News that doesn't receive the necessary attention.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Biggest danger for Americans is Enemy Within and complicit political class: Dept. of Homeland Security personnel have taken $15 million in bribes in past 10 yrs, have allowed tons of drugs and thousands of illegal aliens to enter the US. Chump US taxpayers have even been forced to pay wages of drug cartel members who were hired by Border Patrol due to lax hiring and screening procedures. Corruption festers for decades in US Customs and Border Protection-NY Times, 12/29/16 (Who in the US political establishment will announce that he "stands with Americans" in the war against them by enemies within?)

Who needs "hacking"? US government employees give away or sell anything a so-called US enemy could ever want. The neocon controlled US political establishment remains silent as the cancer grows. Making all the more amusing their recent feigned outrage over non-existent email "hacking"--which without evidence they say requires "regime change" and nuclear war Russia. "Jeh Johnson, the secretary of Homeland Security, in 2014 gave authority to the agency’s internal affairs office to conduct criminal investigations for the first time."

12/28/16, "The Enemy Within: Bribes Bore a Hole in the U.S. Border," NY Times, Ron Nixon. Print edition, December 29, 2016, page A13 of New York edition with headline: "Bribes Paid to Agents Bore Holes in Border."

"A review by The New York Times of thousands of court records and internal agency documents showed that over the last 10 years almost 200 employees and contract workers of the Department of Homeland Security have taken nearly $15 million in bribes while being paid to protect the nation’s borders and enforce immigration laws.

These employees have looked the other way as tons of drugs and thousands of undocumented immigrants were smuggled into the United States, the records show. They have illegally sold green cards and other immigration documents, have entered law enforcement databases and given sensitive information to drug cartels. In one case, the information was used to arrange the attempted murder of an informant.

The Times’s findings most likely undercount the amount of bribes because in many cases court records do not give a tally. The findings also do not include gifts, trips or money stolen by Homeland Security employees.

Throughout his campaign, President-elect Donald J. Trump said border security would be one of his highest priorities. As he prepares to take office, he will find that many of the problems seem to come from within.

“It does absolutely no good to talk about the building of walls or tougher enforcement if you can’t secure the integrity of the immigration system, when you have fraud and corruption with your own employees,” said an internal affairs official at the Department of Homeland Security who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Although Homeland Security employees who have been caught taking bribes represent less than 1 percent of the more than 250,000 people who work at the department, investigators say the bribes and small numbers of people arrested and charged with bribery obscure the impact corruption can have on border security and immigration enforcement.

“Any amount is bad, and one person alone can do a lot of damage,” said John Roth, the inspector general at the Department of Homeland Security. “It doesn’t have to be widespread.”
Law enforcement experts say the bribing of border and immigration agents is not surprising. As security along the border has tightened with the addition of fences, drones and sensors, drug cartels and human smugglers have found it increasingly more difficult to operate.

“So it makes sense that cartels would target and try to corrupt border interdiction agents,” said Fred Burton, chief security officer at Stratfor, a global intelligence company, and a former deputy chief of counterterrorism at the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service. “It’s very similar to the tactics and tradecraft used by foreign intelligence services during the Cold War.”

Homeland Security officials, acknowledging that internal corruption is a problem, have hired more internal affairs investigators, provided ethics training and started to administer polygraph tests to new applicants, along with countersurveillance training to employees so they can recognize when they are being targeted by criminal organizations.

Customs and Border Protection, which has had dozens of its officers arrested and charged with bribery, said it had made additional changes to combat corruption. Jeh Johnson, the secretary of Homeland Security, in 2014 gave authority to the agency’s internal affairs office to conduct criminal investigations for the first time. And Mark Morgan, a former F.B.I. agent who had investigated corruption on the border, was put in charge of the Border Patrol.

“Polygraphs have made it so we don’t hire people with significant problems,” said R. Gil Kerlikowske, commissioner of the customs agency. “The bigger problem is what happens to people who are already on board. These changes address that.”

Records show that the bribing of Homeland Security employees persists. In 2016, 15 have been arrested on, convicted of or sentenced on charges of bribery.

In February, Johnny Acosta, a Customs and Border Protection officer in Douglas, Ariz., was sentenced to eight years in prison for bribery and drug smuggling. Mr. Acosta, who was arrested as he tried to flee to Mexico, took more than $70,000 in bribes and helped smuggle over a ton of marijuana into the United States.



In a plea agreement, Johnny Acosta, a Customs and Border Protection officer, admitted to taking bribes and participating in a scheme to smuggle marijuana across the United States-Mexico border.

Last month, Eduardo Bazan, a Border Patrol agent in McAllen, Tex., was arrested and accused of helping a drug trafficking organization smuggle cocaine. According to court records, Mr. Bazan admitted to receiving $8,000 for his help. José Cruz-López, a Transportation Security Administration screener at Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan, P.R., was arrested around the same time and accused of taking $215,000 in bribes to help smuggle drugs.

