Did the Steele Dossier Lead the Democrats To Be Complacent after They Got Hacked?

I get asked, a lot, why I obsess over the Steele dossier. A lot of people believe that even if the dossier doesn’t pan out, it doesn’t matter because Mueller’s investigation doesn’t depend on it. I’d be more sympathetic to that view if people like Adam Schiff and John Podesta didn’t keep invoking the dossier in ways that makes their legitimate concerns easy to discredit.

But I now believe the dossier may have done affirmative damage.

Consider the timeline.

Perkins Coie lawyer Marc Elias reportedly engaged Fusion for opposition research in April (their first payment was May 24).

April 26, Joseph Mifsud told George Papadopoulos that Russians said they had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, in the form of emails.

April 29, the DNC discovered they had been hacked. Perkins Coie partner Michael Sussman had a key role in their response.

“Not sure it is related to what the F.B.I. has been noticing,” said one internal D.N.C. email sent on April 29. “The D.N.C. may have been hacked in a serious way this week, with password theft, etc.”

No one knew just how bad the breach was — but it was clear that a lot more than a single filing cabinet worth of materials might have been taken. A secret committee was immediately created, including Ms. Dacey, Ms. Wasserman Schultz, Mr. Brown and Michael Sussmann, a former cybercrimes prosecutor at the Department of Justice who now works at Perkins Coie, the Washington law firm that handles D.N.C. political matters.

“Three most important questions,” Mr. Sussmann wrote to his clients the night the break-in was confirmed. “1) What data was accessed? 2) How was it done? 3) How do we stop it?”

Sometime in May, Robert Johnston (who then worked at Crowdstrike) briefed the DNC on the hack. He told them how much data had been stolen, but he told them intelligence hackers generally don’t do anything with the stolen data.

When he briefed the DNC in that conference room, Johnston presented a report that basically said, “They’ve balled up data and stolen it.” But the political officials were hardly experienced in the world of intelligence. They were not just horrified but puzzled. “They’re looking at me,” Johnston recalled, “and they’re asking, ‘What are they going to do with the data that was taken?’”

Back then, no one knew. In addition to APT 29, another hacking group had launched malware into the DNC’s system. Called APT 28, it’s also associated Russian intelligence. Andrei Soldatov, a Russian investigative journalist and security expert, said it’s not crystal clear which Russian spy service is behind each hacker group, but like many other cybersecurity investigators, he agreed that Russian intelligence carried out the attack.

So, Johnston said, “I start thinking back to all of these previous hacks by Russia and other adversaries like China. I think back to the Joint Chiefs hack. What did they do with this data? Nothing. They took the information for espionage purposes. They didn’t leak it to WikiLeaks.”

So, Johnston recalled, that’s what he told the DNC in May 2016: Such thefts have become the norm, and the hackers did not plan on doing anything with what they had purloined.

May 25 was likely the date on which the last emails shared with Wikileaks got exfiltrated.

On June 9, Natalia Veselnitskaya met with Don Jr, Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort at Trump Tower. Both at a Prevezon court hearing that morning and after the Trump Tower meeting, she reportedly met with Fusion’s Glenn Simpson. Though there’s no sign of Baker Hostetler paying for any services anytime near that meeting. Sometime Fusion associate Rinat Akhmetshin accompanied Veselnitskaya to the meeting; it’s possible he was paid for work in June.

Sometime in “mid-June,” the Perkins Coie lawyer Sussman and the DNC first met with the FBI about the hack. They asked the FBI to attribute the hack to Russia.

The D.N.C. executives and their lawyer had their first formal meeting with senior F.B.I. officials in mid-June, nine months after the bureau’s first call to the tech-support contractor. Among the early requests at that meeting, according to participants: that the federal government make a quick “attribution” formally blaming actors with ties to Russian government for the attack to make clear that it was not routine hacking but foreign espionage.

“You have a presidential election underway here and you know that the Russians have hacked into the D.N.C.,” Mr. Sussmann said, recalling the message to the F.B.I. “We need to tell the American public that. And soon.”

The FBI would not attribute the hack formally until the following year.

On June 14, the DNC placed a story with the WaPo, spinning the hack to minimize the damage done.

