Showing posts with label surveillance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label surveillance. Show all posts

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Former Assoc. Dir. of National Intelligence: "it was entirely possible votes were tampered with."


There has been extensive discussion of Russian efforts to hack into US voting systems (for example, see the report of the Director of National Intelligence from January of last year), and it is no longer in dispute that Russia was successful in ‘compromising’ a number of voting systems. Nor is it in dispute that many elements of our voting system (not just the voting machines themselves) are vulnerable to cyberattacks, and old-fashioned tampering, as explained in the excellent diary from yesterday by DKos contributor Leslie Sazillo, which highlights the work of Dr. Barbara Simons, an expert in computer security and voting systems.

For all the efforts Russia engaged in over the course of years to attempt to determine the outcome of the 2016 election, and install their preferred candidate, and all that is publicly known of their multifaceted operations to penetrate our voting systems, there are still many here and elsewhere who hold onto the contention there is no direct evidence that any votes, or vote totals, were changed.

That contention relies on the notion that Russia did everything in its capability to capture the election, from hijacking social media platforms to recruiting Americans to assist them, and they breached various voting systems in dozens of states, but the one the one thing they held back from doing, was change votes themselves (even though, as the work of Dr. Simons and other experts show, they could do so ‘invisibly’). Why would Putin hold back in this one instance, when he has shown no such restraint in any other way?

The answer is, in all likelihood: he didn’t hold back. Claims that votes were not changed to ensure the election of Putin’s tool, are looking less plausible by the day.

An article by Dr. Eric Haseltine (in, of all places, Psychology Today) from last month, explicates why this is the case.

First, who is Dr. Haseltine? From his website:
Eric joined the National Security Agency to run its Research Directorate. Three years later, he was promoted to associate of director of National Intelligence, where he oversaw all science and technology efforts within the United States Intelligence Community as well as fostering development innovative new technologies for countering cyber threats and terrorism. For his work on counter-terrorism technologies, he received the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal in 2007.
A little more background on him, from Wikipedia:
Haseltine spent 13 years at Hughes Aircraft, where he rose to the position of Director of Engineering. He then left for Walt Disney Imagineering in 1992, where he joined the research and development group, working on large-scale virtual-reality projects. In 1998, he was promoted to senior vice president responsible for all technology projects.[1] In 2000, he was made Executive Vice President. Haseltine was head of research and development for Walt Disney Imagineering[2] by the time he left in 2002 to join the National Security Agency as Director of Research. From 2005 to 2007, Haseltine was Associate Director for Science and Technology, Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI)—that organization's first—a position he described in a 2006 US News and World Report interview by stating: "You can think of me as the CTO [chief technology officer] of the intelligence community"…
Eric has 23 patents in optics, special effects and electronic media, and more than 150 publications in science and technical journals, the web, and Discover Magazine.
Seems reasonably qualified, and from his years at NSA, reasonably informed.
Here’s his take on tampering with vote totals:

HOW TO HACK AN ELECTION: AN INTELLIGENCE ANALYSIS.

After the last presidential election, I heard one expert after another reassure voters that the Russians could not have hacked voting machines or state vote tallying systems on a scale large enough to tip the presidential election…
As much as we’d all like to believe such confident pronouncements, my experience in the intelligence world, where I served as Associate Director of National Intelligence, has lead me to one inescapable conclusion—the optimistic “experts” are probably wrong, and all of us should acknowledge that our unconscious (or not-so-unconscious) need to believe that our democracy can’t be subverted by foreigners, blinds us to powerful evidence to the contrary. And, after embracing this scary possibility, we should do a lot more to secure our voting systems than we are doing now…
The case for Russian tampering with the vote
Let me start by explaining the way intelligence professionals would approach the question of whether the Russians, or other skilled actors, could change the outcome of a U.S. election by tampering with voting. Then I’ll show why intelligence-style analysis leads to uncomfortable conclusions.
In making assessments about a state actor, such as the Russians, intelligence analysts ask two questions: what are the intentions of this actor and what are their capabilities?…
So, do the Russians intend to elect American candidates they prefer over those that we, the voters, prefer?
In a word, yes. In a rare display of unanimity, last year the U.S. Intelligence Community assessed that Putin, acting through his intelligence services, had indeed tried to tip the presidential election. One of the Russian Intelligence’s scariest accomplishments was to break into voter databases in 21 states (up to 50 states if you believe some sources). This success alone could have influenced the election by dictating who could and could not vote. In one target of Russian hacking, North Carolina for instance, some legitimate voters (in a “blue” precinct, as it turns out,) could not vote because the e-poll registration system used to allow voters to vote erroneously asserted that some legitimate voters weren’t registered…
One more thing. You might be wondering whether, despite their motivation to subvert our national elections, Russian leadership might still hesitate to alter vote tallies out of fear of getting caught. Whereas the U.S. Congress responded to voter registration hacks and email leaks from the Clinton campaign with sanctions—a mere slap on the wrist—the U.S. just might view outright alteration of vote counts an act of war and respond accordingly.
Sadly, I think the Kremlin views getting caught as more of a good thing, than a bad thing, because the net result would be favorable to Russia. Based on the way we responded to Russian behavior in 2016, Putin knows that a sizable portion of America—members of whichever major party the Kremlin favored—would, by and large, accept the inevitable Russian denials about vote tampering because we all believe what we want to believe, particularly when believing Russia committed an act of war could lead to armed conflict with a superpower…
In other words, if Russia were caught changing vote counts, America would be even more divided than today: exactly what the Kremlin wants. And the national will to respond to Russia’s provocation as an act of war simply wouldn’t be there.
Russia wins if they don’t get caught and Russia wins if they do get caught; what’s not to like? (emphasis added)
Note that Dr. Haseltine makes reference to information that, rather than the 39 states we know were in some way compromised, it may be the voting systems in all 50 states the Russians accessed.

Dr. Haseltine goes into detail about the vulnerabilities of voting systems, covering much of the same territory as Leslie’s review of Dr. Simon’s work, so I won’t go through it here, but Dr. Haseltine’s summary is well worth the read.

