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Friday, March 24, 2017

CroudStrike, DNC and the Russian Hack that Never Was?

Cybersecurity Firm That Attributed DNC Hacks to Russia May Have Fabricated Russia Hacking in Ukraine




The cyber security firm outsourced by the Democratic National Committee, CrowdStrike, reportedly misread data, falsely attributing a hacking in Ukraine to the Russians in December 2016. Voice of America, a US Government funded media outlet, reported, “the CrowdStrike report, released in December, asserted that Russians hacked into a Ukrainian artillery app, resulting in heavy losses of howitzers in Ukraine’s war with Russian-backed separatists. But the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) told VOA that CrowdStrike erroneously used IISS data as proof of the intrusion. IISS disavowed any connection to the CrowdStrike report.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense also has claimed combat losses and hacking never happened.” The maker of the military app allegedly hacked called CrowdStrike’s report “delusional,” and told VOA that CrowdStrike never contacted him either before or after they completed their report. VOA News noted Ukraine’s rebuttal to CrowdStrike received little media attention as CrowdStrike’s report was widely cited in media outlets throughout the United States as further evidence of Russia hacking the United States. Alperovitch, who gave several interviews on CrowdStrike’s initial report to the Washington Post and other media outlets, refused to comment on VOA News’ report.

The report sheds further skepticism on CrowdStrike’s findings and objectivity in their conclusions, which several cyber security experts and former CIA and NSA officials have cast doubt on, especially given that several media outlets reported in early January 2017 that the DNC never allowed the FBI to examine their servers themselves, rather the FBI relied on forensic data gathered by CrowdStrike.

The investigation methods used to come to the conclusion that the Russian Government led the hacks of the DNCClinton Campaign Chair John Podesta, and the DCCC were further called into question by a recent BuzzFeed report by Jason Leopold, who has developed a notable reputation from leading several non-partisan Freedom of Information Act lawsuits for investigative journalism purposes. On March 15 that the Department of Homeland Security released just two heavily redacted pages of unclassified information in response to an FOIA request for definitive evidence of Russian election interference allegations. 

Leopold wrote, “what the agency turned over to us and Ryan Shapiro, a PhD candidate at MIT and a research affiliate at Harvard University, is truly bizarre: a two-page intelligence assessment of the incident, dated Aug. 22, 2016, that contains information DHS culled from the internet. It’s all unclassified — yet DHS covered nearly everything in wide swaths of black ink. Why? Not because it would threaten national security, but because it would reveal the methods DHS uses to gather intelligence, methods that may amount to little more than using Google.”

In lieu of substantive evidence provided to the public that the alleged hacks which led to Wikileaks releases of DNC and Clinton Campaign Manager John Podesta’s emails were orchestrated by the Russian Government, CrowdStrike’s bias has been cited as undependable in its own assessment, in addition to its skeptical methods and conclusions. The firm’s CTO and co-founder, Dmitri Alperovitch, is a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, a think tank with openly anti-Russian sentiments that is funded by Ukrainian billionaire Victor Pinchuk, who also happened to donate at least $10 million to the Clinton Foundation.

In 2013, the Atlantic Council awarded Hillary Clinton it’s Distinguished International Leadership Award. In 2014, the Atlantic Council hosted one of several events with former Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who took over after pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted in early 2014, who now lives in exile in Russia.

In August, Politico reported that Donald Trump’s favorable rhetoric to Russia was concerning Ukraine, who have been recovering from Russian interference in their own country’s revolution.  The article cited, “Russia wants Trump for U.S. 
president; Ukraine is terrified by Trump and prefers Hillary Clinton.” Trump recently appointed Atlantic Council Chairman Jon Huntsman as U.S. Ambassador to Russia, which Vox called a “baffling” choice, and Democrats and anti-Russian hysterics haven’t bothered to attempt to criticize, scrutinize or insinuate ties between Huntsman and Russia.

Cyber security expert Jeffrey Carr called the FBI/Department of Homeland Security Report, the only alleged evidence released by intelligence officials, released in late December 2016 a “fatally flawed effort” that provided no evidence to substantiate the claims that the Russian government conducted the hacks, though that’s what it was purported to do.

“If the White House had unclassified evidence that tied officials in the Russian government to the DNC attack, they would have presented it by now. The fact that they didn’t means either that the evidence doesn’t exist or that it is classified,” he wrote in a Medium post on December 30, 2016, while Obama was still in office. “If it’s classified, an independent commission should review it because this entire assignment of blame against the Russian government is looking more and more like a domestic political operation run by the White House that relied heavily on questionable intelligence generated by a for-profit cybersecurity firm with a vested interest in selling ‘attribution-as-a-service.'”

