Tag Archives: Cyber Crime

Lots of good reporting on the Russia investigation

While Special Counsel Robert Mueller continues working quietly behind the scenes, there have been several excellent pieces of investigative journalism in recent days following leads on the Russian collusion thread of the investigation. These are lengthy investigative reports that I will not attempt to parse out here.

Luckily, Andrew Prokop at Vox.com has already posted an excellent summary. The past 48 hours in Mueller investigation news, explained (paragraphs reordered for clarity):

New reports over the past two days have brought increased attention to three long-simmering subplots in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

First, the Wall Street Journal revealed new details about GOP operative Peter W. Smith’s quest to obtain Hillary Clinton’s emails from Russian hackers during the 2016 campaign — including that he raised at least $100,000 for the effort and then pitched in $50,000 of his own money. (Smith was found dead last year, and local authorities ruled his death a suicide.)

Peter W. Smith: what happened when he sought Hillary Clinton’s emails from Russian hackers?

What we already knew: During the 2016 campaign, 80-year-old GOP operative Peter W. Smith recruited a team to try to obtain Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 deleted emails from “dark web” hackers — including hackers he thought were “probably around the Russian government.” It’s not clear if Smith had any success, but we know he tried because he freely admitted all this to reporter Shane Harris in May 2017.

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Putin’s puppet protects the Russian mafia, and his connections to it

Russian asset – and unindicted co-conspirator – mafia “Don” Trump has systematically been hollowing out America’s federal law enforcement officials who investigate international organized crime since becoming president.

Already he has removed acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates, FBI Director James Comey, Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Mary McCord, FBI Assistant Director Mike Kortan, FBI Chief of the Counterespionage Section Peter Strzok, and Lisa Page, a lawyer in the Justice Department’s organized-crime section whose cases centered on international organized crime and money laundering.

Putin’s Russian mafia has infiltrated the U.S. government and has its puppet on the inside of American law enforcement to do its bidding.

Trump’s latest target is Department of Justice attorney Bruce Ohr, an expert in Russia and Russian organized crime.

Natasha Bertrand of The Atlantic reports, Trump’s Top Targets in the Russia Probe Are Experts in Organized Crime:

Bruce Ohr. Lisa Page. Andrew Weissmann. Andrew McCabe. President Donald Trump has relentlessly attacked these FBI and Justice Department officials as dishonest “Democrats” engaged in a partisan “witch hunt” led by the special counsel determined to tie his campaign to Russia. But Trump’s attacks have also served to highlight another thread among these officials and others who have investigated his campaign: their extensive experience in probing money laundering and organized crime, particularly as they pertain to Russia.

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Connecting the dots of the Russia investigation

The problem average Americans have with the Special Counsel’s Russia investigation is understanding how the multifaceted bits of information publicly reported over the past two years all fit together like puzzle pieces that come together into a clear picture.

Two new efforts to connect the dots of the Russia investigation are now available.

Craig Unger, an investigative journalist and writer who was deputy editor of the New York Observer and was editor-in-chief of Boston Magazine and a contributor to Vanity Fair, and the author of previous books such as House of Bush, House of Saud: The Secret Relationship Between the World’s Two Most Powerful Dynasties (2004) and The Fall of the House of Bush: The Untold Story of How a Band of True Believers Seized the Executive Branch, Started the Iraq War, and Still Imperils America’s Future (2007), is out with a new book, House of Trump, House of Putin: The Untold Story of Donald Trump and the Russian Mafia (2018).

The Washington Post book review by Shane Harris explains (excerpts):

Based on his own reporting and the investigative work of a former federal prosecutor, Unger posits that through Bayrock, Trump was “indirectly providing Putin with a regular flow of intelligence on what the oligarchs were doing with their money in the U.S.”

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Russian asset Donald Trump blocks congressional attempts to secure the 2018 midterm election from cyber attacks

The New York Times reported earlier this week that Facing New Russian Hacking, Senators Signal They Are Ready to Act:

Faced with new evidence that Russian hackers are targeting conservative American research groups and the Senate’s own web pages, key lawmakers from both parties signaled on Tuesday that they were ready to move forward with punishing new sanctions legislation capable of crippling the Russian economy.

And in three separate hearings on Capitol Hill, senators prodded the Trump administration to do more with its existing authorities to deter Russia and protect the United States’ political infrastructure.

But administration officials argued that the current sanctions regime provided all the authority they needed, and they dismissed concerns that President Trump’s equivocation on questions of Russian interference had harmed their efforts.

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Russian attacks on the 2018 midterm election are underway

Earlier this year when Gov. Ducey kicked off his reelection campaign, it appears to have unleashed a horde of Twitter bots, similar to the Russian intelligence influence campaign in 2016. “A flurry of these kind of fake Twitter accounts have followed influencers and journalists in the Valley, all promoting Ducey’s re-election campaign.” We spoke to real people being used as pro-Ducey Twitter bots. Here’s what they said. “Regarding this recent rash of Twitter bots supporting Ducey, his campaign spokesperson Patrick Ptak told 12 News, “we saw it too. Not us.””

So the Ruskies love them some Doug Ducey, do they?

The local media quickly dismissed this incident and disappeared it down the memory hole.

But not so fast.

Facebook today announced it Has Identified Ongoing Political Influence Campaign:

Facebook announced on Tuesday that it has identified a coordinated political influence campaign, with dozens of inauthentic accounts and pages that are believed to be engaging in political activity around divisive social issues ahead of November’s midterm elections.

In a series of briefings on Capitol Hill this week and a public post on Tuesday, the company told lawmakers that it had detected and removed 32 pages and accounts connected to the influence campaign on Facebook and Instagram as part of its investigations into election interference. It publicly said it had been unable to tie the accounts to Russia, whose Internet Research Agency was at the center of an indictment earlier this year for interfering in the 2016 election, but company officials told Capitol Hill that Russia was possibly involved, according to two officials briefed on the matter.

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Dezinformatsiya or doublespeak, Donald Trump is Orwellian

Russian asset Donald Trump is fully invested in Papa Joe Stalin’s dezinformatsiya (disinformation) black propaganda. He is turning America into George Orwell’s dystopian vision in 1984.

In a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars no less — patriots who have served their country honorably in military service — Trump slammed the news media as “fake news” for not upholding his preferred interpretation of the success of his administration. The New York Times reports:

“Stick with us. Don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news,” Mr. Trump said at the annual convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, as part of the crowd booed and hissed in the direction of the press corps.

“What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening,” the president added.

Winston Smith in 1984 lamented:

The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command. His heart sank as he thought of the enormous power arrayed against him, the ease with which any Party intellectual would overthrow him in debate, the subtle arguments which he would not be able to understand, much less answer. And yet he was in the right! They were wrong and he was right.

A spokeswoman for the V.F.W., which is nonpartisan, said in a statement after the event that organizers were “disappointed to hear some of our members boo the press.”

This is the pernicious power of black propaganda — even the minds of patriots can be confused and warped by a dangerous demagogue.

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