• Arguing About Durham and Hillary Spying

    March 8, 2022 // 3 Comments »

    1) Special Counsel John Durham dropped a new filing in his Russiagate investigation. Fox says it means one thing, and CNN says something almost the opposite…

    The whole filing is only 13 pages; the juicy stuff about “spying” is only a few paragraphs. Just read it.

    2) I’m kinda busy, so could you just give me the gist?

    All the quotes below are from the filing text. The new filing is at its heart legal housekeeping, asking that a waiver be considered to allow indicted Clinton lawyer Michael Sussmann to retain his current law firm. A potential conflict of interest exists because Sussmann’s representative works for a law firm which also represents others Durham may be going after, and may have been involved in the larger events under investigation, perhaps as witnesses. Sussman is under indictment for lying to the FBI. He brought the Trump-Alfa bank accusations to the FBI pretending to be a patriotic citizen, when he was actually working on Clinton’s behalf trying to get the FBI to investigate Trump.

    While the conflict of interest issue is interesting in itself, what is news worthy in Durham’s latest filing are allegations tech company Neustar and its executive Rodney Joffe (who was also a law client of Michael Sussmann) accessed “dedicated servers for the Executive Office of the President of the United States (EOP).” Joffe then “exploited this arrangement by mining the EOP’s DNS traffic and other data for the purpose of gathering derogatory information about Donald Trump.”

    Joffe also “enlisted the assistance of researchers at a U.S.-based university” (likely Georgia Tech) who had access to “large amounts of Internet data in connection with a pending federal government cybersecurity research contract.” This would have been how Joffe got access to data from Trump’s private computers. “[Joffe] tasked these researchers to mine Internet data to establish ‘an inference’ and ‘narrative’ tying then-candidate Trump to Russia,” he added. “In doing so, [Joffe] indicated that he was seeking to please certain ‘VIPs,’ referring to individuals at Law Firm-1 and the Clinton campaign.”

    3) What’s all the DNS stuff mean?

    Remember metadata, the info about a communication Edward Snowden showed us the NSA gathers? This is like that. Metadata shows, among other things, when and where a communication started, and where it ended up. DNS data, a kind of metadata, comes from a Dynamic Name Server. When you use a smartphone or type www.theamericanconservative.com into your browser, it contacts a DNS server, which translates those English words into the numbers the Internet actually runs on. Same thing for email, Tik Tok, anything online. If you have access to DNS data, such as Joffe did, you know who the White House and Trump were communicating with. DNS data is a road map and if you have enough of it, patterns, such as perhaps regular communication with Russia, emerge. That’s why the NSA does the same thing against its enemies or competitors.

    4) So is that “spying?” Durham never uses the word in his filing.

    What word would you use to describe secretly and likely illegally collecting information about enemies or competitors to use against them? Durham is writing a legal document, and must use precise words, so of course he would not use a blunt term like spying. But it is pretty hard to call what actually happened anything else.

    5) How is what Joffe/Neustar did illegal? They did not hack into any servers. They had access to them.

    There were two sources of DNS information, let’s take them separately. The first was DNS servers actually inside the White House. Neustar provided these servers under a contract with the government. Contractors like Neustar and Joffe working on sensitive data systems do not own the data they see. Their scope of usage is very specific to the job they were hired to do. It does not include exploiting high-security government contracts for political purposes, personal gain or to help Hillary. Sort of like your doctor, who knows your medical information but cannot just share it with his brother-in-law who sells insurance.

    Joffe also monitored the DNS data from Trump Tower and other Trump properties. He got this data via Georgia Tech. They got it (along with a gazillion other DNS records) as part of an unrelated contract with the Pentagon. Georgia had no obvious right to share data with Joffe and he had no right to use the shared data for political purposes. There has got to be a crime in there somewhere.

    6) But Joffe and others never read any Trump email or listened in on calls. So it’s not spying.

    Time to update the definition of spying from 1945. In Joffe’s case, he was trying to establish a pattern of communications between Trump and Russia. Michael Sussman was then to take that pattern pulled from the DNS data to the FBI and CIA as a patriotic bystander, and those agencies would be able to go in deep reading individual emails with a flick of a switch. The NSA does this all the time, looking at who one terrorist contacts in order to target another. It is the core of modern spying and it looks like the Clinton campaign was doing it, and then using Michael Sussmann as a false front to peddle it to the FBI and CIA. We know the FBI took the bait.

    7) But I heard all this DNS monitoring of the White House started under Obama.

    Neustar got the contract and installed the DNS servers in the White House during the Obama administration. This may have been for some legitimate cybersecurity task and/or to establish a baseline of “normal” White House-Russia communications. Joffe continued his DNS monitoring of the White House into February 2017, after Trump took office. Having failed to stop his campaign, the data was lined up to aid in driving him out of office. The other monitoring, of Trump’s personal and business DNS data, took place during the campaign, which of course meant it was while Obama was in the White House.

    8) This guy Joffe seems right out of Better Call Saul.

