Unwinding a Multithreaded Beast

This is more than the usual caveat asking readers to note the byline on this post. I’m not the expert at this site on the investigations by Special Counsel’s Office or any other law enforcement body — for that see Marcy’s or bmaz’s posts and comments.

However I spend a lot of time on information technology, which is how I ended up reading a report on internet-mediated information warfare.

Last year the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence held a hearing about Foreign Influence on Social Media. One of the commissioned and invited research organizations was New Knowledge (NK), a cybersecurity/information integrity consultancy. NK’s director of research delivered prepared remarks and a whitepaper providing an overview of Russia’s influence operations and information warfare program.

The paper is a peppy read; it will little surprise those who have followed the Trump-Russia investigation and the role social media played in the 2016 election. But there are still bits which are intriguing — more so months after the paper was first delivered,  in light of long-time ratfucker Roger Stone’s indictment this past week.

Note these two excerpts from the report:

There wasn’t a link in the indictment last year of the Russian Internet Research Agency personnel with Stone’s indictment. The IRA charges don’t overlap with Stone’s at all (count numbers from indictments in paren.).

(1) Obstruction of Proceeding
(2-6) False Statements
(7) Witness Tampering

(1) Conspiracy (to gain unauthorized access, hack and steal information)
(1) Wire Fraud Conspiracy
(3-7) Wire Fraud
(8,9) Aggravated Identity Theft
(10) Conspiracy Commit to Money Laundering

But Stone’s indictment reveals an interesting overlap of threads between Stone’s efforts on behalf of the Trump campaign and the information warfare operation the IRA conducted in 2016.

Why was the IRA propelling content to fluff Assange’s credibility in the days before the release of the hacked emails Stone was trying to manage? This is a rather odd service to offer as a tenth anniversary gift to a so-called journalism outlet which should be able to point to its achievements on its own.

The IRA wasn’t alone in its Assange cred-fluffing. What a coincidence the UK tabloid DailyMail also touted Assange’s ability to affect Clinton’s campaign with a release of hacked emails — and at nearly the same time the IRA was pumping up Assange’s image.

How odd this DailyMail piece was pegged to Wikileaks’ anniversary, but the headline on the article and subhead treat the anniversary as an afterthought compared to the hacked emails and their effect on the Clinton campaign.

It doesn’t look like social media alone manipulated public perception, or that manipulation was confined to U.S. media.

Perhaps these two threads — the IRA’s influence operation/information warfare and Stone’s hacked email ratfucking — weren’t directed by a common entity. The public may not know depending on the course of SCO’s criminal and counterintelligence investigations and what information is released. But they certainly sewed toward the same outcome.

100 replies
  1. Savage Librarian says:

    This is a confession I don’t like to admit, but I was duped by the flood of data over the internet. I don’t do facebook or twitter. I don’t have cable and the tv has been gone for years.

    EW is the first blog I have participated in, as you can tell. But what I do is read news on the net. Lots of it.

    It took me months before I realized RT was Russia Today. I think the site was purposely designed to deceive. After all, RT in net slang means Real Time or Re-Tweet.

    There were other sites like that as well. Most of them seemed to pop up in late 2015, as far as I remember. So, if a librarian could be deceived, so could many others.

    • Rayne says:

      You weren’t alone in being duped which was the entire point of the influence operation/information warfare.

      Doesn’t help that a Russian-controlled media outlet hires people like Larry King, either. People trusted him and now he’s bait.

    • Hops says:

      I spotted RT right off the bat when it showed up in my Google News feed because of articles related to denial of climate change. I think Russia is pro-Trump also in part because Russia depends on fossil fuel sales and Trump is a denier, or Trump is a denier because Russian (and U.S.) oligarchs want him to be. Another way Trump is screwing up the world.

    • Rapier says:

      As a general thing, and I am sure I will be pilloried for this, but RT  or Sputnik, is no more propagandist than the NY Times.  In either case the source must be considered.  It isn’t the facts are so wrong in either case it is the underling presumed narratives that underlie the stories and then the facts or presumed facts which are front and center.

      I am speaking in terms of international relations. There isn’t much content in RT about economics and finance/banking/monetary and here the NY Times is wildly slanted in favor of  the world view of our high priests of money.

      • Rayne says:

        Jesus Christ on a fucking pogo stick, RT IS STATE OWNED.

        Come back with that argument when Russia divests of its media and doesn’t kill journalists who cover stories sensitive to Putin.

        Even our POS quasi-state-mouthpiece media Fox News isn’t state owned. I can’t with this.

        • boba says:

          Umm, the argument that being state owned leads to propaganda is not a strong one.  Deutsche Welle is “state owned” (if by owned you mean funded by the state and accountable to a state enterprise).  BBC – is a state enterprise, as is ABC (Australia) and CBC.  They have decent reputations as factual presenters.

          Rapier’s point that we should judge the facts as presented to determine the intent.  I do not expect RT to tell me the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  But I am not about to trust an organization that hires David Brooks, Bret Stephens, Ross Douthat and Bari Weiss to know what truth resembles either.

          What’s the thing about spy movies? It isn’t the answers to the questions that are important. it’s the questions that are raised where you learn something.  Regardless if they always tell the truth, what the “source” tells is important but what they leave out is usually more important.

          • Rayne says:

            You made my case for me. Have you actually been following the BBC’s coverage of Brexit? It sucks, leaves massive holes in coverage when it tackles it at all; did the same in its coverage in 2014 of Scotland’s independence referendum. I avoid using BBC as much as I can depending on the subject matter though The Sun and DailyMail as alternatives leaves much to be desired.

