Posts Tagged ‘Snowden’

Russia says Snowden can stay two more years

January 18, 2017

AFP

© GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File | US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden has been living in exile in Russia since 2013

MOSCOW (AFP) – Russian authorities have extended US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden’s Russian residency permit by two years, the foreign ministry said Wednesday.The former National Security Agency contractor shook the American intelligence establishment to its core in 2013 with a series of devastating leaks on mass surveillance in the US and around the world.

The announcement came as outgoing US President Barack Obama commuted the sentence of army private Chelsea Manning, who was sentenced to 35 years in prison for handing classified US documents to WikiLeaks.

Snowden was not on Obama’s list of commutations or pardons.

“Snowden’s residence permit has just been extended by two years,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote on her Facebook page.

His lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, could not be reached on Wednesday morning to confirm Zakharova’s statement.

Snowden has been living in exile in Russia since 2013, where he ended up after spending weeks in the transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport.

He was initially granted permission to stay in Russia for one year amid the rapid deterioration in Moscow’s relations with Washington.

The revelations from the documents he leaked sparked a massive row over the data sweeps conducted by the United States domestically and in allied nations, including of their leaders.

Snowden welcomed the action on Manning’s sentence, writing on Twitter: “Let it be said here in earnest, with good heart: Thanks, Obama.”

Obama shrugs off Russian hacking — until Donald Trump elected president — By allowing the U.S. to become complacent about cyber threats, the U.S. now must play catch up

January 15, 2017
– The Washington Times – Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Foreign governments have launched numerous cyberattacks on the U.S. government and sensitive industrial sites, but Republicans say President Obama has not responded in a forceful way to years of Russian hacking.

A more assertive response might have headed off the type of hacking Russia is accused of launching during the presidential election, they say.

Russia, whose supposed cyberoffensive now is generating a Democratic Party movement that would delegitimize the incoming presidency of Donald Trump, has hacked Pentagon systems. In 2014 it penetrated computer networks at the White House and the State Department. Neither the White House nor the mainstream media reacted with any great alarm.

In one of the most extensive hacks on America, Chinese hackers invaded the massive files of the Office of Personnel Management and stole personnel data and security background checks of millions of federal workers.

In other examples, the Federal Reserve, which sets monetary policy and oversees the banking industry, detected more than 50 cyberbreaches between 2011 and 2015, and some were called espionage, Reuters reported in June, citing federal records. The IRS also has acknowledged that taxpayer files have been stolen by hackers.

Mr. Obama’s record on defeating hackers has come into focus during the transition as he orders a sweeping probe of Russia’s alleged hack on the president’s own Democratic Party.

His White House spokesman has joined Democratic politicians in issuing a blistering attack on Mr. Trump and his aides for ties to Russia, even as it was this administration that early on reached out to the Kremlin and asked for a “reset” in relations. In 2010 then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton helped Moscow create a “Russian Silicon Valley.” White House press secretary Josh Earnest even seemingly questioned the patriotism of Trump supporters in Congress.

House intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes accused Mr. Obama of not taking Russia’s cyberthreat seriously until now, a month before he leave office, when Democratic Party politics are involved.

“Russia’s cyberattacks are no surprise to the House intelligence committee, which has been closely monitoring Russia’s belligerence for years,” Mr. Nunes said. “As I’ve said many times, the intelligence community has repeatedly failed to anticipate [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s hostile actions.

 

“Unfortunately, the Obama administration, dedicated to delusions of ‘resetting’ relations with Russia, ignored pleas by numerous intelligence committee members to take more forceful action against the Kremlin’s aggression. It appears, however, that after eight years the administration has suddenly awoken to the threat,” said Mr. Nunes, California Republican.

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RESET — Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov press a red button symbolizing the intention to reset US-Russian relations in March 2009. In 2017 the Obama team is telling Donald Trump to “go slow” with his ideas to reset with Russia. AP photo.jpg

CIA Director John O. Brennan, Mr. Obama’s former campaign adviser and White House aide, has taken the extraordinary step of having his agency add to the climate of illegitimacy Democrats are trying to wrap around the Republican president-elect.

The Washington Post reported last week that CIA briefers told senators that Mr. Putin had ordered the hacking to help elect Mr. Trump, who sporadically has praised the former KGB officer as a stronger leader than Mr. Obama.

The CIA assessment goes well beyond a statement by James R. Clapper, director of national intelligence. He told the House intelligence committee on Nov. 17 that his agency does not have good intelligence on any link between the Putin regime and WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy website that published emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee and from John Podesta, Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chairman.

Mr. Clapper assessed Russia’s motives as a desire to “interfere” in elections in the West, as it has done in Europe. He did not say it was designed to get Mr. Trump elected.

Former CIA officer Kent Clizbe charges that Mr. Brennan has politicized the spy agency, and with the hacking brief to Congress, even more so today.

“But all the politicization of the CIA of the previous eight years is nothing compared to Brennan’s current operation — his vile use of the good name of the CIA in an attempt to invalidate our presidential election,” Mr. Clizbe said. “Brennan’s misuse of the CIA in an effort to serve his political masters is unprecedented and unforgivable. These are the actions of totalitarian dictators, using foreign security services to sully political opponents. Someone needs to stop him before it’s too late.”

Mr. Earnest, the White House press secretary, was asked Monday what the administration did to thwart Russia from hacking U.S. sites.

“Our intelligence community, our national security agencies, including the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, were closely watching Russia’s malicious cyberactivity,” he said. “There was an ongoing investigation. It was being investigated. It was being closely watched in order to protect our democracy.”

Mr. Earnest unleashed a long attack on Mr. Trump, a recitation that might be unprecedented for a White House during what is supposed to be a smooth transition.

“You didn’t need a security clearance to figure out who benefited from malicious Russian cyberactivity,” Mr. Earnest said. “The president-elect didn’t call it into question. He called on Russia to hack his opponent. He called on Russia to hack Secretary Clinton. So he certainly had a pretty good sense of whose side this activity was coming down on. The last several weeks of the election were focused on a discussion of emails that had been hacked and leaked by the Russians. These were emails from the DNC and John Podesta — not from the RNC and Steve Bannon.”

Mr. Bannon, a former Breitbart News executive, is a senior Trump adviser headed to the White House.

Mr. Trump said in July that perhaps Russia could find the 33,000 emails deleted from Mrs. Clinton’s secret server during her tenure at the State Department. A federal judge ruled that her exclusive use of a private server for government business violated federal information laws.

Mr. Earnest also attacked Mr. Trump’s supporters in Congress.

“So what I’ve stated is not an argument but really just a presentation of objective facts about what all of you and the American public knew in advance of the election,” he said. “And, yes, this was all material that was known by Republican politicians in the Congress that endorsed the president-elect. And how they reconcile their political strategy and their patriotism is something they’re going to have to explain.”

One of those supporters is Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican and a former Marine Corps officer who deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq.

“How misinformed. I think this statement verifies just how out of touch and clueless this administration truly is to the demands and expectations of the public,” said Joe Kasper, Mr. Hunter’s chief of staff. “There’s a reason why Democrats don’t have the House and the Senate, and have lost seats in various elections. I can tell you that Rep. Hunter was not duped by any stretch, and to question his patriotism means that he’s being questioned both as a lawmaker who loves this country and will fight for its interests and a U.S. Marine who did three tours.”

He added: “If the administration and Democrats are so worried about Russian hacking, they should have done something about it. They didn’t, but stating concerns now sure makes it one heck of an argument of convenience.”

