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Member since: Sun Jul 11, 2004, 07:58 PM
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William Binney, Ray McGovern and Other Intel Experts Call Russian Hacking Allegations Baseless

This is an open letter, so they intended it posted in full.

If there is some stronger evidence that they overlooked, please post it at the end.

It sounds like the Trump campaign did have contact with Russia, and given the various October Surprises like Nixon in '68 and Reagan in '80, that should still be investigated (the way those weren't).

In a letter published on Consortium News regarding claims that Russia interfered in the recent U.S. elections, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity penned a powerful rebuke of the narrative being spread. Signed by retired intelligence officials William Binney, Mike Gravel, Larry Johnson, Ray McGovern, Elizabeth Murray and Kirk Wiebe, the memorandum offered a bold rethinking of the alleged “hack” because “given what we know of existing capabilities, it beggars belief that NSA would be unable to identify anyone—Russian or not—attempting to interfere in a U.S. election by hacking.”

Here’s an excerpt:

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity


Allegations of Hacking Election Are Baseless

A New York Times report on Monday 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

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 ; 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.

As for the comments to the media as to what the CIA believes, the reality is that CIA is almost totally dependent on NSA for ground truth in the communications arena. Thus, it remains something of a mystery why the media is being fed strange stories about hacking that have no basis in fact. In sum, given what we know of NSA’s existing capabilities, it beggars belief that NSA would be unable to identify anyone—Russian or not—attempting to interfere in a U.S. election by hacking.

For the Steering Group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

William Binney, former Technical Director, World Geopolitical & Military Analysis, NSA; co-founder, SIGINT Automation Research Center (ret.)

Mike Gravel, former Adjutant, top secret control officer, Communications Intelligence Service; special agent of the Counter Intelligence Corps and former United States Senator

Larry Johnson, former CIA Intelligence Officer & former State Department Counter-Terrorism Official

Ray McGovern, former US Army infantry/intelligence officer & CIA analyst (ret.)

Elizabeth Murray, Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Middle East, CIA (ret.)

Kirk Wiebe, former Senior Analyst, SIGINT Automation Research Center, NSA (ret.)


If Rex Tillerson of ExxonMobil is making deals with Russia, which business interests want war?

A fair amount of the conflict between the US and Russia makes sense in terms competition to control who supplies Europe and Asia with oil and gas, but if Exxon is making deals, who thinks it's in their best interest to take steps in Syria and Iran that could easily lead to war with Russia, and to demonize Russia to the degree that it sounds like they want to got to war with Russia in any case?

Why didn't Democrats do anything to stop Republican voter suppression in the eight years Obama was

in office?

Cross check wasn't exactly a secret.

Now it's too fucking late until at least 2020. By then the GOP will figure out how to stop a hell of a lot more of us from voting.

Hillary ONE TERM & DONE: a possible face-saving compromise for GOP electors?

I'm just throwing spaghetti at the wall here, but stranger things have happened than this.

What if Democrats propose a compromise with GOP electors that since Hillary won the popular vote, and there are doubts (at minimum) about how Trump won the electoral college, Hillary take office but vows to just serve for one term, so essentially 2020 is the "do-over" some have suggested?

The right could say they got their pound of flesh from Hillary, and we could get four years to get the Democrats house in order and present a fresh candidate in 2020.

I'm sure there are some flaws with this or possible better variations.

What do you guys think?

What did OBAMA do differently in '08 from Hillary in 2016?

At the time, I did not see a lot of difference between the two on policy--apart from Obama being opposed to the Iraq War and Hillary supporting it.

And since Obama had less of a record, it was easier to project our hopes onto him.

On the war issue, Hillary seemed more belligerent than Trump, at least when it came to Russia, and her record as secretary of state and recently consorting with neocons seemed imply she would be looking for more fights than Obama was.

That may not have been the best way to excite the base of the Democratic Party, and may even have given pause to some swing voters.

EDIT: How about POLICY differences? Or at least perceived ones at the time.

The Democratic Party and Education: A Case Study of Alienating the Base

It's tough to cut this down to just four paragraphs.

Teachers are a core constituency of the Democratic Party, but the party has largely gone along with the Wall Street agenda of bashing teachers unions and trying to privatize public education.