            Unless one is rigorous in their reading of material, one won’t know when state-owned media fails or misleads, yet because they are state-owned they’re imbued with authority. Fuck that.

      • Eureka says:

        Hi, Rapier- the way you wrote your comment reminded me of this journalist’s story who went to work for Sputnik with the same open attitude.  At the end he also had a lot of twtter activity about it, but see how the story begins and ends here- especially the parts that relate to the quid pro quo and what was expected of him with his White House press credentials.  From the intro:

        “What would you do if we asked you to write something that wasn’t true?”
        I was sitting in a 10th-floor conference room in the K Street offices of “RIA Global,” otherwise known as the Washington, D.C., bureau of the Russian-owned Sputnik News Service, where I’d come for a job interview.

        “I’d quit,” I replied.

        …when I walked out of the office five months later—termination letter in hand—I thought back to that moment, and given my answer, wondered why he’d hired me in the first place.

        My Life at a Russian Propaganda Network

        Adding:  I’m giving this a re-read now myself with the benefit of an additional ca. 1.5 years hindsight- lots more there.

      • Rapier says:

        The state didn’t have to own the NY Times to print up the Arkansas Projects output, Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction stories or non stop Hillary’s Email stories in October 16.  Nobody paid them to tell us yesterday that Rodger Stone is a fun sort devilish little scamp or that guy in Toledo who is a Nazi is a regular guy.

        The NY Times propaganda is sometimes subtler but 10,000 times more important because what is says defines the narrative and pretty much  sets the limits of the narrative in the US.

        Now we will be hearing in the Times about Elliot Abrams. Respected foreign policy operator, Central American death squad supporter and enabler, and so much more, advancing the cause of freedom in Venezuela. Along with the ever present stories about the tragedy of New York’ers who are not quite rich enough. Say what you will about Russia but America has bombed to death at least 2 million non combatants since the end of WWII. Russia can’t touch that.

        • Rayne says:

          Enough. Take your strawman elsewhere. We’re all fully aware media outlets can have their own agendas. Clearly in your time here at emptywheel and your +300 comments to date you have completely missed where this site stands on The New York Times beginning as far back as its previous iterations The Next Hurrah and Firedoglake. I wrote a piece criticizing the NYT 17 days ago but no, criticism of state-owned RT must equal uncritical support of NYT.

          Ask yourself if you’d trust a U.S. government-owned media outlet under this administration to tell you the truth. Ask yourself if you’d trust them more if the government had a habit of assassinating journalists who were critical of the government and the president.

          • Galloshumor says:

            What is your take on the wnyc/npr funding in regards to quality of information? It is state owned in a since as npr is largely state funded. Can the listener contribution act as sufficient protection from state control? It has become my main source of news over the past few years and I have felt that it more than replaced hours of reading a day of corporate owned newspapers, not that I don’t read them at all anymore. So what’s your take on this revenue method vs accuracy? I do have to say they lightened up a lot on amazon after the gift they received from them which was very disappointing to me. But keep in mind I found this blog because Marcy was on air one morning about a year ago and I’ve been reading without comment ever since.

            • Rayne says:

              NPR receives a rather small amount from the federal government, ditto state public radio. The key is the word “public” — I just saw a chart yesterday which I now wish I had snagged showing NPR’s largest funder is the public via individual donations. IIRC, federal tax dollars amounted to less than 10%. That’s hardly a controlling interest.

              In my state the public radio stations are run by staff and volunteers through state universities. There again are some federal and state funds but they are not direct — like the student interns who might receive federal or state grants for tuition but work in the radio/TV station.

              I’d be more worried if state and federal funding composed a majority of public broadcasting’s funds, if the state/fed government insisted on control of management, if the number of volunteers/donors supporting operations were minimized instead of maximized.

  2. jaango says:

    I respectively disagree with the view that this perceived “melding-moment” did not occur nor accrue to a level of importance, at least for the Chicano voters here in my wonderful Sonoran Desert. And any ‘triangulation’ between WikiLeaks, the Russians and the Ireland, did not influence our votes, one iota.

    [Your content was cut. It is rude to flood comments with nearly 900 words of off-topic material — bordering on trolling — even if we are sympathetic to the issues you share. Start your own blog and link to it from a comment. /~Rayne]

        • P J Evans says:

          I used to see Neon Vincent over at the Great Orange Satan, and I think that’s their own blog they’re linking.

          • Rayne says:

            Let me try and say this as nicely as I can through gritted teeth: Neon Vincent needs to butt out. He’s been able to share a link to whatever site he wants through his username here. Ditto for Jaango. This site isn’t going to permit a denial of comment service to its readers by permitting overlong content belonging on other sites.

  3. David Elsea says:

    I found this site through Marcy’s excellent reporting, but I come here daily for you Rayne!

    Thanks :)

  4. GusGus says:

    Interesting observation Rayne, I am not sure what to make of it.

    One comment.

    How odd this DailyMail piece was pegged to Wikileaks’ anniversary, but the headline on the article and subhead treat the anniversary as an afterthought compared to the hacked emails and their effect on the Clinton campaign.

    My understanding is titles and subtitles of newspaper and magazine pieces are generally written by the editors, and not the authors. This does not detract from your observation, but rather one should ask why the editor chose the title he or she chose, rather than thinking that it was the author.

    • Savage Librarian says:

      It is an unusually long headline. Not something that is done often. Perhaps it was a signal, a reassurance from someone to someone.

    • Rayne says:

      I checked the text of the article — not the headline or subhed, not the image descriptions, not the insets or adverts — and the word “anniversary” occurs exactly once.