As Mr. Obama began his second term, a number of experts said the U.S. still had not adjusted to the new world of hundreds of hackers attacking America daily.

“We are in a conflict — some would call it war,” Oracle’s security chief Mary Ann Davidson told Congress. “Let’s call it what it is. Given the diversity of potentially hostile entities building cadres of cyberwarriors probing our systems for weakness, infiltrating government networks and making similar attempts against businesses and critical industries, including our defense systems, is there any other conclusion to be reached?”

It was not until February that the White House proposed $3 billion in new funding to upgrade cyberdefenses and appoint a federal czar to oversee network protection.

When Russia hacked the White House two years ago, there did not appear any public threats against Moscow. The news media treated the story as a sign of the times: China, Russia and other adversaries are trying to hack into thousands of computer networks.

What makes the election hacking different, Democrats say, is that a foreign power was interfering in an election by targeting Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chairman and the DNC. WikiLeaks periodically dumped huge volumes of emails, creating news stories on Clinton aides’ intolerance toward Christians and, sometimes, toward each other.

Mr. Earnest stopped short of saying that the embarrassing disclosures released by WikiLeaks were a main factor in the election’s outcome, noting that analysts have cited a number of issues, such as Mrs. Clinton’s official emails and her strategy in battleground states.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/dec/13/obama-shrugs-off-russian-hacking-until-donald-trum/

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Russia’s D.N.C. Hack Was Only the Start

January 10, 2017

Imagine the headlines if, in 2015, Russian agents had leapt out of a van at 2 a.m. in Southeast Washington and broken into the Democratic National Committee offices using sophisticated tools and techniques to steal tens of thousands of documents, including the names and Social Security numbers of donors and employees, and confidential memorandums about campaign strategy for the presidential election.

The world would have been aghast. It would have been, people would say, worse than Watergate.

Something similar did, in fact, happen at the D.N.C. two years ago, and it was worse than Watergate. This wasn’t just one party spying on the other; these were hackers under orders from President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia who were trying to “undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process,” according to a report released Friday by the office of the director of national intelligence. But the immediate reaction to the break-in was nothing like what followed Watergate.

That’s because most of us don’t think of hacking as a crime like breaking and entering. Before the D.N.C. break-in, I thought of hacking as a prank by mischievous tech-savvy people to get revenge. When North Koreans hacked Sony Pictures in 2014 in retaliation for making the satire “The Interview,” I was much more disturbed by the embarrassing things the movie executives said in emails to one another than by how easy it was for a dictator to punish critics in the United States. It wasn’t until I lived through the Russian hackings of Democratic staff members and organizations that I realized how dangerous such an attitude could be.

I saw it firsthand in July, when I was asked about the first wave of stolen documents on ABC’s “This Week” and CNN’s “State of the Union.” I thought it was a bombshell — Russians hacked into the Democratic National Committee! — but my alarm was dismissed by the news media and our opponents as merely campaign spin, feigned distress meant to dodge real questions about how the embarrassing messages might hurt Hillary Clinton’s prospects.

This perception has to change. I’m not referring to the D.N.C. incident in particular, but about cybercrimes in general. Unless we realize how vulnerable we are, we are playing into the hands of foreign aggressors like Mr. Putin.

The chilling effect of these attacks can be very public, and very personal. But they can also be more subtle, impeding dialogue within an organization. For all the fanfare we give the internet for freeing speech, when it is weaponized against you, it can also be used to stifle speech. At the D.N.C., certain conversations could take place only on an encrypted phone app, which made communicating more complicated logistically.

Skeptics, including President-elect Donald J. Trump, have compared the hacks to leaks to the news media. They’re not the same. A leak occurs when someone who is authorized to have information gives it to a reporter without authorization. The “Access Hollywood” video of Mr. Trump talking about assaulting women was a leak. When someone on my staff shared a memo about our campaign launch without permission, that was a leak. Leaks are frustrating, and they happen all the time.

What Mr. Putin did by dumping Democrats’ emails wasn’t a leak; it was an attack with stolen information.

Until we start to see these situations in this light, “Moscow’s longstanding desire to undermine the U.S.-led liberal democratic order,” as the national intelligence office report called it, will remain potent, and the democratic process will remain vulnerable. The news media needs to spend at least as much time reporting on the source of these foreign-led cybercrimes as they do on the contents.

This isn’t a partisan issue, as Republican senators like John McCain and Lindsey Graham have already made clear. Mr. Putin and Kim Jong-un of North Korea aren’t registered Democrats or Republicans — they’re anti-American, and they want to hurt democracy itself. To justify what Mr. Putin did, or to blame the victim, as Mr. Trump and his staff have chosen to do, simply leaves them, and all of us, under threat, because the next attack may be aimed not at a political party, but at the White House or the Pentagon.

Of course, Americans need to do a better job protecting ourselves. Law enforcement needs to create better bridges between the intelligence services that monitor attacks and the individuals and organizations they affect. There are very few protocols for the F.B.I. and C.I.A. to alert and assist potential victims. Our democratic structures — elections equipment and officials, elected officials and candidates, activists and reporters — must be elevated as a priority.

At the time of the D.N.C. attack, water treatment plants, nuclear power plants and even casinos were on the Department of Homeland Security’s “critical infrastructure” list. Voting equipment was added last Friday, but we must do much more to protect the people who animate our democratic process. Imagine how stolen information could be (or already has been) used to influence or corrupt officeholders, or voters themselves.

Watergate inspired greater vigilance in the press and prompted major reforms to safeguard our democratic institutions. We need to do that again.

The Fable of Edward Snowden

December 31, 2016

As he seeks a pardon, the NSA thief has told multiple lies about what he stole and his dealings with Russian intelligence.

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Updated Dec. 30, 2016 10:21 p.m. ET

Of all the lies that Edward Snowden has told since his massive theft of secrets from the National Security Agency and his journey to Russia via Hong Kong in 2013, none is more provocative than the claim that he never intended to engage in espionage, and was only a “whistleblower” seeking to expose the overreach of NSA’s information gathering. With the clock ticking on Mr. Snowden’s chance of a pardon, now is a good time to review what we have learned about his real mission.

Mr. Snowden’s theft of America’s most closely guarded communication secrets occurred in May 2013, according to the criminal complaint filed against him by federal prosecutors the following month. At the time Mr. Snowden was a 29-year-old technologist working as an analyst-in-training for the consulting firm of Booz Allen Hamilton at the regional base of the National Security Agency (NSA) in Oahu, Hawaii. On May 20, only some six weeks after his job there began, he failed to show up for work, emailing his supervisor that he was at the hospital being tested for epilepsy.

This excuse was untrue. Mr. Snowden was not even in Hawaii. He was in Hong Kong. He had flown there with a cache of secret data that he had stolen from the NSA.

This was not the only lie Mr. Snowden told. As became clear during my investigation over the past three years, nearly every element of the narrative Mr. Snowden has provided, which reached its final iteration in Oliver Stone’s 2016 movie, “Snowden,” is demonstrably false.

This narrative began soon after Mr. Snowden arrived in Hong Kong, where he arranged to meet with Laura Poitras, a Berlin-based documentary filmmaker, and Glenn Greenwald, a Brazil-based blogger for the Guardian. Both journalists were longtime critics of NSA surveillance with whom Mr. Snowden (under the alias Citizen Four) had been in contact for four months.