For our discussion, it’s his ultimate conclusion that warrants attention:
Adding up what we know about Russian intentions and capabilities, and factoring in the vulnerabilities just listed, I believe that it was entirely possible votes in the 2016 election were tampered with, and that attempts could be made to compromise future elections.
Why hold onto the notion that Russia didn’t try to change votes? (And if they tried, there’s no reason to think they wouldn’t be ‘invisibly’ successful.)

Dr. Haseltine suggests it is simply not wanting to believe it to be true: “the optimistic “experts” are probably wrong, and all of us should acknowledge that our unconscious (or not-so-unconscious) need to believe that our democracy can’t be subverted by foreigners”.
Charles Pierce, at Esquire, echoes this view:
The last outpost of moderate opinion on the subject of the Russian ratfucking during the 2016 presidential election seems to be that, yes, there was mischief done and steps should be taken both to reveal its extent and to prevent it from happening again in the future, but that the ratfucking, thank baby Jesus, did not materially affect the vote totals anywhere in the country. This is a calm, measured, evidence-based judgment. It is also a kind of prayer. If the Russian cyber-assault managed to change the vote totals anywhere, then the 2016 presidential election is wholly illegitimate. That rocks too many comfort zones in too many places.
Putin isn’t playing.

Saturday, Mar 10, 2018 · 8:21:45 AM EST · ian douglas rushlau
DKos member Hudson Valley Mark in a comment stressed the importance of communicating clear policy goals to address the vulnerabilities of our voting systems, and his point is well-taken.

The Verified Voting Foundation has created principles for making voting as secure as possible, which are as follows:
Any new voting system should conform to the following principles:
1. It should use human-readable marks on paper as the official record of voter preferences and as the official medium to store votes.1
2. It should be usable by all voters; accessible to all voters, including those with disabilities; and available in all mandated languages.2
3. It should provide voters the means and opportunity to verify that the human-readable marks correctly represent their intended selections, before casting the ballot.3
4. It should preserve vote anonymity: it should not be possible to link any voter to his or her selections, when the system is used appropriately. It should be difficult or impossible to compromise or waive voter anonymity accidentally or deliberately.4 No voter should be able to prove how he or she voted.5
5. It should export contest results in a standard, open, machine-readable format.6
6. It should be easily and transparently auditable at the ballot level. It should:
export a cast vote record (CVR) for every ballot,
in a standard, open, machine-readable format,
in a way that the original paper ballot corresponding to any CVR can be quickly and unambiguously identified, andvice versa.7
7. It should use commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware components and open-source software (OSS) in preference to proprietary hardware and proprietary software, especially when doing so will reduce costs, facilitate maintenance and customization, facilitate replacing failed or obsolete equipment, improve security or reliability, or facilitate adopting technological improvements quickly and affordably.8
8. It should be able to create CVRs from ballots designed for currently deployed systems9 and it should be readily configurable to create CVRs for new ballot designs.10
9. It should be sufficiently open11 to allow a competitive market for support, including configuration, maintenance, integration, and customization.
10.It should be usable by election officials: they should be able to configure, operate, and maintain the system, create ballots, tabulate votes, and audit the accuracy of the results without relying on external expertise or labor, even in small jurisdictions with limited staff.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Edward Snowdens New App Turns A Smartphone Into A Security System

By David Z. Morris
December 24, 2017

Edward Snowden, who blew the whistle on NSA surveillance of U.S. citizens, knows a thing or two about spying. He’s now released an app, Haven, that makes it easier to defend yourself against the most aggressive kinds.

Haven, now in public beta, turns any Android smartphone into a sensitive security system. It’s primarily intended to be installed on a secondary phone — say, last year’s model — which then takes photos and records sound of any activity in a room where it’s placed. Haven will then send alerts of any intrusion to a user’s primary phone over encrypted channels.

http://fortune.com/2017/12/24/edward-snowden-haven-security-app/

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Trump Says The “Piss Tape” Dossier Is A Conspiracy Funded By The FBI, Democrats, And Russia

Donald Trump is not happy about the resurgence of the “piss tape dossier” that claimed that Trump paid prostitutes to piss on him in a Russian hotel.

While there were far more explosive claims in the report, the “Golden Shower” claim has gained the most attention due to the overall creepiness of that assertion.

But Trump is fighting back, and he now says that this entire dossier was the result of the FBI, the Democratic Party, and Russia coming together to smear him. Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins discusses this.



https://www.rawstory.com/2017/10/trump-floats-conspiracy-by-democrats-fbi-and-russia-to-pay-for-pee-pee-tape-dossier/

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Black Identity Extremists

The FBI is up to its mess and has made up a new term for Blacks who demand an end to government sanctioned tyranny against them.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Trump Cybersecurity Advisors Resign, Citing His ‘Insufficient Attention’ to Threats

By David Z. Morris



A quarter of the members of the National Infrastructure Advisory Council, whose purview includes national cybersecurity, have resigned. In a group resignation letter, they cited both specific shortfalls in the administration’s approach to cybersecurity, and broader concerns that Trump and his administration have undermined the “moral infrastructure” of the U.S.

The resignations came Monday and were acknowledged by the White House on Tuesday. Nextgov has recently published the resignation letter that the departing councilors submitted. According to Roll Call, seven members resigned from the 27 member Council.

Several of those resigning were Obama-era appointees, including former U.S. Chief Data Scientist DJ Patil and former Office of Science and Technology Policy Chief of Staff Cristin Dorgelo. Not surprisingly, then, the issues outlined in the resignation letter were broad, faulting both Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accords and his inflammatory statements after the Charlottesville attacks, some of which came during what was intended to be an infrastructure-focused event.

“The moral infrastructure of our Nation is the foundation on which our physical infrastructure is built,” reads the letter in part. “The Administration’s actions undermine that foundation.”
But the resigning advisors also said the Administration was not “adequately attentive to the pressing national security matters within the NIAC’s purview, or responsive to sound advice received from experts and advisors.” The letter also zeroed in on “insufficient attention to the growing threats to the cybersecurity of the critical systems upon which all Americans depend,” including election systems.

