Wednesday 20th of June 2018

what's wrong with this picture?...


An NSA document purporting to show Russian military hacker attempts to access a Florida company which makes voter registration software is sent anonymously to The Intercept. A low-level NSA contractor, Reality Winner, is arrested almost immediately.

What’s wrong with this picture? A lot.

Who Benefits?

Start with the question of who benefits – cui bono – same as detectives do when assessing a crime.

  • Trump looks bad as another trickle of information comes out connecting something Russian to something 2016 election. Intelligence community (IC) looks like they are onto something, a day or so before ousted FBI Director James Comey testifies before Congress on related matters.
  • The Intercept looks like it contributed to burning a source. Which potential leaker is going to them in the future? If potential leakers are made to think twice, another win for the IC.
  • The FBI made an arrest right away, nearly simultaneous to the publication, with the formal charges coming barely an hour after The Intercept published. The bust is sure thing according to the very publicly released information. No Ed Snowden hiding out in Russia this time. IC looks good here.
  • More evidence is now in the public domain that the Russians are after our election process. Seems as if the IC has been right all along.

What Happened is… Curious and Curiouser…

Now let’s look at what we know so far about how this happened.

A 25-year-old improbably-named Reality Winner leaves behind a trail long and wide on social media of anti-Trump stuff, including proclaiming herself a member of The Resistance. Never mind, she takes her Top Secret clearance with her out of the Air Force (she had been stationed with the military’s 94th Intelligence Squadron out of Fort Meade, Maryland, co-located with the NSA’s headquarters) and scores a job with an NSA contractor. Despite the lessons of too-much-access the Snowden episode should have taught the NSA, Winner apparently enjoys all sorts of classified documents – her Air Force expertise was in Afghan matters, so it is unclear why she would have access to info on Russia hacking of U.S. domestic companies.

Within only about 90 days of starting her new job, she prints out the one (and only one apparently, why not more?) document in question and mails it to The Intercept. She also uses her work computer inside an NSA facility to write to the Intercept twice about this same time.

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burning sources...

NSA whistleblower Reality Winner leaked a secret NSA memo to the journalism website The Intercept, which promptly betrayed her by showing the document to the NSA. Even worse, they told the Agency where it was mailed from. As a result, Winner is now warming the inside of a prison cell. At bare minimum, The Intercept owes Winner and its readers a big apology for burning their source. But who can possibly trust a news organization that has such close ties to the government spooks it claims to be covering?

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partner channelling...

Al-Qaeda is not the result of our activities. This is the result of activities of our US friends. This all started in the times of the Soviet war in Afghanistan, when the US security services supported different movements of Islamic fundamentalism in their struggle against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan,” Putin told Stone, adding that the “US side has nurtured both Al-Qaeda and [Osama] bin Laden.”

Washington should have foreseen that backing Islamists will backfire, with extremists eventually getting out of control. 

“It always happens like this. Our US partners should have been aware of it. It is their fault,” Putin said.

Nevertheless, Moscow stood by the US’s side after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, claimed by Al-Qaeda. In a show of solidarity with Washington, Moscow decided to scrap the scheduled war games following the attack, Putin revealed to Stone.

“In these kind of situations the first persons are in need of moral and political support. We wanted to show that kind of support,” the Russian leader said.

CIA styled Chechen terrorists as ‘opposition’

Speaking to Stone, Putin accused the US of both openly cheering and covertly financing the Islamist militant groups in Russia’s North Caucasus republic of Chechnya during the two Chechen wars. Moreover, the president said there is evidence available that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) even admitted keeping in touch with the terrorists, styling them as the “opposition.”

“If we speak about a political support, there is no need in proving evidence. It has been done publicly, openly. And if we speak about urgent financial support – we have such evidence and furthermore have already provided it to our US colleagues,” Putin said.

READ MORE: Putin to Oliver Stone: I suggested Russia joining NATO to Clinton, he ‘didn’t mind’

Putin revealed he confronted George W. Bush about the CIA supporting Chechen militants and got a response from Bush that he would “deal with it.”

Later, however, Moscow got a letter from the CIA through “partner channels,” which suggested there will be no change in policy on the issue.

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dangerous interviews...

Sourced (official but unverified):

During the filming of the documentary "The Putin Interviews", the Russian President warned the American director Oliver Stone against the consequences of broadcasting his film.

Vladimir Putin asked Oliver if someone had not already tried to "beat the shit out of him (Oliver Stone)"