On June 15, Guccifer 2.0 started posting. In his first post, he proved a number of the statements Crowdstrike or Democrats made to the WaPo were wrong, including that:

  • The hackers took just two documents
  • Only Trump-related documents had been stolen
  • Hillary’s campaign had not been hacked
  • The DNC had responded quickly
  • No donor information had been stolen

Now, you’d think this (plus Julian Assange’s claim to have Hillary emails) would alert the Democrats that Johnston’s advice — that the Russians probably wouldn’t do anything with the data they stole — was wrong. Except that (as far as is publicly known) none of the documents Guccifer 2.0 leaked in that first batch were from the DNC.

Around this same time, Perkins Coie lawyer Marc Elias asked Fusion to focus on Trump’s Russian ties, which led to Christopher Steele’s involvement in the already started oppo effort.

On June 20, Perkins Coie would have learned from a Steele report that the dirt Russia had on Hillary consisted of “bugged conversations she had on various visits to Russia and intercepted phone calls rather than any embarrassing conduct.” It would also have learned that “the dossier however had not yet been made available abroad, including to TRUMP or his campaign team.”

On July 19, Perkins Coie would have learned from a Steele report that at a meeting with a Kremlin official named Diyevkin which Carter Page insists didn’t take place, Diyevkin “rais[ed] a dossier of ‘kompromat’ the Kremlin possessed on TRUMP’s Democratic presidential rival, Hillary CLINTON, and its possible release to the Republican’s campaign team.” At that point in time, the reference to kompromat would still be to intercepted messages, not email.

On July 22, Wikileaks released the first trove of DNC emails.

On July 26 — days after Russian-supplied emails were being released to the press — Perkins Coie would receive a Steele report (based on June reporting) that claimed FSB had the lead on hacking in Russia. And the report would claim — counter to a great deal of publicly known evidence — that “there had been only limited success in penetrating the ‘first tier’ foreign targets.” That is, even after the Russian hacked emails got released to the public, Steele would still be providing information to the Democrats suggesting there was no risk of emails getting released because Russians just weren’t that good at hacking.

It appears likely that the Democrats asked Fusion to focus on Russia because they believed they had been badly hacked by Russia.

Everything they learned (and would have learned, if the June reporting on cybersecurity had been produced in timely fashion) between the time they were hacked and when Wikileaks would start releasing massive amounts of emails would have told the Democrats that the Russians hadn’t really succeeded with their hacking, and any kompromat they had on Hillary was not emails, but instead dated intercepts. The Steele dossier would have led them to be complacent, rather than prepping for the onslaught of the emails.

We don’t know how Steele’s intelligence was used within the party. But if they had paid attention to it, it would have done affirmative damage, because it might have led them to continue to rely on Johnston’s opinion that the stolen emails weren’t coming out.

46 replies
  1. bmaz says:

    You have to be kidding me. There is a difference between the “Steele Dossier” and the discreet reports, facts, evidence …… or, maybe lack thereof, as to discreet portions.

    And attempts, whether successful or not, respectively to corroborate the same. This is, as criminal investigations go, beyond ridiculous.

    This argument portends that every state level DR and every federal 302, or any document received in a fed investigation, is COMPLETELY obviated by some minor or tangential infirmity.

    Of course, that is not true in the least. Things work different than that.

    • emptywheel says:

      Um. I’m not even sure what you’re trying to say. It is totally irrelevant to any single thing I’ve said in this post.

      I know you love the dossier. I think it likely it was a deliberate attempt at disinformation. So love it all you want, but at least understand it well enough to make a coherent argument.

      • bmaz says:

        Rubbish. I neither “love”, nor scorn, the “dossier”. I think it is a complicated report that is not subject to such knee jerk characterization.

        Acting like it is a singular evidentiary whole that either exists as fact, or doesn’t and fails, as a whole, is silly. Discreet parts of it are either capable of corroboration or not. Different parts seem to have been subject to one or the other, corroboration or question. And both would impinge on how they ever would be presented in a GJ or warrant app, of which the reportage (to be clear, not hear) has been mostly beyond ignorant. And they certainly will continue to evolve as to however Mueller would use them as more evidence and testimony comes in. Accepting the “dossier” or scorning the “dossier” at this point is a fools errand, and far from the point as to any current use being made of it.

        • emptywheel says:

          Again, entirely irrelevant to the subject of this post.

          This post explores what the lawyers advising the campaign would think they knew if they treated this intelligence dossier as intelligence. If they believed what was in it then they would have given Hillary and the DNC shitty advice.

          That is a factual question: what do the pre-Wikileaks reports say about hacking and dirt on Hillary. On both questions, the dossier was 100%, laughably, wrong.