      Clinton = 9
      election = 9
      References to “the US” whether the country or election = 8
      Trump = 4
      Russia = 1

      Yeah. This wasn’t just the headline or subhead.

  5. zach says:

    I remember visiting Russian BitTorrent trackers a decade ago, and reading translations of the various discussions going on, just out of curiosity.

    Later on, I too checked out RT just because stories appeared in my news feed, and I couldn’t believe the comment sections.

    Compared with the BitTorrent sites, these posters stridently defended the Russian government and all of that; I immediately assumed these people were working for that government. The contrast was that shocking.

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    So Matt Whitaker is staking a claim as a VIP (and for continuing his job with the administration) and is telling the world that the Mueller probe is about to wrap up. He’s also saying he took over from Rosenstein from day one.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Correction: Whitaker says “he’s been briefed,” he doesn’t say he is or has been directly supervising Mueller’s probe.

      I agree that his comments are probably pushing the envelope of both what he knows and what’s likely to happen in the short term.

  7. Savage Librarian says:

    Who doesn’t like something for free? I’m sure Putin is well aware of this vulnerability and has taken full advantage. Two examples follow.

    1. My 2013 MacBook Pro came with a free 1 year subscription to Kapersky “security” software. Of course, I would never accept that now. But even after it was scheduled to expire, it still seemed to linger. Even when I tried to uninstall it, it seems to have some kind of shadow presence. I don’t use it for online activity, but it is worrisome.

    2. I either read this or heard it from someone: Russia, China, etc. floods college campuses and other useful locations with free usb drives (thumb/flash drives.) They like to put them at kiosks so they are readily accessible.

    • Jockobadger says:

      SavageL – quick comment.  I have two sons at college right now and they’re tech savvy like most of their cohort.  I can say without asking them that neither they nor their buddies would ever pick up or use a free thumb drive. They’re just far too sophisticated for that. Oh, the purveyor might get a few rubes, but very few.

      Might work at a mall or resort or something…..

  8. greengiant says:

    Hmmm. Dailymail which continued to provide media support for GOP operatives AFTER the 2016 election. The media who broke the Weinergate story in September 2016 followed by Sputnik’s reporter’s communications with the North Carolina hackers. That put Wiener’s laptop in play. Political editor Martosko was frequent flier on Trump campaign plane and was reported looking for a White House staff position.

    • BobCon says:

      One interesting twist is that The Mail seems to have loosened up its extreme Brexit stance in the past few months, moving more toward a softer Brexit position:


      The article notes it could be due to the replacement of longtime arch conservative editor Paul Dacre. The article also notes it could simply be waning support for the hardliners. I think an unmentioned possibility could be The Mail fears what could result from a collapse of all Brexit compromises — a collapse of the Conservative Party rule and the rise of Corbyn.

      I think what this hints at, though, is the likelihood that the quilt of forces in 2016 for Brexit and Trump was fairly hastily stitched together, and the looming chaos in the UK and the US may spark a lot more buyers remorse among former allies.

      • Rayne says:

        I would love to see a graph charting approval of a No-Deal hard Brexit against Dacre’s tenure and departure.

        At the time of the referendum a survey showed the three most popular sources of news/information in UK were 1-Sun 2-DailyMail, and 3-Facebook.

        ~face palm~

          • Rayne says:

            Yes — and I’ve written how both news and social media were used to suppress turnout toward the end of the day by emphasizing how bad the weather was. Youth turnout was particularly affected suggesting social media played a bigger role.

            It’s a danger here in the U.S. that local stations owned by Sinclair will push weather news in the same way on election day.

            Only takes a percent or two to be persuaded against voting in tight races; Michigan’s margin was only 10K votes in a state with 9-10 million residents.

      • Trip says:

        @BobCon, Bannon was working on Brexit back in 2015 with Rebekah and Robert Mercer and Cambridge Analytica, along with Aaron Banks. Bannon wanted Sessions to run for president in the US. Bannon also introduced Farage to Sessions.

        • harpie says:

          Here’s a good article touching on some of the relationships:
          Trump adviser sought WikiLeaks emails via Farage ally, Mueller document alleges Ted Malloch was allegedly passed request to get advanced copies of emails stolen from Trump’s opponents by Russian hackers  Wed 28 Nov 2018 15.05 EST

          […] In response to a series of questions from the Guardian, including whether he had acted on the request to make contact with WikiLeaks, Malloch said in an email: “No and no comment.” […] Malloch, 66, has been under scrutiny by Mueller for months, amid suggestions that he may have served as an important nexus in 2016 between Trump’s White House bid and the campaign to secure Britain’s exit from the EU. […] Malloch, who is American, told the BBC soon after Trump’s election win in November 2016: “I’ve had a lot of contact. I’ve been involvedwith the campaign for over a year and a half.” [May, 2015] He was in Washington for Trump’s inauguration. // He was at the same time close to Farage and other influential Brexit campaigners. Farage wrote the afterword for a book by Malloch subtitled An Insider’s Look at the Trump Victory. Elsewhere in the book, Malloch said of Farage: “The government should use him as a back channel to Trump.”

          Also, I can’t think of Bannon without also thinking of Breitbart.