------------------


VOICE of AMERICA Report


Think Tank: Cyber Firm at Center of Russian Hacking Charges Misread Data

An influential British think tank and Ukraine’s military are disputing a report that the U.S. cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike has used to buttress its claims of Russian hacking in the presidential election.

The CrowdStrike report, released in December, asserted that Russians hacked into a Ukrainian artillery app, resulting in heavy losses of howitzers in Ukraine’s war with Russian-backed separatists.

But the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) told VOA that CrowdStrike erroneously used IISS data as proof of the intrusion. IISS disavowed any connection to the CrowdStrike report. Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense also has claimed combat losses and hacking never happened.

A CrowdStrike spokesperson told VOA that it stands by its findings, which, they say, "have been confirmed by others in the cybersecurity community.”
The challenges to CrowdStrike’s credibility are significant because the firm was the first to link last year’s hacks of Democratic Party computers to Russian actors, and because CrowdStrike co-founder Dimiti Alperovitch has trumpeted its Ukraine report as more evidence of Russian election tampering.

Alperovitch has said that variants of the same software were used in both hacks.

FILE - CrowdStrike co-founder and CTO Dmitri Alperovitch speaks during the Reuters Media and Technology Summit in New York, June 11, 2012.

HERE IS THE SHITBIRD SOURCE FOR US MEDIA:


While questions about CrowdStrike’s findings don’t disprove allegations of Russian involvement, they do add to skepticism voiced by some cybersecurity experts and commentators about the quality of their technical evidence.

The Russian government has denied covert involvement in the election, but U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russian hacks were meant to discredit Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump’s campaign. An FBI and Homeland Security report also blamed Russian intelligence services.

On Monday, FBI Director James Comey confirmed at a House Intelligence Committee hearing that his agency has an ongoing investigation into the hacks of Democratic campaign computers and into contacts between Russian operatives and Trump campaign associates. The White House says there was no collusion with Russia, and other U.S. officials have said they’ve found no proof.
Signature malware
VOA News first reported in December that sources close to the Ukraine military and the artillery app’s creator questioned CrowdStrike’s finding that a Russian-linked group it named “Fancy Bear” had hacked the app. CrowdStrike said it found a variant of the same “X-Agent” malware used to attack the Democrats.

FBI Director James Comey, left, and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers during the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Russian actions during the 2016 election campaign, March 20, 2017.

HERE IS COMEY:


CrowdStrike said the hack allowed Ukraine’s enemies to locate its artillery units. As proof of its effectiveness, the report referenced publicly reported data in which IISS had sharply reduced its estimates of Ukrainian artillery assets. IISS, based in London, publishes a highly regarded, annual reference called “The Military Balance” that estimates the strength of world armed forces.

“Between July and August 2014, Russian-backed forces launched some of the most-decisive attacks against Ukrainian forces, resulting in significant loss of life, weaponry and territory,” CrowdStrike wrote in its report, explaining that the hack compromised an app used to aim Soviet-era D-30 howitzers.

“Ukrainian artillery forces have lost over 50% of their weapons in the two years of conflict and over 80% of D-30 howitzers, the highest percentage of loss of any other artillery pieces in Ukraine’s arsenal,” the report said, crediting a Russian bloggerwho had cited figures from IISS.

The report prompted skepticism in Ukraine.

Yaroslav Sherstyuk, maker of the Ukrainian military app in question, called the company’s report “delusional” in a Facebook post. CrowdStrike never contacted him before or after its report was published, he told VOA.

Pavlo Narozhnyy, a technical adviser to Ukraine’s military, told VOA that while it was theoretically possible the howitzer app could have been compromised, any infection would have been spotted. “I personally know hundreds of gunmen in the war zone,” Narozhnyy told VOA in December. “None of them told me of D-30 losses caused by hacking or any other reason.”

VOA first contacted IISS in February to verify the alleged artillery losses. Officials there initially were unaware of the CrowdStrike assertions. After investigating, they determined that CrowdStrike misinterpreted their data and hadn’t reached out beforehand for comment or clarification.

In a statement to VOA, the institute flatly rejected the assertion of artillery combat losses.

“The CrowdStrike report uses our data, but the inferences and analysis drawn from that data belong solely to the report's authors,” the IISS said. “The inference they make that reductions in Ukrainian D-30 artillery holdings between 2013 and 2016 were primarily the result of combat losses is not a conclusion that we have ever suggested ourselves, nor one we believe to be accurate.”

One of the IISS researchers who produced the data said that while the think tank had dramatically lowered its estimates of Ukrainian artillery assets and howitzers in 2013, it did so as part of a “reassessment” and reallocation of units to airborne forces.