    In quid pro quo, Joffe was offered a top cybersecurity job in the future Hillary Clinton administration. But his background goes deep. Among other things, Joffe’s other company, Packet Forensics, sells wiretapping equipment that allows federals to spy on private web-browsing through fake Internet security certificates. This lets agents see an individual’s online transactions without obtaining a warrant. This is not to imply, at least not yet, that Joffe could have easily used his access to the White House servers to install his product and then monitor everything. Joffe’s company has done $40 million in federal contracts, including with the FBI (in 2013, FBI Director James Comey gave Joffe an award recognizing his work on a case) and the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA.) Joffe’s firm also monitors the computers of other government officials for threats, including in the office of Justice Department watchdog Michael Horowitz, who investigated the FBI for Russiagate wrongdoing. He is one guy in position to know a lot.

    Joffe started out as a direct mail marketing scammer in the 1980s. In the 90s he sat on the board of PlasmaNet, which then operated FreeLotto.com, an scammy online sweepstakes game. And small world– Joffe’s company Packet Forensics landed a recent Pentagon contract to manage Internet domains. The bid was awarded the day Joe Biden was inaugurated president.

    9) What’s next?

    Indictments by Durham against Joffe are almost certain. Durham may also get curious why the FBI and CIA did not question where Sussmann got his data, given that it could have only come from White House servers. In addition, if researchers at Georgia Tech who were being paid by the U.S. government via a DARPA grant were freelancing the data they collected to help the Clinton campaign smear Trump, that would be another area Durham will be looking into. Durham might also seize the Neustar-provided DNS servers if they haven’t been wiped and see if any data reading software was ever installed.

    One of Durham’s earlier indictments, former FBI lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith, has already been found guilty of falsifying data on a FISA application to enable wiretapping Trump staffer Carter Page. The case against Clinton lawyer Michael Sussmann is ongoing, as is the third publicly-known indictment, against Igor Danchenko, a Russian émigré living in the United States. Danchenko made up most of what he told Christopher Steele for his dossier.

    Keep your eye on Charles Dolan, a long-time Clinton hack. Dolan has close ties not only to the Clintons but to the Russians as well; he and the public relations firm where he worked represented the Russian government and were registered as foreign agents for Russia. Dolan is credited with, among other things, making up the pee tape and otherwise using cut-outs to feed false info about Trump into the dossier.

    10) Anyone going to jail?

    Durham’s filings are lightening flashes, briefly and unpredictably illuminating part of the whole. One thing seems clear, however. The statute of limitations on many of the process crimes Durham is pursuing, like perjury, is short. Any strategy of using little fish to catch bigger fish is likely to time out, at least as far as actual prosecutions. Instead, Durham seems intent more on exposing the larger conspiracy, to include the Russia dossier and now electronic, well, spying, by the Clinton campaign. He may also expose more fully the intelligence community’s role in all this, turning a blind eye on the sources and methods (which effect credibility) and accepting anything peddled to them about Trump. One can imagine future hearings in a Republican-controlled House showing what Hillary knew, never mind potentially Obama and Biden.

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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Biden, Democracy, Trump

    Connecting the Dots of Durham, Russiagate, the FBI, and Clinton

    March 1, 2022 // 3 Comments »

    Let’s connect the dots among Durham, Russiagate, the FBI, and Clinton. They show the Clinton campaign ran a sophisticated, multi-prong coordinated intelligence operation against Trump with either the active or tacit support of the FBI.

    In the case of prong one, the dossier, the Clinton campaign hired MI6 intelligence officer Christopher Steele. The hiring was through its law firm, Perkins Coie, who hired Fusion GPS, who hired Steele to hide the funding source. The use of the law firm as a cut out allowed Hillary during the campaign to deny she funded the dossier, and the media to claim for a year or more that it was actually the Republicans themselves who paid for it. This set up the he said/she said cover Clinton would use throughout the operation.

    Once they had hired Steele, the Clinton campaign and its allies found Russians and others who would feed lies to Steele. Steele was paid to use his credibility to hide the non-credibility of his pushed-sources. They were taken seriously only because Steele was taken seriously, albeit only because he was paid by Clinton to do so. You could not achieve much putting a thug like Igor Danchenko himself on CNN. This is known as embellishing your sources.

    Here are some of Steele’s sources and connections. See if they connect any dots: one of Steele’s key sources is the now-Durham indicted Igor Danchenko. Steele was introduced to Danchenko by Fiona Hill. Hill would go on to play a key role driving the Ukraine impeachment. When Danchenko did not make up stuff himself, he was spoon-fed lies by Charles Dolan, a long-time Clinton hack (it was Fiona Hill who introduced Dolan to Danchenko). Dolan had close ties not only to the Clintons but to the Russians as well; he did PR work for the Russian government and was registered as a foreign agent for Russia. Dolan also fed bogus info to Olga Galkina, another Russian who fed info to Danchenko for inclusion in the dossier. Galkina expected Dolan to get her a job in the Hillary administration.