          • harpie says:

            Carole Caldwalladr has more:

             2:53 PM – 2 Dec 2018 This is amazing. Watch @nigel_farage greet Robert Mercer in lobby of Trump tower, Dec 15, 2016. Amazing for many reasons: 1) Mercer bankrolled Trump, Breitbart UK & Cambridge Analytica 2) @andywigmore told @ObserverUK Mercer helped them because Brexit was “petri dish” for Trump / 3) @andywigmore & @arron_banks told @ObserverUK they visited Russian embassy on Nov 18, 2016 – 6 days after first visit with Farage to Trump tower. And one month before this one. If you want a possible communication channel between the Kremlin & Trump, there’s one right here 

          • BobCon says:

            My favorite theory (pure speculation, of course) is that Murdoch is the one responsible for Brexit because he double crossed Cameron.

            Cameron was extremely tight with Rebekah Brooks, one of Murdoch’s key lieutenants, and I suspect Cameron never would have pushed for the Brexit referendum without a deal with Murdoch to kill the leave vote. He’s too much of a chicken.

            I don’t think Leave would have won on its own. I simply don’t buy Dacre plus Cambridge Analytica and whatever hardcore right wingers would have gotten it done. I simply don’t buy attempts to mythologize CA’s methods. I don’t think they’re any better than what their opponents do.

            But at some point I think Murdoch reneged on his deal, and the water he could have dumped on the deal never came.

            It’s not that I think Murdoch would ever endorse staying, but I think he could have easily kept his empire mostly on the sidelines, and Cameron would have kept his job.

            Speculating again, I think Murdoch may have decided to screw over Cameron around the same time he decided to throw his weight behind Trump. Both decisions seem rooted in a choice for chaos over order, which is not typical for Murdoch and may have a root motivation.

            And maybe, just maybe, he may end up making a losing bet in both cases.

            • Rayne says:

              I’m not certain what’s going on with Rupert let alone the rest of the NewsCorp empire. All I know is that NewsCorp is dangerously fascistic and shouldn’t be allowed to buy any more media in the U.S.

              If Rupert and the rest of NewsCorp thought that a No-Deal hard Brexit was a bad deal for the UK their coverage in the UK and elsewhere would have changed and it hasn’t. They are literally helping drive the UK over an economic and political cliff.

              What I want to know: why did Rupert et al come to believe this was the right thing for them when the value of every business in UK is going to plummet? Or do they think they can pull this out inside 60 days? What insanity.

        • Eureka says:

          Your comment about Bannon’s prior support for Sessions as an upstart loser reminded me of another you’d made wondering when Bannon met Stone, and if through Trump.  I don’t know, but have you looked into any Stone relationship with David Bossie?  Supposedly Bossie introduced Bannon to Trump ca 2011 (and in the interim, Bannon (Breitbart)  supported Trump for his upstart disruptorness, which is why I am reminded by your Sessions-Bannon comments):

          When Steve Bannon first met Donald Trump, the idea of a presidential campaign was only beginning to take shape.

          In 2011, Trump conducted preliminary talks to consider what a bid for president might look like in the upcoming election cycle and to weigh the odds of winning such a bold gamble. He began consulting with David Bossie, president of the conservative advocacy nonprofit Citizens United, and after a few meetings, Bossie tapped his friend and collaborator Bannon “to talk about how to build this thing out,” Bossie told RealClearPolitics.

          Trump ultimately decided to put his White House plans on pause, along with any official collaboration with Bannon. But the business mogul would continue to informally cultivate both.

          ADD: later in the article, Ann Stone, Roger’s ex wife, is cited as trying to sell the 2016 Bannon relationship, but nothing earlier

  9. Rusharuse says:

    We have to wait till Assange is in custody before Mueller does his big reveal.

    When you see “Big Jules” in chains – thats when to go buy the popcorn!

  10. P J Evans says:

    @Savage Librarian January 28, 2019 at 5:55 pm
    I actually bought it for mine – got rid of it last fall, when it expired, and yes, it did have some bits that lingered. (The computer I use now is a different machine, so it’s never had Kaspersky.)
    At the time I got it, it was the best antivirus around. I’ve heard of people who have trouble getting McAfee and Norton uninstalled, too – it makes a certain amount of sense; they need to run reliably even if something is attacking, but still…you should be able to get all the bits uninstalled without problems.

    • Trip says:

      I never had Kaspersky, but some anti-virus programs I did have (one French vendor, I think) required going back to the drive (where you installed it from) and selecting uninstall, rather than just trying to trash it, since it’s integrated into everything. You might already know this, if so, Apologies. And it may not apply to Kaspersky.

      • P J Evans says:

        I did use Uninstall. Which did – but there were some bits that still popped up after. I couldn’t find where they were coming from – and I looked in Task Manager’s pages.

  11. Ckymonstaz says:

    Reply to @Rayne’s post at 4:42pm about RT and Larry King…

    Certainly can’t argue that most of what’s on RT’s YouTube channel is state propaganda but have a hard time believing Chris Hedges/On Contact fits that mold. His work along with Robert Scheer and several others on truthdig is worth reading for any concerned citizen in America today

    • Rayne says:

      I’m thinking of the scene in Mad Max: Fury Road where Mad Max says, “That’s bait.”

      A journalist working for a state-owned media outlet is compromised. They may be working as they always have but they are planted as lures. I trust them even less because I can’t be certain some small amount of disinfo has been planted in their work. The really sad part is that I thought Hedges was smarter than that.

      Who do you trust at Fox News? Do you trust everything they produce? Now imagine if Fox, too, was state-owned under Trump’s power. Who at Fox would you trust then?

    • Tracy Lynn says:

      I had no idea Chris Hedges broadcasts on RT. (Being an avid reader, I don’t watch cable news of any kind–so I’m a bit ignorant) I truly value being able to come here and get unvarnished info @Rayne.