To provide them with scoops discrediting NSA operations, Mr. Snowden culled several thousand documents out of his huge cache of stolen material, including two explosive documents he asked them to use in their initial stories. One was the now-famous secret order from America’s Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court requiring Verizon to turn over to the NSA its billing records for its phone users in the U.S. The other was an NSA slide presentation detailing its ability to intercept communications of non-American users of the internet via a joint program with the FBI code-named Prism.

These documents were published in 2013 on June 5 and 6, followed by a video in which he identified himself as the leaker and a whistleblower.

At the heart of Mr. Snowden’s narrative was his claim that while he may have incidentally “touched” other data in his search of NSA files, he took only documents that exposed the malfeasance of the NSA and gave all of them to journalists.

Yet even as Mr. Snowden’s narrative was taking hold in the public realm, a secret damage assessment done by the NSA and Pentagon told a very different story. According to a unanimous report declassified on Dec. 22 by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the investigation showed that Mr. Snowden had “removed” (not merely touched) 1.5 million documents. That huge number was based on, among other evidence, electronic logs that recorded the selection, copying and moving of documents.

The number of purloined documents is more than what NSA officials were willing to say in 2013 about the removal of data, possibly because the House committee had the benefit of the Pentagon’s more-extensive investigation. But even just taking into account the material that Mr. Snowden handed over to journalists, the December House report concluded that he compromised “secrets that protect American troops overseas and secrets that provide vital defenses against terrorists and nation-states.” These were, the report said, “merely the tip of the iceberg.”

The Pentagon’s investigation during 2013 and 2014 employed hundreds of military-intelligence officers, working around the clock, to review all 1.5 million documents. Most had nothing to do with domestic surveillance or whistle blowing. They were mainly military secrets, as Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified before the House Armed Services Committee on March 6, 2014.

It was not the quantity of Mr. Snowden’s theft but the quality that was most telling. Mr. Snowden’s theft put documents at risk that could reveal the NSA’s Level 3 tool kit—a reference to documents containing the NSA’s most-important sources and methods. Since the agency was created in 1952, Russia and other adversary nations had been trying to penetrate its Level-3 secrets without great success.

Yet it was precisely these secrets that Mr. Snowden changed jobs to steal. In an interview in Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post on June 15, 2013, he said he sought to work on a Booz Allen contract at the CIA, even at a cut in pay, because it gave him access to secret lists of computers that the NSA was tapping into around the world.

He evidently succeeded. In a 2014 interview with Vanity Fair, Richard Ledgett, the NSA executive who headed the damage-assessment team, described one lengthy document taken by Mr. Snowden that, if it fell into the wrong hands, would provide a “road map” to what targets abroad the NSA was, and was not, covering. It contained the requests made by the 17 U.S. services in the so-called Intelligence Community for NSA interceptions abroad.

On June 23, less than two weeks after Mr. Snowden released the video that helped present his narrative, he left Hong Kong and flew to Moscow, where he received protection by the Russian government. In much of the media coverage that followed, the ultimate destination of these stolen secrets was fogged over—if not totally obscured from the public—by the unverified claims that Mr. Snowden was spoon feeding to handpicked journalists.

In his narrative, Mr. Snowden always claims that he was a conscientious “whistleblower” who turned over all the stolen NSA material to journalists in Hong Kong. He has insisted he had no intention of defecting to Russia but was on his way to Latin America when he was trapped in Russia by the U.S. government in an attempt to demonize him.

For example, in October 2014, he told the editor of the Nation, “I’m in exile. My government revoked my passport intentionally to leave me exiled” and “chose to keep me in Russia.” According to Mr. Snowden, the U.S. government accomplished this entrapment by suspending his passport while he was in midair after he departed Hong Kong on June 23, thus forcing him into the hands of President Vladimir Putin’s regime.

None of this is true. The State Department invalidated Mr. Snowden’s passport while he was still in Hong Kong, not after he left for Moscow on June 23. The “Consul General-Hong Kong confirmed that Hong Kong authorities were notified that Mr. Snowden’s passport was revoked June 22,” according to the State Department’s senior watch officer, as reported by ABC news on June 23, 2013.

Mr. Snowden could not have been unaware of the government’s pursuit of him, since the criminal complaint against him, which was filed June 14, had been headline news in Hong Kong. That the U.S. acted against him while he was still in Hong Kong is of great importance to the timeline because it points to the direct involvement of Aeroflot, an airline which the Russian government effectively controls. Aeroflot bypassed its normal procedures to allow Mr. Snowden to board the Moscow flight—even though he had neither a valid passport nor a Russian visa, as his newly assigned lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, said at a press conference in Russia on July 12, 2013.

By falsely claiming his passport was invalidated after the plane departed Hong Kong—instead of before he left—Mr. Snowden hoped to conceal this extraordinary waiver. The Russian government further revealed its helping hand, judging by a report in Russia’s Izvestia newspaper when, on arrival, Mr. Snowden was taken off the plane by a security team in a “special operation.”

Nor was it any kind of accident. Vladimir Putin personally authorized this assistance after Mr. Snowden met with Russian officials in Hong Kong, as Mr. Putin admitted in a televised press conference on Sept. 2, 2013.

To provide a smokescreen for Mr. Snowden’s escape from Hong Kong, WikiLeaks (an organization that the Obama administration asserted to be a tool of Russian intelligence after the hacking of Democratic Party leaders’ email in 2016) booked a dozen or more diversionary flight reservations to other destinations for Mr. Snowden.

WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange also dispatched Sarah Harrison, his deputy at WikiLeaks, to fly to Hong Kong to pay Mr. Snowden’s expenses and escort him to Moscow. In short, Mr. Snowden’s arrival in Moscow was neither accidental nor the work of the U.S. government.

Mr. Snowden’s own narrative asserts that he came to Russia not only empty-handed but without access to any of the stolen material. He wrote in Vanity Fair in 2014 that he had destroyed all of it before arriving in Moscow—the very data that he went to such lengths to steal a few weeks earlier in Hawaii.

As it turns out, this claim is also untrue. It is belied by two Kremlin insiders who were in a position to know what Mr. Snowden actually brought with him to Moscow. One of them, Frants Klintsevich, was the first deputy chairman of the defense and security committee of the Duma (Russia’s parliament) at the time of Mr. Snowden’s defection. “Let’s be frank,” Mr. Klintsevich said in a taped interview with NPR in June 2016, “Mr. Snowden did share intelligence. This is what security services do.”

The other insider was Anatoly Kucherena, a well-connected Moscow lawyer and Mr. Putin’s friend. Mr. Kucherena served as the intermediary between Mr. Snowden and Russian authorities. On Sept. 23, 2013, Mr. Kucherena gave a long interview to Sophie Shevardnadze, a journalist for Russia Today television.

When Ms. Shevardnadze directly asked him if Mr. Snowden had given all the documents he had taken from the NSA to journalists in Hong Kong, Mr. Kucherena said Mr. Snowden had only given “some” of the NSA’s documents in his possession to journalists in Hong Kong. “So he [Mr. Snowden] does have some materials that haven’t been made public yet?” Ms. Shevardnadze asked. “Certainly,” Mr. Kucherena answered.

This disclosure filled in a crucial piece of the puzzle. It explained why NSA documents that Mr. Snowden had copied, but had not given to the journalists in Hong Kong—such as the embarrassing revelation about the NSA targeting the cellphone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel—continued to surface after Mr. Snowden arrived in Moscow, along with NSA documents released via WikiLeaks.