While he has ordered better security for government networks, Trump has shown little understanding or seriousness when it comes to the broader issues surrounding, in his words, “the cyber.” Most notably, he has refused to accept the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia engineered a hacking and propaganda campaign meant to subvert the 2016 presidential election, and even floated the idea of forming a cyber-security task force with Russia. The administration also missed a self-imposed deadline for presenting a comprehensive cyber-security plan.

In a report issued just after the mass resignations, the NIAC issued a report saying that dramatic steps were required to prevent a possible "9/11-level cyberattack."

Saturday, August 26, 2017

White House anti-drug office asks Mass. for medical Marijuana data

An arm of the White House’s anti-drug office has asked Massachusetts and several other states where medical marijuana is legal to turn over information about registered patients, triggering a debate over privacy rights and whether state officials should cooperate with a federal administration that appears hostile to the drug.

http://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2017/08/25/white-house-anti-drug-office-asks-massachusetts-for-medical-marijuana-data/FIiAccGpbD7az3wfUyoMbK/story.html

Thursday, August 24, 2017

I was detained for protesting Trump. Here’s what the Secret Service asked me.






Melissa Byrne is a political strategist living in Philadelphia.

Trump at his Trump Tower news conference last week. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

Like many events that end up with a person in handcuffs, my story begins in a bar. I was in Atlanta earlier this month for Netroots Nation, the annual meeting of progressive organizers and writers, when I overheard friends discussing how to resist President Trump’s first visit to Trump Tower. I jumped into the conversation: “Well, you call me, of course.” Twenty minutes later, we had a rough plan that we would unfurl a banner inside Trump Tower the following week. I have been to many protests since the inauguration, and I was proud to do my part.

Together with Ultraviolet and the Working Families Party, we commissioned a painted banner that simply read “Women Resist White Supremacy.” Through sheer luck, not only would Trump be in Trump Tower during my act of resistance, but he would be giving a news conference about 3:30 p.m. I knew from my previous work as a campaign advancer that the Secret Service would begin sweeps to clear the space about an hour before he spoke, so the best possible time for the action was 2 p.m.

Unlike previous presidents, Trump’s home is in a public space. You don’t have to sneak into Trump Tower. You enter via an atrium next to a Nike store. Then you pass through airport-style security run by the Secret Service. I wore my banner as a slip of sorts under my flowy dress. It was made of fabric, so it didn’t set off the metal detector.



Protesters gathered outside Trump Tower in Manhattan on Aug. 14, as Trump arrived back for the first time since being inaugurated into office. (evilevestrikesagain/Instagram)

Like every good political operative — I worked for Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) 2016 campaign and then the MoveOn super PAC supporting Hillary Clinton’s campaign — I run on coffee. Conveniently, the Starbucks inside Trump Tower is located on the second floor and overlooks an atrium — exactly where I’d want to hang the banner. I sipped a flat white and waited for the right moment, when uniformed NYPD wouldn’t be nearby. Then I unfurled the banner. A security officer grabbed it almost immediately. I ended up on the ground.

Since Starbucks is a public place and I was a paying guest, I knew I hadn’t violated any laws. At worst, I could be banned from the building. I expected from past protest actions that I’d be given a warning and a request to leave. I clearly and politely explained to the NYPD officers who detained me that the protest was done and I was heading out.

They had other ideas.

A detective grabbed my wrist and cuffed me. A gaggle of officers from multiple law enforcement agencies escorted me to a room near the atrium. A few chairs had Trump campaign materials plastered on them. Inside the room with me were more than 10 officers from the NYPD and the Secret Service.

Then the questions began, and they were bananas. A young woman from the Secret Service began the questioning; male NYPD officers tagged in and out. They never asked me whether I understood my rights, and I wasn’t actually sure at that moment what rights, if any, I had. I was focused on not getting put in a car and being whisked away.

It was clear right away that these officials wouldn’t see me the way I see myself: as a reasonably responsible, skilled nonviolent political operative who works on a mix of electoral and issues campaigns. To them, I was clearly a threat to national security. It felt like an interrogation on “Homeland.” Here are my favorite parts of the conversation, as I remember them.

NYPD: “Why would you come to the president’s home to do this?”
Me: “It was wrong for the president to support white supremacy.”
NYPD: “Don’t you respect the president?”
Me: “I don’t respect people who align with Nazis.”
Secret Service: “Do you have negative feelings toward the president?”
Me: “Yes.”
Secret Service: “Can you elaborate?”
Me: “He should be impeached and should not be president.”

They were concerned with who bought my train ticket, once they saw the receipt on my phone. The NYPD officers didn’t seem to believe me that some organizations work for justice and organize these legal protests. Each time they touched my phone, I said I don’t consent to the search of my phone. (They held my phone during the interview, and I can only hope they didn’t poke around it — although they wouldn’t have found much to interest them, unless they like Bernie GIF's.)

Secret Service: “Have you ever been inside the White House?
Me: “Yes.”
Secret Service: “How many times?”
Me: “Many. I was a volunteer holiday tour guide for the White House Visitors Center.”
Secret Service, eyes wide: “When was the last time you were there?”
Me: “December.” I explained that I probably wouldn’t be invited back until we have a new president.

The officers ran through a raft of predictable questions about firearms. (I don’t own any, and they seemed puzzled by my commitment to nonviolence as a philosophy.) They asked whether I wanted to hurt the president or anyone in his family. Obviously not. Then came the mental health questions.
Secret Service: “Do you have any mental health disorders?”
Me: “No.”
Secret Service: “Have you ever tried to commit suicide?”
Me: “No.”
Secret Service: “Have you ever had suicidal thoughts?”
Me: “No.”

I was trying very hard not to roll my eyes at the repeated questions when an NYPD detective suggested my protest could be charged as a felony. In the next second, the Secret Service agents asked me to sign Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act waivers so they could gather all my medical records. My mind was still focused on the f-word: felony. But I didn’t want to sign the waivers.

