December - 2016

December 15, 2016 – Peter Strzok-Lisa Page texts discuss others ‘leaking like mad’ ahead of Russia investigation: Report

“New text messages between ex-FBI employees Peter Strzok and Lisa Page reveal others were “leaking like mad” in the run-up to the Trump-Russia collusion probe, according to new communications between the former lovers obtained exclusively by Fox News.

Richard Quinn transfers to the FBI in St. Louis, Missouri on November 7, 2017. (Credit: public domain)

A lengthy exchange dated Dec. 15, 2016 appears to reveal a potential leak operation for “political” purposes.

“Oh, remind me to tell you tomorrow about the times doing a story about the rnc hacks,” Page texted Strzok.

“And more than they already did? I told you Quinn told me they pulling out all the stops on some story…” Strzok replied.

A source told Fox News “Quinn” could be referring to Richard Quinn, who served as the chief of the Media and Investigative Publicity Section in the Office of Public Affairs. Quinn could not be reached for comment.

Strzok again replied: “Think our sisters have begun leaking like mad. Scorned and worried, and political, they’re kicking into overdrive.”

(…) “The “leaking like mad” text came on the same day that several news outlets reported that U.S. intelligence officials said they were convinced that Russian President Vladimir Putin was personally involved, and approved Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Days before, the New York Times published an article titled “Russian Hackers Acted to Aid Trump in Election, U.S. Says,” citing “senior administration officials.”

A story published by the New York Times on Jan. 10, 2017, suggested that Russian hackers “gained limited access” to the Republican National Committee. Jan. 10, 2017 is also the same day BuzzFeed News published the infamous anti-Trump dossier.

Following the text about “sisters leaking,” Strzok wrote to Page:

“And we need to talk more about putting C reporting in our submission. They’re going to declassify all of it…”

Page replied: “I know. But they’re going to declassify their stuff, how do we withhold…”

“We will get extraordinary questions. What we did what we’re doing. Just want to ensure everyone is good with it and has thought thru all implications,” Strzok wrote. “CD should bring it up with the DD.” (Read more: Fox News, 9/13/2018)

December 12, 2016 – Clapper says CIA is wrong on Russia and Clinton leaks

“The overseers of the U.S. intelligence community have not embraced a CIA assessment that Russian cyber attacks were aimed at helping Republican President-elect Donald Trump win the 2016 election, three American officials said on Monday.

While the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) does not dispute the CIA’s analysis of Russian hacking operations, it has not endorsed their assessment because of a lack of conclusive evidence that Moscow intended to boost Trump over Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton, said the officials, who declined to be named.

The position of the ODNI, which oversees the 17 agency-strong U.S. intelligence community, could give Trump fresh ammunition to dispute the CIA assessment, which he rejected as “ridiculous” in weekend remarks, and press his assertion that no evidence implicates Russia in the cyber attacks.

Trump’s rejection of the CIA’s judgment marks the latest in a string of disputes over Russia’s international conduct that have erupted between the president-elect and the intelligence community he will soon command.

An ODNI spokesman declined to comment on the issue.

“ODNI is not arguing that the agency (CIA) is wrong, only that they can’t prove intent,” said one of the three U.S. officials. “Of course they can’t, absent agents in on the decision-making in Moscow.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, whose evidentiary standards require it to make cases that can stand up in court, declined to accept the CIA’s analysis – a deductive assessment of the available intelligence – for the same reason, the three officials said.” (Read more: Reuters, 12/12/2016)

December 12, 2016 – US Intel vets dispute Russia hacking claims because the evidence should be there and is absent

“As the hysteria about Russia’s alleged interference in the U.S. election grows, a key mystery is why U.S. intelligence would rely on “circumstantial evidence” when it has the capability for hard evidence, say U.S. intelligence veterans.

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

MEMORANDUM

Allegations of Hacking Election Are Baseless

Seal of the National Security Agency (Credit: NSA)

A New York Times report alluding to “overwhelming circumstantial evidence” leading the CIA to believe that Russian President Vladimir Putin “deployed computer hackers with the goal of tipping the election to Donald J. Trump” is, sadly, evidence-free. This is no surprise, because harder evidence of a technical nature points to an inside leak, not hacking – by Russians or anyone else.

Monday’s Washington Post reports that Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has joined other senators in calling for a bipartisan investigation of suspected cyber-intrusion by Russia. Reading our short memo could save the Senate from endemic partisanship, expense and unnecessary delay.

In what follows, we draw on decades of senior-level experience – with emphasis on cyber-intelligence and security – to cut through uninformed, largely partisan fog. Far from hiding behind anonymity, we are proud to speak out with the hope of gaining an audience appropriate to what we merit – given our long labors in government and other areas of technology. And corny though it may sound these days, our ethos as intelligence professionals remains, simply, to tell it like it is – without fear or favor.

We have gone through the various claims about hacking. For us, it is child’s play to dismiss them. The email disclosures in question are the result of a leak, not a hack. Here’s the difference between leaking and hacking:

Leak: When someone physically takes data out of an organization and gives it to some other person or organization, as Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning did.

Hack: When someone in a remote location electronically penetrates operating systems, firewalls or any other cyber-protection system and then extracts data.

All signs point to leaking, not hacking. If hacking were involved, the National Security Agency would know it – and know both sender and recipient.

In short, since leaking requires physically removing data – on a thumb drive, for example – the only way such data can be copied and removed, with no electronic trace of what has left the server, is via a physical storage device.