        • bmaz says:

          Time will tell. But my guess is it is a mixed bag. We shall see. There is a joke I am dying to make here, but I will not.

        • Peterr says:

          I’d be more sympathetic to that view if people like Adam Schiff and John Podesta didn’t keep invoking the dossier in ways that makes their legitimate concerns easy to discredit.

          This is exactly what bmaz is criticizing, too. Schiff, Podesta, et al. invoke The Dossier as a completely accurate whole, rather than picking it apart to distill truth from disinformation and/or fiction. Far from being irrelevant to the subject of the post, on this you and bmaz are entirely agreed.

          Hate to break it to you, but there it is.

        • emptywheel says:


          The subject of the post is not whether the dossier is credible or not. The subject of the post is whether the individual reports that Perkins Coie got between the time they asked for a RU focus and the time Wikileaks started dumping the emails led them to be less prepared for that email dump.

          Bmaz’ point might be relevant in other posts I’ve done–such as where I point out how fucking stupid Dems have been on the dossier (though he has consistently disagreed that they have been). But not this one, bc this one is about what the Dems would have learned from the dossier and how those three reports might have led them not to prepare for the Wikileaks dump.

        • Peterr says:

          From the very end of the post:

          The Steele dossier would have led them to be complacent, rather than prepping for the onslaught of the emails.

          We don’t know how Steele’s intelligence was used within the party. But if they had paid attention to it, it would have done affirmative damage, because it might have led them to continue to rely on Johnston’s opinion that the stolen emails weren’t coming out.

          I didn’t say you were writing about whether it was credible or not, but that the Dems failed to be critical in their acceptance of it. *You* point the dossier as the capstone to your piece. If I’m following you right, you are saying here in your conclusion to the whole piece that because the Dems uncritically relied on the dossier, they screwed themselves.

          Sounds about right to me.

  2. Peterr says:

    “Three most important questions,” Mr. Sussmann wrote to his clients the night the break-in was confirmed. “1) What data was accessed? 2) How was it done? 3) How do we stop it?”

    Uh, no.

    Question 2 is but a point along the path to answering #3. By itself, it is not that important. Sussman’s questions are essentially technical, and therefore beyond the bounds of the DNC staff/HRC campaign. You hire people to answer these questions.

    The missing important question is “What might the hackers do with this information?”

    What Sussman’s focus misses is the “so what?” question, which is ENTIRELY within the scope of the DNC and HRC campaign. What might our opponents do with this information, should they come into possession of it? What might the ordinary voter think, if this should become generally available?

    It’s not necessarily that The Dossier led them to be complacent, but that they chose to ignore the elephant in the room (so to speak). By focusing on the technical questions, they missed the opportunity to strategize around the political issues.

    [There is also a certain amount of ass-covering in this approach. The problem, following Sussman’s mistaken line of thinking, is that IT screwed up. Not the candidate, not the DNC officials, not anyone with any authority, but Them. By not asking “so what,” the political folks neglected to use their expertise to mitigate the potential problems that were coming their way.]

    • emptywheel says:

      Adding, that Sussman quote came from a NYT piece that REALLY put the Dems in the best possible light, and FBI in a crappy light.

      As a former prosecutor he should have known far, far better.

  3. pseudonymous in nc says:

    As I’ve said before, my approach to the [published] dossier is not primarily the content, but what we can extrapolate from it in terms of “what was believed to be known” and “what was believed to be believed” at certain points in 2016 among those made privy to Steele’s reporting. In terms of its content, I think whatever disinfo feedback loop existed becomes more obvious after the conventions, and that Steele’s chops on digital active measures were obviously lacking because he’s an old-school HUMINT / dodgy deals guy.

    I think I’m mostly in agreement with Peterr here: when you’re done over by hackers in such a comprehensive way, you have to assume that everything’s gone and can potentially be used in the most damaging way possible… but oh god you hope it won’t be. And sometimes you’re lucky or just think you’re lucky. You lose a bunch of credentials and oh fuck it was a weak unsalted hash on the password DB and you somehow don’t have a wave of exploits based on losing those credentials, and you think you’ve escaped, but maybe that’s because whoever nabbed them is seeing whether those credentials also unlock GMail accounts or iCloud or something juicier.