"No, we have never attributed this reduction to combat losses," the IISS researcher said, explaining that most of the reallocation occurred prior to the two-year period that CrowdStrike cites in its report.

“The vast majority of the reduction actually occurs ... before Crimea/Donbass,” he added, referring to the 2014 Russian invasion of Ukraine.

‘Evidence flimsy'

In early January, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense issued a statement saying artillery losses from the ongoing fighting with separatists are “several times smaller than the number reported by [CrowdStrike] and are not associated with the specified cause” of Russian hacking.

But Ukraine’s denial did not get the same attention as CrowdStrike’s report. Its release was widely covered by news media reports as further evidence of Russian hacking in the U.S. election.

In interviews, Alperovitch helped foster that impression by connecting the Ukraine and Democratic campaign hacks, which CrowdStrike said involved the same Russian-linked hacking group—Fancy Bear—and versions of X-Agent malware the group was known to use.

“The fact that they would be tracking and helping the Russian military kill Ukrainian army personnel in eastern Ukraine and also intervening in the U.S. election is quite chilling,” Alperovitch said in a December 22 story by The Washington Post.

The same day, Alperovitch told the PBS NewsHour: “And when you think about, well, who would be interested in targeting Ukraine artillerymen in eastern Ukraine? Who has interest in hacking the Democratic Party? [The] Russia government comes to mind, but specifically, [it's the] Russian military that would have operational [control] over forces in the Ukraine and would target these artillerymen.”

Alperovitch, a Russian expatriate and senior fellow at the Atlantic Council policy research center in Washington, co-founded CrowdStrike in 2011. The firm has employed two former FBI heavyweights: Shawn Henry, who oversaw global cyber investigations at the agency, and Steven Chabinsky, who was the agency's top cyber lawyer and served on a White House cybersecurity commission. Chabinsky left CrowdStrike last year.

CrowdStrike declined to answer VOA’s written questions about the Ukraine report, and Alperovitch canceled a March 15 interview on the topic. In a December statement to VOA’s Ukrainian Service, spokeswoman Ilina Dimitrova defended the company’s conclusions.

“It is indisputable that the [Ukraine artillery] app has been hacked by Fancy Bear malware,” Dimitrova wrote. “We have published the indicators to it, and they have been confirmed by others in the cybersecurity community.”

In its report last June attributing the Democratic hacks, CrowdStrike said it was long familiar with the methods used by Fancy Bear and another group with ties to Russian intelligence nicknamed Cozy Bear. Soon after, U.S. cybersecurity firms Fidelis and Mandiant endorsed CrowdStrike’s conclusions. The FBI and Homeland Security report reached the same conclusion about the two groups.
Still, some cybersecurity experts are skeptical that the election and purported Ukraine hacks are connected. Among them is Jeffrey Carr, a cyberwarfare consultant who has lectured at the U.S. Army War College, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and other government agencies.

In a January post on LinkedIn, Carr called CrowdStrike’s evidence in the Ukraine “flimsy.” He told VOA in an interview that CrowdStrike mistakenly assumed that the X-Agent malware employed in the hacks was a reliable fingerprint for Russian actors.

“We now know that’s false,” he said, “and that the source code has been obtained by others outside of Russia."

This report was produced in collaboration with VOA's Ukrainian Service.

How The First Globalization Experiment Failed

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Quit saying it is too late to do anything about it . That is defeatist nonsense fostered by the same crew that sold diversity is a strength.

Welcome to London: We can say we’re not afraid, light candles and make hearts of our hands but the truth is that we can’t go on like this, says KATIE HOPKINS


They stood in the centre of Brussels. Row on row.

Hands held high, making hearts to the heavens. Showing the slaughtered they were not forgotten. Reminding themselves they were here with love. Looking to show humanity wins. That love conquers all.

They lay in the centre of London, face down where they fell. Stabbed by a knife, rammed with a car, flung, broken, into the Thames, life bleeding out on the curb.
And the news came thick and fast.

An injured woman is assisted after a man drove a 4x4 into pedestrians along Westminster Bridge on Wednesday afternoon
An injured woman is assisted after a man drove a 4x4 into pedestrians along Westminster Bridge on Wednesday afternoon

A car rammed deliberately into pedestrians on the bridge. Ten innocents down.
A police officer stabbed at the House of Commons. Confirmed dead.

Another woman now, dead at the scene.

Shots fired. An Asian man rushed to hospital.

People make hearts with their hands during a ceremony in Belgium to commemorate the first anniversary of the bomb attacks in Brussels
People make hearts with their hands during a ceremony in Belgium to commemorate the first anniversary of the bomb attacks in Brussels

A woman, plucked from the water.