Corruption investigators said the case of the former Border Patrol agent Ivhan Herrera-Chiang illustrates the damage a single compromised agent can cause. In 2013, he was sentenced to 15 years for providing sensitive law enforcement information to drug cartels.

Mr. Herrera-Chiang, who was assigned to a special undercover unit targeting the cartels in Yuma, Ariz., provided maps of hidden underground sensors, lock combinations to gates along the United States-Mexico border and the locations of Border Patrol traffic checkpoints to an individual who provided them to the cartels. The cartels used the information to bypass Border Patrol agents and transport methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana into the country, according to court records.


Ivhan Herrera-Chiang, a former Border Patrol agent who is known as La Mujer, was accused in a criminal complaint of passing information about a confidential informant to a member of a drug cartel who planned to have the informant killed.

Mr. Herrera-Chiang also entered law enforcement databases on his work computer to run drug seizure checks and even provided information on confidential informants in Mexico. That information included one informant whom federal law enforcement officers were able to locate before he could be killed, court records said. Mr. Herrera-Chiang admitted to receiving about $4,500 in bribes for his efforts, but his co-conspirator put the amount between $60,000 and $70,000.

Corrupt C.B.P. law enforcement personnel pose a national security threat, a Department of Homeland Security report released in May concluded. The report also revealed numerous problems with efforts to root out corruption among Border Patrol and customs agents. The report said the “true levels of corruption within C.B.P. are not known. ”

Convicted former border and immigration agents give different reasons for taking bribes, from financial troubles to drug use. But for many, it was simple greed.

Records show that Border Patrol officers and customs agents, who protect more than 7,000 miles of the border and deal most directly with drug cartels and smugglers, have taken the most in bribes, about $11 million.

But the issue of bribery extends well beyond front-line agents at the border. Department of Homeland Security employees who enforce immigration and customs laws and provide citizenship benefits and aviation security have also been arrested or indicted on and convicted of charges of taking bribes.

Last month, Daniel Espejo Amos, a former immigration service officer at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services in Los Angeles, pleaded guilty to taking $53,000 in bribes from immigration lawyers on behalf of 60 immigrants who were not eligible to become naturalized citizens of the United States. Mr. Amos certified that the immigrants met the requirements for citizenship, even though one person’s English-language skills were so poor that copies of test answers were given to him so he could memorize them for a naturalization interview.

Transportation security officers and screeners with access to secure areas of airports that could be used to smuggle weapons and even carry bombs onto planes have taken hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes as well, records show.

Mr. Roth, the inspector general, said rooting out corrupt employees is a top priority for his office, which gets 300 to 400 cases a year alleging corruption. The office takes about 100 of the cases and sends the rest to internal affairs offices at ICE, Customs and Border Protection, the T.S.A. and Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The Border Corruption Task Force, which is directed by the F.B.I. and includes agencies from the Department of Homeland Security as well as the Drug Enforcement Administration, has also pursued dozens of corruption and bribery cases that have ended in convictions.

But the Homeland Security report released in May said Customs and Border Protection, the parent agency of the Border Patrol, currently lacks proactive programs to weed out corruption. Instead, the report said, the agency based its investigations on reporting from other employees, other government agencies or the public, by which time the corruption could have festered for decades.

The agency also needed to more than double the number of internal affairs criminal investigators to 550 from about 200, the report said. It said the agency’s 2017 budget calls for an increase of only 30 investigators.

James Tomsheck, the former head of internal affairs at Customs and Border Protection, said many of the problems the agency is facing with corrupt agents had to do with inadequate prehiring screening programs.

Background checks and polygraph tests have failed to weed out actual cartel members who were hired by the Border Patrol in some instances, he said."


























































images from NY Times

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http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/28/us/homeland-security-border-bribes.html?smid=tw-nytpolitics&smtyp=cur&_r=0







Friday, December 30, 2016

Russian President Putin statement: Russia chooses not to retaliate to expulsion of Russian diplomats by the outgoing Obama administration. Noting global security responsibilities of both Russia and US and consideration of international relations, Russia will plan further steps to restore Russian-US relations based on policies of the next US president-December 30, 2016

December 30, 2016, official statement from President Vladimir Putin in response to outgoing Obama administration's expulsion of Russian diplomats:
 
"Statement by the President of Russia," en.kremlin.ru

"We regard the recent unfriendly steps taken by the outgoing US administration as provocative and aimed at further weakening the Russia-US relationship. This runs contrary to the fundamental interests of both the Russian and American people. Considering the global security responsibilities of Russia and the United States, this is also damaging to international relations as a whole. 

As it proceeds from international practice, Russia has reasons to respond in kind. Although we have the right to retaliate, we will not resort to irresponsible 'kitchen' diplomacy, but will plan our further steps to restore Russian-US relations based on the policies of the Trump Administration.

The diplomats who are returning to Russia will spend the New Year’s holidays with their families and friends. We will not create any problems for US diplomats. We will not expel anyone. We will not prevent their families and children from using their traditional leisure sites during the New Year’s holidays.

