Posts Tagged ‘WikiLeaks’

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)

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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)

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The Washington Post
March 20 at 11:27 AM
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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.
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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

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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. 

Claims GCHQ wiretapped Trump ‘nonsense’ — U.S. National Security Agency source says

March 18, 2017

BBC News

People sit at computers in the 24 hour Operations Room inside GCHQ, Cheltenham on 17 November, 2015.
GCHQ, a British intelligence agency, wholly denies it helped wiretap Donald Trump

The claim that GCHQ carried out surveillance on Donald Trump during the election campaign is “arrant nonsense”, Rick Ledgett, the number two at the US National Security Agency (NSA) has told the BBC in an exclusive interview.

A commentator on Fox News had claimed that GCHQ had carried out the activity on America’s behalf, but Mr Ledgett said the claim showed “a complete lack of understanding in how the relationship works”.

Each side, he said, was prohibited from asking the other partner to carry out acts that they were prohibited from doing.

He also said the huge risks to the UK in carrying out such an act would completely outweigh any benefits.

“Of course they wouldn’t do it. It would be epically stupid,” he told me.

GCHQ had also dismissed the allegation as nonsense.

Mr Ledgett’s comments came in a wide-ranging – and long-scheduled – interview in his office at NSA headquarters at Fort Meade. He acknowledged that these were unusual times when it came to the political maelstrom surrounding America’s intelligence agencies and their relationship with the new administration.

“Our job in the intelligence community is to be apolitical. Our job is to speak truth to power,” he emphasised.

The origins of much of the tension lie in the assessment by the US intelligence community that Russia interfered in the presidential election, and the subsequent reaction from Donald Trump.

Mr Ledgett said the evidence of Russian involvement was “extraordinarily strong” and “irrefutable” and that the NSA had played a key role in establishing the case.

Mr Ledgett said he was “dead solid 100% confident” that the Russian state was behind the attempts – although he said it was not for the intelligence community to evaluate the actual impact of those attempts on the vote itself.

Russian President Vladimir Putin pictured on 16 March, 2017.
President Vladimir Putin insists that Russia did not interfere in the US election. AP photo

There has been speculation that Russia will interfere in upcoming European elections, but the NSA deputy director said it was hard for him to talk about any evidence supporting that.

There has been a shift towards more aggressive action in cyberspace in recent years – from Russia but also other states – with some commentators claiming that “cyber war” is breaking out.

Low-intensity conflict rather than war is a better description, Mr Ledgett said.

“Cyber war is going to look very different – you are going to see massive failures of key infrastructure systems in the countries that are being targeted in a way we have not seen yet.”

The problems in attributing attacks and the lower barriers for entry mean that this trend may well continue, though.

The US last week indicted a group of Russian hackers as part of a broader strategy of trying to develop layered deterrence. Chinese and Iranian hackers have been indicted in the past.

“Our assessment is that it does cause actors to pause,” Mr Ledgett said, while acknowledging it did not provide absolute deterrence.

The spread of internet-connected devices in the home is another concern.

“It’s a truism that the more things you connect to a network, the more vulnerabilities you introduce,” Mr Ledgett argued, adding that he did not have what are called “Internet of Things” devices in his own home.

Last week there were claims that the CIA – along with Britain’s MI5 – had found vulnerabilities in some “smart” TV sets which allowed them to be turned into bugging devices.

CIA logo
It has been claimed that the CIA devised a spyware attack for Samsung TVs. Getty Images

Mr Ledgett emphasised that the mission of the NSA was to focus on foreign intelligence and not domestic.

He said that 90% of vulnerabilities in systems that the NSA spotted were reported to companies so they could fix them. And any vulnerabilities that the agency sought to leave in place to exploit for intelligence gathering needed to be approved by other government agencies.

“There’s a fringe narrative out there that the US and UK and all these other governments are willy-nilly just exploiting every vulnerability in every device they can in order to gather information into a big pile and then root through it for interesting things. That’s not what we do at all.”

He acknowledged that the debate around the NSA’s power was healthy, but said the way it came about was bad, referring to the Edward Snowden revelations.

He said that while he would not point to specific terrorist attacks or deaths as a result of disclosures, the NSA had seen one thousand “entities” (such as terrorist groups or foreign military units) which had tried to change behaviour to avoid surveillance.

