DCLeaks

The US government formally accuses the Russian government of hacking and publishing emails related to US political entities.

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James Clapper (Credit: Mark Wilson / Getty Images)

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper releases a statement in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security claiming that leaked emails that have appeared on a variety of websites “are intended to interfere with the US election process. … We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.”

The New York Times comments that the statement does “not name President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, but that appear[s] to be the intention.”

Many thousands of emails and other documents have been posted in recent months on the WikiLeaks website, but WikiLeaks won’t say where their leaks come from. Two newly created websites attributed to DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0 have also posted leaks. Both groups claim to have no ties to the Russian government, but the US government claims otherwise.

The statement adds that US intelligence agencies are less certain who is responsible for “scanning and probing” online voter registration lists in various US states in recent months. Those “in most cases originated from servers operated by a Russian company,” but the statement doesn’t assert that the Russian government is responsible.

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Kerry (left) and Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov meet in Geneva to discuss the Syrian crisis on September 9, 2016. (Credit: Agence France Presse)

The Times notes that the “announcement [comes] only hours after Secretary of State John Kerry called for the Russian and Syrian governments to face a formal war-crimes investigation over attacks on civilians in Aleppo and other parts of Syria. Taken together, the developments mark a sharp escalation of Washington’s many confrontations with [Russia] this year.”

US officials had debated for months whether or not to formally accuse Russia, and if so, when. An unnamed “senior administration official” says that with only about a month to go before the November presidential election, President Obama was “under pressure to act now,” in part because the closer the declaration would be to election day, the more political it would seem.

It is unclear what action the US will take in an attempt to punish Russia, if any. A range of options are being considered, including economic sanctions and covert cyber attacks against Russian targets. (The New York Times, 10/7/2016)

Colin Powell’s recently hacked emails are published.

On September 13, 2016, hacked emails belonging to former Secretary of State Colin Powell appear on a website known as DCLeaks.com.  It is unclear who owns the DCLeaks website, which only appeared on the Internet a few months earlier. They are known for previously publishing hacked emails belonging to prominent Democrats and Republicans, including General Philip M. Breedlove, the former commander of NATO forces in Europe, and George Soros, a wealthy backer of liberal causes. It is also reported to have ties to Guccifer 2.0, who in turn has been accused of having links to the Russian government.

Colin Powell (Credit: Paul Morigi / Getty Images)

Colin Powell (Credit: Paul Morigi / Getty Images)

Powell’s aide Peggy Cifrino states, “We are confirming that General Powell has been hacked and that they are his emails. We have no further comment at this time.” The dates of Powell’s hacked emails range from June 24, 2014 to as recently as August 29, 2016.

Some of the emails are first reported by BuzzFeed and the Intercept, followed by many other prominent mainstream news sources.

The New York Times reports, “A hack of Mr. Powell’s email this week has ripped away the diplomatic jargon and political niceties to reveal his unvarnished disdain of Donald J. Trump as a ‘national disgrace,’ his personal peeves with Hillary Clinton and his lingering, but still very raw, anger with the Republican colleagues with whom he so often clashed a decade ago.” (New York Times, 09/14/16)

Colin Powell’s email account is hacked.

The personal email account of former Secretary of State Colin Powell is hacked on August 29, 2016 or shortly after this date. This is because when the hacking group DCLeaks publishes 30,000 of Powell’s emails from 2014 to 2016, the most recent email is from this date, indicating the hackers had access to his account at that time. (DCLeaks.com, 09/13/16)

Colin Powell warns the Clinton campaign to not compare his AOL account to the Clinton private server.

Just one month earlier, former Secretary of State Colin Powell suggested that Clinton had shot herself in the foot by not apologizing immediately and by dragging out her email controversy.

A sample of Colin Powell's leaked emails published by DCLinks.com. (Credit: public domain)

A sample of Colin Powell’s leaked emails published by DCLinks.com. (Credit: public domain)

The Intercept later highlights an email Powell writes on August 28, 2016 which states, “HRC could have killed this two years ago by merely telling everyone honestly what she had done and not tie me to it.”

Powell says he tried to put an end to the matter by meeting with Cheryl Mills earlier that month. Instead, he writes, “I told her staff three times not to try that gambit. I had to throw a mini tantrum at a Hampton’s [sic] party to get their attention. She keeps tripping into these ‘character’ minefields.”

