Back when Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer was disclosed earlier this summer, the media figured that it, at long last, had the smoking gun against the Trump administration they were looking for.
Even though a half-dozen or so other smoking guns they’d trotted out had turned out to be broken water pistols at best — remember MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and Trump’s “tax return”? — this time they swore up and down on a stack of “The Audacity of Hope” that this was the Jenga block that would topple the Trump White House.
We’re just a few weeks short of autumn now, and the only collapse we’ve seen is of the Russian narrative. The media has, you may have noticed, moved on to Charlottesville. Now, a bombshell report from a left-leaning veterans intelligence group says that the event that started the ball rolling on Russia — the infamous Guccifer 2.0 leak that was linked to the Russians — was fabricated and that a forensic analysis of the documents proves that “Russian fingerprints” were introduced into them to make it look like the handiwork of Vladimir Putin.
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Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity is probably best known as the group thatfirst reported that Saddam Hussein didn’t have weapons of mass destruction, a feat that got them picked up and lauded by The New York Times back in the days when Howard Dean was considered a viable presidential candidate and “American Idiot” was considered a nuanced political statement.
Now, VIPS isn’t getting picked up much by The New York Times — or many liberal media outlets, save (surprisingly) The Nation. The group’s new report claims it’s much more likely that the DNC leaks came from inside the committee and that it would be almost impossible for the Russians to have pulled it off.
“Forensic studies of ‘Russian hacking’ into Democratic National Committee computers last year reveal that on July 5, 2016, data was leaked (not hacked) by a person with physical access to DNC computer,” states the group’s report, released in July but just getting play now.
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“After examining metadata from the ‘Guccifer 2.0’ July 5, 2016 intrusion into the DNC server, independent cyber investigators have concluded that an insider copied DNC data onto an external storage device.”
The report, which was put together with the help of several digital forensics experts, argues that the speeds at which the documents were downloaded were completely incompatible with a hack.
On July 5 of last year, “(i)n the early evening, Eastern Daylight Time, someone working in the EDT time zone with a computer directly connected to the DNC server or DNC Local Area Network, copied 1,976 MegaBytes of data in 87 seconds onto an external storage device,” the report reads.
“That speed is much faster than what is physically possible with a hack,” it notes. To obfuscate their identity during a hack, hackers have to use what’s known as a VPN, or Virtual Private Network. That dramatically slows internet speeds — meaning that it would be almost impossible to get the data onto a storage device that quickly.
And that’s not all: The Nation (which is, for those unfamiliar with it, one of the most left-leaning publications in the United States) notes that metadata shows that the emails “were adulterated by cutting and pasting them into a blank template that had Russian as its default language” — an indication that someone wanted to make it look like a Russian-speaking individual was behind it.
No wonder that the media has been so eager to discard the Russia narrative and go onto Charlottesville, at least when it comes to the president. Not only have all hopes of impeachment faded, but the inciting incident of the Russian narrative — the DNC hack — may not have been the Russians at all. And, if the report is true, it almost certainly clears the president or any of his associates of collusion. After all, if the emails passed directly from a DNC source to WikiLeaks, there isn’t even any Russian middleman to collude with.
We commend The Nation for having covered this. We only hope that other outlets would have the same courage. We don’t necessarily know that this report is true. However, given its provenance, it’s something that needs to be investigated.
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