An aerial view shows the National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters in Ft. Meade, Maryland, US on 29 January, 2010.
Mr Ledgett spoke to the BBC at the NSA’s headquarters in Fort Meade. Reuters photo

Mr Ledgett is due to step down in the coming months after a 40-year career in national security. Twenty-nine of those years were spent at the NSA, where he ended up as its most senior civilian.

He acknowledged that the current environment – with the intelligence agencies drawn into political debate – was unprecedented.

“It is an uncomfortable place to be,” he said. “Intelligence needs to not be politicised to be at its best.”

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-39312176

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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

Image may contain: 1 person, suit

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

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 (Contains links to several other related articles)

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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UK spy agency warns politicians about Russian hacking threat

March 12, 2017

BBC News

Hands on a keyboard

Attacks by Russian hackers could threaten British democracy, GCHQ has warned politicians.

The spy agency’s computer security chief has written to political parties offering advice on preventing hacks, according to The Sunday Times.

US intelligence officials have accused the Kremlin of using cyber-attacks to influence the November election.

But Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said there was so far no evidence of successful attacks in the UK.

National security threats

In a letter to politicians, Ciaran Martin, chief executive of GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), said: “You will be aware of the coverage of events in the United States, Germany and elsewhere reminding us of the potential for hostile action against the UK political system.

“This is not just about the network security of political parties’ own systems. Attacks against our democratic processes go beyond this and can include attacks on parliament, constituency offices, think tanks and pressure groups and individuals’ email accounts.”

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GCHQ

He said GCHQ would offer tailored seminars to help political parties understand the threats and reduce the risk of information being stolen.

In February, Mr Martin warned that Britain had been targeted with 188 attempted high-level hacks in the previous three months, “many of which threatened national security”.

Chancellor Phillip Hammond, a former defence and foreign secretary, added that the NCSC had been blocking more than 200 attacks a day on government departments and the public over the last six months.

‘Dirty tricks’

A report by US intelligence officials concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the hacking of the Democratic National Committee to influence the November election in favour of Donald Trump.

Meanwhile Germany’s domestic intelligence chief warned in December of “increasingly aggressive cyber-espionage” by a hacking group believed to be controlled by the Russian state.

Mr Johnson told ITV’s Peston On Sunday: “We have no evidence that the Russians are actually involved in trying to undermine our democratic processes at the moment. We don’t actually have that evidence.

“But what we do have is plenty of evidence that the Russians are capable of doing that. And there is no doubt that they have been up to all sorts of dirty tricks.”

The foreign secretary said there was “very little doubt” that the Kremlin was behind the hacking in the US, cyber-attacks on French TV stations and an attempted coup in Montenegro.

Russia has rejected these allegations.

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-39248879

Authorities Question CIA Contractors in Connection With WikiLeaks Dump

March 12, 2017

Digital trail has pointed investigators to a team of developers working with CIA’s Engineering Development Group

In recent months, there has been talk of “bad blood” in the small world of CIA contractors who are vital to the agency’s hacking projects, people familiar with the investigation have said.

In recent months, there has been talk of “bad blood” in the small world of CIA contractors who are vital to the agency’s hacking projects, people familiar with the investigation have said. PHOTO: CAROLYN KASTER/ASSOCIATED PRESS

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March 11, 2017 8:59 p.m. ET

Investigators probing who may have provided WikiLeaks with classified information about the Central Intelligence Agency’s purported computer-hacking techniques are zeroing in on a small number of contractors who have worked for the agency and may have been disgruntled over recent job losses, according to people familiar with the investigation.

Authorities on Thursday questioned a handful of contractors working in at least two locations in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., these people said. Law-enforcement officials said no arrests had been made, but one person familiar with the investigation said it was “rapidly unfolding.”

This person added that a digital trail has pointed authorities, at least initially, to a team of software developers working with the CIA’s Engineering Development Group. The group designs tools that, according to the documents released this week by WikiLeaks, the CIA uses to break into smartphones, personal computers and televisions connected to the internet. The more than 8,000 pages of documents that WikiLeaks disclosed appear to have been taken last December from a server that the Engineering Development Group uses, this person said, and that “only a few contractors would have access to.”

