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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Timing is everything - Why were WikiLeaks DNC emails released now?

While there has been a lot of speculation as to the source of the WikiLeaks DNC email dump, with mounting evidence that state-sponsored Russian hackers did it with an eye toward helping Donald Trump getting into the White House, less attention has been paid to the question of when this hack was done.

Obviously, the release, coming only 48 hrs before the start of the convention has had a major disruptive influence. As WikiLeaks leader and founder Julian Assange put it in an interview with Richard Engels of NBC News, this email dump is "now up-ending the DNC as we speak." He noted that because of what they call 'Hilary Leaks', “the very top of the Democratic party, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, is now being forced to resign.” There is no question that the release of these documents after a long nominating process has been completed, but days before it is to be consummated, has disturbed the Democratic National Convention and given an advantage to Donald Trump.

So when did this hack take place and why is it being released only now? According to WikiLeaks, "The leaks come from the accounts of seven key figures in the DNC" and "cover the period from January last year until 25 May this year." An examination of the dump shows
that the last email from each of the seven accounts was dated May 24th or May 25th:

AccountEmail ID#Time/Date
Communications Director Luis Miranda (10770 emails)30142016-05-25 00:42:48
National Finance Director Jordon Kaplan (3797 emails)32562016-05-25 12:03:21
Finance Chief of Staff Scott Comer (3095 emails)197812016-05-25 12:48:34
Finanace Director of Data Daniel Parrish (1472 emails)209632016-05-25 12:10:00
Finance Director Allen Zachary (1611 emails)30142016-05-25 00:42:48
Senior Advisor Andrew Wright (938 emails)161502016-05-24 18:55:10
N. CA Finance Dir. Robert (Erik) Stowe (751 emails)174152016-05-24 14:02:51

So there is no question that this data was captured on or after May 25th, and since these are people who use these email accounts every day, it is hard not to conclude that this hack was done before emails on of after May 26th could be captured. It would appear that this data capture, whether by leak or hack, took place on or about May 25th. This raises the very troubling question of just where all these stolen emails have been for almost two months and why only now are they being made public so that they may now affect our body politic.

Imagine the difference it could have made had these hacked emails had been released within a week after the last ones stolen? That would have been before the primaries in California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota and South Dakota were held. Bernie Sanders won two of those and Hillary Clinton won four including California. Would she have done as well if these emails were public knowledge then? What if Debbie Wasserman Schultz has been dismissed as DNC chair at the beginning of June instead of now? We very likely would be experiencing a very different Democratic National Convention now. The very timing of the WikiLeaks release shows it was not done to defend democracy but only to further manipulate the process. This release certainly wasn't timed to help Bernie Sanders, it was timed to help Donald Trump.

Julian Assange hasn't just been silent as to the source of these emails. He also hasn't said when WikiLeaks got hold of them. I was one of the independent journalists WikiLeaks granted pre-publication access to for both the Stratfor GI Files and the Syria Files, so I do know that in the past WikiLeaks has held material for quite some time while they and selected 3rd parties vetted and researched the materials before making them public. From what Assange told Engels about this current dump, not that much has changed, "Wikileaks has been doing that for ten years. We're a publishing organization. We get good scoops, we analysis them and them we publish them." In vouching for the material, he said "We verify the material. It is completely accurate and authentic." This also takes time, indicating that WikiLeaks has had this material for some period before releasing it 2 days before the convention.

There is another aspect of the WikiLeaks DNC email dump that is very likely to have partisan results that favor Donald Trump. In the past WikiLeaks has been careful to redact identifying information about those not their targets. Not so in this case. This data dump contains not just the email addresses of its seven targets but the undisguised email addresses of everyone they corresponded with. So in addition to making public the inter-workings of the DNC, WikiLeaks has also made public the private email addresses of hundreds, if not thousands of DNC employees and supporters. This is an open invitation to mischief. The disruptive possibilities of this list of email addresses is enormous. Even if Russian hackers had nothing to do with this email dump, as Assange claims, they will have a lot of fun with this list.

