Is Trump’s Revelation the Same as Craig Murray’s Revelation: An American Cut-Out?

Because security professionals are so confident in the Russian attribution of the DNC hack, they have largely ignored alternative theories from the likes of Wikileaks and Bill Binney. That’s unfortunate, because Craig Murray, in his description of his own role in getting the Podesta files to Wikileaks, at least, revealed a detail that needs greater attention. He believes he received something (perhaps the documents themselves, perhaps something else) from a person with ties to US national security.

[I]f we believe that Murray believes this, we know that the intermediary can credibly claim to have ties to American national security.

So on September 25, Murray met a presumed American in DC for a hand-off related to the Podesta hack.

I raise that because Trump is now promising we’ll learn something this week about the hack that may cast doubt on the claims Russia was behind it.

He added: “And I know a lot about hacking. And hacking is a very hard thing to prove. So it could be somebody else. And I also know things that other people don’t know, and so they cannot be sure of the situation.”

When asked what he knew that others did not, Mr. Trump demurred, saying only, “You’ll find out on Tuesday or Wednesday.”

If Murray met an American claiming to have done the hack, then Trump may have too. That doesn’t mean the Russians didn’t do the hack (though it could mean an American borrowed GRU’s tools to do it). It could just as easily mean the Russians have an American cut-out, and that while the security community has been looking for Russian-speaking proxies, they’ve ignored the possibility of American ones.

I have a suspicion that Trump’s campaign did meet with such a person (I even have a guess about when it would have happened).

I guess we’ll learn more this week.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

24 replies
  1. Anne says:

    That would be interesting, I just suspect we will be kept waiting for this new info, like we are waiting for his tax returns, proof Obama was born in Kenya & proof Melania came here legally.

  2. Ben says:

    Murray’s experience was in conjunction with a meeting with Assange.  But he like most UKers only see the Trump win as a victory over war with Russia, whom Hillary putatively wanted war with.   They don’t see Hillary oppo as de facto support for Trump.  They have no idea, like us, what the consequences will be, but they see their island as a buffer….lol.

    • emptywheel says:

      I think Murray makes two claims. One, about the DNC hack, which pertains to something Assange told him. And one, about the Podesta hack, which he was personally involved in. That’s why I think his point is important: he presumably met someone he believes to be an American.

    • bevin says:

      Perhaps the distant vantage point helps. For foreigners obviously the most important matters are those of War and Peace. Clinton’s record of aggression and Obama’s Presidency both promised to develop into more wars and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.

      As to domestic policy it is by no means clear that Trump’s was less progressive than Clinton’s: Clinton was committed to the Wall St agenda, including attacks on Social Security and Medicare amnd she was suppirted by some of the most reactionary figures in US public life. And her speciality is to do things which only the Democrats can do, because they involve attacking Democratic constituencies. It took Bill Clinton to end welfare and imaugurate the era of mass incarceration.

      Trump may try to kill Social Security but the Democrats will be in his way, if Clinton were President they would be assisting in the business.

      It might be that the next four years will see a revival of the Democrats’ purpose and energies. Had Clinton won the merging of the two parties would have accelerated- the working people would have faced a new era of austerity and rising unemployment and all politics would have been conducted under a cloud of warmaking, wahhabi militias despatched into Russia and China and every sort of filibustering adventure that the neo-cons could come up with.

      Whereas if you don’t like Trump’s policies all that you have to do is get the Democratic Party to fight them, if it knows how to.

       

  3. wayoutwest says:

    I had almost forgotten that Trump is the protagonist in this drama or that he has or has hired the best intelligence available outside the lying government and their quislings in the media. After setting the hook with his teaser ‘I HAVE A SECRET’ he gives the antagonists a few days to stew and sweat trying to guess what propaganda response new or old will help their losing cause.
    Even Marcy is sandbagging her ‘I can see Putin from my front porch’ position with spook talk about cut-outs.

    Happy New Year!!

  4. Watson says:

    It seems to me that the real scandal would be found in Donald Trump’s business/financial connections in Russia, far more than any Russian involvement with the election.

    It’s way past time to see his tax returns.

    • bevin says:

      Not surprisingly, given the ease with which money could be extracted from Russia in the recent past, both Trump and Clinton have had extensive contacts with Russian business figures. Whether Trump’s are likely to be more scandalous than Clinton’s is moot.

       

    • bell says:

      i don’t suppose there is any more scandal to be found in hillarys connections to saudi arabia? or that antiquated concept of ”accountability”  the hopey changey president thinks it necessary to move beyond, lol..  glad we are able to now ”move on” to seeing those pesky trump – rooskie connections first and foremost..   real change i can believe in, oh yeah..

