurity firm. The Russian government provided little official confirmation, but investigative reports and Russian news media speculated the arrests were tied to a hacking collective named “Shaltai Boltai,” a shadowy group that earned notoriety in Russia by leaking the private correspondence of high-ranking government officials.

The FSB hasn’t spoken publicly about the treason case and couldn’t be reached about the charges announced Wednesday.

Much as WikiLeaks has become a headache for successive U.S. administrations, Shaltai Boltai revealed compromising information and hacked the accounts of prominent individuals, including the Twitter account of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

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Adding to the sensation of the case, two of the individuals named late last year in the arrests were Russian intelligence officers charged with battling cybercrime: They worked in the Information Security Center, the FSB’s cybersecurity wing. One of those two officers was Dmitry Dokuchaev, who was also charged in the U.S. government indictment Wednesday.

Mr. Dokuchaev couldn’t be reached for comment. He is believed to be in Russia.

Andrei Soldatov, an expert on Russia’s internet, said Mr. Dokuchaev, who went by the online alias Forb, according to Russian media, was recruited into the security services for his skills and contacts in the darker corners of the web.

“He had some knowledge about the digital underground, that’s something really important,” Mr. Soldatov said. “For the FSB, it was the perfect thing to try to get.”

Mark Galeotti, senior researcher at the Institute of International Relations Prague, said Russian spy agencies had employed “a degree of outsourcing of capacity” for cyber operations, turning to groups that use hacking for criminal enterprises such as fraud and online scams.

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“The Americans outsource [cyber capabilities], but they tend not to go to criminals,” he said. “The Russians have a more pragmatic approach.”

Several countries caught up in confrontation with Russia have been on the receiving end of cyberattacks in recent years. Cyber attackers traced to Russia carried out attacks on Estonian websites in 2007, temporarily taking down much of the country’s online traffic. During a brief war between Russia and Georgia the following year, hackers traced to Russia attacked and defaced Georgian sites.

In recent years, however, Mr. Galeotti said Russian intelligence agencies have built up their own in-house cyberattack capabilities, recruiting hackers and putting them directly in government employ.

But when they need “surge capacity,” such as during the conflict with Ukraine, Mr. Galeotti added, “they have gone to the private sector — the criminal private sector.”

Write to Nathan Hodge at nathan.hodge@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/yahoo-hacking-charges-cast-new-light-on-ties-between-russias-fsb-cybercriminals-1489615891

Related:

 (Contains links to several other related articles)

Yahoo cyber indictment shows Kremlin, hackers working hand-in-hand

March 16, 2017

Reuters

Thu Mar 16, 2017 | 12:11am EDT

The John Sopinka Courthouse, where Karim Baratov appeared in front of a judge, in connection with a U.S. Justice Department investigation into the 2014 hacking of Yahoo, is pictured in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada March 15, 2017 . REUTERS/Peter Power
By Warren Strobel and Jonathan Landay | WASHINGTON

Wednesday’s indictments in the United States of four people in a 2014 cyber attack on Yahoo Inc (YHOO.O) provides the clearest details yet on what some U.S. officials say is a symbiotic relationship between Moscow’s security services and private Russian hackers.

The indictment charges two officers of the FSB, Russia’s Federal Security Service, and two hackers who allegedly worked hand-in-hand with them to crack 500 million Yahoo user accounts.

U.S. authorities and cyber security specialists have long said the Kremlin employs criminal hackers for its geostrategic purposes. They say the arrangement offers deniability to Moscow and freedom from legal troubles for the hackers.

A U.S. intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said employing criminal hackers helps “complement Kremlin intentions and provide plausible deniability for the Russian state.”

The FSB in Moscow did not respond immediately to a request for comment on Wednesday evening.

The United States sometimes engages with criminal hackers as well, buying tools from them or recruiting them to help find other criminal hackers, cyber security professionals and government officials say.

Milan Patel, a former FBI cyber agent and now managing director for cyber defense at K2 Intelligence, said the intermingling of espionage and cyber crime in Russia had led the United States and its allies to be far more wary about alerting Moscow to criminal hackers.

“Magically those guys would disappear off the battlefield and most likely end up working for the Russian government,” Patel said of the names shared by Washington.

The Russian government had no official comment on the charges in the Yahoo case.

Russian news accounts stressed that one of the FSB agents, Dmitry Dokuchaev, was arrested by Russian authorities in December and charged with treason.