If you want people to enthusiastically fight for your party, you have to respect and fight for them, not throw them to the Wall Street wolves when they snap their fingers.

I teach college and my wife teaches elementary school. Democrats are more generous with money, but they do nothing to obstruct and most often support the privatization movement. We are stuck because Republicans won't even spend the money.

But do you donate money and pound the pavement to support candidates who are actively destroying your profession and even the quality of public education because they throw a few more bucks your way?

Or do you vote for their candidates but feel like a fucking idiot because you don't know what else to do.

The Democrats probably have about two years to get their house in order. Before all but the wealthiest bolt. They better get started now.

And this issue would be a good place to do it.

Back in 1983, the Reagan Administration published A Nation at Risk, a poorly written report condemning public education. It was the opening salvo in the relentless attack on public education and on the teaching profession.

The administration of Bush the First commissioned Sandia laboratories to gather statistical data which they believed would support the conclusions of A Nation at Risk. Contrary to the expectations of the administration, the Sandia Report actually found that public education was performing quite well.

What was the Democratic response? Did the Democrats come to the defense of educators and point out that A Nation at Risk was pure propaganda? Did they use the Sandia Report counter the attacks on public education? These of course are rhetorical questions. You know the answer. The Democrats basically accepted the Reagan/Bush premise that American education was failing and joined in the trashing of teachers.


The teacher unions backed Barack Obama in both the 2008 and 2012 general elections. In return we got Race to the Top and Arne Duncan. Duncan’s policies were not successful when he led the Chicago school system, but that didn’t prevent President Obama from hiring him as Secretary of Education. One would think that the President would have learned from Bush’s appointment of Rod Paige and would have been wary of alleged education “miracles”. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Duncan, of course, gained further notoriety when he stated that Hurricane Katrina was "the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans”. Disaster capitalism at its finest.


Could Trump finally force the media to admit both major parties AREN'T the same?

The media's false equivalence between the two major parties is almost like surreal performance art or a Monty Python sketch, where a sportscaster interviews a badminton player about an upcoming match, then Leatherface comes out and chainsaws the first interviewee in half, and the sportscaster asks him, "And how do you think you'll do in today's match?"

Are Trump's faults and the GOP that made them possible finally so egregious that they have to admit one guy has a chainsaw and is wearing a mask made of human skin?

Trump's election makes me realize why you can't ask one member of a race what the whole race thinks

Because I'm white, and I have no idea what the hell white people who voted for him where thinking, whether it was racism, free floating economic angst, they recognized him from the TeeVee shows, or whatever combination thereof.

Should Obama seat Merrick Garland?

The argument for seating him is that the Senate, by refusing to hold confirmation hearings, has waived their right to advise and consent.

On this issue, both sides have high negatives: if he does seat him, it might set a precedent Republicans could abuse, for example, "Democrats did hold confirmation hearings in 24 hours, so they lost their shot."

On the other hand, letting Trump choose instead would be the ultimate reward for Mitch McConnell's eight years of obstruction, and set a percent for Republicans to do even worse the next time the Democrats win the White House.

I lean toward seating him as a way for Obama to admit his "go along to get along" tactic with Republicans mostly didn't work.

Also, even if people don't like Garland, who is about as middle of the road as you get, they might respect Obama for having the courage of his convictions.

And if the Republicans don't like it, they can always impeach Garland--or Obama.

PALAST:The Election was Stolen Here's How

Palast caught Republicans doing this in 2000. You would think as soon as Democrat's got control of the Justice Department back, this might have been on the agenda of things to fix.

How can Republicans do this stuff with impunity again and again, and Democrats don't even seem to care?

Before a single vote was cast, the election was fixed by GOP and Trump operatives.

Starting in 2013 – just as the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act – a coterie of Trump operatives, under the direction of Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State, created a system to purge 1.1 million Americans of color from the voter rolls of GOP–controlled states.

The system, called Crosscheck, is detailed in my Rolling Stone report,
“The GOP’s Stealth War on Voters,” 8/24/2016.

Crosscheck in action:
Trump victory margin in Michigan: 13,107
Michigan Crosscheck purge list: 449,922

Trump victory margin in Arizona: 85,257
Arizona Crosscheck purge list: 270,824

Trump victory margin in North Carolina: 177,008
North Carolina Crosscheck purge list: 589,393

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