And I grew colder. And more tiny.

No anger for me this time. No rage like I’ve felt before. No desperate urge to get out there and scream at the idiots who refused to see this coming.

Not even a nod for the glib idiots who say this will not defeat us, that we will never be broken, that cowardice and terror will not get the better of Britain.

Because, as loyal as I am, as patriotic as I am, as much as my whole younger life was about joining the British military and fighting for my country — I fear we are broken.

Not because of this ghoulish spectacle outside our own Parliament. Not because of the lives rammed apart on the pavement, even as they thought about what was for tea. Or what train home they might make.
Bystanders stop to give people mouth to mouth after the driver mowed them down. Katie Hopkins says we are now a broken London
Bystanders stop to give people mouth to mouth after the driver mowed them down. Katie Hopkins says we are now a broken London

But because this is us now.
This is our country now.

This is what we have become.

To this, we have been reduced.

Because all the while those forgiving fools in Brussels stood with their stupid hands raised in hearts to the sky, another mischief was in the making. More death was in the pipeline.

As the last life-blood of a police officer ran out across the cobbles, the attacker was being stretchered away in an attempt to save his life.

London is a city so desperate to be seen as tolerant, no news of the injured was released. No clue about who was safe or not.

Liberals convince themselves multiculturalism works because we all die together, too.

An entire city of monkeys: see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. Blind. Deaf. And dumb.
Members of the civil protection outside the damaged front of Brussels Airport, in Zaventem, a year ago today. The attacks left dozens dead and hundreds injured
Members of the civil protection outside the damaged front of Brussels Airport, in Zaventem, a year ago today. The attacks left dozens dead and hundreds injured

Immersed in a seething pit of hatred, hidden in pockets of communities plagued by old animosities and ancient strife.

These people may have left their lands. But they have brought every tension, every conflict, every bit of fight here with them.

The Afghans hate the Somalias who loathe the Eritreans. As it was before, it is now. London is a city of ghettos behind a thin veneer of civility kept polished by a Muslim mayor whose greatest validation is his father's old job.

Son-of-a-bus-driver Sadiq.

I see him now, penning a missive about how London is a beautiful and tolerant city, how we are united by shared values and understanding, and how we will not be cowed by terror.

Sure enough, there he was, saying exactly that, just now. Fool.

'I want to reassure Londoners': Mayor Sadiq Khan's message
A police officer is led away from the scene after she tries to revive her colleague who was stabbed in the attack on Wednesday afternoon
A police officer is led away from the scene after she tries to revive her colleague who was stabbed in the attack on Wednesday afternoon

Even as mothers text to check their children are safe. Including my own, worrying about me as I sit overlooking the scene, feeling fearful of this place where monsters lurk and steal lives away in an instant. For nothing.

I would ask Sadiq to stop talking. Empty words. Meanwhile, banning pictures of women in bikinis on the Underground. How does that help?

Please, no hashtag, no vigil, no tea lights. I am begging you not to light up Parliament in the colours of the Union.

Because we are not united. We are wrenched asunder.

The patriots of the rest of England versus the liberals in this city. The endless tolerance to those who harm us, (while the Home Office tries to shift the focus of public fear to white terror) — versus the millions like me who face the truth, with worried families and hopeless hearts, who feel the country sinking.

We are taken under the cold water by this heavy right foot in the south, a city of lead, so desperately wedded to the multicultural illusion that it can only fight those who love the country the most, blame those who are most proud to be British, and shout racist at the 52%.

Prime Minister Theresa May speaks outside 10 Downing St after the attacks. Katie Hopkins says it is time to admit that multiculturalism has not worked
Prime Minister Theresa May speaks outside 10 Downing St after the attacks. Katie Hopkins says it is time to admit that multiculturalism has not worked

This place is just like Sweden. Terrified of admitting the truth about the threat we face, about the horrors committed by the migrants we failed to deter — because to admit that we are sinking, and fast, would be to admit that everything the liberals believe is wrong.

That multiculturalism has not worked. That it is one big fat failure and one big fat lie.

President Erdogan of Turkey said there is a war being waged between the crescent and the cross. But he is wrong. Because the cross is not strong. We are down on bended knee, a doormat to be trodden on, a joke only funny to those that wish us harm.

The war is between London and the rest of the country. Between the liberals and the right-minded. Between those who think it is more important to tip-toe around the cultures of those who choose to join us, rather than defend our own culture.
Katie Hopkins says these incidents are no longer unusual, but commonplace
Katie Hopkins says these incidents are no longer unusual, but commonplace
How many more times?

And how many more attacks must pass before we acknowledge these are no longer the acts of ‘extremists’? That there is no safe badge with which to hold these people at arm’s length, in the way the liberals casually use the term 'far-right' for anyone who has National pride.