  5. Pohn Jodesta says:

    I personally think Craig Murray is doing exactly what wikileaks’ and its supporters are doing (including RT), creating distractions/diversions. They seem intent on creating the notion that it was an “inside leak by a disgruntled DNC employee”, which by the way, is what wikileaks’ always seems
    to push. Even when it came to who leaked german parliamentary data last year. All evidence seems to point at russian state actors or a hacking group working on their behalf hacking into the servers, extracting the data, then using a middle man to pass it to wikileaks. Wikileaks and its supporters then push the whole “does it matter who gave us the information?”. Its no coincidence that everytime theres a breach into a government linked to russia, wikileaks soon after somehow has that data and leaks it. Its a pattern seen with the bnd/nsa data from germany that wikileaks leaked and now with dnc/podesta leaks. I could be wrong though of course. Maybe the malware was used by someone trying to make it look like it was russia or maybe someone got their hands on the data after DNC was already vulnerable to files being extracted.

  6. Mitchell says:

    He added: “And I know a lot about hacking. And hacking is a very hard thing to prove. So it could be somebody else. And I also know things that other people don’t know, and so they cannot be sure of the situation.”

    I’ll bite.

    Since King Donald is famously avoiding intel briefings because their lies regarding WMDs, ordered by the White House, persuaded Trump to support the war — not that a lifelong bullshitter needs any facts for anything — he knows all about hacking because his people received intel from the Russians or the Trumpets were involved in some way.

    And the irony is that the hacks are less important than the corporate media’s disgraceful reportage.

    • wayoutwest says:

      Your incoherence blends well with your ignorance, Mitch. Trump doesn’t avoid anything and gets weekly intelligence briefings, daily briefings are mostly repetitive and if anything important comes up the briefers know where he lives. The Clintonite management in the intelligence community have drawn his ire because they attempted a soft coup with lies and insinuations to undermine the validity of his election, this is about today not 2001.

       

      • Desider says:

        Trump doesn’t know dick about hacking except what somebody feeds him. He’s illiterate, both computer and regular reading-wise, even dictating his tweets to an assistant.

  7. Les says:

    ” They seem intent on creating the notion that it was an “inside leak by a disgruntled DNC employee”, which by the way, is what wikileaks’ always seems to push. ”

     

    I think it’s rational to attribute at least some of the leaks to a DNC insider, especially for those leaks pertaining to the collusion of the DNC and the media with the Clintons to the detriment of Bernie Sanders campaign.  Motive has been one of the key arguments used by the White House and the CIA in the hack attribution.

     

  8. Apolide says:

    An American, an insider. Where’s the news? Do you think that in your beloved country “Russian” spies are native Russian? Do you believe people born and bred in US, with Brooklyn accent and American passports, are spying while in Russia? And we’re not even talking about traitors inside intelligence services, common fact everywhere in the World. Americans, you will have for the next 4 years a President blackmailed by everyone, in his own country and abroad. Luckily for you, Trump and US will be rescued by his conflict of interest. Nobody is so stupid to lose money. And Putin won’t messy around for long, he knows when to stop. It’s just a matter of business, and Putin is not gonna jeopardize his wealth.

  9. Hieronymus Howard says:

    Probably no hyphen in cutout or handoff (an old football word).

    Ya got yer prepositional phrases, cut out & hand off.   But as nouns, no hyphen to be found.   (Unless you’re English.   Their rule is, if in doubt, stick a hyphen in it.)

    Years of proofreading for the courts & one ends up all picky & prickly & didactic.   So don’t be like me.

    :-D

  10. Syd says:

    This post totally garbles the story! Wikileaks and Muray claim to know that the emails were obtained from insider leaks not outsider hacks. This means that if there were hacks as well, whether by Russians or any of the countless others who make it their business to hack prominent persons and institutions, it had nothing to do with what Wikileaks published. Since the whole hullobaloo is about how publication of Democratic Party corruption was interference in the US election, the issue of hacking is a complete red herring. The thing that really needs to be proved by the US gov’t is that Wikileaks is lying or mistaken when it vehemently and repeatedly denies that any state actor was involved in their obtaining the DNC and Podesta emails. Since the US gov’t doesn’t even pretend to have evidence that it was Russia who gave Wikileaks the emails, the claim of Russian interference is completely baseless.

    • bmaz says:

      Ah, and yet another Wikileaks apologist who has no clue in the world what “evidence” is, and the distinction between the existence of evidence and the weight one assigns to it. But, hey, just keep blathering “no evidence no evidence”. Maybe Assange will give you a cookie.

  11. Pohn Jodesta says:

    @bmaz Well, he is right that there’s no evidence linking wikileaks to russia, at least anything that’s been made pubicly available. There is insurmountable evidence however of russians being behind the hacking of the DNC. As for who gave the data to wikileaks, haven’t seen any conclusive evidence yet.