Moreover, I invite all children of US diplomats accredited in Russia to the New Year and Christmas children’s parties in the Kremlin. 

It is regrettable that the Obama Administration is ending its term in this manner. Nevertheless, I offer my New Year greetings to President Obama and his family. 

My season’s greetings also to President-elect Donald Trump and the American people. I wish all of you happiness and prosperity." 







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Amid 24/7 promises to detail ways in which "Russia hacked DNC and Podesta emails, distributed contents to Americans via Wikileaks, thus tilting the election," is word that meaningful detail (assuming there really is any) will "remain classified." Outgoing Obama admin. revelations amount to “trust us”-Parry, Consortium News, 12/29/16

7/28/16, "FBI warned Clinton campaign last spring of cyberattack," Michael Isikoff, Yahoo News

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DNC negligence, knowingly disregarding cyber security advice it paid for and received, leaves it open for lawsuits: 

7/26/16, "Democrats Ignored Cybersecurity Warnings Before Theft," Bloomberg, Michael Riley

"The Democratic National Committee was warned last fall that its computer network was susceptible to attacks but didn’t follow the security advice it was given,
according to three people familiar with the matter.

The missed opportunity is another blow to party officials already embarrassed by the theft and public disclosure
of e-mails that have disrupted their presidential nominating convention in Philadelphia and led their chairwoman to resign.

Computer security consultants hired by the DNC made dozens of recommendations after a two-month review,
the people said.  Following the advice, which would typically include having specialists hunt for intruders on the network, might have alerted party officials that hackers had been lurking in their network for weeks -- hackers who would stay for nearly a year Instead, officials didn’t discover the breach until April....

Cyber-security assessments can be a mixed blessing. Legal experts say some general counsels advise organizations against doing such assessments if they don’t have the ability to quickly fix any problems the auditors find, because customers and shareholders could have cause to sue if an organization knowingly disregards such warnings."...
   


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

12/29/16, "Details Still Lacking on Russian ‘Hack’," Robert Parry, Consortium News

"Exclusive: The mainstream U.S. media is all atwitter about Russia having to pay a price for hacking into Democratic emails and supposedly tilting the U.S. election to Donald Trump, but the evidence still is lacking, reports Robert Parry."

Amid more promises of real evidence to come, the Obama administration released a report that again failed to demonstrate that there is any proof behind U.S. allegations that Russia both hacked into Democratic emails and distributed them via WikiLeaks to the American people.

The New York Times, which has been busy flogging the latest reasons to hate Russia and its President Vladimir Putin, asserted, “The F.B.I. and Department of Homeland Security released a report on Thursday detailing the ways that Russia acted to influence the American election through cyberespionage.”

But the actual report fell far short of “detailing” much at all about how the disclosures of the Democratic National Committee’s manipulation of the primaries to hobble Sen. Bernie Sanders and the contents of Hillary Clinton’s Wall Street speeches ended up at WikiLeaks and ultimately became available to American voters.

Most of the 13-page FBI/DHS report was devoted to suggestions on how Internet users can protect their emails from malware, but there was little new that proved that the Russians were the source of the Democratic emails given to WikiLeaks.

The tip-off to how little proof was being offered came in the report’s statement that “The U.S. government assesses that information was leaked to the press and publicly disclosed.” When you read a phrase like “the U.S. government assesses,” it really means the U.S. government is guessing– and the report notably uses a passive tense that doesn’t even assert that the Russians did the leaking."...

[Ed note: The 12/29/16 report the Department of Homeland Security and FBI released opens with a disclaimer that it provides no assurances that its information is accurate. It uses phrases "that someone selling a lemon uses when he doesn’t want to talk about the fact that the blasted thing won’t run and doesn’t want to get sued for intentional misrepresentation or wilful concealment....It doesn’t mention Wikileaks…not even once.  In other words, the report does not allege that the Russians gave any Democratic Party or Podesta emails to Wikileaks."]








(continuing): "A well-placed intelligence source told me that there’s little doubt that elements of Russian intelligence penetrated the emails of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, but the Russians were far from alone. Indeed, placing various forms of malware on computers is a common practice, as average folks who periodically take their laptops to an I.T. professional can attest. There’s always some kind of “spyware” or other malicious code to be discovered.

The source said the more debatable issue is whether Russian intelligence then turned over the emails to WikiLeaks, especially given that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and an associate, former British Ambassador Craig Murray, have stated that the material did not come from the Russian government. Murray has suggested that there were two separate sources, the DNC material coming from a disgruntled Democrat and the Podesta emails coming from possibly a U.S. intelligence source, since the Podesta Group represents Saudi Arabia and other foreign governments.

Future ‘Details’

So, The New York Times misled its readers by claiming that the FBI/DHS report released Thursday was “detailing” how the Russians carried out the operation, and a separate Times article essentially acknowledged that the details were still to come.