I meekly asked whether I should talk to a lawyer. I was told it was my prerogative but also that it might mean I’d be held longer. Being in a room with that many enforcement agents hurt my ability to reason dispassionately, and I was now looking at a criminal record from a basic, even banal, nonviolent protest. I signed the forms.

Trump was about to start his now-famous news conference, and the Secret Service needed to resume patrols. They let me go with just a ban from the building.


Trump on Aug. 15 said that “there’s blame on both sides” for the violence that erupted in Charlottesville on Aug. 12. (Bastien Inzaurralde/The Washington Post) 

But a few days later, I heard they were canvassing my neighborhood, in West Philadelphia, looking for information about me, including from people I’ve never met. One woman they approached found my contact information online and told me about this exchange in a Facebook Messenger request. They asked her whether she knew me and whether I was a threat to the president. Since I live in West Philly, she replied that the only threat lives in the White House and that the president is racist.

Secret Service: “Do you know Melissa Byrne?”
Neighbor: “No.”
Secret Service: “Why would she protest President Trump?”
Neighbor: “Because he’s a fucking racist.”
Thanks, neighbor!

In the end, I couldn’t stop wondering why they were devoting so much time to me when they could be pursuing neo-Nazis. I was treated as a national security threat when all I’d done was exercise my First Amendment right to free expression. This isn’t normal, and it shouldn’t be how nonviolent protesters are treated by armed agents of the government.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Anti-Trump Site Under Seige From Justice Department

The Justice Department wants to know who’s visiting this anti-Trump website. Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian, the hosts of The Young Turks, break it down. Tell us what you think in the comment section below. https://tytnetwork.com/join/



“The Department of Justice has requested information on visitors to a website used to organize protests against President Trump, the Los Angeles-based Dreamhost said in a blog post published on Monday.

Dreamhost, a web hosting provider, said that it has been working with the Department of Justice for several months on the request, which believes goes too far under the Constitution.

DreamHost claimed that the complying with the request from the Justice Department would amount to handing over roughly 1.3 million visitor IP addresses to the government, in addition to contact information, email content and photos of thousands of visitors to the website, which was involved in organizing protests against Trump on Inauguration Day.

“That information could be used to identify any individuals who used this site to exercise and express political speech protected under the Constitution’s First Amendment,” DreamHost wrote in the blog post on Monday. “That should be enough to set alarm bells off in anyone’s mind.”

When contacted, the Justice Department directed The Hill to the U.S. attorney's office in D.C. The U.S. attorney's office declined to comment but provided the filings related to the case.

The company is currently challenging the request. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Friday in Washington.”

Read more here: http://thehill.com/policy/cybersecurity/346544-dreamhost-claims-doj-requesting-info-on-visitors-to-anti-trump-website

Hosts: Cenk Uygur, Ana Kasparian

Cast: Cenk Uygur, Ana Kasparian

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Intercept Discloses Top-Secret NSA Document On Russia Hacking Aimed At US Voting System

The report details an operation targeting voter registration in 2016.

By Ben Dreyfuss

On Monday, the Intercept published a classified internal NSA document noting that Russian military intelligence mounted an operation to hack at least one US voting software supplier—which provided software related to voter registration files—in the months prior to last year’s presidential contest. It has previously been reported that Russia attempted to hack into voter registration systems, but this NSA document provides details of how one such operation occurred.

According to the Intercept:
The top-secret National Security Agency document, which was provided anonymously to The Intercept and independently authenticated, analyzes intelligence very recently acquired by the agency about a months-long Russian intelligence cyber effort against elements of the US election and voting infrastructure. The report, dated May 5, 2017, is the most detailed US government account of Russian interference in the election that has yet come to light.
While the document provides a rare window into the NSA’s understanding of the mechanics of Russian hacking, it does not show the underlying “raw” intelligence on which the analysis is based. A US intelligence officer who declined to be identified cautioned against drawing too big a conclusion from the document because a single analysis is not necessarily definitive.
The report indicates that Russian hacking may have penetrated further into US voting systems than was previously understood. It states unequivocally in its summary statement that it was Russian military intelligence, specifically the Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate, or GRU, that conducted the cyber attacks described in the document:
Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate actors … executed cyber espionage operations against a named U.S. company in August 2016, evidently to obtain information on elections-related software and hardware solutions. … The actors likely used data obtained from that operation to … launch a voter registration-themed spear-phishing campaign targeting U.S. local government organizations.
Go read the whole thing.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Trump’s Son Met With Russian Lawyer After Being Promised Damaging Information On Clinton

A meeting arranged by Donald Trump Jr. was held at Trump Tower in June 2016 with a Russian lawyer who has connections to the Kremlin. Credit Sam Hodgson for The New York Times
President Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., was promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton before agreeing to meet with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign, according to three advisers to the White House briefed on the meeting and two others with knowledge of it.

The meeting was also attended by his campaign chairman at the time, Paul J. Manafort, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Mr. Manafort and Mr. Kushner only recently disclosed the meeting, though not its content, in confidential government documents described to The New York Times.

The Times reported the existence of the meeting on Saturday. But in subsequent interviews, the advisers and others revealed the motivation behind it.

The meeting — at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016, two weeks after Donald J. Trump clinched the Republican nomination — points to the central question in federal investigations of the Kremlin’s meddling in the presidential election: whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians. The accounts of the meeting represent the first public indication that at least some in the campaign were willing to accept Russian help.

And while Trump has been dogged by revelations of undisclosed meetings between his associates and the Russians, the episode at Trump Tower is the first such confirmed private meeting involving members of his inner circle during the campaign — as well as the first one known to have included his eldest son. It came at an inflection point in the campaign, when Donald Trump Jr., who served as an adviser and a surrogate, was ascendant and Mr. Manafort was consolidating power.

It is unclear whether the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, actually produced the promised compromising information about Mrs. Clinton. But the people interviewed by The Times about the meeting said the expectation was that she would do so.