As this was a critical discrepancy in Mr. Snowden’s narrative, I went to Moscow in October 2015 to see Mr. Kucherena. During our conversation, Mr. Kucherena confirmed that his interview with Ms. Shevardnadze was accurate, and that Mr. Snowden had brought secret material with him to Moscow.

Mr. Snowden’s narrative also includes the assertion that he was neither debriefed by nor even met with any Russian government official after he arrived in Moscow. This part of the narrative runs counter to findings of U.S. intelligence. According to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence report, Mr. Snowden, since he arrived in Moscow, “has had, and continues to have, contact with Russian intelligence services.” This finding is consistent with Russian debriefing practices, as described by the ex-KGB officers with whom I spoke in Moscow

Mr. Snowden also publicly claimed in Moscow in December 2013 to have secrets in his head, including “access to every target, every active operation. Full lists of them.” Could Mr. Snowden’s Russian hosts ignore such an opportunity after Mr. Putin had authorized his exfiltration to Moscow? Mr. Snowden, with no exit options, was in the palm of their hands. Under such circumstances, as Mr. Klintsevich pointed out in his June NPR interview: “If there’s a possibility to get information, they [the Russian intelligence services] will get it.”

The transfer of state secrets from Mr. Snowden to Russia did not occur in a vacuum. The intelligence war did not end with the termination of the Cold War; it shifted to cyberspace. Even if Russia could not match the NSA’s state-of-the-art sensors, computers and productive partnerships with the cipher services of Britain, Israel, Germany and other allies, it could nullify the U.S. agency’s edge by obtaining its sources and methods from even a single contractor with access to Level 3 documents.

Russian intelligence uses a single umbrella term to cover anyone who delivers it secret intelligence. Whether a person acted out of idealistic motives, sold information for money or remained clueless of the role he or she played in the transfer of secrets—the provider of secret data is considered an “espionage source.” By any measure, it is a job description that fits Mr. Snowden.

Mr. Epstein’s book, “How America Lost Its Secrets: Edward Snowden, the Man and the Theft,” will be published by Knopf in January.

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Cyber: How Long Has Putin’s Russia and China Played the Obama Administration for Fools? — “From Day 1.”

December 31, 2016

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A look back at the cyber war….

President Barack Obama announced the lifting of economic sanctions on Iran, a prisoner swap and the $1.7 billion settlement with Iran in the Cabinet Room of the White House on Jan. 17.
President Barack Obama  PHOTO: JIM LO SCALZO/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

How long has Putin and Russia played the Obama Administration for fools?

That is the operative question resulting from all the discussion of hacking, cyber intrusions and the like.

The vas majority of the news and commentary concerning the state of hacking and cyber war seems determined to blame Russia, China, Iran and others. But what about the responsibility to defend ourselves?

Who in the U.S. has been minding the store?

The world’s most expensive intelligence apparatus, the CIA, NSA, FBI and all the rest included, owes us some detailed accounting.

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Hillary Rodham Clinton checks her mobile phone at United Nations, March 12, 2012. AP photo

But even before that, some very simple questions need to be asked and answered.

Is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s improper use of a home server still seen as inconsequential? Or did she breach U.S. national security? Did her lax security for classified intelligence tell China and Russia to go after everybody in the U.S.

Retired U.S. intelligence officials told Peace and Freedom that is exactly what they suspect.

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Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov press a red button symbolizing the intention to reset US-Russian relations in March 2009. AP photo

Knowing Hillary Clinton’s email history, why didn’t her campaign manager John Podesta insist upon secure email for her campaign?

What all this talk about America’s cyber security vulnerability should spark is a wide-spread accounting and immediate actions to secure outr cyber networks going forward — after an eight year period of widespread vulnerability and often uncorrected.

Peace and Freedom

Tom Kellermann, who was a member of The Center for Strategic & International Studies Commission on Cybersecurity for the 44th Presidency, gives the Obama administration a C+ for its cybersecurity efforts. The Commission was formed to advise the 44th president on the creation and maintenance of a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy.

“You can’t give him anything better than a C+,” says Kellermann. “Have things gotten worse? Yes. Do you feel comfortable calling the U.S. government if you need help in cyber as an individual or corporation? No.” The FBI will come investigate, Kellermann says, but investigate what? What happened last night? “Can they stop what is happening to you now from happening in the future? No.”

If the police are called to investigate a physical crime, not only will they investigate the crime but may institute a way for preventing that crime from happening to you again, he notes. “That doesn’t happen in cyber.”

Read more:

Cybersecurity in the Obama Era
http://www.darkreading.com/attacks-breaches/cybersecurity-in-the-obama-era/d/d-id/1326712

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John Emerson, Washington's man in Berlin, to meet with Guido Westerwelle, German foreign minister, over claims Angela Merkel's phone was tapped by US

Chancellor Merkel called President Obama demanding answers after reports emerged that the US may have been monitoring her phone Photo: YVES HERMAN/REUTERS
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U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power speaks at the Center for American Progress’ 2014 Making Progress Policy Conference in Washington November 19, 2014.  Credit: Reuters/Gary Cameron

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Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Barack Obama at a joint news conference in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 25.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Barack Obama at a joint news conference in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 25. Photo: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg News
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Democratic National Committee Hacking, Donald Trump, and CrowdStrike Backstory — Defensive Measure Not In Place to Stop Hacking, Cyberspying — Obama Administration pattern of reckless disregard for hackers?

December 31, 2016

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The headquarters of the Democratic National Committee is seen in Washington, U.S. June 14, 2016. Russian government hackers penetrated the computer network of the Democratic National Committee and gained access to all opposition research on Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, the committee and security researchers said on Tuesday. Credit: REUTERS/Gary Cameron

By | Senior Staff Writer
June 15, 2016

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A hacker claiming responsibility for the DNC hack that made headlines earlier this week has slammed the security company responsible for the incident response, and leaked several documents compromised during the incident – including a 235-page opposition memo on Donald Trump.

On Tuesday, the Washington Post reported that hackers – believed to be Russian – compromised the Democratic National Committee network and walked off with opposition research on Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

CrowdStrike, the security firm that was brought in to do incident response, suggested espionage as the likely motive. In fact, later that day, CrowdStrike published reports on two different “APT” groups in Russia, giving them the names Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear.

Overall, the Washington Post story actually read more like a promotion for CrowdStrike’s incident response offerings than actual security news.

But the fact is, someone targeted the DNC directly and that is news worth watching. At the same time, many experts felt it was a stretch to hype the incident as some sort of massive international conspiracy.

The hacker claiming responsibility for the DNC attack (using the alias Guccifer 2.0) mocked CrowdStrike’s assessment that he was a sophisticated hacker group, noting that he was pleased the company “appreciated my skills so highly. But in fact, it was easy, very easy.”

“Guccifer may have been the first one who penetrated Hillary Clinton’s and other Democrats’ mail servers. But he certainly wasn’t the last. No wonder any other hacker could easily get access to the DNC’s servers. Shame on CrowdStrike: Do you think I’ve been in the DNC’s networks for almost a year and saved only 2 documents? Do you really believe it?”

As proof, he published the full opposition report on Donald Trump, which describes the GOP presidential candidate having “no core.”

The 235-page memo is essentially a timeline and collection of comments and speeches given by Trump, as well as an overview of his political stance and mindset.

A 2-page memo to the DNC was included in the cache of posted files, which outlines the suggested positioning and public message strategy around the national election and the match-up between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

In response to DNC comments that no financial information was accessed during the attack, several donor lists were also published on Wednesday by the hacker, showing millions in financial contributions from Hollywood elites, businesses, trade groups, and unions.