“A more detailed report on the intelligence, ordered by President Obama, will be published in the next three weeks, though much of the detail — especially evidence collected from ‘implants’ in Russian computer systems, tapped conversations and spies — is expected to remain classified.

In other words, the FBI/DHS report really didn’t have much in the way of details and the “more detailed report” – due out before President Obama leaves office on Jan. 20 – will still be hiding “much of the detail” to justify Obama’s retaliation against Russia including new sanctions and expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats or intelligence officers from the United States.

But the Times article does inadvertently make the interesting admission that the U.S. government has penetrated Russian computers, much as the U.S. government accuses Russia of doing to U.S. computers.

But the data purloined by these U.S. “implants” and other clandestinely obtained evidence – assuming there really is any – won’t be something that the American people will get to see. 

The shell game will continue up to the start of the Trump administration with the apparent goal to hem in President Trump from trying to reach out to Russia to avert a costly and dangerous New Cold War.

But the evidence so far released by the Obama administration still amounts to “trust us.”"

"[For more on this topic, see Consortiumnews.com’s Escalating the Risky Fight with RussiaandSumming Up Russia’s Real Nuclear Fears.”]"




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Sour Holiday Season for Neocons and liberal interventionists poised for "Mother of all regime change" war with nuclear-armed Russia via election of Hillary. After decades running US foreign policy, endless war industry is on outside looking in-Robert Parry, Consortium News

12/27/16, "A Sour Holiday Season for Neocons," Robert Parry, Consortium News

"Exclusive: For the past couple of decades, the neocons have ruled the roost of American foreign policy, but they have now suffered some stunning reversals that have left them fuming, reports Robert Parry."

"America’s extended Christmas holiday season, stretching through much of November and all of December, has not been a happy time for Official Washington’s dominant neoconservatives and their liberal-interventionist sidekicks.

First, they had to lick their wounds over the defeat of their preferred U.S. presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton; then they had to watch as their “moderate” Syrian rebel proxies and their Al Qaeda allies were routed from east Aleppo; and finally they watched in disbelief as the Obama administration permitted passage of a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israel’s illegal settlements on Palestinian lands.

To say that the neocons and liberal hawks have not taken these reversals well would be an understatement. They have pretty much blamed Clinton’s defeat on everyone but themselves and Clinton herself. They have been apoplectic over Aleppo and their lost dream of “regime change” in Syria. And they have sputtered in outrage over President Obama’s failure to veto the Israeli anti-settlement resolution.

Regarding Clinton’s defeat, her embrace of the neocon/liberal-hawk “regime change” obsessions siphoned off enthusiasm among the peace faction of the Democratic Party, a significant and activist part of the progressive movement.

Clinton’s alignment with the neocon/liberal hawks may have helped her with the mainstream media, but the MSM has lost much of its credibility by making itself a handmaiden in leading the nation to wars and more wars.

Average Americans also could feel the contempt that these elites had for the rest of us. The neocons and liberal hawks had come to believe in the CIA’s concept of “perception management,” feeling that the American people were items to be controlled, not the nation’s sovereigns to be informed and respected. Instead of “We the People,” Official Washington’s elites treated us like “Us the Sheep.”

Though this “perception management” idea took hold during the Reagan administration – largely in reaction to the public’s distrust of U.S. foreign policy following the Vietnam War – it became a bipartisan practice, extending through George W. Bush’s WMD sham about Iraq and into the behavior of the Obama administration in manipulating public opinion about Syria, Libya, Ukraine and Russia, pretty much any country targeted for “regime change.”

So, when this establishment tried to force Hillary Clinton’s coronation down the nation’s throat, enough Americans choked at the idea – even to the extent of voting for the eminently unqualified Donald Trump – to deny Clinton the White House. Indeed, many Americans who reluctantly did vote for Clinton did so only because they considered Trump even more unfit to lead the nation. The two candidates were in a fierce competition for who would arouse the most public revulsion. 

No Self-Reflection 

But the neocons and liberal hawks are not ones for self-reflection and self-criticism. They move from one disaster to the next, finding others to blame and justifying their own failures by publishing self-apologias in the editorial pages of The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal.

Thus, for the past several weeks, we have witnessed daily meltdowns across the mainstream media as neocons and liberal interventionists fume about all the forces that conspired to deny them their God-given right to select who runs America.

The mainstream media ranted about a few incidents of “fake news” – concocted stories designed to get lots of clicks from Trump supporters – despite its own long history of publishing false and misleading stories. The MSM then tried to tar with that “fake news” broad brush serious independent Web sites that simply displayed professional skepticism toward propaganda emanating from the U.S. State Department.

The smear blurred the “fake news scandal” with what was deemed “Russian propaganda.” Anyone who wouldn’t march in lockstep with the State Department’s messaging must be a “Kremlin stooge.” Mainstream media outlets even began demanding that major technology companies, such as Facebook and Google, join in establishing a modern-age Ministry of Truth for the Internet that would punish independent Web sites that didn’t toe the Official Line.