    Johnston’s advice, if accurate, was a kind of dereliction of duty, but it was probably what the DNC wanted to hear. If the people receiving Steele’s reports felt he was sufficiently qualified to guide them on hacking, then that was a dereliction of duty. If there was nobody in the room with sufficient clue to say “you’re fucked, we’re fucked, everybody’s fucking fucked” in their best Malcolm Tucker voice, then that’s a problem. But even if you’re fucked and you know you’re fucked, there’s not much you can do. Are you going to release the entire contents of your mail server including confidential and deeply personal information to try and get the shit out before any hackers do? (If you redact, the hackers won’t, and the press will zoom in on what you redacted because that’s what they do.)

    My best guess is that regardless of what Steele or Johnston said, the Dems weren’t complacent, they were just hoping for the best. I don’t think anyone could have predicted the scenario in which Wikileaks drip-drip-drip released and the political press spent every bloody day looking through dull emails for something juicy.

    • emptywheel says:

      Yeah, mostly agree. You’d think after Guccifer had proven them wrong on June 15, they’d have snapped to. And I think you’re right: both Johnston and Steele were telling them what they wanted to hear: that it wasn’t going to be as bad as it was.

      I would say, however, that the prior example of SyriaLeaks should have been a warning. Or, for that matter, PanamaLeaks, which was going on in real time.

  4. Desider says:

    Johnston was simply working on prior behavior. I don’t think the dossier was specifically responsible for that, and I think everyone understood it might be different this time – do the expressions “October Surprise” and “release her emails” mean anything? – but there was largely a hope-and-pray in absence of too much they could do about it. I don’t think the Steele dossier was expected to be the absolute latest vs a comprehensive look-see over the background landscape, and of course no one but someone with an agenda or fantasies expected the dossier to be anywhere close to 100% accurate (with that 100% being a canard Trump used), which further points to the unlikelihood of the dossier itself making Team Clinton complacent. Johnston ethically admits his possible blunder, but Hillary also knows that Clinton Rules make an exception out of every precedent, such as how FBI directors handle investigations and press releases, so I doubt if they just assumed they were out of the woods. They just didnt have too many good options, and it’s only a year later we start to appreciate the vastness of the Russian conspiracy. Sure, Steele may have made them and the FBI complacent about that because no one had stuck their head nearly far enough into the wasp’s nest to see. Last November it was easy to scoff at the idea the Russians influenced much, much less prior June. A year and a half on, it’s all rather bolshoi impressive.

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    It should have been obvious to the DNC that a massive hack in mid-campaign might mean that whatever was hacked would come into the open in the worst possible way. They could only assume that such a hack was unfriendly, and that once the data was “out there”, it would find its way to those who most wanted it use it against Clinton and the Dems generally.

    They would know what was hacked. Senior campaign people should have assessed what it might mean if it were revealed. They should have going through war game scenarios and planned their best responses. They should have determined who would be involved, who would take lead, depending on the issue, and so on. They might have done this sort of disaster preparedness, but it’s not obvious from their messy, seemingly uncoordinated responses.

    • emptywheel says:

      It’s really really hard to capture how badly DWS fucked the Dems. After she got fired I kept pointing out that losing her was a blessing, the Dems had just been looking for an excuse for probably over a year. But they really had to deal with two challenges on discovering the hack: the vacuum created by DWS’ failures, and the hack itself.

  6. scribe says:

    The thing is, the Crowdstrike tech telling the DNC that it was likely the info taken would not be used, because that’s how intelligence services work (“…they took it for espionage purposes…”) was a valid conclusion based upon the pattern the APT (and other intel-service hackers) had established.
    The surest way to fake someone out is to first establish a pattern, get them inured to it, and then use that pattern to lead into something else. E.g., on first-and-ten, repeatedly run off-tackle left with a WR bolting down the right sideline, then on the next first-and-ten run the same play but pass to that WR. You will dupe the D. In this situation, just because they never let the stolen info out in the past doesn’t mean they won’t do it in this particular case with your info, but you can’t know they will until they do.

    Was Crowdstrike’s bad advice? No. It accurately reflected the historical experience. Was it complete advice? Ehhh … he surely didn’t think deeply enough, but neither did the DNC. He didn’t say “y’know, there’s always that unguarded WR running down the right sideline on first-and-ten, so watch out for him.” And the DNC … no one with any skills other than fundraising and schmoozing.