The hacker ended their disclosure with a notice that a bulk of the compromised documents, including memos marked confidential and secret – allegedly taken from Hillary Clinton’s personal email server – were delivered to WikiLeaks.

“The main part of the papers, thousands of files and mails, I gave to WikiLeaks. They will publish them soon. I guess CrowdStrike customers should think twice about company’s competence,” they wrote.

Salted Hash reached out to CrowdStrike for comment, but the company wasn’t able to respond before this article was published. It will be updated with additional details as they become available.

Update:

CrowdStrike didn’t respond to questions directly, but issued the statement below.

“CrowdStrike stands fully by its analysis and findings identifying two separate Russian intelligence-affiliated adversaries present in the DNC network in May 2016. On June 15, 2016 a blog post to a WordPress site authored by an individual using the moniker Guccifer 2.0 claiming credit for breaching the Democratic National Committee. This blog post presents documents alleged to have originated from the DNC.

“Whether or not this posting is part of a Russian Intelligence disinformation campaign, we are exploring the documents’ authenticity and origin. Regardless, these claims do nothing to lessen our findings relating to the Russian government’s involvement, portions of which we have documented for the public and the greater security community.”

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CrowdStrike says malware implant was used to track movements of artillery units, adding to suspicions Russia is involved

A Russian military truck about six miles from the Russia-Ukrainian border control point in Donetsk, in August 2014.

 A Russian military truck about six miles from the Russia-Ukrainian border control point in Donetsk, in August 2014. Photograph: Pavel Golovkin/AP

A new report suggests the same hacking group believed to have hacked the Democrats during the recent presidential election also targeted Ukrainian artillery units over a two-year period, that if confirmed would add to suspicions they are Russian state operatives.

The report, issued by cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike, said a malware implant on Android devices was used to track the movements of Ukrainian artillery units and then target them. The hackers were able to access communications and geolocations of the devices, which meant the artillery could then be fired on and destroyed.

The report will further fuel concerns that Russia is deploying hacking and cyber-attacks as a tool of both war and foreign policy. The hack “extends Russian cyber-capabilities to the frontlines of the battlefield”, the report said.

Russia gave military and logistical backing to separatists fighting against Ukrainian forces in east Ukraine, in a war that broke out in spring 2014.

The application was designed for use with the D-30 122mm towed howitzer, a Soviet-made artillery weapon still in use today. The app reduced firing times from minutes to seconds, according to the Ukrainian officer who designed it. However, it appears that the Android app was infected with a Trojan.

CrowdStrike said open-source research suggested that during the two years of conflict, Ukrainian artillery forces lost 50% of all weaponry but over 80% of their D-30 howitzers. The higher than average loss suggests data gained from the hack was then used to target the artillery.

Research has shown that Russia shelled Ukraine from inside its own territory, as well as sending weapons and troops over the border. Officially, Russia denied any major role in the conflict.

The malware was a version of the type used in the hack of the Democratic National Committee, CrowdStrike believes, making it highly likely that Fancy Bear, a hacking group believed to be based in Russia, was the culprit. “The source code to this malware has not been observed in the public domain and appears to have been developed uniquely by Fancy Bear,” CrowdStrike said.

US intelligence officials believe Fancy Bear works on behalf of the GRU, the intelligence agency of Russia’s army. Before the attack on the DNC, the same group is believed to have interfered on behalf of Russian interests in Georgia (pdf)and other countries bordering Russia.

“This cannot be a hands-off group or a bunch of criminals. They need to be in close communication with the Russian military,” CrowdStrike co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch told Reuters.

US officials believe Fancy Bear and other Russian hackers intervened in the election, with the aim of giving an advantage to Donald Trump. Both Fancy Bear and another supposedly Russian hacking group named Cozy Bear had hacked the DNC servers, according to analysts, without knowing about each other.

Vladimir Putin has dismissed the allegations as “hysteria”, while Trump himself has also rubbished the US intelligence assessment in recent days. But the new allegations, if proved, would make it harder to distance the activities of the hackers from the Russian state.

“CrowdStrike have been pretty reliable in the past, and their reports about the bears were independently verified,” said Andrei Soldatov, co-author of the Red Web, a recent book about the Russian internet. He said: “This doesn’t mean Fancy Bear is GRU: it could be, but not necessarily. But I think this new information means Fancy Bear is more incorporated into the Russian state than I might have thought before, and works with the military.”

However, Yaroslav Sherstyuk, the Ukrainian military officer who developed the app, wrote on Facebook that the report was “total nonsense”. He said he was personally in control of downloads of the app and that they were not compromised, suggesting the report itself might be a way to spread panic among Ukrainian military units.

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/dec/22/dnc-hack-crowdstrike-ukraine-malware-russia

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How Russians Pay to Play in Other Countries

PRAGUE — For a brief moment, it seemed that the powerful adviser’s head might roll at the Castle. After he lost his long legal battle over a hefty state fine, the Czech president warned him to pay up or lose his post.

Then a guardian angel materialized from Moscow.

Lukoil, the largest private Russian oil company in an industry dependent on Kremlin approval, stepped in to pay the nearly $1.4 million fine owed to a Czech court.

The aide, Martin Nejedly, stayed on as economic adviser to the Czech president, Milos Zeman, and vice chairman of his party. Perhaps more important, he retained his office right next to the president’s in the Castle, the official palace that looms over the capital, Prague.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/30/world/europe/czech-republic-russia-milos-zeman.html?ref=world&_r=0

NSA Director Mike Rogers Could Be Removed in Restructuring

November 21, 2016

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By LUIS MARTINEZ and BENJAMIN SIEGEL

President Obama is considering a recommendation by Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to separate the commands of the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command that could lead to the removal of Admiral Mike Rogers who heads both commands.

Rogers’ potential removal as the head of the National Security Agency was first reported by the Washington Post.

The White House, the Defense Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment on the reports.

According to a U.S. official, in September Carter and Clapper recommended to Obama a split between the commands of the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command that would result in the removal of Admiral Mike Rogers as the head of both commands.

The NSA is responsible for collecting international signals intelligence. U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM) is responsible for the defense of military computer networks, but can also conduct offensive cyber operations, as it has done recently against ISIS’ cyber networks.

If the recommendation to split the commands is approved it could result in separate individuals respectively heading the NSA and Cyber Command. Rogers assumed leadership of both commands in April, 2014, a term that would likely end next April.

In an unusual move, on Thursday Rogers met with President-elect Donald Trump. No readout was given of what they discussed.

Should U.S. Cyber Command become a new combatant command, it would be up to the Defense Secretary to recommend the four star officer to head the new head of the command. Though it is a four star command, in a complex arrangement U.S. Cyber Command falls under U.S. Strategic Command, one of the nine combatant commands.

If President Obama agrees with the recommendation, Admiral Rogers or another military officer could be named to head Cyber Command and a civilian could head the NSA.

A new head of the NSA would require the input of both the Defense Secretary and the Director of National Intelligence.

In response to the possibility that Rogers could be removed as the head of the NSA, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-California, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, sent a letter to Carter and Clapper praising Rogers performance.

“Since Admiral Rogers was appointed as NSA Director in April 2014, I have been consistently impressed with his leadership and accomplishments,” Nunes said. “His professionalism, expertise and deckplate leadership have been remarkable during an extremely challenging period for NSA. I know other members of Congress hold him in similarly high esteem.”

Nunes asked Carter and Clapper “to provide a full explanation of the allegations contained in the Post article” and said he would convene an open hearing “at the earliest possible opportunity.”