The emails reveal Powell isn’t shy about sharing his frustrations over the Clinton campaign’s attempt to “blur the lines between Clinton’s private email server and Powell’s AOL account,” according to the Intercept. He suggests to dozens of reporters and producers who emailed him to read his book, “It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership,” in which he devoted an entire chapter to his efforts to revamp the State Department’s IT system.”

Powell also argues, when he arrived at the State Department, the information technology system was extremely outdated.  The Intercept will conclude, “[U]nlike Clinton, Powell never set up a private server. Instead, he used his personal AOL [AmericaOnline] account, on a server maintained by AOL, and used a government computer for classified communications.” (The Intercept, 09/13/16)

The hacker website DCLeaks.com will publish Colin Powell’s hacked emails on September 13, 2016.

Whoever hacked DNC and other Democrat-related emails in the last year may have also targeted Republicans.

The Daily Beast reports that cybersecurity experts believe the hacker or hackers who stole emails from the DNC (Democratic National Committee) are behind a website known as DCLeaks. The site went public in June 2016 to little media attention. But the site contains emails from hundreds of Republican and Democratic US politicans, including staffers to Republican Senators John McCain and Linsey Graham, plus staffers to former Republican Repesentative Michelle Bachmann.  An unnamed “an individual close to the investigation of the Democratic Party hacks” says the evidence is growing that both parties have been targeted. “Everyone is sweating this right now. This isn’t just limited to Democrats.”

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Senators John McCain (left) and Linsey Graham (right) (Credit: Kevin Lamarque / Reuters)

The cybersecurity company ThreatConnect has been investigating the recent hacks of US political targets, and they call DCLeaks a “Russian-backed influence outlet.” In particular, they have linked it to Fancy Bear (a.k.a. APT 28), a hacking group also accused of hacking the DNC, an believed by many to be working for the Russian government. “DCLeaks’ registration and hosting information aligns with other Fancy Bear activities and known tactics, techniques, and procedures.” They also claim that the hacker or hacking group known as Guccifer 2.0, who claims to be behind the hacking of the DNC emails that WikiLeaks publicly posted in July 2016, is linked to DCLeaks.
The Daily Beast reports that “researchers, at ThreatConnect and elsewhere, also now believe that Guccifer 2.0 was WikiLeaks’ source and that the group is acting as a front for the Russian government.” (The Daily Beast, 8/12/2016)

Colin Powell writes, “I didn’t tell Hillary to have a private server at home.”

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Ken Duberstein (Credit: Washington Speakers)

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell writes an email to former Reagan White House chief of staff Kenneth Duberstein. “I didn’t tell Hillary [Clinton] to have a private server at home, connected to the Clinton Foundation, two contractors, took away 60,000 emails, had her own domain.”

On the same day, in a separate email to Condoleeza Rice, who succeeded him as secretary of state, Powell writes, “Been on the phone and email all afternoon. Hillary and Elijah Cummings have popped off.”

Also on this day, the State Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a memo after reviewing the email practices of the past five secretaries of state. It was determined that 12 emails obtained by the inspector general contained classified national security information, two of which went to the personal email account of Powell and ten of which went to the personal email accounts of the immediate staff of Rice. The memo also states that the information was not marked as classified.

Elijah Cummings (Credit: public domain)

Elijah Cummings (Credit: public domain)

Representative Elijah Cummings (D) releases a statement in response to the OIG’s findings, and concludes, “Based on this new revelation, it is clear that the Republican investigations are nothing more than a transparent political attempt to use taxpayer funds to target the Democratic candidate for President.” (House Oversight Committee, 02/04/16)

Two days later, Rice writes back to Powell, “I don’t think Hillary’s — ‘everyone did it,’ is flying.” (Politico, 09/13/16)

The hacker website DCLeaks.com will publish Colin Powell’s hacked emails on September 13, 2016.

Colin Powell thinks Benghazi was a “stupid witch hunt” and Condoleezza Rice agrees.

Condoleeza Rice (Credit: Fox News)

Condoleeza Rice (Credit: Fox News)

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell writes an email to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on this day about the Republican-led House Benghazi Committee investigation. “Benghazi is a stupid witch hunt. Basic fault falls on a courageous ambassador who thoughts [sic] Libyans now love me and I am ok in this very vulnerable place.” He is referring to former ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, who was killed in the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack.

Powell also comments, “But blame also rests on his leaders and supports back here. [Patrick] Kennedy, Intel community, [State Department] and yes HRC,” referring to Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“Completely agree,” Rice responds. (Washington Post, 09/14/16)

The hacker website DCLeaks.com will publish Colin Powell’s hacked emails on September 13, 2016.