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      I’m not keeping count, but it feels as if quite a few people have had holy shit moments after being briefed by Mueller.

  12. Mitch Neher says:

    Rayne said, “Perhaps these two threads — the IRA’s influence operation/information warfare and Stone’s hacked email ratfucking — weren’t directed by a common entity.”

    If you substitute “connected to” for “directed by,” then Wikileaks and Assange would be the common entity to which Stone and the IRA were connected. Add a little GRU posing as Guccifer 2.0 to forward requests for buzz-building from Assange to Prigozhin and you could put the words “directed by” back in at least for the buzz-building part of the operation. Don’t ask me how to prove it.

  13. Alan says:

    I can believe that the Special Counsel’s investigation is winding down.  At this point, his team must have spoken to all of the accessible witnesses who are not targets and collected much of the accessible documentary evidence.  All that we know that remains is:

    – Will Andrew Miller testify before the Grand Jury?
    – Will the secret foreign-owned corporation provide any evidence?
    – Will the search of Stone’s residences bear any fruit?
    – Will Corsi provide any useful information?

    That’s all I can think that we know.  On top of that, I would think the Special Counsel would want to finish Grand Jury testimony before its members are discharged around the July time frame.

    While the investigation may be “winding down”, the prosecutions might not–there might be more forthcoming.  The DOJ regulations specifically state that “At the conclusion of the Special Counsel’s work, he or she shall provide the Attorney General with a confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions reached by the Special Counsel.”  Based on that wording, I wouldn’t predict the Special Counsel will submit a report until all of the prosecutions are completed (which doesn’t make complete sense, since if the Special Counsel doesn’t anticipate any additional charges, he could certainly report then on his prosecution and declination decisions, but that’s not what the regulations say).

    I’m not saying the Special Counsel investigation is definitely winding down, I’m just saying I find it plausible that it might be.

    • BobCon says:

      I think you’re right to stress the difference between investigation and prosecution, and the second part can go for a long time.

      Another big issue is that we don’t really know what Mueller has spun off. Is he doing a lot on NRA-Russia? Is he digging more into the Trump organization regarding the Trump Tower meeting or other business (still no Don Jr. grand jury) or is that all SD business?

      We really don’t know what’s going on with Russia either. I suspect there is more on the influencing side, such as the DNC polling data theft and the Manafort campaign data handoff, but I don’t know what.

      So I’m cautious about claims of wrapping up — it’s plausible Mueller’s investigation is getting smaller now, but that may not mean as much as Whittaker wants to imply.

  14. pseudonymous in nc says:

    As EW noted, and as I said elsethread, if the IRA and GRU streams cross on US soil (as opposed to the intertubes) it’s probably in Florida. And Stone is the black heart of Florida ratfuckery.

  15. Naomi Schiff says:

    Just a question about the headline did you mean “sewed”?? Did you perhaps mean hewed or skewed? Cleaved?

  16. skua says:

    If BDTS is stepping up to the mic around Mueller and also giving statements about Huawei then I’ m lengthening the odds on Barr becoming AG before April.
    Was 4/5, now 1/2.

  17. P J Evans says:

    @Jockobadger January 28, 2019 at 8:50 pm
    Probably works on the very young with no tech knowledge, or the elderly with no tech knowledge. I’d run a scan on any thumb drive that I hadn’t bought new. You don’t know what’s on them. (All of mine came new in packaging. Bought a three-pack of 16GB drives this morning, in fact – $13. 64GB drives are down below $30 now. I have a database that will need one of those 64GB drives when I get it all sorted out.)

    • Eureka says:

      This whole conversation is making me wonder if even cheap ones in the packaging are ok.  I know the prices keep coming down in general.  But I recall old super sales/ cheap outlets and wonder…  Is this another variant of ~ if it’s free or cheap, the product is _you_?

      Some companies won’t allow the use of thumb drives on work computers unless the thumb drives are company-issued (and single-use).

      • Pat says:

        Or you could imagine that the computers of people who can afford expensive thumb drives might be more valuable to hack.  If you’re in the mood to think that someone might try to put malware on thumb drives at the factory.

    • Jockobadger says:

      PJ/Eureka – You’re likely right about young and elderly folks being duped in that way.  Scary.  My younger son is especially techy i.e. studying computer something, something at Uni, and he has warned me in the past that anything like a thumbdrive or external drive (or even cell phone) can have malware and/or dubious firmware/hardware on them that are difficult to detect.  My experience with my boys and their friends in HS and college is that they’re just sort of intuitively suspicious of all this stuff.

      I’m like the latter of the two PJ describes – just an aging rube who has a target on his back!  My boys scan my laptop, etc. for me regularly.  Thanks EW and all of you.

  18. Eureka says:

    From Rayne’s last screenshot of the indictment, in para 16 c- what were (Assange’s) ~ ‘serious security concerns’ as Stone says Oct 4th. That’s another detail where I can’t recall if it was publicly revealed – even ostensibly (like related to the anniversary)- or I just forgot.