“I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt if they can provide documentation and correspondence where they’ve had concerns with the admiral’s performance,” Nunes said in an interview with ABC News. “My guess is, I’ll hear crickets.”

The California Republican says he believes the leak behind the initial story was “100-percent politically motivated,” following Rogers visit with Trump in New York City, and referred to the administration, Defense Department the Office of the Director of National Intelligence as “sad, pathetic losers” for the charges about Rogers’s performance.

Nunes, who is a member of Trump’s transition team, said Rogers would be a “qualified candidate” to join the incoming administration.

Of the debate over separating the commands of the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command, Nunes said the issue is “quite complicated” and “not something that should be rushed into.”

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 (March 2013)

 (December 2014)

 (June 2015)

Related articles prior to June 2015:

China's newest warplane, the J-20 stealth fighter, made its first public flight at an airshow in the southern city of Zhuhai. It bears an uncanny resemblance to US military's F-22 Raptor

China’s newest warplane, the J-20 stealth fighter, made its first public flight at an airshow in the southern city of Zhuhai. It bears an uncanny resemblance to US military’s F-22 Raptor

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 (China has a pattern of silencing or censoring critics)

Pentagon, Intelligence Chiefs Push to Oust NSA Director

November 20, 2016

Adm. Michael Rogers is being considered for an intelligence post in Trump administration

Adm. Michael Rogers, head of the National Security Agency, shown at the Wall Street Journal CEO Council on Nov. 15.

Adm. Michael Rogers, head of the National Security Agency, shown at the Wall Street Journal CEO Council on Nov. 15. PHOTO: PAUL MORSE FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

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Nov. 19, 2016 9:54 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON—The U.S. government’s top military and intelligence leaders have recommended that President Barack Obama remove National Security Agency Director Adm. Michael Rogers from office, several people familiar with the matter said, amid questions about his leadership.

The call for his ouster, which came a month ago, is a rare rebuke of a top military commander, particularly when he is being considered for a senior intelligence post in the Trump administration.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper have recommended that Mr. Obama direct Adm. Rogers to leave his command, the people familiar with the matter said. Adm. Rogers has served in the Navy since 1981 and leads both the NSA and Cyber Command.

Adm. Rogers declined to comment. Spokesmen for the Pentagon and Office of the Director of National Intelligence also declined to comment. The effort to oust Adm. Rogers was first reported Saturday by the Washington Post.

The NSA is going through a turbulent period. The agency is a division of the military that conducts spying and surveillance against foreign targets and came under heavy pressure following the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks to detect and intercept new plots. But its mandate was secretly expanded following those attacks, and it swept up and stored the telephone records of millions of Americans.

This surveillance expansion was revealed in 2013 by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, which led to a public backlash against the agency. Adm. Rogers assumed command in 2014 and was charged with reforming the NSA, improving morale and responding to the new threats posed by Islamic militants.

But he is also the leader of the Pentagon’s Cyber Command, which Mr. Carter revealed earlier this year had begun offensive missions—essentially, computerized attacks—against Islamic State in an effort to disrupt the intelligence network.

Adm. Rogers’s critics say the agency wasn’t able to handle the simultaneous tasks of defending the U.S. military from cyberattacks, conducting cyberattacks of its own and collecting information through surveillance activities amid intense public scrutiny. But his supporters say Adm. Rogers was doing the best he could given the competing missions and directives, particularly as the federal government fumbled to find a way to deter foreign countries from using digital attacks against the U.S.

The NSA has faced other challenges in recent months. In October, the Justice Department charged a former NSA and Pentagon contractor with stealing thousands of pages of classified documents and digital records that included the identities of U.S. spies and secret programs. Even though the man charged in the case, Harold Miller, was accused of stealing the records over two decades, it became another embarrassment for the NSA and its ability to protect secrets, particularly after Mr. Snowden’s revelations forced the agency to rethink how it prevents leaks.

The White House and national security officials have spent months studying whether to split the NSA and Cyber Command apart, essentially having two leaders run the agencies separately instead of one. This has been a source of tension between Adm. Rogers and Messrs. Carter and Clapper, the people familiar with the matter said.

The White House was expected to push for the agencies to split on Dec. 1. That date was moved up, to Oct. 1, in an effort to expedite the changes. But the plan was shelved following pushback from Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R., Ariz.), people familiar with the matter said.

Following the Washington Post report, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R., Calif.) sent a letter to Messrs. Carter and Clapper, calling for more information about their reported push to have Adm. Rogers removed.

“Since Admiral Rogers was appointed as NSA Director in April 2014, I have been consistently impressed with his leadership and accomplishments,” Mr. Nunes wrote. “His professionalism, expertise and deckplate leadership have been remarkable during an extremely challenging period for NSA. I know other members of Congress hold him in similarly high esteem.”

He directed both Messrs. Carter and Clapper to notify him no later than Monday when they would be able to testify before Congress about their push to remove Adm. Rogers.

Mr. Nunes is on the transition team advising President-elect Donald Trump on how to build his national security team, and Mr. Trump’s top national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, is close to Adm. Rogers. Mr. Trump met with Adm. Rogers on Thursday, and he is a leading candidate to take over Mr. Clapper’s job as the next director of national intelligence, people familiar with the matter said.

Earlier this week, Adm. Rogers in a public appearance repeated U.S. intelligence conclusions that Moscow sought to tamper with U.S. elections by hacking into mailboxes of the Democratic National Committee and dumping their contents in the weeks before voting.

“This was not something that was done by chance, this was not a target that was selected purely arbitrarily,” he said in a question-and-answer session at a Wall Street Journal conference in Washington, D.C. “This was a conscious effort by a nation state to attempt to achieve a specific effect.”

Write to Damian Paletta at damian.paletta@wsj.com and Carol E. Lee at carol.lee@wsj.com

http://www.wsj.com/articles/pentagon-intelligence-chiefs-push-to-oust-nsa-director-1479610439

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Pentagon and intelligence community chiefs have urged Obama to remove the head of the NSA

The Washington Post
November 19 at 2:15 PM
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The heads of the Pentagon and the nation’s intelligence community have recommended to President Obama that the director of the National Security Agency, Adm. Michael S. Rogers, be removed.The recommendation, delivered to the White House last month, was made by Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter and Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., according to several U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

Action has been delayed, some administration officials said, because relieving Rogers of his duties is tied to another controversial recommendation: to create separate chains of command at the NSA and the military’s cyberwarfare unit, a recommendation by Clapper and Carter that has been stalled because of other issues.

The news comes as Rogers is being considered by President-elect Donald Trump to be his nominee for director of national intelligence to replace Clapper as the official who oversees all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies. In a move apparently unprecedented for a military officer, Rogers, without notifying superiors, traveled to New York to meet with Trump on Thursday at Trump Tower. That caused consternation at senior levels of the administration, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal personnel matters.

The White House, Pentagon and Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment. The NSA did not respond to requests for comment. Carter has concerns with Rogers’s performance, officials said. The driving force for Clapper, meanwhile, was the separation of leadership roles at the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command, and his stance that the NSA should be headed by a civilian.

In a speech before the National Press Club on July 16, the director of the National Security Agency, Adm. Michael S. Rogers said that the agency is increasingly involved in responding to cyber threats. (C-SPAN)

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, on Saturday sent Clapper and Carter a letter defending Rogers. “I have been consistently impressed with his leadership and accomplishments,” said Nunes, who is also a member of Trump’s transition team. “His professionalism, expertise and deckplate leadership have been remarkable during an extremely challenging period for NSA. I know other members of Congress hold him in similarly high esteem.”