More than a dozen companies work for the CIA on hacking projects, the bulk of them at a facility near Chantilly, Va. It wasn’t clear which companies the people who were questioned worked for. In recent months, there has been talk of “bad blood” in the small world of CIA contractors who are vital to the agency’s hacking projects, the people familiar with the probe said. One group of contractors recently had been working for the CIA overseas and expected to be given new jobs with the agency in the U.S., but their positions were later eliminated, one person said.

“There were definitely disgruntled people internally,” this person said, adding that he believes these individuals may have been among those questioned by investigators.

The CIA hasn’t confirmed whether the documents that WikiLeaks posted to its website are authentic. A spokesman for the agency declined to comment.

If CIA contractors ultimately are found to have been responsible for the massive leak, it will be the third disclosure of intelligence secrets in the past four years attributed to the hired experts that the intelligence community depends on to fill all kinds of sensitive jobs, from technology support for espionage programs to the design and testing of hacking tools.

One source familiar with the investigation said the people who have been questioned so far all have top-secret level security clearances and recently passed polygraph examinations. But prior leakers had also been investigated and deemed trustworthy enough to work in some of the government’s most sensitive intelligence organizations.

In 2013, National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden disclosed classified information about surveillance programs and the agency’s relationship with major technology companies. U.S. prosecutors have charged him under the Espionage Act, and he is now living in Russia under a grant of asylum. Current and former intelligence officials have said Mr. Snowden’s leaks caused the NSA to suspend many intelligence-gathering operations and gave terrorists and spies clues into how the U.S. monitors global communications.

And this year, Harold “Hal” Martin III, also a former NSA contractor, was indicted on a charge of removing a huge amount of classified material from the agency’s headquarters at Fort Meade, Md. Mr. Martin has pleaded not guilty. A group that calls itself Shadow Brokers claims to have some of the same information that Mr. Martin allegedly took and has tried to auction the material online.

One person with direct knowledge of the investigation of Mr. Martin said it is still not clear how the information, which the ex-contractor is suspected of taking to his home in suburban Maryland, ended up in others’ hands. But the volume of information is staggering—far more than what Mr. Snowden disclosed—and more sensitive because it pertains to the NSA’s own hacking operations by its elite Tailored Access Operations unit, this person said.

The WikiLeaks disclosure has put the White House in the awkward position of criticizing a group that President Donald Trump praised on the campaign trail.

“I love WikiLeaks,” Mr. Trump told supporters at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania last October, after the group began publishing emails stolen from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta. Some of those emails described paid speeches that Mrs. Clinton gave to financial-services firms.

But over the past week, White House spokesman Sean Spicer has struck a far different tone, blasting the antisecrecy group for damaging U.S. national security.

“This is the kind of disclosure that undermines our country, our security and our well-being,” Mr. Spicer said.

On Thursday, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange offered to give companies the technical details of how the CIA has apparently hacked their products. Mr. Spicer suggested that companies who took up Mr. Assange on his offer could be breaking the law if they received classified information and advised that the firms consult the Justice Department.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said he has additional information about ways the CIA tries to mask its attacks.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said he has additional information about ways the CIA tries to mask its attacks. PHOTO: DOMINIC LIPINSKI/ZUMA PRESS
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The same day, the CIA blasted Mr. Assange, who has previously published classified government information, including from the military and the State Department.

“Julian Assange is not exactly a bastion of truth and integrity,” CIA spokesman Jonathan Liu said. “Despite the efforts of Assange and his ilk, [the] CIA continues to aggressively collect foreign intelligence overseas to protect America from terrorists, hostile nation states and other adversaries.”

Write to Shane Harris at shane.harris@wsj.com and Robert McMillan at Robert.Mcmillan@wsj.com

 

What WikiLeaks Really Revealed About the CIA’s Spying Techniques — Plus Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell Says “This data is not shared outside CIA… this has to be an inside job.”

March 11, 2017

March 11, 2017 7:00 a.m. ET

WASHINGTON—The “Vault 7” trove of documents released Tuesday by WikiLeaks has been cited by commentators to claim that the Central Intelligence Agency may have been masquerading as other foreign states while conducting its cyberhacks.

The documents being cited, however, offer no smoking gun.