  7. orionATL says:

    i appreciate ew’s lengthy, very helpful summary.

    not that it matters, but i no longer really care much what the past consequences for dems were, nor about the true/false content of the dossier are. that’s water under the bridge.

    what i do care about now is that the fascinating mystery be solved in all its gory details of fusion gps’ involvement in oppo research (clinton and bush) + the prevezon work + the veselnitskaya overture with dt, jr. i care about enough to have spent an hour or so very early this morning puzzling about.

    how the hell did this one firm get so wound up in matters involving russia? how did they end up playing both ends to the middle. if fusion gps were a law firm, they’d be in big trouble for representing parts of both sides in a conflict.

    as with guciferleaks and shadow brokers, what fascinates me now is the unknown. what frustrates me is the slow grind of investigative bodies in the u. s. – congressional (various muddling committees) and executive (fbi).

    as an aside, i really do appreciate ew making these two statements:

    1. “… emptywheel says:

    November 24, 2017 at 7:51 pm

    Clarifying: I think Steele was fed disinfo. I have no reason to doubt his good intentions…”

    i have assumed steele worked in good faith and out of strong professional distrust of russian motives. i share that distrust and not merely because i was a cold-war kid :)

    2.”… I’d be more sympathetic to that view if people like Adam Schiff and John Podesta didn’t keep invoking the dossier in ways that makes their legitimate concerns easy to discredit…”

    in this case i am happy ew identified by name dems she has previously referred to as” foolishly” (my term) supporting the dossier. i’m pleased to see the miscreants listed because i doubt most dem politicians would hang an
    ounce of weight on that dossier now, not out of disbelief but out of political wariness. that one or two dem pols do is their problem; maybe they even have a strategy. most dems are way beyond the steele dossier and russian involvement.

  8. orionATL says:

    it might be useful to keep in mind that the dnc and the clinton campaign were involved in a very important contest. they were focused on what campaigns typically focus on.

    this campaign was the first to experience and to fall in part due to digital/internet thievery and digital/internet manipulation of voters’ minds. you can bet no campaign from now on will make that mistake again.

    oh, and according to the recent associated press report on dnc/clinton campaign hacking, the clinton campaign was well-protected – or so they thought.

    • emptywheel says:

      It wouldn’t have been the only thing backing the FISA warrants, and the dates on known FISA warrants have changed so it’s not even clear whom it would be used on.

  9. dalloway says:

    I suspect if you were to ask any random voter in the three crucial swing states if the information in the stolen DNC/Podesta e-mails made them vote for Trump, they’d give you a blank stare and ask who John Podesta is.  When Trump voters hear “e-mails,” they think, as they were conditioned to for years by right wing media, of Clinton’s private server when she was Secretary of State and the lies about her compromising national security with it.   If the stolen DNC e-mails had any effect on the election, it was because the voters thought they related to the private server, not that they gave a rat’s ass about who said what to whom at the DNC.  Both national parties’ leadership think they’re far more consequential and powerful than they actually are.  As became obvious when Donna Brazile published her book, they’re mostly about backstabbing and jockeying for influence, not about winning or losing elections.

  10. SpaceLifeForm says:

    Do not forget Imran Awan.
    Flipped by now?

    Imran Awan hid secret server, backed up Democrats’ data on Dropbox


    “Imran Awan is the walking example of an insider threat, a criminal actor who had access to everything,” the senior official said.

    Awan also backed up massive amounts of Democrats’ data to the Dropbox file hosting service, the official said.

    “Congressional offices are prohibited from using Dropbox, so an unofficial account was used, meaning Awan could have still had access to the data even though he was banned from the congressional network,” the report said.

    [And, Dropbox not really that secure]



    • emptywheel says:

      It has not. There would be other subjects covered by other reports. But given some of the timing noted in the next post, I’m not convinced we’ve seen everything Steele wrote yet.

  11. PG says:

    Thank you, as always.  This analysis sheds a little more, much needed, light on the subject.

    The dossier has sown confusion from its inception.  In so far as it has obscured the truth, and continues to, it has been damaging.  All sides have been able to make use of it to the detriment of political discourse.

    Either wittingly, unwittingly or indifferently, Steele presented disinformation to a presidential campaign and then to the press.  His dossier wasn’t proffered merely as a collection of “rumors.”  It was presented as some sort of raw intelligence gathered by the ex-head of MI6’s Russian desk from figures either within or with close ties to the Kremlin.  Not your everyday opposition research, it carries the weight of Steele’s credentials and connections to lend it gravitas.  But, with friends like “a former top level intelligence officer still active in the Kremlin,” or “a senior Russian Foreign Ministry official,”et al., who needs enemies?  Unfortunately, it seems to me, Steele has allowed himself to be used.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      There’s a reason “raw intelligence” is raw, if not an oxymoron.  It’s like an MSM article: it might lack context or essential facts necessary to discern its meaning; it often contains mistakes or omissions, or over or under emphasis of critical facts.  It might contain lies, though given its frequent reliance on unnamed sources, it should be assumed to contain lies.  The question is which ones.

