In a memo to the president issued this week, a group of retired intelligence professionals challenged a January 6 intelligence assessment that concluded the Russians hacked into DNC servers last year.
The memo, issued on July 26 by the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) organization, cites new forensic evidence which cuts directly against the claim of Russian culpability.
“Forensic studies of ‘Russian hacking’ into Democratic National Committee computers last year reveal that on July 5, 2016, data was leaked (not hacked) by a person with physical access to DNC computers, and then doctored to incriminate Russia,” the memo said in its executive summary [emphasis in original].
Independent investigators, the memo says, have concluded that a Democratic Party insider copied DNC data onto an external storage device and inserted the equivalent of Russian cyber fingerprints to make it appear there was Russian involvement.
In its lengthy conclusion, the independent investigation cited in the memo said “The DNC files were first copied to a system which had Eastern Time settings in effect; therefore, this system was likely located on the East Coast,” which suggests the data transfer was carried out within the United States, not overseas.
Moreover, due to the speed at which files were transferred from the DNC system, the investigators conclude “it is unlikely that this initial data transfer could have been done remotely over the Internet,” also suggesting a local, homegrown operation instead of a foreign one.
Further supporting the above conclusion is the fact that the individual(s) who collected the DNC data likely did so with “direct access,” meaning the individual had physical access to the computer where the data was stored, or copied it over a local high speed network (LAN), to which a Russian hacker would not have access.
The independent forensic investigation was first reported on by Disobedient Media’s Elizabeth Vos earlier this month.
CrowdStrike, a cyber security company and the only organization to directly analyze the DNC servers (the FBI was refused access and went on CrowdStrike’s word alone), provided the investigation upon which subsequent intelligence assessments were based. The firm concluded the Russians were responsible for the hack, but the new evidence may destroy that claim.
In a prior case, CrowdStrike determined the Russians also hacked into an application used by the Ukrainian military, which the firm said resulted in devastating losses of howitzers in Ukraine’s ongoing conflict with separatists based in East Ukraine. While the firm used that assessment to bolster its claims about Russian involvement in the DNC hack, claiming there were similar Russian “finger prints” in both cases, a March report from Voice of America demolished CrowdStrike’s theory.
It turns out the firm didn’t even attempt to contact anybody in the Ukrainian military to confirm its conclusion, it simply published its flimsy findings as truth and then used them again to assert that the Russians tried to subvert American democracy in the 2016 election.
It should be noted that Dmitri Alperovitch, CrowdStrike’s co-founder, is a Russian ex-patriot and a senior fellow at the Russophobic Atlantic Council.
The VIPS memo is co-signed by independent analyst Skip Folden, a retired IBM Program Manager for Information Technology US, as well as the legendary Bill Binney, the whistleblower and retired Technical Director for the NSA who helped to create the agency’s automated signals intelligence collections system. Other senior NSA “alumni” in the VIPS organization also “attest to the professionalism of the independent forensic findings,” the memo said.
More from the memorandum, which can be read in full here:
It has long been clear to us that the reason the U.S. government lacks conclusive evidence of a transfer of a “Russian hack” to WikiLeaks is because there was no such transfer. Based mostly on the cumulatively unique technical experience of our ex-NSA colleagues, we have been saying for almost a year that the DNC data reached WikiLeaks via a copy/leak by a DNC insider (but almost certainly not the same person who copied DNC data on July 5, 2016).
From the information available, we conclude that the same inside-DNC, copy/leak process was used at two different times, by two different entities, for two distinctly different purposes:
-(1) an inside leak to WikiLeaks before Julian Assange announced on June 12, 2016, that he had DNC documents and planned to publish them (which he did on July 22) – the presumed objective being to expose strong DNC bias toward the Clinton candidacy; and
-(2) a separate leak on July 5, 2016, to pre-emptively taint anything WikiLeaks might later publish by “showing” it came from a “Russian hack.”
It is noteworthy that after over six months of digging, nobody aboard the “Russia hacked the election” train can find a smoking gun to prove their assertions. Now, the recent independent forensic investigation may be the last nail in this narrative’s coffin.
The VIPS organization has issued presidential memos since 2003, when it challenged the Bush administration’s case for war with Iraq. Since then the organization has consistently provided the skepticism and expertise which one would expect from America’s official intelligence community. Unfortunately, such things must be outsourced to a group of principled veterans with no real political power.
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