    • harpie says:

      10/2/16 STONE emailed [Credico], with the subject line “WTF?,” a link to an article reporting that [WL] was canceling its “highly anticipated Tuesday announcement due to security concerns.”
      [Credico] responded to STONE, “head fake.”
      [This might be the article: WIKILEAKS CANCELS HIGHLY ANTICIPATED TUESDAY ANNOUNCEMENT DUE TO ‘SECURITY CONCERNS’ Reports indicate Assange may make video announcement Tuesday or Wednesday Heat Street – OCTOBER 2, 2016 InfoWars—that’s Alex Jones]
      10/2/16 STONE texted [Credico] and asked, “Did [Assange] back off.”
      10/2/16 Stone tweets: Wednesday@HillaryClinton is done. #Wikileaks.— Roger Stone (@RogerJStoneJr) October 2, 2016 / [CBSNews]
      10/3/16 [Credico] initially responded, “I can’t tal[k] about it.” After further exchanges with STONE, [Credico] said, “I think it[’]s on for tomorrow.” [Credico] added later that day, “Off the Record Hillary and her people are doing a full-court press they [sic] keep [Assange] from making the next dump . . . That’s all I can tell you on this line . . . Please leave my name out of it.”
      10/3/16 STONE wrote to a supporter involved with the Trump Campaign, “Spoke to my friend in London last night. The payload is still coming.
      10/3/16 STONE received an email from a reporter [Matthew Boyle] who had connections to a high-ranking Trump Campaign official [Bannon] that asked, [Assange] – what’s he got? Hope it’s good.” STONE responded in part, “It is. I’d tell [Bannon] but he doesn’t call me back.”
      10/4/16 [Assange] held a press conference but did not release any new materials pertaining to the Clinton Campaign.
      10/4/16 Bannon emails Stone: “What was that this morning?” 
      STONE answered that [Assange] had a [s]erious security concern” but that [WL] would release “a load every week going forward.

      [harpie transcription from NYT: “Fear. Serious concern. He thinks they are going to kill him and the London police are standing done. [sic] However—a load every week going forward”.
      Bannon responds: “He didn’t cut deal w/ clintons???”]
      10/4/16 the supporter involved with the Trump Campaign asked STONE via text message if he had “hear[d] anymore from London.”
      STONE replied, “Yes – want to talk on a secure line – got Whatsapp?” STONE subsequently told the supporter that more material would be released and that it would be damaging to the Clinton Campaign
      [29JAN2019 10:18 am ET — Last two items added as requested. /~Rayne]

      • pseudonymous in nc says:

        Note that Michael Cohen arrived at Heathrow (probably early, given typical NYC-LHR flight schedules) on October 6th. Maybe it was just for his daughter’s birthday.

      • Eureka says:

        Thanks, harpie- that makes sense- that their ‘reasons’ were on infowars, I wouldn’t have read there.

        I was also in the middle of a reply to you and Trip above re Mercers/Bannon and a different phase of the operations when computer troubles arose, so I’ll just stick what I can reconstitute here since it relates to the Podesta dump planning:

        Related to all this, and our convos the other day, I think the Mercer extraction operation of Manafort from the campaign (and Bannon/ Conway being hired, later Bannon replacing Manafort) may have started a little earlier than the low-mid-teens-ish of August 2016 as published reports suggested (especially seeing certain NYT bylines as palace intrigue with decided PR goals).

        I wonder if that plan started by late July/ early August, and relates to ‘the hackers’ making or changing their content to Podesta (as Corsi says August 2nd).

        Also on August 2nd, a “longtime ally of … Manafort” wrote this to a reporter:

        “Manafort not challenging (Trump) anymore,” Manafort’s ally wrote. “Mailing it in. Staff suicidal.

        Manafort and his Deripaska drama and side-hustles might have been too much of a drag on getting the desired hacked materials, and maybe another oligarch stepped in to clear that path.

        Maybe it was an oligarch who knew a Podesta attack was waiting in the wings-  an attack which would be far more effective with Paulie Rugs gone. Maybe the change in plans was a signal to the campaign to ditch Manafort and bring on the home team.  Who knows, but-   Synergy!

        Then the day Manafort resigns (~8-19-16), Trump gives that speech with a non-specific apology.  No one knew to whom or for what he was apologizing.  I think he was apologizing to oligarchs on at least two continents.

        (Recall also how the transition from Manafort to Bannon was stated as one of changing Trump’s tone, letting him be himself, the whole Mr. Smith goes to Washington thing.  While looking at fine details one might see differences, on the whole he came off as just as much an asshole before as after- as a general gloss.  And the explanations at the time made no sense.)

        • Eureka says:

          In more same old same old news, Jared (here, from WaPo):

          Jared Kushner, husband of Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump, had also become less enthusiastic about Manafort’s management, according to Donald Trump’s aides. Kushner gave his blessing Tuesday to the campaign changes and has told Trump privately that Manafort had difficulties with aspects of executing the Republican National Convention and with building Trump’s organization nationally, the aides said.

          Coupled with Trump’s own frustrations, the family’s souring on Manafort’s leadership created an atmosphere that was less supportive, though not hostile, of the operative, the aides said.

          It’s almost more painful to read 2016 Maggie Haberman than 2018+/- MH, but here is a sample to read between the lines, just before Manafort was fired:  Donald Trump Appoints Media Firebrand to Run Campaign

          For Mr. Trump, though, bringing in Mr. Bannon was the political equivalent of ordering comfort food.

          And re R. Mercer and the Podesta angle, I am referring here as before to ew’s posts on the evolution of the GAI report —> Corsi/Stone Joule Podesta allegations/media attacks.

          • Eureka says:

            Oops, this was the better text “re Jared” (from NYT) and Manafort quitting, because it reminds of Jared and the Flynn firing, a la ‘make it go away’ and the run-up pieces in NYT:

            According to people briefed on the matter, Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, expressed increasing concern after a Times article published on Sunday about allegations of cash payments made to Mr. Manafort’s firm for his work on behalf of his main client, Viktor F. Yanukovych, the former Ukranian president, who is an ally of Mr. Putin.
            (internal link removed)

      • Rayne says:

        I’ve read that series of exchanges several times now and it feels like something is missing or deliberately withheld/skewed by one of the participants.