      That’s why intel analysts exist, to turn raw eggs and flour into finished pasta more amenable to intelligent consumption.  How it’s used, however, is not within their control.  Ask Team B.

  12. Rayne says:

    I don’t think the DNC became complacent after the hack. I think they were complacent under Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s leadership — period.

    She brought zero background as a leader of large scale networked enterprise environments. She thought only like a traditional, pre-internet campaigner — like a pre-Howard Dean campaigner. And I think she took a lot for granted about the party and candidates, based on a stale worldview. All this shaped the staff and its attitudes below her.

    The NGP VAN breach in late 2015 offers an example of the problem she posed as a leader; did it never occur to her to ensure better firewalling between Democratic candidate campaigns — especially when one of the candidates had only become a Democratic Party member that year in order to run under its banner? If she couldn’t ensure there weren’t breaches intra-party in 2015 and handled NGP VAN breach  sloppily, why would we ever assume she was capable of preventing or handling breaches of the entire party in 2016, before or after paying for the dossier?

  13. PG says:

    I’m forever at a loss with the reply button — if there’s a trick to it, I can’t figure it out.
    So, in reply to:
    earlofhuntingdon says:
    November 25, 2017 at 7:22 pm

    I do understand the concept of raw intelligence as such. I meant to emphasize the distinction between publicly sourced, verified, opposition research and the memos Steele produced. In the hands of political operatives and reporters, Steele’s reputation alone appears to have lent credence to his unverified raw intelligence. If the DNC took the memos seriously enough and at face value, they would have done so based on reassurances such as the author’s reputation and access to good sources. And they would, therefore, have been led astray.

    • orionATL says:

      using “reply” (courtesy of spacelifeform)

      “long hold” – touch and hold – the reply button. a screen will appear with choices. select “open in a new tab”. you will be taken to a standard writing screen. comment. enter id info and hit “post comment”. software will automatically put your comment where it belongs.

  14. zonefreezone says:

    Reply function N/W

    To Orion @11:43 & Rayne @5:55

    Re DNC incompetence
    Irony. It’s very hard to give attention or emphasis to cyber matters when your candidate has done State Dept biz solely on an nonsecure server in her laundry room and erased 1/2 of emails after they are subject to subpoenae. Only 1/2 of history is known in this matter and I kind of think the most interesting bits have been not been revealed. Yet

    • orionATL says:

      “… Irony. It’s very hard to give attention or emphasis to cyber matters when your candidate has done State Dept biz solely on an nonsecure server in her laundry room and erased 1/2 of emails after they are subject to subpoenae….”

      don’t use my comment to excuse riding your own hobby horse.

      my comment was intended to give another perspective on the dnc/clinton campaign re cyber security – namely that all campaigns tend to focus on standard campaign work, not cybersecurity. the clinton campaign was the first to face a full frontal cyber assault by a powerful and determined enemy.

      if you are one of the multitude of happy clinton abusers, and you want to re-interpret and yammer about clinton protecting her privacy, go ahead. just don’t use me as your lead-in.

  15. lefty665 says:

    There is the possibility that both Johnson and Assange are correct. Johnson that intelligence services both foreign and domestic collect information for their internal use and analysis. Assange that the data he received came from an internal DNC leak (likely by DWS’s Pak IT crew or DNC IT sources). If that is the case Johnson’s assurances would still have led them astray. The damaging behavior is the same, but the cause for it varies.

    • emptywheel says:

      Worth noting that Johnson’s prior expertise was with APT 29, not APT 28. At least publicly, the latter is believed to have been collecting for intel purposes, whereas the former is the one that leaked the emails.

  16. earlofhuntingdon says:

    If the DNC had applied standard failure modes and effects analysis, they would have identified and investigated several potential sources for the leaks, including external hacks and internal leaks from a vendor, mole, etc.  After all, potentially only the election was at stake.

    Instead, the DNC just whinged it, seemingly assuming that the most convenient reason was the right one.  That alone should tell the Dems that continuing to do what they’ve been doing for years can only result in the 2018 elections turning out like earlier ones.  Not a recipe for election victory or national renewal and a turning away from the disastrous priorities of neoliberalism.

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