These events are no longer extreme. They are commonplace. Every day occurrences.

These people are no longer extremists. They are simply more devout. More true to their beliefs. Beliefs which will be supported endlessly across our state broadcaster for the next few months until we buy into the narrative that one religion is not to blame.

That in fact we should blame Brexit supporters. For believing in a Britain. As it was before.

Anything but the truth.

This is why there is no anger from me this time, no rage. No nod for those who pretend we will not be cowed, even as they rush home to text their mum they are safe. No surprise that the city of which I was so proud is now punctured by fear, and demarcated even more formally by places we cannot tread; there were always parts in which a white woman could not safely walk.

Sadiq Khan should 'stop talking' according to Katie Hopkins, who says his words are empty as we are 'wrenched asunder' 
Sadiq Khan should 'stop talking' according to Katie Hopkins, who says his words are empty as we are 'wrenched asunder' 

Now I feel only sadness, overwhelming sadness.

I will walk over the river tonight and look to the Thames, to the Union flag lowered at half mast, and the Parliament below, and I will wonder, just how much longer we can go on like this.  

Flynn's identity in a 702 program was leaked to the press after his conversation last year with the Russian ambassador was intercepted - It appears Flynn was not alone




Intelligence Community Collected and Shared Information About Trump Transition People

Early information arising from a US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee investigation into possible United States government spying on Donald Trump and people associated with him appears to show that information about individuals associated with Trump and his presidential transition was collected through surveillance by, and was widely distributed in, the US intelligence community.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told reporters Wednesday that “on numerous occasions the intelligence community incidentally collected information about US citizens involved in the Trump transition” and that “details about US persons associated with the incoming administration – details with little or no apparent foreign intelligence value – were widely disseminated in intelligence community reporting.”

Nunez also stated in a press release Wednesday that he has “asked the Directors of the FBI, NSA, and CIA to expeditiously comply with my March 15 letter, and to provide a full account of” related surveillance activities.

Nunes’ discussion of the information being “incidentally collected” and then being widely distributed despite having little or no apparent foreign intelligence value highlights a reason to reject the common claim that people who have done nothing wrong have no reason to worry about mass surveillance. When you allow surveillance to run wild, then information that has nothing to do with the supposed purposes of the surveillance, such as protecting Americans from terrorist attacks, can be easily and frequently swept up and shared.

It is naïve to believe that none of the people who obtain the surveillance-derived information will then use it to their advantage, even if that results in harm to the people “incidentally” surveilled. It is also naïve to assume that surveillance efforts will not be adjusted here and there to make sure that more of the desired, but definable as “incidentally collected,” information is obtained and shared. 

Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity. Massie is a member of the Ron Paul Institute.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Robert Gilbeau is in a heap of legal trouble. In June, he became the first active-duty Navy admiral in modern history to be convicted of a felony. Next month, he faces sentencing and could land in federal prison for up to five years.

2013:


Fat Leonard and the Decline of Military Values

The officer corps was once assumed to be above larger cultural rot. No more.

Samuel P. Huntington concluded The Soldier and the State (1957)his influential study of U.S. civil-military relations, with this comparison of the U.S. Military Academy and Highland Falls, New York, the village situated just outside the gates of West Point:
West Point embodies the military ideal at its best; Highland Falls the American spirit at its most commonplace. West Point is a gray island in a many colored sea, a bit of Sparta in the midst of Babylon. Yet is it possible to deny that the military values—loyalty, duty, restraint, dedication—are the ones America most needs today?  ….  Upon the soldiers, the defenders of order, rests a heavy responsibility.  The greatest service they can render is to remain true to themselves…. If they abjure the military spirit, they destroy themselves first and their nation ultimately. If the civilians permit the soldiers to adhere to the military standard, the nations themselves may eventually find redemption and security in making that standard their own.
Once upon a time, as a young serving soldier of conservative temperament, I found Huntington’s idealized depiction of the professional military ethic to be immensely appealing. It accorded precisely with my image of myself and of my calling. Yet Huntington was describing aspiration, not reality. As actually experienced, military service differed considerably from Huntington’s ideal.
Huntington depicted an inherently conservative military profession that defended, even as it stood in tension with, an inherently liberal social order.  The values of that profession demanded that its members abjure liberalism and stand apart from that order. So Huntington believed.

Yet his juxtaposition of the bland and boring Highland Falls with the serenely ordered West Point was off the mark. Temptation lay not immediately outside the gates but further downriver in the garish glitter of Manhattan.