Colin Powell doesn’t wish to get involved in Clinton’s email woes, despite her teams efforts to “drag him in.”

Lawrence Wilkerson (Credit: public domain)

Lawrence Wilkerson (Credit: public domain)

In another email, former Secretary of State Colin Powell complained to Lawrence Wilkerson, his former chief of staff.

Powell writes, “[Clinton] and her mishandling of this has really given her a major problem I do not wish to get involved in, despite the best efforts of her team to drag me in.”

A day later, on September 8, 2015, Clinton makes a formal apology  on ABC News for using a private server for all of her official business while she was secretary of state. (Politico, 09/14/16)

The hacker website DCLeaks.com will publish Colin Powell’s hacked emails on September 13, 2016.

Colin Powell suggests everything Clinton touches “she kinda screws up with hubris.”

Jeffrey Leeds (Credit: Leeds Equity Partners)

Jeffrey Leeds (Credit: Leeds Equity Partners)

An email dated August 18, 2015, where Powell expresses to Democratic donor Jeffrey Leeds that Clinton’s email problems show how capable she is of causing problems for herself, as well as for others and their email usage. “They are going to dick up the legitimate and necessary use of emails with friggin’ record rules. I saw email more like a telephone than a cable machine. … Everything HRC touches she kind of screws up with hubris.” (Washington Post, 09/14/16)

The hacker website DCLeaks.com will publish Colin Powell’s hacked emails on September 13, 2016.

Colin Powell allegedly advises Clinton at a party to use private email, but nobody at the party later supports Clinton’s claim that this happens.

In August 2016, the New York Times will publish an article based on a claim by former Salon reporter Joe Conason about an incident that occurred at a dinner party in June 2009, during Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. Conason will have recently interviewed Hillary Clinton for a book he is writing about Bill Clinton, and he may have heard about the incident through her.

Former secretaries of state (L-R) Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell and Hillary Clinton participate in the ceremonial groundbreaking of the future U.S. Diplomacy Center at the State Department's Harry S. Truman Building September 3, 2014. (Credit: Jonathan Ernst / Getty Images)

From left to right, Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell and Hillary Clinton participate in the ceremonial groundbreaking of the future U.S. Diplomacy Center on September 3, 2014. (Credit: Jonathan Ernst / Getty Images)

The party is hosted by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and several other former secretary of states are also in attendance: Colin Powell, Henry Kissinger, Condoleezza Rice, and William Christopher.

Conason will claim that, “Albright asked all of the former secretaries to offer one salient bit of counsel to the nation’s next top diplomat [Clinton]. Powell told her to use her own email, as he had done, except for classified communications, which he had sent and received via a State Department computer. Saying that his use of personal email had been transformative for the department, he thus confirmed a decision she had made months earlier — to keep her personal account and use it for most messages.” (New York Times, 08/18/16)

Clinton will also tell a similar story in her July 2016 FBI interview. NBC News journalist Andrea Mitchell will report, “Clinton told the FBI that former Secretary of State Colin Powell recommended on two occasions that she use a private email account for unclassified communication.”

Drawing from Conason’s original report, Mitchell will write, “Powell made the suggestions at a small dinner party shortly after Clinton took over at the State Department in 2009 and in an email exchange around the same time.” Two sources later confirm to NBC News that Clinton gave that account to investigators during her FBI interview. (NBC News, 08/19/2016)

In a January 2009 email, Powell warned her that should that become “public,” her emails would become “official record[s] and subject to the law.” “Be very careful. I got around it all by not saying much and not using systems that captured the data.”

Clinton said that Powell’s comments did not factor into her decision to use a personal email address. (Federal Bureau of Investigations (09/02/16)

However, Powell will later claim he doesn’t recall Albright even asking that question, but he does remember an email exchange with Clinton on January 23, 2009. Conason appears to be confusing the email with the dinner party.

Colin Powell’s emails will be hacked and released to the public  September 13, 2016. The email leak will include an exchange between Powell and Rice on August 28, 2016. Powell will write, “I was [with] Maddy [Madeline Albright] the other evening and she doesn’t remember an email conversation or even asking us a question recently.”

Rice will write back, ” Yes — I’m sure it never came up.”

Thus, the alleged Albright question at her party, and Powell’s reply, may never have happened at all. Though Clinton will say it did, Albright, Rice, and Powell will say it did not.