Rogers, 57, took the helm of the NSA and Cyber Command in April 2014 in the wake of revelations by a former intelligence contractor of broad surveillance activities that shook public confidence in the agency. The contractor, Edward Snowden, had secretly downloaded vast amounts of digital documents that he shared with a handful of journalists. His disclosures prompted debate over the proper scale of surveillance and led to some reforms.

But they also were a black eye for an agency that prides itself on having the most skilled hackers and cybersecurity professionals in government. Rogers was charged with making sure another insider breach never happened again.

Instead, in the past year and a half, officials have discovered two major compromises of sensitive hacking tools by personnel working at the NSA’s premier hacking unit: the Tailored Access Operations. One involved a Booz Allen Hamilton contractor, Harold T. Martin III, who is accused of carrying out the largest theft of classified government material. Although some of his activity took place before Rogers arrived and at other agencies, some of it — including the breach of some of the most sensitive tools — continued on Rogers’s watch, the officials said.

Martin’s alleged theft was discovered when some of the tools he is accused of stealing were mysteriously released online in August. They included computer code based on obscure software flaws that could be used to take control of firewalls and networks — what one former TAO operator called “the keys to the kingdom.”

Martin, who moved from the NSA to a job in a Defense Department acquisitions agency last year, was arrested in August. The news broke last month.

But there was a second, previously undisclosed breach of cybertools, discovered in the summer of 2015, which was also carried out by a TAO employee, one official said. That individual also has been arrested, but his case has not been made public. The individual is not believed to have shared the material with another country, the official said.

Rogers was put on notice by his two bosses — Clapper and Carter — that he had to get control of internal security and improve his leadership style. There have been persistent complaints from NSA personnel that Rogers is aloof, frequently absent and does not listen to staff input. The NSA is an intelligence agency but part of the Defense Department, hence the two overseers.

FBI agents investigating the Martin breach were appalled at how lax security was at the TAO, officials said. “[Rogers] is a guy who has been at the helm of the NSA at the time of some of the most egregious security breaches, most recently Hal Martin,” a senior administration official said. “Clearly it’s a sprawling bureaucracy . . . but I think there’s a compelling case that can be made that some of the safeguards that should have been put in place were either not fully put in place or not implemented properly.”

At the same time, Rogers has not impressed Carter with his handling of U.S. Cyber Command’s cyberoffensive against the Islamic State. Over the past year or so, the command’s operations against the terrorist group’s networks in Syria and Iraq have not borne much fruit, officials said. In the past month, military hackers have been successful at disrupting some Islamic State networks, but it was the first time they had done that, the officials said.

The expectation had been that Rogers would be replaced before the Nov. 8 election, but as part of an announcement about the change in leadership structure at the NSA and Cyber Command, a second administration official said.

“It was going to be part of a full package,” the official said. “The idea was not for any kind of public firing.” In any case, Rogers’s term at the NSA and Cyber Command is due to end in the spring, officials said.

The president would then appoint an acting NSA director, enabling his successor to nominate their own person. But a key lawmaker, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, threatened to block any such nominee if the White House proceeded with the plan to split the leadership at the NSA and Cyber Command.

The rationale for splitting what is called the “dual-hat” arrangement is that the agencies’ missions are fundamentally different, that the nation’s cyberspies and military hackers should not be competing to use the same networks, and that the job of leading both organizations is too big for one person.

But McCain is concerned that placing Cyber Command under its own leadership will hinder its effectiveness, as it is highly dependent on the NSA for capabilities.

Meanwhile, in February, Rogers announced a major reorganization, which he called NSA21, at the NSA to better adapt to the digital age. He has merged the agency’s spying and hacking arms with its computer-security division into one Directorate of Operations. That reorganization has only intensified the discontent that has marked Rogers’s tenure at the agency, current and former officials said.

“The morale is horrible,” one former senior official said. Especially during a period of change, a leader needs to be present, the official said. “Any leader knows that when you institute change, you have to be there. You have to help heal the wounds, be very active. He was not.”

But Saxby Chambliss, a former Republican senator from Georgia who served on the Select Committee on Intelligence, said that he thinks highly of Rogers. “When it comes to the world of cyber, there’s nobody more capable than Mike Rogers in the military world today,” he said.

Nonetheless, Rogers has seen other embarrassing network breaches on his watch. In 2013, Iranian hackers managed to penetrate the Navy’s unclassified network when Rogers was head of the 10th Fleet/Navy Cyber Command, the unit responsible for protecting the Navy’s networks. It took months to expel the attackers.

Rogers is a Navy cryptologist whose military career spans 35 years. He began his career as a surface-warfare officer in 1981. A Chicago native, he also has served as head of the Chairman’s Action Group, an in-house Pentagon think tank to advise on policy and long-term issues, under then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Peter Pace, and as director of intelligence at Pacific Command and then on the Joint Staff.

NSA contractor arrested over ‘stolen secret code used to hack Russia’

October 6, 2016

Image may contain: 1 person, eyeglasses and closeup

The suspected theft raises fears of more damaging intelligence leaks just three years after the Edward Snowden affair

By Tim Walker US Correspondent
The Independent

The FBI has secretly arrested a National Security Agency (NSA) contractor suspected of stealing highly classified computer codes used to hack the computer systems of foreign governments including Russia and China, raising fears of another embarrassing intelligence leak to rival the Edward Snowden affair.

Law enforcement and intelligence sources told the New York Times that, like Mr Snowden, the contractor worked for consulting firm Booz Allen, which is behind many of the NSA’s most sensitive cyberoperations. In 2013, Mr Snowden leaked more than 1.5 million documents relating to the agency’s surveillance programmes, including some that targeted US citizens.

The contractor in this case was named in a criminal complaint announced by the Justice Department on Wednesday as Harold Thomas Martin III. Mr Martin, who lives in Glen Burnie, Maryland – around 10 miles from the NSA’s Fort Meade headquarters – has been in custody since his arrest on 27 August, according to the Associated Press.

In a raid on his property that month, authorities searched Mr Martin’s home, two storage sheds and his car, reportedly finding highly classified information there in both physical documents and digital files. He was charged with theft of government property, and with the unauthorised removal or retention of classified documents. Some of the information was classified as “sensitive compartmented” a level higher even than “top secret”.

Mr Martin at first denied having taken the materials, but later admitted that “he knew what he had done was wrong,” the complaint stated. An unnamed administration official told theTimes that there is so far little indication that his actions were “politically motivated”, and that he may have taken the documents and digital files before Mr Snowden’s leaks.

The 51-year-old contractor is suspected of stealing the NSA’s “source code” used to break into the computer networks of rival powers such as Russia, China, Iran and North Korea. The news comes as Mr Snowden, who is currently living in Russia, has been arguing for a pardon from the US amid the release of Snowden, a film about his case by director Oliver Stone.

Edward Snowden

This is huge. Did the FBI secretly arrest the person behind the reports NSA sat on huge flaws in US products?http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/06/us/nsa-leak-booz-allen-hamilton.html 

N.S.A. Contractor Arrested in Possible New Theft of Secrets

The F.B.I. is investigating whether Harold T. Martin III, a National Security Agency contractor, stole and disclosed highly classified computer code, officials said.

nytimes.com

The information allegedly stolen in this case could have been the source for a 2013 report by Der Spiegel about the agency’s top hacking unit, which was not attributed to Mr Snowden’s leaks. It might also be related to a recent dump of stolen data by a hacking group called the “Shadow Brokers”, which included source code traced to the NSA and built to break into secure networks, such as those created by US IT infrastructure firms including Cisco.