Liberalism per se poses a negligible threat to military professionalism. Far more dangerous are inclinations and attitudes that have seized American culture in an age when neither liberal principles nor conservative ones retain real standing, and when the gratification of appetites, whether material or sexual, has become one of the defining markers of our age. Bright lights, big city: that’s where the temptations to abandon loyalty, duty, restraint, and dedication reside.

What prompts these observations are two ongoing military scandals. The one scandal affects the Marine Corps, and involves misconduct by an anonymous group of (probably enlisted) Marines. Centering on gender, it has drawn attention from journalists and members of Congress, who assiduously patrol the gender beat. The other scandal affects the U.S. Navy and involves senior officers up to the rank of admiral. Years in the making, it attracts only intermittent attention.
In my own judgment, the Marine scandal, if by no means trivial, qualifies as the lesser of the two. An organization calling itself Marines United, perhaps involving as many as 30,000 participants, created a restricted web page on which it posted photographs of nude women, apparently without consent of the subjects. Some of those women were themselves Marines.  

This stunt qualifies as a grotesque and repugnant violation of privacy. Yet in an age where claims to privacy are everywhere besieged and when our infatuation with social media has created an online world where just about anything goes, it falls something short of shocking. The incident offers one more example of the detritus that the wondrous information age is leaving in its wake. As the journalist Christina Cauterucci acknowledged, pausing to catch her breath while subjecting Marines United to an extended rant, “This is the same tactic used by boys in middle school and high school, who create secret ‘slut pages’ on social media, where they distribute any private nude photos they get from girls in their grade.”
Just so. Such behavior is degrading, stupid, unacceptable—and everywhere. 

Far more important, in my view, is the ongoing Navy scandal, known under the rubric of “Fat Leonard.” Weighing in at an impressive 350 lbs., Leonard Glenn Francis was, until his conviction on charges of fraud and bribery, CEO of an outfit called Glenn Defense Marine Asia. GDMA specialized in providing support services to ships of the Navy’s Seventh Fleet operating in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

Fat Leonard himself specialized in plying officers of the Seventh Fleet with cigars, liquor, pricey wristwatches, concert tickets, vacations, and other gifts—not to mention five-star dinners and suites in luxury hotels, often with prostitutes as an added bonus. In return, these officers threw business to GDMA, which then overbilled the U.S. government to the tune of several tens of millions of dollars.

Scores of serving naval officers became Fat Leonard’s de facto agents in this sleazy enterprise. According to an investigative report in the Washington Post, “Francis doled out sex and money to a shocking number of people in uniform who fed him classified material about U.S. warship and submarine movements.  ….  He exploited the intelligence for illicit profit, brazenly ordering his moles to redirect aircraft carriers to ports he controlled in Southeast Asia so he could more easily bilk the Navy for fuel, tugboats, barges, food, water and sewage removal.”

As of last year, 30 U.S. Navy admirals on active duty were under investigation for their suspected involvement in this conspiracy. That investigation, which dates from 2010, continues.  Earlier this week, authorities arrested Rear Adm. Bruce Loveless, a recently retired Navy intelligence officer, along with four retired Navy captains and a retired Marine colonel. Previously three other admirals had been censured and forced to retire. Another has pled guilty to related charges, as have several officers of lesser rank. Almost certainly, there will be further indictments forthcoming.

Christina Cauterucci accuses Marines United of “putting U.S. national security at risk.” That’s hyperbole. When it comes to the officers who sold their souls to Fat Leonard, however, the charge fits. Yet while bringing to justice those who committed crimes at Fat Leonard’s behest is imperative, examining the underlying factors that have produced such egregious corruption qualifies as more important still.

We confront evidence of an officer corps that has lost its moral bearings, abandoning the “military standard” for something quite different. To assume that the rot is confined exclusively to one particular service would be a grave mistake.
Andrew J. Bacevich is The American Conservative’s writer-at-large and a non-resident senior fellow at West Point’s Modern War Institute.

It is about time



At least 1,000 women 'flee Saudi Arabia every year because of sexism'

women-saudi-arabia.jpg
Many Saudi women must gain permission simply to leave their house AFP/Getty Images
At least 1,000 Saudi Arabian women flee the country each year because of the country’s ingrained misogyny, a sociologist based in the country's capital Riyadh has claimed.  

Higher numbers are also believed to leave for the more liberal city of Jeddah. 
They are part of an apparently increasing number of women who have tired of the country’s highly sexist social system and decided to leave for a better life, according to Mansour al-Askar of the Imam Muhammad ibn Saud University. 
He told The Economist that he estimated more than 1,000 women leave every year. 