In a statement on Sunday, Donald Trump Jr. said he had met with the Russian lawyer at the request of an acquaintance. “After pleasantries were exchanged,” he said, “the woman stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Ms. Clinton. Her statements were vague, ambiguous and made no sense. No details or supporting information was provided or even offered. It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information.”

He said she then turned the conversation to adoption of Russian children and the Magnitsky Act, an American law that blacklists suspected Russian human rights abusers. The law so enraged President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia that he retaliated by halting American adoptions of Russian children.

“It became clear to me that this was the true agenda all along and that the claims of potentially helpful information were a pretext for the meeting,” Mr. Trump said.

When he was first asked about the meeting on Saturday, he said only that it was primarily about adoptions and mentioned nothing about Mrs. Clinton.
President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, also attended the meeting last year at Trump Tower. Credit Ruth Fremson/The New York Times
Mark Corallo, a spokesman for the president’s lawyer, said on Sunday that “Trump was not aware of and did not attend the meeting.”

Lawyers and spokesmen for Mr. Kushner and Mr. Manafort did not immediately respond to requests for comment. In his statement, Donald Trump Jr. said he asked Mr. Manafort and Mr. Kushner to attend, but did not tell them what the meeting was about.

American intelligence agencies have concluded that Russian hackers and propagandists worked to tip the election toward Donald J. Trump, in part by stealing and then providing to WikiLeaks internal Democratic Party and Clinton campaign emails that were embarrassing to Mrs. Clinton. WikiLeaks began releasing the material on July 22.

A special prosecutor and congressional committees are now investigating the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with the Russians. Mr. Trump has disputed that, but the investigation has cast a shadow over his administration.

Mr. Trump has also equivocated on whether the Russians were solely responsible for the hacking. On Sunday, two days after his first meeting as president with Mr. Putin, Mr. Trump said in a Twitter post: “I strongly pressed President Putin twice about Russian meddling in our election. He vehemently denied it. I’ve already given my opinion.....” He also tweeted that they had “discussed forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit so that election hacking, & many other negative things, will be guarded...””

On Sunday morning on Fox News, the White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, described the Trump Tower meeting as a “big nothing burger.”

“Talking about issues of foreign policy, issues related to our place in the world, issues important to the American people is not unusual,” he said.

But Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the leading Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, one of the panels investigating Russian election interference, said he wanted to question “everyone that was at that meeting.”

“There’s no reason for this Russian government advocate to be meeting with Paul Manafort or with Mr. Kushner or the president’s son if it wasn’t about the campaign and Russia policy,” Mr. Schiff said after the initial Times report.

Ms. Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer invited to the Trump Tower meeting, is best known for mounting a multipronged attack against the Magnitsky Act.

The adoption impasse is a frequently used talking point for opponents of the act. Ms. Veselnitskaya’s campaign against the law has also included attempts to discredit the man after whom it was named, Sergei L. Magnitsky, a lawyer and auditor who died in 2009 in mysterious circumstances in a Russian prison after exposing one of the biggest corruption scandals during Mr. Putin’s rule.
Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul J. Manafort, at the Republican National Convention in July 2016 in Cleveland. Credit Sam Hodgson for The New York Times
Ms. Veselnitskaya’s clients include state-owned businesses and a senior government official’s son, whose company was under investigation in the United States at the time of the meeting. Her activities and associations had previously drawn the attention of the F.B.I., according to a former senior law enforcement official.

Ms. Veselnitskaya said in a statement on Saturday that “nothing at all about the presidential campaign” was discussed. She recalled that after about 10 minutes, either Mr. Kushner or Mr. Manafort walked out.

She said she had “never acted on behalf of the Russian government” and “never discussed any of these matters with any representative of the Russian government.”

The Trump Tower meeting was disclosed to government officials in recent days, when Mr. Kushner, who is also a senior White House aide, filed a revised version of a form required to obtain a security clearance.

The Times reported in April that he had failed to disclose any foreign contacts, including meetings with the Russian ambassador to the United States and the head of a Russian state bank. Failure to report such contacts can result in a loss of access to classified information and even, if information is knowingly falsified or concealed, in imprisonment.

Mr. Kushner’s advisers said at the time that the omissions were an error, and that he had immediately notified the F.B.I. that he would be revising the filing.

In a statement on Saturday, Mr. Kushner’s lawyer, Jamie Gorelick, said: “He has since submitted this information, including that during the campaign and transition, he had over 100 calls or meetings with representatives of more than 20 countries, most of which were during transition. Mr. Kushner has submitted additional updates and included, out of an abundance of caution, this meeting with a Russian person, which he briefly attended at the request of his brother-in-law Donald Trump Jr. As Mr. Kushner has consistently stated, he is eager to cooperate and share what he knows.”

Mr. Manafort, the former campaign chairman, also recently disclosed the meeting, and Donald Trump Jr.’s role in organizing it, to congressional investigators who had questions about his foreign contacts, according to people familiar with the events. Neither Mr. Manafort nor Mr. Kushner was required to disclose the content of the meeting.

A spokesman for Mr. Manafort declined to comment.

Since the president took office, Donald Trump Jr. and his brother Eric have assumed day-to-day control of their father’s real estate empire. Because he does not serve in the administration and does not have a security clearance, Donald Trump Jr. was not required to disclose his foreign contacts.

Federal and congressional investigators have not publicly asked for any records that would require his disclosure of Russian contacts.

Ms. Veselnitskaya is a formidable operator with a history of pushing the Kremlin’s agenda. Most notable is her campaign against the Magnitsky Act, which provoked a Cold War-style, tit-for-tat dispute with the Kremlin when President Barack Obama signed it into law in 2012.