The indictment charges Dokuchaev with having acted as a handler for a hacker named Karim Baratov, directing him to use the Yahoo data to crack emails on other systems and paying him a bounty when he succeeded.

Baratov is in custody in Canada, according to the Toronto police, while Dokuchaev remains in Russia.

The charges coincide with mounting tensions between U.S. intelligence agencies and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government, which they accused of hacking the 2016 U.S. presidential election to influence the vote in favor of then-Republican candidate Donald Trump.

In addition, congressional committees are investigating possible links between Russian figures and associates of President Trump.

Senator John Warner of Virginia, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said in a statement the indictments showed “the close and mutually beneficial ties between the cyber underworld and Russia’s government and security services.”

He said the case “underscores the complexity and the urgency” of the committee’s investigation of Russian interference in the U.S. election.

James Lewis, a former State Department official and now a cyber expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said there were three rules for cooperation between the Russian government and criminal hackers.

Private hackers know to avoid attacking Russian-language sites and to share their profits with authorities, he said. “Rule Number Three (is), if we ask you to do us a favor, do it.”

(Reporting by Warren Strobel and Jonathan Landay; Additional reporting by Dustin Volz; Editing by Jonathan Weber, Grant McCool and Paul Tait)

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Edward Snowden

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Julian Assage

Rigged Debates: Wikileaks Emails Confirm Media in Clinton’s Pocket

US charges Russian spies over Yahoo breach

March 15, 2017

BBC News

Yahoo logo

500 million user accounts were affected by the data breach. AFP photo

Two Russian spies are being indicted by the US Department of Justice over a huge breach of Yahoo user accounts.

Previously, Yahoo had said “state-sponsored” hackers were behind the 2014 incident that affected 500 million accounts.

The firm was criticised for the delay in informing users about the breach.

The stolen data included names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth and encrypted passwords, but not credit card data, according to Yahoo.

An announcement by the Justice Department detailing the charges is expected to be made later today.

Last year, users were advised to change their passwords.

Around eight million UK accounts were believed to have been affected – including some users of BT and Sky email services.

http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-39281063

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Justice Department will indict 2 Russian spies, 2 hackers in Yahoo breach

The move reflects the U.S. government’s increasing desire to hold foreign governments accountable for malicious acts in cyberspace.

The Justice Department is set to announce Wednesday the indictments of two Russian spies and two criminal hackers in connection with the heist of 500 million Yahoo user accounts in 2014, marking the first U.S. criminal cyber charges ever against Russian government officials.

The indictments target two members of the Russian intelligence agency FSB, and two hackers hired by the Russians.

The charges include hacking, wire fraud, trade secret theft and economic espionage, according to officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the charges have not yet been announced. The indictments are part of the largest hacking case brought by the United States.

The charges are unrelated to the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and the FBI’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign. But the move reflects the U.S. government’s increasing desire to hold foreign governments accountable for malicious acts in cyberspace.

© GETTY/AFP/File

The FBI and the Justice Department declined to comment.

The United States does not have an extradition treaty with Russia, but officials have said that taking steps such as charges and imposing sanctions can be a deterrent. People also sometimes slip up and travel to a country that is able and willing to transfer them to the United States for prosecution.

Yahoo reported the 2014 hack last fall – in what was then considered the largest data breach in history. The company later disclosed another intrusion affecting more than 1 billion user accounts in 2013, far surpassing the 2014 event. Officials have not determined whether there is a link between the two.

The twin hacks clouded the prospects for the sale of Yahoo’s core business to telecommunications giant Verizon. The deal is proceeding after Verizon negotiated the price down in the wake of the breaches.

The compromised accounts may have affected more than just email. Breaking into a Yahoo account would give the hackers access to users’ activity on Flickr, Tumblr, fantasy sports and other Yahoo applications.

In the 2014 hack, the FSB – Russia’s Federal Security Service, and a successor to the KGB – sought the information for intelligence purposes, targeting journalists, dissidents and U.S. government officials, but allowed the criminal hackers to use the email cache for the officials’ and the hackers’ financial gain, through spamming and other operations.

The charges “illustrate the murky world of Russian intel services using criminal hackers in a wide variety of ways,” said Milan Patel, a former FBI Cyber Division supervisory special agent who is now a managing director at K2 Intelligence, a cyber firm.

Although FBI agents have long suspected that the Russians have used cyber mercenaries to do their work, this case is among the first in which evidence is offered to show that.