Saudi Arabia adheres to a harsh version of Wahhabi Sunni Islam and is notorious for strict Sharia law it employs. It remains the only country on earth where women are banned from driving

Women and are also subject to walis, or male guardians, throughout their lives – usually their father, husband or other male relative. 

They must have their permission before engaging in almost any sort of activity, from getting an education or job, to simply leaving the house.
Saudi Arabian women release video mocking driving laws
In Saudi Arabia, a woman’s freedom “is largely dependent on the good will of her male guardian,” according to a 2016 report Human Rights Watch. 
The organisation has called the guardian system: "The most significant impediment to realising women's rights in the country".

While it is difficult to quantify the precise number of women leaving their homeland, some academics have claimed that it is affecting the oil rich country's economy and society
“Saudi Arabia is losing the battle to keep its talent,” Saudi academic, Najah al-Osaimi, told The Economist

Monday, March 20, 2017

TRUMP INVESTIGATED BY FBI FOR RUSSIA COLLUSION SINCE JULY 2016: Question?

If the FBI has been investigating Trump since July over Russia ties, why would the FBI not have tapped Trump's conversations?






WikiLeaks released more than 8,000 webpages that document numerous hacking tools developed and used by the Central Intelligence Agency







Why is it that the House Committee on ‘Russian Hacking’ includes only DNC-hired tech experts?

by LEE STRANAHAN
Breitbart.com

A list of witnesses scheduled to appear at a House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Open Hearing on “Russian Active Measures” contains a glaring problem: the only technical experts scheduled to testify are from CrowdStrike. CrowdStrike is a firm hired by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and has become the primary source of the narrative about “Russian hacking” of the 2016 election and has acted as a mouthpiece for the Democrats since last June.

The initial witness list released by House Intelligence includes a number of intelligence officials, all appointed during the Obama administration, such as former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, but the sole technical people on the invitation list are two representatives of CrowdStrike, President Shawn Henry, and the co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch.

Breitbart News has interviewed tech experts who do not agree with the CrowdStrike assessment or Obama administration’s claims that the DNC/DCCC hacks clearly committed by Russian state actors, with much criticism aimed at the FBI/DHS Joint Analysis Report (JAR) “Grizzly Steppe” that was released at the end of December. As ZDNet reported after the JAR report was released by the Obama administration on the same day that they announced sanctions against Russia:
The JAR included “specific indicators of compromise, including IP addresses and a PHP malware sample.” But what does this really prove? Wordfence, a WordPress security company specializing in analyzing PHP malware, examined these indicators and didn’t find any hard evidence of Russian involvement. Instead, Wordfence found the attack software was P.AS. 3.1.0, an out-of-date, web-shell hacking tool. The newest version, 4.1.1b, is more sophisticated. Its website claims it was written in the Ukraine.
Mark Maunder, Wordfence’s CEO, concluded that since the attacks were made “several versions behind the most current version of P.A.S sic which is 4.1.1b. One might reasonably expect Russian intelligence operatives to develop their own tools or at least use current malicious tools from outside sources.”

True, as Errata Security CEO Rob Graham pointed out in a blog post, P.A.S is popular among Russia/Ukraine hackers. But it’s “used by hundreds if not thousands of hackers, mostly associated with Russia, but also throughout the rest of the world.” In short, just because the attackers used P.A.S., that’s not enough evidence to blame it on the Russian government.
Independent cybersecurity experts, such as Jeffrey Carr, have cited numerous errors that the media and CrowdStrike have made in discussing the hacking in what Carr refers to as a “runaway train” of misinformation.

For example, CrowdStrike has named a threat group that they have given the name “Fancy Bear” for the hacks and then said this threat group is Russian intelligence. In December 2016, Carr wrote in a post on Medium:
A common misconception of “threat group” is that [it] refers to a group of people. It doesn’t. Here’s how ESET describes SEDNIT, one of the names for the threat group known as APT28, Fancy Bear, etc. This definition is found on p.12 of part two “En Route with Sednit: Observing the Comings and Goings”:

As security researchers, what we call “the Sednit group” is merely a set of software and the related network infrastructure, which we can hardly correlate with any specific organization.

Unlike CrowdStrike, ESET doesn’t assign APT28/Fancy Bear/Sednit to a Russian Intelligence Service or anyone else for a very simple reason. Once malware is deployed, it is no longer under the control of the hacker who deployed it or the developer who created it. It can be reverse-engineered, copied, modified, shared and redeployed again and again by anyone.
Despite these and other criticisms from technical experts with no political axe to grind, the House Intelligence committee has called no independent cybersecurity professionals to challenge the Democrats’ claims of “Russian hacking” that have been repeated ad naseum by the media.