Then, there was the hysteria over the CIA’s still-unproven claim that Russian President Vladimir Putin oversaw a scheme to hack into Democratic emails and expose embarrassing facts, such as the Democratic National Committee’s tilting the primary playing field to favor Clinton over Sen. Bernie Sanders, the contents of Clinton’s paid speeches to her Wall Street benefactors, and pay-to-play features of the Clinton money machine.

Though this information all appeared to be true and revealed dubious or improper actions by Democratic officials and the Democratic presidential nominee — this truth-telling was also mixed in with the “fake news scandal” and other excuse-making for why Clinton lost. Her defeat was Putin’s fault. It was also FBI Director James Comey’s fault for chastising Clinton for her “extremely careless” handling of U.S. government secrets because she insisted on using a private email server as Secretary of State.

And, of course, there was the supposed over-reaction to Clinton calling many Trump supporters a “basket of deplorables.”

In other words, the Clinton campaign appears to have been done in by various people telling the truth about a variety of unsavory aspects of Hillary Clinton’s behavior and decision-making. If none of these facts had come out before the election, the thinking was that Clinton would have won and the neocons/liberal hawks could have continued and even expanded their dominion over U.S. foreign policy.

Yet, to me, the biggest head-scratcher about Clinton’s disastrous campaign was why – after she left the State Department in 2013 – did she jump into the sleazy business of collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars for brief speeches to Wall Street and other special interests.

Her prospective presidency was crucial to the Clinton business model of soliciting huge donations and fees from corporations and foreign governments to the Clinton Foundation and to allied consulting firms, such as the Podesta Group. These corporate and foreign leaders were pre-paying for “access” to the future U.S. president. However, instead of shielding Clinton from the grubby business of collecting the money herself, she was dispatched to join in the money grabbing.

This greed or hubris left millions of Americans troubled by what a restoration of Clinton control of the Executive Branch might mean. Whether Trump was sincere or not, he hit a nerve when he talked about “draining the swamp.”

‘Regime Change’ Reversals

The neocons and liberal hawks also watched their “regime change” plans for Syria – something that has been on their agenda since the mid-1990s – collapse with this month’s fall of east Aleppo to Syrian government troops, backed by Russia and Iran.


"A heart-rending propaganda image designed to justify a major U.S. military operation inside Syria against the Syrian military." 

In the battle for Syria, the Obama administration, other Western governments and Persian Gulf states illegally armed a melange of rebels and terrorists. But the West and its allies also deployed state-of-the-art propaganda techniques in which government agencies and like-thinking private foundations invested tens of millions of dollars in training Syrian activists to use social media to rally international support.

This propaganda strategy reached its apex in Aleppo, which was portrayed in Western media as a case of the Syrian government and its allies willfully slaughtering helpless children. The fact that the “moderate” rebels were operating under the command structure of Al Qaeda and other jihadist groups, such as Ahrar al-Sham, was almost blacked out from the West’s mainstream media coverage....

The last piece of coal in the neocon/liberal-hawk stocking came last week with the U.N. Security Council’s repudiation of Israel’s illegal settlement building on Palestinian lands. Though the Obama administration only abstained from the vote, the lack of a U.S. veto enabled the resolution to pass unanimously, 14-0....

There is some hope among hardline pro-Israeli Americans that Donald Trump will support Israel as it encroaches more and more onto Palestinian lands. But the neocons and liberal hawks recognize that Trump’s “America First” rhetoric is implicitly critical of undertaking more “regime change” projects against governments on Israel’s enemies list....

Thus, 2016 is ending on a decidedly sour note for the neocons and liberal interventionists. They had high hopes that 2017 would mark the beginning of an escalated “regime change” adventure in Syria and the start of their “mother of all regime change” schemes for destabilizing nuclear-armed Russia and somehow staging a “color revolution” in Moscow, all while Hillary Clinton took the relationship with Israel “to the next level” as she promised in her speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

Now, the neocons and liberal hawks find themselves on the outside looking in and one can expect their anger to be voiced at increasing decibels across the mainstream media. But whether anyone still takes them seriously is another question."

"Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s."...





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Biggest Fake News story of 2016: That US presidential election was "hacked." "Election hacking" headline run by NY Times, CNBC, CBS, USA Today, Wall St. Journal. For a "hacked election," voting systems in all 50 states would have been infiltrated, which didn't happen-Ricochet, Gabriel

"In order to “hack” an election, a nefarious group would have to infiltrate the voting systems of 50 states, plus DC and territories. All of these systems are unique, with completely different architecture, ballot formats, tabulation processes, etc., etc. This did not happen."