    Steele then took his dossier down two tracks. He used his role as a former FBI informant to push the info deep into the Bureau and help trigger the Crossfire Hurricane investigation which would ultimately feed the Mueller Report. When cracks in Steele’s dossier appeared early on, they were taken care of. For example, one of those Trump staffers Steele accused of being a Russian agent, Carter Page, was actually a CIA agent. Yet when the FBI sought a FISA warrant, the FBI deleted his association with CIA from the application. Special Counsel Robert Durham prosecuted the man who did that, Kevin Clinesmith, who was found guilty, albeit years after the warrant was issued. Steele was  worth his weight in gold to Clinton: he got the FBI to launch a full-spectrum investigation that included eavesdropping, use of a honey pot dangle, and foreign agents, all of which lead to three years of Mueller and right to the door of impeachment.

    Steele’s second track was the media. Steele set himself up as a source to compliant media about the dossier without revealing to them he was the author of the dossier. This information loop made it appear a second entity was confirming the contents of the dossier, when in fact it was Steele surreptitiously confirming himself. It’s an old spy trick, getting inside, becoming your own corroborating source. In intelligence work, for the receiver of information, this is known as cross-contamination, an amateur error the FBI seemed OK with. The scam also generated cover for all the politicians and intelligence operatives. They could go to their bosses and say the New York Times has found a source which confirms what we’re hearing from Steele.

    Every element of the dossier job is present in prong two of the broader operation, Clinton’s electronic spying on Trump. As with the dossier, it begins with the statement of work that Trump is connected with Russia and the job is to create something plausible enough to “confirm” that connection. A cut out was again used to fund things, in this case Clinton lawyer Michael Sussmann and again the firm Perkins Coie. Sussmann, with the lure of a big job in the Hillary administration, recruited Rodney Jaffe, a tech guy whose company Neustar had a contract with the Obama administration to provide DNS servers to the White House. Joffe also had connections deep into the DNS community, and used them to gain access to DNS data from Trump Tower and other properties (see what you can do with DNS data.)

    Though the DNS data is no more credible than the dossier, Sussmann follows Steele’s playbook. Sussmann first takes his story as an anonymous source to the NYT in late August 2016. He then goes to the FBI and CIA on September 16, 2016, mispresents himself as not working for the Clinton campaign (he is currently under Durham indictment for that) and pitches them the story Trump and the Russian Alfa Bank have set up some sort of backdoor communications. Sussmann later added another unproven tale, that Russian smartphones were connecting regularly with the White House.

    Concurrent with Sussmann’s pitch to the FBI, the Alfa story made the press in October 2016 when Slate wrote an anonymous “benevolent posse of computer scientists spurred by a sense of shared idealism” had discovered data showing secret communications between Trump and Alfa. Even after the FBI had largely abandoned the investigation as fruitless, in October 2018 the New Yorker revived it, attributing the story to anonymous “self-appointed guardians of the Internet.” The source for the latter article was Joffe, who did not disclose he was working with Sussmann who was working with Fusion GPS who was working for Clinton. That no Alfa connection was ever found is irrelevant; the story Trump was with the Russians was headlines for months. Despite knowing it was not true as the ultimate source of the false info, Hillary herself pushed it.

    There will be more. But what is clear even at this point is the Clinton campaign used textbook modern espionage techniques to build a wholly-false narrative about Trump and the Russians. They deployed this campaign against Trump the candidate and still got beaten. Clinton then kept it alive, in part with the FBI and Crossfire Hurricane as a proxy, even after Trump took office. Was that simple vengeance, or part of some even more elaborate campaign that would somehow end with Hillary in the Oval Office?

    We also know the FBI was likely either in the conspiracy, or at best a willful idiot alongside it. Signs the dossier was garbage appeared instantly, and even the slightest investigative efforts by the FBI would have revealed how weak Steele’s sources and methods were, and that Steele was being paid by Clinton. Indeed, when the FBI found one crack, that Carter Page was an American CIA agent, they simply covered that up. The same with Sussmann and his DNS data; it would have been obvious White House DNS data could have only come from inside the White House, yet there are no signs the FBI questioned how Sussmann, supposedly a private citizen, came to possess it. And was the FBI really unable to determine Sussmann was paid by Clinton? It is chilling to remember FBI agents and illicit lovers Peter Strzok and Lisa Page exchanged texts saying “Page: ‘Trump’s not ever going to become president, right?’ Strzok: ‘No. No he’s not. We’ll stop it.’”

    “The fact pattern that John Durham is methodically establishing shows what James Comey and Andrew McCabe likely knew from day one, that the Steele dossier was politically-driven nonsense created at the behest of the Clinton campaign,” said Kevin Brock, the FBI’s former intelligence chief. “And yet they knowingly ran with its false information.”

    A sophisticated, multi-prong coordinated intelligence campaign was run with either the active or tacit support of the FBI. It suggests why Robert Mueller walked so close to the edge of indictment and backed off. If his indictments failed under court scrutiny, the person in charge of all this would have been exposed. Beyond Clinton and Trump, Mueller was protecting someone in his beloved FBI. This goes deep.

     

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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Biden, Democracy, Trump