    • bmaz says:

      Agree with most all of that. And thank you for inserting the term “conclusive”. That is the right way to frame it. There is a lot of evidence on the hack, and, as you note, far less (and little to no direct that I have seen) evidence as to how the documents were given to Wikileaks. But there “is” evidence. It is simply a matter of strength and weight one assigns to it or, as you term it, how conclusive it is.

  12. Jay says:

    As someone who studies these phenomena on an off-and-on basis, I’d advise against making any definitive conclusions. You are now in the wilderness of mirrors, and much of what you may assume, or base your conclusions on, can shift with more detail, or point 180 degrees out of your initial perspective. If you make a list of what you definitively know, and what you definitively don’t know, the first column will consist mainly of statements to the press, none of which are actually reliable, from persons like Donald Trump: “You’ll find out Tuesday or Wednesday.” (Yeah, riiiiiight. Another thing: When the Donald says something like that, you clearly have a picture of someone who is way out of his depth. ) The second column, if you’re completely candid, would be *everything else.* In this field, it often occurs that the crucial information you need to get a clear picture of what actually happened, by whom, and why, appears years down the road, or not at all. We can really only make reasonable assumptions, aka intelligence assessments. It’s fun to speculate about a real-world John LeCarre situation on a blog, but a lonely analyst trying to make sense based only on newspaper clippings doesn’t have the resources of the CI functions of FBI or CIA. It’s reasonable to assume those folks know something (no proof! but. . . .). One thing that has become apparent is that a lot of people appear to be blind to the possibility that yes, Virginia, the Russians did hack the DNC and Podesta, because they have become emotionally invested in proving that they are not Russian propagandists, at least by the Washington Post’s light.

    Craig Murray’s statements are very intriguing but they’re nothing you should hang your hat on. He’s either telling the truth, telling the truth as he understands it, or is lying. I make no value judgements on who he is or what he believes. He applied for a visa to the US and was denied. He was eventually granted a visa after he fussed about it. That’s known, first-column information (and FOIA-worthy IMNSHO). What did the CI people know that would initially preclude DoS giving him a visa?

    Then he claims to have met an American who claims that the information was as a result of whistle-blowing, not Russian hacking. That he said this belongs in column one. Whether it’s true belongs in column two. It opens a can of worms with several possibilities:
    1. He’s telling the truth: There is an American whistle blower who has gained access and is giving it to Wikileaks. Well, who would do that and why? A Bernie sympathizer in the DNC outraged at what happened? A DLC weenie who got passed up for promotion? Someone in the Intelligence Community investigating the Clinton emails and outraged that she wasn’t being prosecuted (FBI anyone?). A DoD or State or NSA employee? In this scenario the informant is of sufficient prominence and established bona fides (read: ideologically comfortable to Murray) for Murray to identify and vouch for him or her with confidence. If this is the case, the informant may have backing from his institution. Moreover, that the informant can survive scrutiny by American counterintelligence. In which case, the source of the leak is institutional, not individual.
    2. He’s knowingly telling a lie: Murray is engaging in deception or covering tracks for Wikileaks, the Russians, or someone else. If someone else, whom, and why?
    3. Murray is telling the truth as he knows it: The informant is of sufficient prominence and established bona fides (read: ideologically comfortable to Murray) for Murray to identify and vouch for him or her with confidence, but is in truth an agent or cutout for any number of groups who would like to sink Clinton’s nomination. The Russians, the GOP, another foreign entity like Mossad on Netanyahu’s orders or China’s MSS; a someone or group of someones with sufficient sophistication to pull something like this off. This scenario reeks of foreign or domestic spies.
    4. Burn After Reading scenario: Murray met with a physical therapist who found an errant thumb drive on the gym floor, or a peculiar Ayn Rand enthusiast with bizarre political theories who can be found under a rock deep within the IT bowels of some obscure agency. This seems least likely (but still possible!).

    In any case, I can’t help but think that the FBI dropped the ball surveilling Murray, or conducting followup investigations about his whereabouts and with whom he met, or put them ball in his palm in the first place. Witness Comey’s theatrics in the 2-3 weeks before the election. *Don’t* discount the possibility it was the Russians. They have the means, the motive, etc.

    • emptywheel says:

      As you’ll note, I do caveat with the “if we believe Murray believes” which implies much of what you write here.

      I appreciate your laying out some of the thought process I’ve done but don’t show here. The point here is people should be less quick to dismiss Murray’s claims (he has less reason to lie, he’s not living in an Embassy closet, he claims to have met a living human being). They may be entirely consistent with Russia doing the hack (especially given that the FBI appears to have had some difficulty in determining how they got to Wikileaks). But they’re at least factoring in, given that the delivery to Wikileaks is actually the most important part of this puzzle.

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