5 comments:

  1. Here is a link showing that Julian Assange was telling us on June 12, if not even earlier, that he had the emails and was planning to release them. A lot of us were waiting for these to be released. Did you not know about this until afterward?

    http://www.salon.com/2016/06/14/wikileaks_will_release_new_clinton_emails_to_add_to_incriminating_evidence_julian_assange_says_in_big_year_ahead/

    But your main assumption is that the *Russians* leaked the emails to WikiLeaks. Maybe - but this assertion (with no evidence available to the general public) is awfully convenient for Hillary Clinton. It's a way of deflecting attention away from the *content* of the emails, which show just how corrupt she and the DNC have been. Below is a link to a *very* reputable source which says the hacking was "almost certainly not carried out by the GRU's cyber warfare branch, contrary to assertions by senior DNC officials who fix the blame on Russian intelligence."

    I think Assange himself was responsible for waiting - maybe because the cataloguing was not complete, but more likely because he wanted to do maximum damage to Clinton because of his own tenuous situation.

    http://www.debka.com/article/25570/The-DNC-emails-were-not-hacked-by-Russian-GRU

    The DNC emails were not hacked by Russian GRUDEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis July 26, 2016, 6:33 PM (IDT)

    "...an analysis by DEBKAfile's intelligence and cyber defense sources has determined that the hacking was almost certainly not carried out by the GRU's cyber warfare branch, contrary to assertions by senior DNC officials who fix the blame on Russian intelligence.
    Their assertions don’t hold water in the light of four facts:"
    [go to the linked site for the rest]

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    Replies
    1. Barbara,

      Thank you for the feedback, but I think you got a few facts wrong.

      The Salon article you reference makes no mention of DNC emails. In it JA says he has more Clinton emails to release, and you are trying to stretch this to include the hacking of these 7 DNC accounts. It says:

      Julian Assange, ...will soon be publishing unreleased emails from Hillary Clinton.

      Where any of the DNC emails from Clinton? Anyway he clearly wasn't talking about the DNC emails.

      JA, like you say that questions about the source are a way of deflecting attention away from the content. I think that is a false argument against questioning the source. One could just as well say that this whole email controversy is a way of deflecting attention away from the fact that at this very moment Russian and US forces are collaborating to exterminate the last stronghold of revolutionary resistance in Aleppo. While we debated the relative importance of their source and their content, 300,000 Syrians have been cut off since 7/27, surrounded and being reduced by illegal weapons like cluster bombs. But back to the emails. I think we are quite capable of analyzing the content and finding the source. They are very separate questions.

      DEBKAFile is often a useful source but in this case they are clearly blowing smoke. They present no facts and no alternate suspects. They give 4 reasons why it couldn't possibly be the Russians:

      1) If the Russians did it they would have been caught, they're too good.

      2) Just a US presidential race, not important enough to bother.

      3) They would need powerful computers and couldn't possibly compute it that fast. I guess they're assuming they don't know about cloud computing.

      4) Blaming the Russians is standard for the US

      This article is a diversion and a waste of time. the headline is not substantiated, it even misleading "not hacked by Russian GRU." Don't they have other agencies? What about them?

      Also that that it is the claim of the Clinton campaign is to pick off an easy target, this is also the view of the FBI
      http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/07/25/fbi-suspects-russia-hacked-dnc-u-s-officials-say-it-was-to-elect-donald-trump.html

      And before you scream that the political fix is in, remember that this is the same FBI that just spent many months investigating Hilary Clinton.

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. If Assange had leaked in May, it presumably would have helped Bernie and he may have won the nomination (not likely, I think). So, was Assange concerned that Bernie would have an easier time defeating Trump? Would that explain his delaying the leak? If so, my sense is that he succeeded in getting Schultz out, but maybe that's all. The Dems, despite the leaks, seem to have recovered and put on a much better convention than Trump (who seems to be distancing himself from his).

    But, Assange may decide to leak again, maybe just before the election.

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    Replies
    1. If Trump is trying to distance himself from this he sure has a strange way of doing it. Donald Trump said "they probably have her 33,000 e-mails. I hope they do" Isn't that like rooting for Russian espionage against the US?

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