Related:

WikiLeaks and Assange may have more emails? It isn’t over until the fat lady sings….

October 3, 2016

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Ten years on, WikiLeaks and Assange as controversial as ever

AFP | October 3, 2016
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WikiLeaks launched in January 2007, with Assange saying it would use encryption and a censorship-proof website to protect sources and publicise secret information. The site has since published more than 10 million leaked documents.
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BERLIN: Celebrating its 10th anniversary this week, anonymous whistleblowing platform WikiLeaks can look back on a decade that saw it turn classified documents into global headlines and inspire a host of copycat leaks.
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But with founder Julian Assange hiding in Ecuador’s London embassy to evade rape allegations and critics accusing the site of being manipulated by shadowy forces for political gain, the organisation is fighting to maintain its image.
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An anniversary party in Berlin on Tuesday will commemorate the 2006 registration of the domain name wikileaks.org, while Assange will make a rare public appearance on the balcony of his 18-square-metre room.
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WikiLeaks launched in January 2007, with Assange saying it would use encryption and a censorship-proof website to protect sources and publicise secret information.
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The site has since published more than 10 million leaked documents.
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It first caught the world’s attention when it released manuals for prison guards at Guantanamo Bay.
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But it really hit its stride in 2010, unveiling logs of US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and a video showing a US helicopter crew mowing down a group of unarmed civilians — including two journalists — in Baghdad.
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That same year it also published a cache of diplomatic cables from US embassies around the world, deeply embarrassing Washington.
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“The most important single collection of material we have published is the US diplomatic cable series,” Assange told German news weekly Der Spiegel in an interview at the weekend.
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‘Power-obsessed’
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But 2010 also saw grave blows to the organisation.
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Assange was accused of having sex with a woman while she was asleep after the two met at a Stockholm conference.
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The white-haired WikiLeaks founder took refuge in the London embassy of Ecuador — which granted him political asylum in 2012 after he lost a legal battle to block his extradition to Sweden.
The 45-year-old has always maintained the allegations are false and has refused to travel to Stockholm for questioning due to concerns that Sweden will hand him over to the US to stand trial for espionage.
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In September, staffer Daniel Domscheit-Berg quit WikiLeaks, accusing Assange of being “chaotic” and “power-obsessed” in a 2011 book.
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“The press said WikiLeaks was the end of journalism and the beginning of something totally new,” Domscheit-Berg remembers of the “hype” of 2010.
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But Assange’s abrasive style and insistence on publishing unredacted documents quickly grated on colleagues and journalists who worked with him.
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“If an Afghan civilian helps coalition forces, he deserves to die,” Guardian investigative journalist Nick Davies later recalled Assange saying in an argument over whether to remove names from the war logs.
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Domscheit-Berg suspects Assange’s inflexibility discouraged future sources from turning to the organisation.
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In 2013, former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden chose to leak documents exposing intelligence agencies’ mass surveillance programmes to selected journalists instead of offering the trove to WikiLeaks.
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And many later whistleblowers have turned to other organisations.
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The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists this year published stories based on data dumps from tax havens Panama and the Bahamas, while environmental group Greenpeace in May released documents from negotiations over a controversial US-EU free trade deal.
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Tool for influence?
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WikiLeaks caused a fresh stir in July when it leaked emails showing US Democratic Party officials favouring Hillary Clinton over left-winger Bernie Sanders in presidential primary elections, forcing high-ranking party members to resign.
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After US intelligence organisations speculated that Russian hackers were behind the leak, some accused Assange of abetting a foreign power’s bid to influence the US election.
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“We’re not going to start censoring our publications because there is a US election. Our role is to publish,” Assange told Spiegel magazine, pointing out that the site had also published documents relating to Russia and its President Vladimir Putin.
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But Domscheit-Berg sees a danger in this publish-and-be-damned policy.
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“Today people mostly go to WikiLeaks who see it as a tool, who want to instrumentalise it,” he said.
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Assange himself is unmoved by criticisms of his organisation.
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“We believe in what we’re doing,” he told Spiegel. “The attacks only make us stronger.”
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UPDATED: After canceling a planned announcement in London, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is now planning to appear via video link Tuesday morning at Wikileak’s tenth anniversary celebration in Berlin.
.He’s a last-minute addition to the roster of festivities taking place this week in Germany.

According to @wikileaks, Julian Assange will appear via video link at Berlin press conference on Tuesday AM

Wikileaks used its Facebook page to confirm that Assange would speak at the event, which takes place at 3am Eastern time.

Sources close to the event tell Heat Street that Assange may be planning to release some new information his organization has obtained about the U.S. Democratic Party. But Heat Street has yet to receive independent confirmation that Assange plans to dump information specifically on Hillary Clinton.

The news that Assange plans to appear (remotely) in Berlin comes after Wikileaks abruptly canceled a much-anticipated announcement in London that was to be made from the balcony of London’s Ecuadorian Embassy, where Assange has sought sanctuary for years. The cancelation was first reported by NBC News. According to NBC’s Jesse Rodriguez, the announcement was canceled due to “security concerns”.

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There had been widespread anticipating that Tuesday’s announcement might have been Assange’s long-promised document dump on Hillary Clinton.

Due to security concerns at the Ecuadorian Embassy, Julian Assange’s balcony announcement on Tues has been cancelled, per @wikileaks

 

Julian Assange set to make an announcement from his balcony in London next Tuesday, according to @WikiLeaks

Assange appeared on Fox News last month, repeating his assertion that Wikileaks has damaging documents on Clinton and suggested WikiLeaks may soon release “teasers”. More than three weeks later, that release has yet to take place.

Clinton’s more fervent opponents have hoped for weeks that the promised document dump would be an “October surprise” – damaging and revelatory emails or the like — and inflict a mortal wound on her campaign. There’s no evidence however that such damaging information even exists.

It was only this summer that Assange’s group leaked thousands of embarrassing emails from the Democratic National Committee which showed their disdain for Bernie Sanders’ insurgent campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. The uproar over the disclosures forced DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz to resign in disgrace on the eve of the Democratic National Convention.

The political provocateur and bomb-thrower Roger Stone, a fervent Donald Trump supporter, predicted Sunday morning that Wikileaks’ revelations would doom Clinton’s campaign.

It’s unclear if Stone was aware that Wikileaks, according to NBC News, has canceled their Tuesday announcement.

Assange and his supporters have long claimed that his personal safety is at risk due to the danger he (supposedly) represents to Clinton’s presidential ambitions. In August, liberal commentator Bob Beckel suggested in a TV appearance that Assange be murdered, proclaiming that someone should “shoot the son of a bitch!”

Hillary Clinton strategist Bob Beckel called for WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange to be assassinated.

Assange himself has also recently hinted publicly that low-level DNC staffer Seth Rich, who was murdered this summer in Washington DC, had been the source for Wikileaks’ document dump on the DNC. And that Rich’s alleged role in the leaks was linked to his death.

There has been no evidence linking Rich to the leak and no evidence that his murder was anything more than a botched robbery.

Nonetheless, the Wikileaks’ cancellation of Tuesday’s announcement in London — and the scheduling of the Tuesday video link in Berlin — has anti-Clinton conspiracy theorists working up a frantic stew of speculation.