The idea that the CIA posed as foreign actors has gained currency among people who are using the WikiLeaks disclosure to question the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman last year in order to help elect President Donald Trump. These political commentators and outlets are implying the campaign hacks could have been a CIA operation.

“CIA uses techniques to make cyberattacks look like they originated from enemy state. It turns DNC/Russia hack allegation by CIA into a JOKE,” internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcomwrote after the release in a tweet picked up by ZeroHedge, a financial blog known for its antiestablishment worldview. Mr. Dotcom, who founded the file-sharing website Megaupload, is wanted in the U.S. on charges including criminal copyright infringement, money laundering and conspiracy to commit racketeering.

Conservative commentator Laura Ingraham promoted the same line of reasoning in an exchange with host Sean Hannity on Fox News, claiming the leaks show U.S. intelligence agencies using countries like Russia as a scapegoat for their own attacks.

“If [CIA agents] were using specific deceptive techniques to look like the Russians, then that opens up the question…in all of this Russian conspiracy… did [the CIA] do it internally? The same people that were leaking on Trump?” Mr. Hannity replied.

WikiLeaks tweeted the Fox News segment to its millions of followers.

Infowars, an online outlet associated with the far right, ran a story titled: “VAULT 7: CIA CAN STAGE FAKE RUSSIAN HACKING TO UNDERMINE TRUMP.”

One problem: The documents WikiLeaks released on Tuesday don’t show examples of CIA operatives masquerading as any foreign actors, let alone Russian military intelligence, while conducting cyberattacks.

What they do show: The CIA appears to have a group called Umbrage that maintains a library of malware samples and techniques from external sources for agency programmers to repurpose when developing their own hacking tools.

Some of the Umbrage library appears to include pieces of malware linked to Russian criminal hackers and Chinese state actors, as well as publicly available malware, such as a program a French code released that can take over a web camera remotely.

WikiLeaks suggested in its news release accompanying the leak the CIA is collecting these samples to leave the fingerprints of foreign actors at the crime scene of attacks and to confuse investigators.

WikiLeaks has released thousands of documents and files dubbed Vault 7 that it says expose how the CIA is capable of hacking smartphones, computer operating systems, automobiles, messenger applications and even internet-connected televisions. Here’s a look at how they could work. Photo: Adele Morgan/The Wall Street Journal
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But the documents released so far say nothing about the CIA using the Umbrage malware library to cover the tracks of an attack. The documents say the library there is for a different purpose: to save time and money in programming.

“The UMBRAGE team maintains a library of application development techniques borrowed from in-the-wild malware,” one document says. “The goal of this repository is to provide functional code snippets that can be rapidly combined into custom solutions.”

The CIA has declined to comment on the authenticity of the leak or its contents.

Few cybersecurity experts doubt that U.S. intelligence agencies have the capability to impersonate other actors while hacking and the motive to mask the provenance of their attacks. Some say the CIA theoretically could use the malware samples in the Umbrage library in pursuit of that goal, though the leak so far doesn’t appear to show an example of that occurring.

“It is true that probably every intelligence agency is looking at what others are doing and trying to learn techniques and methods from them,” said Ben Buchanan, author of the “Cybersecurity Dilemma” and a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. “These documents show the CIA was doing that.”

Jason Healey, a senior research scholar at Columbia University’s School for International and Public Affairs specializing in cyber conflict,said U.S. cyber operatives would need far more than pieces of hacking tools from foreign agencies to impersonate an attack by another foreign actor.

“Even if we had their tools, we’d have to suborn their infrastructure, as well as use the tools in the exact same manner,” he said. “It’s not just the tools. It’s not just the infrastructure. It’s the manner of operating.”

WikiLeaks says it has put out less than 1% of the total information it has in the “Vault 7” trove. Founder Julian Assange said in a press conference Thursday that he has additional information about ways the CIA tries to mask its attacks by masquerading as other actors.

“We have quite a lot more material that talks about these attempts to throw off attribution,” Mr. Assange said, suggesting that fulsome evidence of the CIA impersonating another actor during an attack could be forthcoming.

But cybersecurity researchers caution to pay attention to the leaked documents themselves, rather than the spin WikiLeaks or others try to put on them.

“WikiLeaks doesn’t make stuff up, but they do spin it,” said James Lewis, a cybersecurity expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “And the spin makes you wonder what’s really going on.”