12/29/16, "The Election Was Not Hacked," Ricochet, Jon Gabriel, Editor 

"Between jeremiads decrying “fake news,” the mainstream media has created and advanced the biggest fake news story of 2016: That the presidential election was hacked.
  •   “Obama Strikes Back at Russia for Election Hacking” New York Times
  • “Obama administration unveils retribution for Russia over election hacking allegations” CNBC
  • “U.S. Slaps Sanctions On Russia For Election Hacking, Expels 35 Diplomats” CBS
  • “Obama sanctions Russian officials over election hacking” USA Today
  • “U.S. Sanctions Russia Over Election Hacking; Russia Threatens to Retaliate” Wall Street Journal

    Despite the histrionic claims of the press, the election was not hacked. The Democratic National Committee’s lousy IT security allowed someone to access their emails which were then leaked. Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta fell for an age-old phishing scam that was as believable as getting millions of dollars from a Nigerian prince. Using the spotty media understanding of cybersecurity, they can claim that the DNC and Hillary’s campaign were “hacked,” but the election decisively was not. And the press knows it. 

    In order to “hack” an election, a nefarious group would have to infiltrate the voting systems of 50 states, plus DC and territories. All of these systems are unique, with completely different architecture, ballot formats, tabulation processes, etc., etc. This did not happen. In fact, some hackers tried breaking into a few different states’ systems weeks before the election, were quickly identified, and prevented from doing so. Likewise, someone attempted to gain illegal access to the Republican National Committee, but since they had a competent IT staff, this too was thwarted.

    But even without delving into the technical details, it’s obvious that the election wasn’t hacked. If, say, Russia wanted to elect Trump, they would have given him the popular vote victory along with his electoral victory. They also wouldn’t have left him to squeak out meager wins across the upper midwest and rust belt. 

    The media is intentionally lying to the public because they want a better excuse for Election Day than the reality. They would rather focus on hacking, the popular vote, FBI Director James Comey, or the minuscule alt-right, instead of accepting that American voters slightly preferred Donald Trump to Hillary Clinton, at least in the states where it counted. People wanted change over the ineptness, cronyism, and stagnation of the Obama era. They didn’t trust the utterly untrustable Clinton and liked her even less.

    The harsh reality is this: Hillary Clinton is the worst presidential nominee in American history. And if the media is actually concerned about fake news, they will drop the election hacking lie and just admit that their candidate was a disaster."

    ......................

    Added: Podesta emails were released from his gmail account only after staff sought guidance from a Clinton campaign IT worker. A suspicious email to Podesta that began, "Hi, John," was proclaimed legitimate and that it must be clicked ASAP. It was actually a spear phishing email from a domain registered in a South Pacific atoll-Smoking Gun, Oct. 28, 2016. Below, copy of email that fooled them. Added: "FBI warned Clinton campaign last spring (2016) of cyberattack," Isikoff




    10/28/16, "How Podesta's Gmail Account Was Breached," the smokinggun.com

    "Clinton campaign staff guilty of getting duped by hackers"

    "So how did John Podesta’s e-mail account get hacked? The answer to that question came into embarrassing focus this morning with the latest Wikileaks dump of correspondence stolen from the Gmail account of Hillary Clinton's campaign manager. 

    On March 19, a Saturday, Podesta received an e-mail--purportedly from Google--warning him that, “Someone has your password. The alert (seen above) informed Podesta that a sign-in attempt from an IP address in Ukraine was thwarted and that, “You should change your password immediately.”...
    The domain created to trick Podesta was registered in Tokelau, a remote group of South Pacific atolls....

    The e-mail, addressed "Hi John," included a blue “CHANGE PASSWORD” box to be clicked."... 

    [Ed. note: Also in March 2016, the FBI warned Hillary's campaign that it was being targeted by "spear phishing emails." The campaign declined FBI's offer to help to deal with its vulnerabilities. The flood of Podesta emails began after a Hillary staffer said it was "imperative" to click on the fake link "ASAP."]

    (continuing): "As TSG reported in August, similar messages were sent to the Gmail accounts of scores of other Clinton campaign officials around the time Podesta received the phony alert. An identical e-mail--containing the exact Ukrainian IP address--was received on March 22 by William Rinehart, a campaign organizer. The IP address included in the e-mails received by Podesta and Rinehart traces back to Kyivstar, Ukraine’s largest telecommunications company.

    Like Rinehart, Podesta’s Gmail account was compromised by the “spear phishing” e-mail.... 

    After the e-mail arrived in Podesta’s account, it appears that his chief of staff, Sara Latham, sought guidance from an IT worker with the Clinton campaign. After examining the “Someone has your password” e-mail, staffer Charles Delavan ...mistakenly assured Latham and Shane Hable, the campaign’s chief information officer, that, “This is a legitimate email. John needs to change his password immediately, and ensure that two-factor authorization is turned on his account.” 

    Delavan’s 9:54 AM e-mail included a link to an actual Google password change page. It is absolutely imperative that this is done ASAP,” he added. 

    Latham then forwarded Delavan’s email to Podesta and campaign staffer Milia Fisher, who had access to Podesta’s Gmail account.

    The gmail one is real wrote Latham, who instructed Fisher to change Podesta’s password since “Don’t want to lock him out of his in box!” 

