Don’t believe all of the hype surrounding the newly released cybercrimes report by federal law enforcement that supposedly provides details on the Russian connection to criminal hacking. There is still no evidence that Russian spies or the military were behind breaking into the email accounts of Democrats and/or U.S. electoral systems.
By Sydney Johnson
The FBI and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a report yesterday, purportedly providing details and even evidence that Russian intelligence was behind the hacking of top Democrat officials and the U.S. electoral board. The Joint Analysis Report (JAR) on “Russian Malicious Cyber Activity” is available to read here.
After getting busted for lying to the American public about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, you would think that Washington officials would be on guard against making unsubstantiated claims concerning foreign powers. However, upon reading the latest JAR—it is only 13 pages—it is clear that the White House is blaming Russia with zero evidence that Russian officials were linked to the computer crimes. Worse still, President Barack Obama has imposed economic sanctions on Russia and ordered dozens of Russian diplomats to leave the country—all on the presumption that we should just trust what U.S. authorities claim.
It is common knowledge that all countries spy on each other, and it would be grossly naïve to deny that countries, including Russia, hack into computer systems maintained by foreign powers.
The U.S. is particularly bad when it comes to snooping on foreign officials, even so-called friends and allies. This was exposed in 2013 when American intelligence officials were embarrassed after Edward Snowden released official documents taken from the National Security Agency that showed the federal agency spied on everything and everyone, even going so far as to steal medical records from international nongovernmental agencies so U.S. officials could snoop on foreigners.
The U.S. media has been in a tizzy these past 24 hours, breathlessly reporting that the JAR laid out the U.S. government’s evidence that the Russians were behind the hacking.
The Hill, a Washington, D.C. daily, at least noted that “security experts say that the document provides little in the way of forensic ‘proof’ to confirm the government’s attribution.” However, the daily amended that, adding: “Private security firms—like CrowdStrike, who investigated the DNC breach—went much further, they say.”
The claim is that the Russian government is somehow and in some way linked to the two supposedly sophisticated groups—APT28 and APT29—that, among other things, installed malware and then conned top Democrats like Clinton campaign advisor John Podesta into turning over passwords. But these purportedly highly sophisticated groups were then stupid enough to leave bread crumbs back to a Russian server, implicating themselves in the crimes?
AFP recently interviewed the owner of one of those servers. He said that he had tracked IP addresses to Europe, but no one in the U.S. was interested in his information.
The truth is, there is still nothing linking the Russian government or any of its military or intelligence agencies to the hackers who leaked damning emails revealing that the Democratic Party had conspired to undermine the presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) in favor of Hillary Clinton.
Those who claim that the JAR proves Russian hacking likely either never read it or, if they did take the few minutes to look through it, did not understand it.
You would think that, by now, most in the mainstream media would be skeptical when their government simply states, “Hey, you’ve got to trust us.”
Sadly, however, this is not the case.
Sydney Johnson is a reporter who lives in Washington, D.C.