Write to Paul Sonne at paul.sonne@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/what-wikileaks-really-revealed-about-the-cias-spying-techniques-1489233601

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Former CIA Deputy Director, Michael Morell on CIA leaks — “This data is not shared outside CIA… this has to be an inside job.”

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WikiLeaks Dump Adds to China’s Foreign-Tech Wariness

March 9, 2017

Revelation of purported CIA hacking methods hands ammunition to the country’s cyberspace hawks

While the purported CIA documents leaked this week by WikiLeaks focus on the likes of Apple and Samsung, Chinese companies like Huawei do get some coverage. 

While the purported CIA documents leaked this week by WikiLeaks focus on the likes of Apple and Samsung, Chinese companies like Huawei do get some coverage.  PHOTO: SADILEK JAN/ZUMA PRESS

BEIJING—The latest WikiLeaks trove hands fresh ammunition to China’s cyberspace hawks, already pushing to reduce dependence on foreign products that could be vulnerable to espionage, observers say.

“The level of alarm in China will certainly increase, and with it a renewed determination to clamp down still further on U.S. technology companies’ operations in China,” said Peter Fuhrman, chairman of Shenzhen-based advisory firm China First Capital, which follows China’s tech sector.

The documents released this week—more than 8,000 pages in all—purport to show how the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency breaks into computers, smartphones, TVs and other electronics for surveillance. Many documents deal with leading non-Chinese brands like Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co., though there is some coverage of Chinese products, including routers from Huawei Technologies Inc. and Baidu Inc.’s search engine.

The Chinese-product references are relatively sparse—and, in some cases, obscure. An undated list of CIA internal hacking demonstrations, for example, includes the “Panda Poke-Huawei credless exploit”—which one cybersecurity specialist says may be a method for taking advantage of vulnerabilities without logins or other “credentials.” There is also the “Huawei VOIP Collection,” a reference to “voice over internet Protocol,” making phone calls over the internet.

The document doesn’t say whether these methods were used for intelligence gathering. Huawei declined to comment.

A file titled “Small Routers Research-work in progress” lists router models from Huawei and ZTE Corp. It also mentions China’s three state-owned telecom companies and Baidu’s search engine, without further details.

The telecom companies and Baidu declined to comment.

The leak also offered what seem to be workaday notes among colleagues, including one CIA worker’s complaint about one piece of software’s default-language setting. “I don’t speak Chinese,” he griped.

WikiLeaks’ website is blocked in China, but Chinese state-run media reported the document leak, focusing on U.S. companies. Overall response has been muted, possibly because the official spotlight this week is on Beijing’s annual legislative gathering.

Cybersecurity experts say China maintains its own robust cyberhacking apparatus, though Beijing characterizes itself as purely a hacking victim, not a perpetrator.

“China is opposed to any form of cyberattack,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Thursday. “We urge the U.S. side to stop its wiretapping, surveillance, espionage and cyberattacks on China and other countries. China will firmly safeguard its own cybersecurity.”

In recent years, China has seized on leaks about U.S. surveillance to fan public support for its domestic tech products. U.S. tech brands felt a chill after former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed NSA surveillance methods in 2013.

“It is like snow on more snow,” one China executive of a U.S. technology company said of the potential sales impact of the latest leaks.

These leaks could help countries counter CIA tapping and develop their own capabilities, said Nigel Inkster, former deputy chief of U.K. spy agency MI6.

“China, Russia et al will now both be better attuned to the risks posed by these capabilities,” he said, “and will no doubt seek to use them themselves.”

https://www.wsj.com/articles/wikileaks-dump-adds-to-chinas-foreign-tech-wariness-1489061414?mod=e2fb

WikiLeaks’s Assange Says Group Will Help Tech Firms Defend Against CIA Hacking (What a kind man…)

March 9, 2017

Site founder says it will give companies exclusive access to technical details

AP WIKILEAKS SPOKESMAN I FILE GBR

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

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Updated March 9, 2017 11:18 a.m. ET

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Thursday pledged to share with technology companies technical details of the purported Central Intelligence Agency hacking tools his organization described earlier this week.

On Tuesday, WikiLeaks released files describing tools allegedly used by the intelligence agency to hack a wide range of systems including smartphones running operating systems from Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google, and…

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