    But instead of following the link provided by Delavan, it appears that Podesta or Fisher...clicked on the “CHANGE PASSWORD” box in the original “spear phishing” correspondence (a copy of which which was included in the e-mail chain that Saturday morning). 

    That link led to what appeared to be a legitimate Google page, but was actually a site designed by the hackers to capture a target’s log-in credentials. The link to the spoofed Gmail page included a lengthy underlying url with the .tk suffix, indicating that the domain created to trick Podesta was registered in Tokelau, a remote group of South Pacific atolls. 

    The hidden 293-character link included a string of characters containing the encoded Gmail address for Podesta (john.podesta@gmail.com). 

    The e-mails stolen in the Podesta hack and posted on Wikileaks show that the most recent correspondence is from March 21. 

    While Delavan protected his Twitter page following the publication of this story, he did offer the public some sage advice earlier this week. In an October 25 tweet, Delavan wrote, “don’t click on anything ever. delete your email account. move to the woods.” (1 page) Image above from The Smoking Gun 

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    among comments
    ................................

    "Scott Johnson ·

    ..........
    ............................ 

    Added: “Most successful hacks today start with a phishing attack." "Gmail [chosen by Hillary campaign manager Podesta] is used for more than half of all data drop email accounts, making it the top webmail service used by attackers to receive credentials stolen via phishing." (So why is Podesta using it?) Information about spear phishing has been on the FBI website since at least 2009.  
     
    --------------------------

    Added: July 28, 2016 Isikoff article about March 2016 FBI warning to Hillary campaign about "spear phishing." The campaign declined FBI assistance on the matter. "The Brooklyn warning also could raise new questions about why the campaign and the DNC didn’t take the matter more seriously."... 

    7/28/16, "FBI warned Clinton campaign last spring of cyberattack," Michael Isikoff, Yahoo News 

    "The FBI warned the Clinton campaign that it was a target of a cyberattack last March, just weeks before the Democratic National Committee discovered it had been penetrated by hackers it now believes were working for Russian intelligence, two sources who have been briefed on the matter told Yahoo News.

    In a meeting with senior officials at the campaign’s Brooklyn headquarters, FBI agents laid out concerns that cyberhackers had used so-called spear-phishing emails as part of an attempt to penetrate the campaign’s computers, the sources said. One of the sources said agents conducting a national security investigation asked the Clinton campaign to turn over internal computer logs as well as the personal email addresses of senior campaign officials.

    But the campaign, through its lawyers, declined to provide the data, deciding that the FBI’s request for sensitive personal and campaign information data was too broad and intrusive, the source said.

    A second source who had been briefed on the matter and who confirmed the Brooklyn meeting said agents provided no specific information to the campaign about the identity of the cyberhackers or whether they were associated with a foreign government. The source said the campaign was already aware of attempts to penetrate its computers and had taken steps to thwart them, emphasizing that there is still no evidence that the campaign’s computers had actually been successfully penetrated.

    But the potential that the intruders were associated with a foreign government should have come as no surprise to the Clinton campaign, said several sources knowledgeable about the investigation. Chinese intelligence hackers were widely reported to have penetrated both the campaigns of Barack Obama and John McCain in 2008.

    The Brooklyn warning also could raise new questions about why the campaign and the DNC didn’t take the matter more seriously. It came just four months after the DNC had also been contacted by FBI agents alerting its information technology specialists about a cyberattack on its computers, the sources told Yahoo News. As with the warning to the Clinton campaign, the FBI initially provided no details to the DNC....

    By mid-May, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was telling reporters that US. Intelligence officials “already had some indications” of hacks into political campaigns that were likely linked to foreign governments and that “we’ll probably have more.”

    In a talk at the Aspen Security Forum Thursday, Clapper said the U.S. government is not “quite ready yet” to “make a public call” on who was behind the cyberassault on the DNC, but he suggested one of “the usual suspects” is likely to blame. “We don’t know enough [yet] to…ascribe a motivation, regardless of who it may have been,” Clapper said....

    Clapper is reportedly among a number of U.S. intelligence officials who have resisted calls to publicly blame the Russians, viewing it as likely the kind of activity that most intelligence agencies engage in. “[I’m] taken aback a bit by…the hyperventilation over this,” Clapper said during his Aspen appearance, adding in a sarcastic tone, “I’m shocked somebody did some hacking. That’s never happened before.”...

    The FBI’s request to turn over internal computer logs and personal email information came at an awkward moment for the Clinton campaign, said the source, familiar with the campaign’s internal deliberations. At the time, the FBI was still actively and aggressively conducting a criminal investigation into whether Clinton had compromised national security secrets by sending classified emails through a private computer server in the basement of her home in Chappaqua, N.Y. There were already press reports, to date unconfirmed, that the investigation might have expanded to include dealings relating to the Clinton Foundation. Campaign officials had reason to fear that any production of campaign computer logs and personal email accounts could be used to further such a probe. At the Brooklyn meeting, FBI agents emphasized that the request for data was unrelated to the separate probe into Clinton’s email server. 