Awesome Technical Capabilities

Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. (Photo credit: The Guardian)

Again, NSA is able to identify both the sender and recipient when hacking is involved. Thanks largely to the material released by Edward Snowden, we can provide a full picture of NSA’s extensive domestic data-collection network including Upstream programs like Fairview, Stormbrew and Blarney. These include at least 30 companies in the U.S. operating the fiber networks that carry the Public Switched Telephone Network as well as the World Wide Web. This gives NSA unparalleled access to data flowing within the U.S. and data going out to the rest of the world, as well as data transiting the U.S.

In other words, any data that is passed from the servers of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) or of Hillary Rodham Clinton (HRC) – or any other server in the U.S. – is collected by the NSA.  These data transfers carry destination addresses in what are called packets, which enable the transfer to be traced and followed through the network.

Packets: Emails being passed across the World Wide Web are broken down into smaller segments called packets. These packets are passed into the network to be delivered to a recipient. This means the packets need to be reassembled at the receiving end.

To accomplish this, all the packets that form a message are assigned an identifying number that enables the receiving end to collect them for reassembly. Moreover, each packet carries the originator and ultimate receiver Internet protocol number (either IPV4 or IPV6) that enables the network to route data.

When email packets leave the U.S., the other “Five Eyes” countries (the U.K., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand) and the seven or eight additional countries participating with the U.S. in bulk-collection of everything on the planet would also have a record of where those email packets went after leaving the U.S.

These collection resources are extensive [see attached NSA slides 1, 2, 3, 4, 5]; they include hundreds of trace route programs that trace the path of packets going across the network and tens of thousands of hardware and software implants in switches and servers that manage the network. Any emails being extracted from one server going to another would be, at least in part, recognizable and traceable by all these resources.

The bottom line is that the NSA would know where and how any “hacked” emails from the DNC, HRC or any other servers were routed through the network. This process can sometimes require a closer look into the routing to sort out intermediate clients, but in the end sender and recipient can be traced across the network.

The various ways in which usually anonymous spokespeople for U.S. intelligence agencies are equivocating – saying things like “our best guess” or “our opinion” or “our estimate” etc. – shows that the emails alleged to have been “hacked” cannot be traced across the network. Given NSA’s extensive trace capability, we conclude that DNC and HRC servers alleged to have been hacked were, in fact, not hacked.

The evidence that should be there is absent; otherwise, it would surely be brought forward, since this could be done without any danger to sources and methods. Thus, we conclude that the emails were leaked by an insider – as was the case with Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning. Such an insider could be anyone in a government department or agency with access to NSA databases, or perhaps someone within the DNC.” (Read more: Consortium News, December 12, 2016)

December 9, 2016 – John McCain passes dossier alleging secret Trump-Russia contacts to Comey

John McCain (Credit: Samantha Sais/Reuters)

“Senator John McCain passed documents to the FBI director, James Comey, last month alleging secret contacts between the Trump campaign and Moscow and that Russian intelligence had personally compromising material on the president-elect himself.

The material, which has been seen by the Guardian, is a series of reports on Trump’s relationship with Moscow. They were drawn up by a former western counter-intelligence official, now working as a private consultant. BuzzFeed on Tuesday published the documents, which it said were “unverified and potentially unverifiable”.

The Guardian has not been able to confirm the veracity of the documents’ contents, and the Trump team has consistently denied any hidden contacts with the Russian government.” (Read more: The Guardian, 1/11/2017)

December 7, 2016 – Associate Deputy AG Bruce Ohr is demoted amid probe of contacts with Trump dossier firm

Bruce Ohr (Credit: public domain)

“A senior Justice Department official was demoted this week amid an ongoing investigation into his contacts with the opposition research firm responsible for the anti-Trump “dossier,” the department confirmed to Fox News.

Until Wednesday morning, Bruce G. Ohr held two titles at DOJ: associate deputy attorney general, a post that placed him four doors down from his boss, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein; and director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF), a program described by the department as “the centerpiece of the attorney general’s drug strategy.”

Ohr will retain his OCDETF title but has been stripped of his higher post and ousted from his office on the fourth floor of “Main Justice.”

Initially senior department officials could not provide the reason for Ohr’s demotion, but Fox News has learned that evidence collected by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), chaired by Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., indicates that Ohr met during the 2016 campaign with Christopher Steele, the former British spy who authored the “dossier.”

(…) “Additionally, House investigators have determined that Ohr met shortly after the election with Glenn Simpson, the founder of Fusion GPS – the opposition research firm that hired Steele to compile the dossier with funds supplied by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. By that point, according to published reports, the dossier had been in the hands of the FBI, which exists under the aegis of DOJ, for some five months, and the surveillance on Carter Page, an adviser to the Trump campaign, had started more than two months prior.” (Read more: Fox News, 12/7/2016)

December 2016 – March 2017: FBI/CIA spy, Stefan Halper, interacted with the media on multiple occasions

Ron Hosko (Credit: Evan Vucci/The Associated Press)

“While working as a spy for the FBI, Stefan Halper interacted on multiple occasions with the media, both on the record and, according to a University of Cambridge researcher, as an anonymous background source.

Those media interactions, which occurred between December 2016 and March 2017, could be cause for concern for the FBI, according to two retired senior bureau officials who worked closely with confidential informants during their careers.

“This is something that is highly irregular and not something that I would have ever tolerated with any of the folks working for me,” retired FBI investigator and CNN analyst James Gagliano told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “The road is fraught with peril when somebody is speaking off the cuff or speaking to the media and putting themselves in a position where that can then be used as discovery material when we do bring a case.”

Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund President Ron Hosko, a former assistant director of the FBI’s criminal investigative division, added that an informant’s interactions with the press could create circular reporting that would serve to make their information “appear more valuable or more true” than it actually is.” (Read more: The Daily Caller, 5/30/2018)