Under the law, about 44 Russian citizens have been put on a list that allows the United States to seize their American assets and deny them visas. The United States asserts that many of them are connected to the fraud exposed by Mr. Magnitsky, who after being jailed for more than a year was found dead in his cell. A Russian human rights panel found that he had been assaulted. To critics of Mr. Putin, Mr. Magnitsky, in death, became a symbol of corruption and brutality in the Russian state.
An infuriated Mr. Putin has called the law an “outrageous act,” and, in addition to banning American adoptions, he compiled what became known as an “anti-Magnitsky” blacklist of United States citizens.

Among those blacklisted was Preet Bharara, then the United States attorney in Manhattan, who led notable convictions of Russian arms and drug dealers. Mr. Bharara was abruptly fired in March, after previously being asked to stay on by President Trump.

One of Ms. Veselnitskaya’s clients is Denis Katsyv, the Russian owner of Prevezon Holdings, an investment company based in Cyprus. He is the son of Petr Katsyv, the vice president of the state-owned Russian Railways and a former deputy governor of the Moscow region. In a civil forfeiture case prosecuted by Mr. Bharara’s office, the Justice Department alleged that Prevezon had helped launder money linked to the $230 million corruption scheme exposed by Mr. Magnitsky by putting it in New York real estate and bank accounts. Prevezon recently settled the case for $6 million without admitting wrongdoing.

Ms. Veselnitskaya and her client also hired a team of political and legal operatives to press the case for repeal. And they tried but failed to keep Mr. Magnitsky’s name off a new law that takes aim at human-rights abusers across the globe. The team included Rinat Akhmetshin, an √©migr√© to the United States who once served as a Soviet military officer and who has been called a Russian political gun for hire. Fusion GPS, a consulting firm that produced an intelligence dossier that contained unverified allegations about Mr. Trump, was also hired to do research for Prevezon.

Ms. Veselnitskaya was also deeply involved in the making of a film that disputes the widely accepted version of Mr. Magnitsky’s life and death. In the film and in her statement, she said the true culprit of the fraud was William F. Browder, an American-born financier who hired Mr. Magnitsky to investigate the fraud after three of his investment funds companies in Russia were seized.

Mr. Browder called the film a state-sponsored smear campaign.

“She’s not just some private lawyer,” Mr. Browder said of Ms. Veselnitskaya. “She is a tool of the Russian government.”

John O. Brennan, a former C.I.A. director, testified in May that he had been concerned last year by Russian government efforts to contact and manipulate members of Mr. Trump’s campaign. “Russian intelligence agencies do not hesitate at all to use private companies and Russian persons who are unaffiliated with the Russian government to support their objectives,” he said.

The F.B.I. began a counterintelligence investigation last year into Russian contacts with any Trump associates. Agents focused on Mr. Manafort and a pair of advisers, Carter Page and Roger J. Stone Jr.

Among those now under investigation is Michael T. Flynn, who was forced to resign as Mr. Trump’s national security adviser after it became known that he had falsely denied speaking to the Russian ambassador about sanctions imposed by the Obama administration over the election hacking.

Congress later discovered that Mr. Flynn had been paid more than $65,000 by companies linked to Russia, and that he had failed to disclose those payments when he renewed his security clearance and underwent an additional background check to join the White House staff.

In May, the president fired the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, who days later provided information about a meeting with Mr. Trump at the White House. According to Mr. Comey, the president asked him to end the bureau’s investigation into Mr. Flynn; Mr. Trump has repeatedly denied making such a request. Robert S. Mueller III, a former F.B.I. director, was then appointed as special counsel.

The status of Mr. Mueller’s investigation is not clear, but he has assembled a veteran team of prosecutors and agents to dig into any possible collusion.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Obama’s secret struggle to punish Russia for Putin’s election assault

Early last August, an envelope with extraordinary handling restrictions arrived at the White House. 

Sent by courier from the CIA, it carried “eyes only” instructions that its contents be shown to just four people: President Barack Obama and three senior aides.

Inside was an intelligence bombshell, a report drawn from sourcing deep inside the Russian government that detailed Russian President Vladi­mir Putin’s direct involvement in a cyber campaign to disrupt and discredit the U.S. presidential race.

But it went further. The intelligence captured Putin’s specific instructions on the operation’s audacious objectives — defeat or at least damage the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and help elect her opponent, Donald Trump.

At that point, the outlines of the Russian assault on the U.S. election were increasingly apparent.

Hackers with ties to Russian intelligence services had been rummaging through Democratic Party computer networks, as well as some Republican systems, for more than a year. In July, the FBI had opened an investigation of contacts between Russian officials and Trump associates. And on July 22, nearly 20,000 emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee were dumped online by WikiLeaks.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2017/world/national-security/obama-putin-election-hacking/?utm_term=.12a31b9dd507&hpid=hp_hp-top-table-main_russiaobama-banner-7a%3Ahomepage%2Fstory

2016 election is officially illegitimate. TIME: Hackers Altered Voter Rolls

http://time.com/4828306/russian-hacking-election-widespread-private-data/

Election Hackers Altered Voter Rolls, Stole Private Data, Officials Say
Massimo Calabresi - Jun 22, 2017

The hacking of state and local election databases in 2016 was more extensive than previously reported, including at least one successful attempt to alter voter information, and the theft of thousands of voter records that contain private information like partial Social Security numbers, current and former officials tell TIME.

In one case, investigators found there had been a manipulation of voter data in a county database but the alterations were discovered and rectified, two sources familiar with the matter tell TIME. Investigators have not identified whether the hackers in that case were Russian agents.

The fact that private data was stolen from states is separately providing investigators a previously unreported line of inquiry in the probes into Russian attempts to influence the election. In Illinois, more than 90% of the nearly 90,000 records stolen by Russian state actors contained drivers license numbers, and a quarter contained the last four digits of voters’ Social Security numbers, according to Ken Menzel, the General Counsel of the State Board of Elections.

Congressional investigators are probing whether any of this stolen private information made its way to the Trump campaign, two sources familiar with the investigations tell TIME.

“If any campaign, Trump or otherwise, used inappropriate data the questions are, How did they get it? From whom? And with what level of knowledge?” the former top Democratic staffer on the House Intelligence Committee, Michael Bahar, tells TIME. “That is a crux of the investigation."