        The “serious security concern” could have been a real threat, but I wonder if the source was misread. Did pro-Trump faction tell him “No, you may not release the emails to pump up your anniversary”? Did they already know the Access Hollywood tape was coming and they needed the emails to mute that release on the 7th?

        What gives me pause about the security concern is his appearance outside the embassy. If he was so worried why would he even emerge from the building?

        EDIT — 29JAN2019 1:45 pm ET — okay, thread cleaned up, this bit added back in here:

        Even with their cut away to secure comms there’s something else missing — perhaps the lack of acknowledgment Trump was supposed to make a big announcement and didn’t along with failure to acknowledge WL’s anniversary? We know these things but the pieces we have make it look these weren’t relevant.

  19. Ckymonstaz says:

    @Rayne at 7:42pm…

    I hear you & certainly don’t trust anyone/thing to do with Fox or conservative media. I take most of what’s on all MSM with a big fat grain of salt as well

    As for Hedges and RT, certainly was surprised to find him on there and agreed that whatever good his message might do is outweighed by the bad of legitimizing Putin’s state news but it’s hard to know where to draw the line…corrupts all his work? only his work? All of truthdigs?

    Seems the only truth left is our own in a world where writers like Hedges who once stood up to the NY times and left when they wouldn’t let him report the truth on Iraq can be corrupted or used as “bait”

    Thanks for the post today, definitely led to some interesting commentary below

  20. Eureka says:

    OT – Has Comey endorsed coffee-man* yet?  I am waiting for the tweeted photo with a cup or logo.  Or maybe he’ll just re-tweet his serious centrist message.

    *decided on ‘man’ here to keep Schultz straight from all of Trump’s coffee boys.

  21. Vinnie Gambone says:


    “News is something somebody somewhere wants kept quiet. Everything else is advertising.”

    I first heard that in relation to Nam. I read most news/books through that prism and it is  as  important to me in my reading as my glasses are. Still, where is one to look.?  I think I am looking widely, but am I?

    There’s tons written about poppy trade in Afghanistan, but  I have only heard about  the lithium mines there  recently.

    There is  some reporting on the Voltaire. net about Southern Command . Voltaire.net  obviously is opposed to all things American, yet I learned a few basic facts about US presence there and our military’s view and preparations for contingencies there. Skewed ? Sure.  But we are there.  Maduro offered  safe exit to have the  US embassy staff extricated, but US refused.  Now what ?

    MBNBC  reports on Venezuela include current prices for crude. If you believe what Voltaire. net has up  we are getting ready to invade. Trump needs a war to get reelected. Not that far fetched. We only know what they tell us .

    Lastly,  I noticed MSNBC omitted mentioning Mexico sides with Maduro.  Nothing from Trump on that?

    I do believe what they say, that all wars are bankers wars.

    When a UU official says…” let me throw cold water on that. ” that being  notion the US will aid Military intervention in Venezuela, to me, sounds just like the dentist saying, ” your going to feel a little pinch.”

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/for-now-pentagon-on-margins-of-american-response-to-venezuela-crisis/2019/01/25/72d91e2a-20b5-11e9-9145-3f74070bbdb9_story.html [*]

    I did not learn about the use of Flechette bombs on Palestinian children from the American press. Hard to swallow.  I didn’t have a reason to care about Israel and Palestine   until I saw the news about the Flechette bombs use in a campaign of collective punishment in Palestine  that members of the Jewish Community  in NYC protested.  All over the lot here, but if news integrity is the subject,  it is a very important subject. Mind control  is no joke. Pass the tin foil.

    Thank you Ruane  for bringing up murdered Journalist.  Saints.

    [* Link edited to remove tracking. /~Rayne]

  22. P J Evans says:

    @Eureka January 28, 2019 at 9:19 pm
    The USB ports on mine were disabled. (So was the CD drive – which was a pain when they had to install software; they had to do it remotely.) Not that it was usually a problem; I wasn’t generally working on anything at home that was sensitive (didn’t have the right software for that). [I actually preferred going in, because I had more access there to the odd bits I needed, and could grab people who might have answers to the odder questions. Usually they were coming to me with their questions. And I could extract information from the drawings that they didn’t know was in there. (Um, this pipe you’re looking at – it’s from some time before 1948…and I suspect it might be from before 1915. You really might want to do something about it.)]

  23. Thomas says:

    Something that I haven’t seen discussed much by any media:
    The content on Wikileaks.

    Specifically, the email dumps were curated. The emails themselves were given as documentary evidence to back up claims given in summaries.

    The summaries echoed or offered right wing smears against Clinton, but the emails themselves do not support the claims in the summaries. The email content is exaggerated or misinterpreted to support the claims in the summaries. For example, Clinton advocated the free movement of electricity across borders, not people.

    In addition, there are emails that were clearly doctored. For example, some of the emails were altered to put right wing criticisms of Obama into Clinton’s mouth.

    My conclusion is that some GOP operative assisted Wikileaks in the curation.

    The MSM didn’t do an analysis. Instead, they went with the assumption that the summaries were backed up by the emails, and they also assumed that all of the emails were authentic and not doctored.

    Trump and GOP operatives assisted in creating the public acceptance of the summaries as accurate descriptions of the emails.
    Clinton did attempt to question the authenticity of the summaries and the emails themselves, but was drowned out by Trump’s constant promotion of them and the MSMs failure to critically scrutinize the claims, and the wildfire viral promotion of them by Russian trolls.