Instead of presenting counter-arguments to allow the general public to make up their own minds, the House committee has invited Shawn Henry and Dmitri Alperovitch from CrowdStrike,

The danger is especially high since the subject involves technical details that the public—and, frankly, most politicians—don’t understand and can be easily fooled about. A presentation with no rebuttal at all from other technical experts will lead to even more disinformation being given to the American people.

There are a number of reasons to be skeptical of the objectivity of CrowdStrike’s assessments.

As Esquire reported in a long profile piece, the DNC specifically used Alperovitch and Henry as part of an anti-Trump publicity plan related to the hacking in early June 2016:
The DNC wanted to go public. At the committee’s request, Alperovitch and Henry briefed a reporter from The Washington Post about the attack.
Alperovitch told me he was thrilled that the DNC decided to publicize Russia’s involvement. “Having a client give us the ability to tell the full story” was a “milestone in the industry,” he says. “Not just highlighting a rogue nation-state’s actions but explaining what was taken and how and when. These stories are almost never told.”
The Esquire piece also indicates that as the election wore on, the Obama administration was also using Alperovitch and CrowdStrike’s claims to push the Democrat narrative that the Russians were behind the attack:
On October 7, two days before the second presidential debate, Alperovitch got a phone call from a senior government official alerting him that a statement identifying Russia as the sponsor of the DNC attack would soon be released. (The statement, from the office of the director of national intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security, appeared later that day.)
It is worth noting that CrowdStrike and Alperovitch’s story has evolved over time to match a Democrat narrative. In an article in Inc. on June 14, 2016, titled “Why the DNC Hired This Cybersecurity Firm to Fight Russian Spies,” Alperovitch claimed that the purpose of the DNC hack was to expose Donald Trump:
On Tuesday, it was revealed that the Russian government is implicated in a security breach of the Democratic National Committee’s computer network, through which opposition research on the bombastic presidential candidate was lifted.

“Every world leader is trying to figure out who Mr. Trump is, especially if he’s elected president, and they want to know what his foreign policies would be. Russia is no exception,” says Dmitri Alperovitch, co-founder and CTO of CrowdStrike. His firm was hired to manage the breach. “The actors are also interested in any other information the DNC might have in their opposition research to use it against Trump if he becomes president,” says Alperovitch, who leads the Intelligence, Technology and CrowdStrike Labs teams.
There is no justification for a technical expert like Alperovitch ascribing motives to the hackers or making statements about what “world leaders” think. It is simply outside his area of expertise, but the point of the Democrats using Alperovitch and Henry to promote their “Russian hacking” narrative is to provide a technical veneer to their story to score political points.

Shawn Henry, the other House witness from CrowdStrike scheduled to testify on March 20 before House Intelligence, said on his LinkedIn page that he also works for NBC News, where he says his role is to “advise NBC News on all aspects of national, homeland, and cyber security, to include on-air appearances on all NBC, MSNBC, and CNBC News programs.” He added that he is to “regularly appear on Nightly News, The Today Show, and MSNBC news programming.”

CrowdStrike also has a financial connection to one of Hillary Clinton and the Democrats’ most high-profile supporters in Silicon Valley: Google.

In 2015, CrowdStrike raised $100 million in a new round of financing, according to the New York Timeswhich reported that “the investment was led by Google Capital, one of the technology giant’s venture capital arms, in its first cybersecurity deal.”

As Breitbart News reported, the WikiLeaks releases showed that Eric Schmidt, executive of Google Capital parent company and financier Alphabet, appeared to be working directly with the Clinton campaign.

All of this makes the reliance of the House Committee and the media on CrowdStrike disturbing, but even worse, earlier this year, BuzzFeed reported that the FBI did not examine the servers of the Democratic National Committee but, instead, based their assessment on CrowdStrike’s evaluation:
Six months after the FBI first said it was investigating the hack of the Democratic National Committee’s computer network, the bureau has still not requested access to the hacked servers, a DNC spokesman said. No US government entity has run an independent forensic analysis on the system, one US intelligence official told BuzzFeed News.
The FBI has instead relied on computer forensics from a third-party tech security company, CrowdStrike, which first determined in May of last year that the DNC’s servers had been infiltrated by Russia-linked hackers, the U.S. intelligence official told BuzzFeed News.
“CrowdStrike is pretty good. There’s no reason to believe that anything that they have concluded is not accurate,” the intelligence official said, adding they were confident Russia was behind the widespread hacks.
Despite that claim by an unnamed intelligence official, there is reason to believe that what CrowdStrike has concluded is not accurate. At this point, however, the House Committee and the American people will not see it.
Breitbart News has requested an interview with Dmitri Alperovitch, but at press time there was no response.
The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence says that initial witness invitation lists “may be expanded or modified as warranted.”