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Trump Is Already Guilty Of Aiding Putin's Attack On America

The Trump-Russia scandal is the subject of multiple investigations that may or may not unearth new revelations, but this much is already certain:

Donald Trump is guilty.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Comey’s FBI Computer Illegally Accessed: Data Given To Russian Diplomats

Exclusive: Sources close to the intelligence community report that Director Comey’s FBI computer was illegally accessed immediately after he was dismissed from his post. They further report that ‘removable media’ was used in the commission of this crime. ‘Removable media’ is a category describing physical devices that can be placed into a computer, either to download information or to upload it, such as a memory card, a USB stick, a removable hard drive, a thumb drive or similar items.

Sources further report that a person or persons allied to Donald Trump passed data accessed from Director Comey’s computer to Russian diplomats. It is not known when or how this took place. A piece of removable media containing all the data in question has been recovered from hostile actors, sources say, and is now in the possession of the Justice Department.

Director Comey is said to have known in advance that Mr. Trump would dismiss him. He took careful steps, these sources say, to leave not only a paper trail as we have seen in the story of the ‘Comey Memo’ but also a digital one. Director Comey’s own primary work computer, and other computers in and around his former office, were fitted with sophisticated intelligence community software allowing the Justice Department to see precisely how and when they were attacked.
comey fired
The official Foreign Ministry of Russia’s Twitter account posted a tweet showing Foreign Minister Lavarov laughing with Rex Tillerson, the Secretary of State who has won the Order of Friendship of Vladimir Putin, over Director Comey’s firing, on the day Donald Trump hosted the Russians in the White House and verbally gave them top-secret allied intelligence, later published by the Russian news agency Tass.

White House sources say Trump has already discussed his resignation more than once. Perhaps when he discovers that the justice and intelligence communities are well aware he breached Director Comey’s computer and handed FBI data to Russia, he may decide to spare the nation further trauma and resign.

If he becomes President, Mike Pence will be unable to pardon Donald Trump for any crimes at the state level.

More on this story as we receive it.

https://patribotics.blog/2017/05/17/comeys-fbi-computer-illegally-accessed-data-given-to-russian-diplomats/

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Why The Sally Yates Hearing Was Very Bad News For The Trump White House

The president just lost his favorite piece of spin for countering the Russia scandal.



The much-anticipated Senate hearing on Monday afternoon with former acting attorney general Sally Yates and former director of national intelligence James Clapper confirmed an important point: the Russia story still poses tremendous trouble for President Donald Trump and his crew.

Yates recounted a disturbing tale. She recalled that on January 26, she requested and received a meeting with Don McGahn, Trump's White House counsel. At the time, Vice President Mike Pence and other White House officials were saying that ret. Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump's national security adviser, had not spoken the month before with the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, about the sanctions then-President Barack Obama had imposed on the Russians as punishment for Moscow's meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign. Yates' Justice Department had evidence—presumably intercepts of Flynn's communications with Kislyak—that showed this assertion was flat-out false.

At that meeting, Yates shared two pressing concerns with McGahn: that Flynn had lied to the vice president and that Flynn could now be blackmailed by the Russians because they knew he had lied about his conversations with Kislyak. As Yates told the members of the Senate subcommittee on crime and terrorism, "To state the obvious: you don't want your national security adviser compromised by the Russians." She and McGahn also discussed whether Flynn had violated any laws.

The next day, McGahn asked Yates to return to the White House, and they had another discussion. According to Yates, McGahn asked whether it would interfere with the FBI's ongoing investigation of Flynn if the White House took action regarding this matter. No, Yates said she told him. The FBI had already interviewed Flynn. And Yates explained to the senators that she had assumed that the White House would not sit on the information she presented McGahn and do nothing.

But that's what the White House did. McGahn in that second meeting did ask if the White House could review the evidence the Justice Department had. She agreed to make it available. (Yates testified that she did not know whether this material was ever reviewed by the White House. She was fired at that point because she would not support Trump's Muslim travel ban.) Whether McGahn examined that evidence about Flynn, the White House did not take action against him. It stood by Flynn. He remained in the job, hiring staff for the National Security Council and participating in key policy decision-making.

On February 9, the Washington Post revealed that Flynn had indeed spoken with Kislyak about the sanctions. And still the Trump White House backed him up. Four days later, Kellyanne Conway, a top Trump White House official, declared that Trump still had "full confidence" in Flynn. The next day—as a media firestorm continued—Trump fired him. Still, the day after he canned Flynn, Trump declared, "Gen. Flynn is a wonderful man. I think he has been treated very, very unfairly by the media, as I call it, the fake media in many cases. And I think it is really a sad thing that he was treated so badly." Trump displayed no concern about Flynn's misconduct.

The conclusion from Yates' testimony was clear: Trump didn't dump Flynn until the Kislyak matter became a public scandal and embarrassment. The Justice Department warning—hey, your national security adviser could be compromised by the foreign government that just intervened in the American presidential campaign—appeared to have had no impact on Trump's actions regarding Flynn. Imagine what Republicans would say if a President Hillary Clinton retained as national security adviser a person who could be blackmailed by Moscow.

The subcommittee's hearing was also inconvenient for Trump and his supporters on another key topic: it destroyed one of their favorite talking points.

On March 5, Clapper was interviewed by NBC News' Chuck Todd on Meet the Press and asked if there was any evidence of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and the Russians. "Not to my knowledge," Clapper replied. Since then, Trump and his champions have cited Clapper to say there is no there there with the Russia story. Trump on March 20 tweeted, "James Clapper and others stated that there is no evidence Potus colluded with Russia. The story is FAKE NEWS and everyone knows it!" White House press secretary Sean Spicer has repeatedly deployed this Clapper statement to insist there was no collusion.