The indicted FSB officers are Dmitry Dokuchaev and Igor Sushchin, his superior. Particularly galling to U.S. officials is that the men worked for the cyber investigative arm of the FSB – a rough equivalent of the FBI’s Cyber Division. That the agency that is supposed to investigate computer intrusions Russia is itself engaged in hacking is “pretty sad,” one official said.

Dokuchaev, whose hacker alias was “Forb,” was arrested in December in Moscow, according to the news agency Interfax, on charges of state treason for passing information to the CIA. He had reportedly agreed to work for the FSB to avoid prosecution for bank card fraud.

Another man indicted in the case is Alexsey Belan, who is on the list of most-wanted cyber criminals and has been charged twice before, in connection with intrusions into three major tech firms in Nevada and California in 2012 and 2013. He was in custody in Greece for a time, but made his way back to Russia, where he is being protected by authorities, officials said.

The other hacker-for-hire is Karim Baratov, who was born in Kazakhstan but has Canadian citizenship. He was arrested in Canada on Tuesday.

The indictments grew out of a nearly two-year investigation by the San Francisco FBI with the aid of international law enforcement, officials said. Sanctions and criminal charges are two tools that the Obama administration began using to punish and deter nation state hackers.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/justice-department-charging-russian-spies-and-criminal-hackers-for-yahoo-intrusion/2017/03/15/64b98e32-0911-11e7-93dc-00f9bdd74ed1_story.html?utm_term=.1b2fd4526c23

Obama Had British Intelligence Spy On Trump To Avoid Leaving Evidence

March 14, 2017
 Catherine Herridge (left) and Judge Andrew Napolitano

Martha MacCallum reports that the House Intelligence committee has been in contact with the Justice Department regarding the production of documents related to the assertion by President Trump that the Obama regime had been wiretapping him during the campaign.

Catherine Herridge confirms that the DOJ has requested more time in order “to review the request and determine if documents exist.” She says that the March 4th tweet about wiretapping was not meant literally, according to Press Secretary Spicer, that wiretapping as the President intended it is a general term for electronic surveillance.”

She plays a comment from Rep Adam “Shifty” Schiff, prefacing it with a claim that FBI Director Comey may be eager to testify. Shifty said, “If the press reports are accurate that he asked the Department of Justice to knock this down and they refused [for] whatever reason he may welcome the opportunity but he’ll certainly have that on March 20th.”

She also quotes a letter from a spokesman for Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) that states in part, “If the committee does not receive a response by then, the committee will ask for this information during the March 20 hearing and may resort to a compulsory process if our questions continue to go unanswered.” She says they were told that specifically issuing a subpoena for any records.

Judge Napolitano is asked for his take on the report, and replies, “I don’t know that the Justice Department has what the Intelligence Committee of the House is looking for, because sources have told Fox that if then-Mr. Donald Trump, the President-elect was surveilled as he says he was, both during the campaign ‘Mr’ and after he was elected ‘President-elect,’ it was done by a foreign intelligence entity from a foreign country, an ally of ours, the British Foreign Intelligence Service know as GCHQ.”

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GCHQ

Napolitano says, “That entity was able to then to bypass the NSA, the CIA, The DNI and the DOJ, the entities in the United States that would have jurisdiction over it.” MacCallum clarifies, “So you’re suggesting that ‘president’ Obama went beyond our own intelligence agencies, and through British surveillance received transcripts of phone conversations that the Trump campaign was having?”

Napolitano repeats, “This is what sources within the intelligence community have told Fox.” He goes on to point out that all of the content of every phone conversation is collected by the NSA and that the British spy agency has shared access to those files. He says, “So they could have obtained this information, sources tell us, translated the raw data into actual transcripts and shared it with someone in the west wing. It probably wouldn’t have been with the ‘president’ personally because he wouldn’t want anyone to be able to say ‘I met with a British spy in the White House but it would have gone through someone in the White House.”

Napolitano notes that the source is telling Fox that Obama didn’t order the copy of the transcript directly from NSA because that would have left a paper trail. Instead it was laundered through foreign intelligence agencies, probably more than one, providing plausible deniability for the US intelligence and DOJ officials.

http://stopthetakeover.org/napolitano-obama-british-intelligence-spy-trump-avoid-leaving-evidence/

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Judge Andrew Napolitano appeared on Fox News this morning, (Fox and Friends, March 14, 2017) to say Fox had three sources that confirmed President Obama asked GCHQ for surveillance records on trump and his closest staff. CGHQ is known to have unfettered access to the NSA phone records and other surveillance data on practically all Americans.

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