    Trump was prepared beforehand, and likely because a GOP operative assisted in creating the summaries.

    Trump amplified the Russian social media campaign at every rally. The coordination was in plain sight.
    The crucial link yet to be revealed is: who was the GOP operative who curated the emails?
    Also: who was feeding the troll farm with information about where to target the message?
    Certainly Manafort did some of this. Who else was doing it?

    The hacked Democratic campaign analytics were given to Stone by the GRU. All he had to do is pass that to Kushner or Perscale.

    Right now we are being told that the conspiracy we see plain as day is not a conspiracy.
    “Oh well! If there’s no evidence then that’s that.”
    “What evidence? I don’t see any evidence” they say, looking right at the evidence.

    The Republicans used a fake scandal about emails for years to plant distrust and doubt about Clinton regarding…emails. This is why the Trump/Russian/Wikileaks email attack fooled so many people. Never mind facts.

    Trump and several others persisted in the lie that someone else besides the Russians hacked the Clinton campaign. They kept peddling that lie all the way to July 2018.
    They assumed that no one would ever be able to trace the hack to the Russians definitively, and thus expose their cooperation with the Russians.

    “Who knows who it was?”

    “I’ll give a reward to whoever finds out who it was”

    “Wasnt me!”

    “It was Seth Rich!”
    Hannity and Stone

    • P J Evans says:

      I don’t think the MSM reported much on the emails having been edited – but it showed up in other places.

    • P J Evans says:

      That particular one shot right to the top of the “retire or replace” list when I told them it was before 1948. (I retired before I heard what they actually did with it. But I hope they took it out. I could only doc the pre-1948 part, so I didn’t tell them I thought it was before 1915. That was educated guess based on experience with maps and other paperwork – there’s no documentation for it, and we looked when we first saw it, back in 1989. GIS has its moments…)

      • Eureka says:

        The years/eras you’re citing sound similar to what I’ve read in local news reports- it’s a widespread problem in older communities.  Good reminder that all of the old pipes under our roadways are yet another reason that we really need to have an Infrastructure Decade.

        • Jockobadger says:

          Well said, Eureka!

          ~ we really need to have an Infrastructure Decade.

          I know it’s probably low priority with many people, but it’s so true.

        • P J Evans says:

          Gas distribution company – they pay attention to that kind of thing, but until computers and GIS, there wasn’t any easy way to find the old stuff. (In the 80s, they computerized their service information – a massive multi-year project – but the hardware and software weren’t up to what was needed for the rest of the system- we tried it, then. Which is why we were looking for the records then.)

  24. EWTRTW says:

    Kinda off topic, but kinda not, why haven’t we heard much of the server in Trump tower communicating with Alpha Bank? And couldn’t this be related to Manifort providing insider poling data to Russia? It seems like if Mueller could show that team Trump provided the Republican Party’s voter demographics data to Russia as a means to help target vulnerable voters in key swing states on social media, well… wouldn’t that be the smoking gun? Cambridge Analytica had to be a nexus in this effort. For more than a year ago I’ve felt nearly certain the Russia investigation would eventually expose this link. Does anyone see in kind of preview of this connection in any of Mueller’s moves or revelations to this point.

  25. Tom says:

    I find Whitaker’s comments about being briefed on the SCO’s investigation and his conclusion that Mueller is close to completing his work and filing a report to be a little disturbing.    From various news clips I’ve seen on YouTube, this is just Whitaker’s personal opinion, not an official DOJ statement.   It also seems an odd thing to say given that Roger Stone has just been indicted and the FBI has only begun looking through his files, devices, etc.     It also strikes me that Whitaker is echoing the same statements that Rudy G. has been making in recent weeks and months to the effect that Mueller should have finished his investigation by now (based on Rudy’s assertion that the President did nothing wrong and therefore there is nothing to investigate), the implication being that there is something suspicious about the fact that Mueller has actually not completed his work and filed a report.

  26. Trip says:

    @ Eureka January 29, 2019 at 12:59 am

    Bossie: President of Citizens United (funded by Koch Network)

    Matthew and Sarah Elliott: How a UK Power Couple Links US Libertarians and Fossil Fuel Lobbyists* to Brexit

    Matthew Elliott, CEO of pro-Brexit Vote Leave, was a partner at Awareness Analytics Partners (A2P) which has links to Trump, DeVos and the Koch brothers~Medium, Wendy Siegelman

  27. Trip says:

    ‘They were planning on stealing the election’: Explosive new tapes reveal Cambridge Analytica CEO’s boasts of voter suppression, manipulation and bribery

    Previously unknown recording reveals extraordinary ‘black ops’ on three continents – exploiting weaknesses in democracies left wide open by governments and Silicon Valley. The ultimate goal of Russian interference and billionaire voter suppression campaigns alike is to get us to ‘Keep Out’ of politics: to accept the dominance of transnational oligarchs, and to lose hope that things can change.


  28. Cathy says:

    P.S. Appreciation for the heading imagery. I’m drawn to the way the electronic display suggests a tapestry. Well deployed.

  29. Rayne says:

    Harpie, I’m leaving this here as it fits with your tick-tock in this thread and my follow-up about something missing.


    Somewhere along the way I missed the timing of Access Hollywood tape’s discovery within NBC — happened on 03-OCT before Assange’s anniversary celebration and the DailyMail article. Timing could be very tight considering the number of time zones depending on where exactly the video was discovered, LA or NYC.

    Entire scenario also casts a different light on the leak of the video to David Fahrenthold at WaPo.

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