At Monday's hearing, Clapper pulled this rug out from under the White House and its comrades. He noted that it was standard policy for the FBI not to share with him details about ongoing counterintelligence investigations. And he said he had not been aware of the FBI's investigation of contacts between Trump associates and Russia that FBI director James Comey revealed weeks ago at a House intelligence committee hearing. Consequently, when Clapper told Todd that he was not familiar with any evidence of Trump-Russia collusion, he was speaking accurately. But he essentially told the Senate subcommittee that he was not in a position to know for certain. This piece of spin should now be buried. Trump can no longer hide behind this one Clapper statement.

Clapper also dropped another piece of information disquieting for the Trump camp. Last month, the Guardian reported that British intelligence in late 2015 collected intelligence on suspicious interactions between Trump associates and known or suspected Russian agents and passed this information to to the United States "as part of a routine exchange of information." Asked about this report, Clapper said it was "accurate." He added, "The specifics are quite sensitive." This may well have been the first public confirmation from an intelligence community leader that US intelligence agencies have possessed secret information about ties between Trump's circle and Moscow. (Comey testified that the FBI's counterintelligence investigation of links between Trump associates and Russian began in late July 2016.)

So this hearing indicated that the Trump White House protected a national security adviser who lied and who could be compromised by Moscow, that Trump can no longer cite Clapper to claim there was no collusion, and that US intelligence had sensitive information on interactions between Trump associates and possible Russian agents as early as late 2015. Still, most of the Republicans on the panel focused on leaks and "unmasking"—not the main issues at hand. They collectively pounded more on Yates for her action regarding the Muslim travel ban than on Moscow for its covert operation to subvert the 2016 election to help Trump.

This Senate subcommittee, which is chaired by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), is not mounting a full investigation comparable to the inquiry being conducted by the Senate intelligence committee (and presumably the hobbled House intelligence committee). It has far less staff, and its jurisdiction is limited. But this hearing demonstrated that serious inquiry can expand the public knowledge of the Trump-Russia scandal—and that there remains much more to examine and unearth.

Eric Trump Is Staggeringly Stupid

Did Eric Trump actually think wealthy Russians were dumping money into his dad’s golf courses during a recession because they’re big golf fans? Cenk Uygur, host of The Young Turks, breaks it down.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Majority Want Trump To Resign If His Campaign Colluded With Russia

If the Trump campaign worked with Russia to sway the 2016 election, the American people want the president to start packing his bags.

By Sean Colarossi

If it turns out that Donald Trump’s campaign did, indeed, work with the Russians to defeat Hillary Clinton in last fall’s presidential election, a majority of the country – 53 percent – thinks the president should resign.

According to the explosive new poll from Public Policy Polling (PPP), which debuted Wednesday night on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show, the American people said – by a 14-point margin – that Trump should step down if there was collusion.



Another result revealed on Maddow’s program found that a plurality of the country believes Trump’s campaign did, in fact, work with Russia to swing the 2016 election in his favor.

If you’re keeping score at home: The American people think both that Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia and that the president should resign as a result.

While there is endless political polling released on a weekly basis asking about hypothetical scenarios, what should be terrifying to the White House is that the explosive Russia scandal is just one more investigation or one more small piece of evidence away from making the questions posed in the PPP survey a reality.

At that point, the president will have to face a country that doesn’t just believe he isn’t doing a good job, as polls repeatedly suggest, but also that he should no longer have the job at all.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Republicans tried to hide payments to Russia-linked intel firm for dirt-digging on Hillary Clinton

By David Ferguson

The Republican National Committee (RNC) tried to conceal payments it made during the 2016 election to a shadowy intelligence-gathering firm for opposition research against Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

Politico reported on Friday that the RNC paid $41,500 to the Hamilton Trading Group, a Virginia-based private company run by former CIA operatives. The agency worked with a former Russian spy to hunt for information that would show conflicts of interest between Clinton’s role as Secretary of State and her interests as a private citizen and leader of the Clinton Foundation.

Observers in politics and intelligence noted that it would be odd for the RNC to make payments to Hamilton Trading given that the group specializes in matters pertaining to Russia.

“RNC officials and the president and co-founder of Hamilton Trading Group, an ex-CIA officer named Ben Wickham, insisted the payments, which eventually totaled $41,500, had nothing to do with Russia,” wrote Politico’s Kenneth P. Vogel and Eli Stokols.

Wickham and the RNC initially claimed that the payments were in return for building and security analyses of RNC headquarters in Washington.

“But RNC officials now acknowledge that most of the cash — $34,100 — went towards intelligence-style reports that sought to prove conflicts of interest between Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State and her family’s foundation,” Politico said.

HTG produced two dossiers, both of which attempted to make a case that Clinton directed U.S. interventions in Bulgaria and Israel on behalf of energy firms that donated to the Clinton Foundation, said individuals familiar with the documents.

Wickham told Politico in a Thursday interview that he floated the building inspection story because “any other work we may have done for them” was covered under a nondisclosure agreement.

“I’m not denying that I wasn’t totally forthcoming, but I’m telling you why,” Wickham told Politico.

“The security stuff that we did, which is legitimate, was not covered by any kind of a confidentiality agreement, so I can discuss that.”

Last June, when the RNC filed financial disclosures with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC), a $3,400 payment to Hamilton attracted attention because the firm is not known for building security consultations, but rather for espionage work related to Russia.

“Adding to the intrigue are the firm’s intelligence connections in Russia, where it was known to perform background checks and provide security services for American officials and companies,” said Politico.

The job was handed to former KGB agent Gennady Vasilenko, who declined to comment on the matter.

Wickham denied that his firm looked into any connections between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, saying he has “never had any contact with … Trump or Manafort or their people.” Politico said the RNC has produced documents detailing a list of Clinton-related issues it tasked Hamilton Trading with researching.

He said that while his firm is not well-known for building security, it did an assessment for the RNC to protect against a “McVeigh-type” bombing attack or a gun-wielding intruder like the San Bernardino mass shooting.

“We certainly are not widely known, as we have always been a two- to three-man company and have done little advertising,” Wickham said, adding that the firm has done anti-terror security consultations for Amtrak and the International Monetary Fund’s offices in Moscow.