    But after deliberating about the bureau’s request, and in light of the lack of details provided by the FBI and the absence of a subpoena, the Clinton campaign chose to turn down the bureau's request, the source said."

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    Added: July 26, 2016 Bloomberg article: DNC failed to act on computer security advice it received following a two month security review begun in September 2015. Experts found many flaws, made dozens of recommendations. DNC didn't act on any of them thereby allowing hackers to stay on its sites for nearly a year:

    "Cyber-security assessments can be a mixed blessing. Legal experts say some general counsels advise organizations against doing such assessments if they don’t have the ability to quickly fix any problems the auditors find, because customers and shareholders could have cause to sue if an organization knowingly disregards such warnings." 

    7/26/16, "Democrats Ignored Cybersecurity Warnings Before Theft," Bloomberg, Michael Riley

     "The Democratic National Committee was warned last fall that its computer network was susceptible to attacks but didn’t follow the security advice it was given, according to three people familiar with the matter.

    The missed opportunity is another blow to party officials already embarrassed by the theft and public disclosure of e-mails that have disrupted their presidential nominating convention in Philadelphia and led their chairwoman to resign.

    Computer security consultants hired by the DNC made dozens of recommendations after a two-month review, the people said. 

    Following the advice, which would typically include having specialists hunt for intruders on the network, might have alerted party officials that hackers had been lurking in their network for weeks -- hackers who would stay for nearly a year Instead, officials didn’t discover the breach until April....

    Cyber-security assessments can be a mixed blessing. Legal experts say some general counsels advise organizations against doing such assessments if they don’t have the ability to quickly fix any problems the auditors find, because customers and shareholders could have cause to sue if an organization knowingly disregards such warnings."...
      
    ...............

    Added, Oct. 29, 2016 column: "Mrs. Clinton has clearly disqualified herself from ever coming near classified information again....Having Clinton anywhere near the White House is just not a good idea."

    10/29/16, "Democrats should ask Clinton to step aside," Chicago Tribune, John Kass, opinion
     

    "If ruling Democrats hold themselves to the high moral standards they impose on the people they govern, they would follow a simple process:

     They would demand that Mrs. Clinton step down, immediately, and let her vice presidential nominee, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, stand in her place....

    If you take a step back from tribal politics, you'll see that Mrs. Clinton has clearly disqualified herself from ever coming near classified information again. If she were a young person straight out of grad school hoping to land a government job, Hillary Clinton would be laughed out of Washington with her record. She'd never be hired.

    As secretary of state she kept classified documents on the home-brew server in her basement, which is against the law. She lied about it to the American people. She couldn't remember details dozens of times when questioned by the FBI. Her aides destroyed evidence by BleachBit and hammers. Her husband, Bill, met secretly on an airport tarmac with Attorney General Loretta Lynch for about a half-hour, and all they said they talked about was golf and the grandkids.

    And there was no prosecution of Hillary. 

    That isn't merely wrong and unethical. It is poisonous. 

    And during this presidential campaign, Americans were confronted with a two-tiered system of federal justice: one for standards for the Clintons and one for the peasants. 

    I've always figured that, as secretary of state, Clinton kept her home-brew email server — from which foreign intelligence agencies could hack top secret information — so she could shield the influence peddling that helped make the Clintons several fortunes. 

    The Clintons weren't skilled merchants. They weren't traders or manufacturers. The Clintons never produced anything tangible. They had no science, patents or devices to make them millions upon millions of dollars.

    All they had to sell, really, was influence. And they used our federal government to leverage it.

    If a presidential election is as much about the people as it is about the candidates, then we'll learn plenty about ourselves in the coming days, won't we?"

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    Among comments at Free Republic
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    "To: kindred...

    Despite being warned, John Podesta was stupid enough to fall for a phishing scam. Perhaps others were too. That is what happened. There is zero evidence that anything else happened. The sad part is that even the “conservative” media blindly blabbers on about the “election hacking”.

    Our media uses these catch phrases, shorthand expressions and euphemisms without factually explaining what actually happened. So the election was “hacked.”...These phrases are absolutely meaningless without being grounded in fact. And then once the phrase is ground into the public consciousness, the media then uses the phrase to mean whatever they want it to mean. So Podesta falling for a phishing scam turns into the Russians finding a way to change peoples’ votes in a nationwide hacking of the actual election." 

    6 posted on 12/30/2016, 11:47:09 AM by Opinionated Blowhard"

    .......................

    "To: Sacajaweau 

    Obama himself said two weeks ago in a press conference that the elections were not hacked. What was the NY Slimes headline today? Russia Hacked Elections. 

    8 posted on 12/30/2016, 11:49:06 AM by Rennes Templar"

    ....................................

    "To: kindred 

    What gets me is the absolute gall of the left to even claim this after the EXTREME bias against Trump by the MSM while Hillary was basically coddled and protected. For example, the NY Daily news - Some of their headlines from the past year:



    9 posted on 12/30/2016, 11:49:09 AM by GrandJediMasterYoda"





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