More Holes in Russia-gate Narrative

By William Binney and Ray McGovern. Bill Binney worked for NSA for 36 years, retiring in 2001 as the technical director of world military and geopolitical analysis and reporting; he created many of the collection systems still used by NSA. Ray McGovern was a CIA analyst for 27 years; from 1981 to 1985 he briefed the President’s Daily Brief one-on-one to President Reagan’s most senior national security officials. Originally published by Consortium News. Republished with permission.

It is no secret that our July 24 VIPS Memorandum for the President, entitled “Was the ‘Russian Hack’ an Inside Job?,” gave rise to some questioning and controversy – nor was it a surprise that it was met with almost total silence in the mainstream media.

The ongoing U.S. media campaign against Russia has been so effective that otherwise intelligent people have been unable even to entertain the notion that they may have been totally misled by the intelligence community. The last time this happened in 2003, after a year of such propaganda, the U.S. attacked Iraq on fraudulent – not “mistaken” – intelligence.

Anticipating resistance from those allergic to rethinking “what everybody knows” about Russian “meddling,” we based our VIPS analysis on forensic investigations that, oddly, the FBI had bent over backwards to avoid. In other words, we relied on the principles of physics and the known capability of the Internet in early July 2016.

We stand by our main conclusion that the data from the intrusion of July 5, 2016, into the Democratic National Committee’s computers, an intrusion blamed on “Russian hacking,” was not a hack but rather a download/copy onto an external storage device by someone with physical access to the DNC.

That principal finding relied heavily on the speed with which the copy took place – a speed much faster than a hack over the Internet could have achieved at the time – or, it seems clear, even now. Challenged on that conclusion – often by those conducting experiments within the confines of a laboratory – we have conducted and documented additional tests to determine the speeds that can be achieved now, more than a year later.

To remind: We noted in the VIPS memo that on July 5, 2016, 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. That yields a transfer rate of 22.7 megabytes per second.

Recent Tests

Over the last few weeks, we ran three tests to determine how quickly data could be exfiltrated from the U.S. across the Atlantic to Europe.

–First, we used a 100 megabits-per-second (mbps) line to pull data from a one-gigabyte file to Amsterdam. The peak transfer speed was .8 MBps.

–Second, we used a commercial DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) to send the same one-gigabyte file to a commercial DSL in Amsterdam. The peak transfer speed was 1.8 MBps.

–Third, we pushed the same one-gigabyte file from a data center in New Jersey to a data center in the UK. The peak transfer speed was 12 MBps.

None of these attempts achieve anything close to the average rate of 22.7 megabytes per second evident in the July 5, 2016 download/copy associated with the DNC. In fact, this happens to be the speed typical of a transfer to a USB-2 external storage device. We do not think this pure coincidence; rather, it is additional evidence of a local download.

We are preparing further trans-Atlantic testing over the next few weeks.

Some researchers have noted that some partitioning of the data might have occurred in the U.S., allowing for a transfer to be made at the measured speed over the Internet, and that this could have made possible a hack from the other side of the Atlantic. One of our associate investigators has found a way to achieve this kind of data partitioning and later transfer.

In theory, this would be one possible way to achieve such a large-data transfer, but we have no evidence that anything like this actually occurred. More important, in such a scenario, the National Security Agency would have chapter and verse on it, because such a hack would have to include software to execute the partitioning and subsequent data transfer. NSA gives the highest priority to collection on “execution software.”

Must Americans, apparently including President Donald Trump, remain in a Russia-did-it-or-could-have-maybe-might-have-done-it subjunctive mood on this important issue – one that has been used to inject Cold War ice into relations with Russia? The answer is absolutely not. Rather, definitive answers are at hand.

How can we be so confident? Because NSA alumni now active in Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) are intimately familiar with NSA’s capabilities and practice with respect to bulk capture and storage of fiber-optic communications. Two of us actually devised the systems still in use, and Edward Snowden’s revelations filled in remaining gaps. Today’s NSA is in position to clear up any and all questions about intrusions into the DNC.

In sum, we are certain that the truth of what actually happened – or didn’t happen – can be found in the databases of NSA. We tried to explain this to President Barack Obama in a VIPS Memorandum of Jan. 17, just three days before he left office, noting that NSA’s known programs are fully capable of capturing – and together with liaison intelligence services do capture – all electronic transfers of data.

Our Jan. 17 Memorandum included this admonition: “We strongly suggest that you ask NSA for any evidence it may have indicating that the results of Russian hacking were given to WikiLeaks.” … “If NSA cannot give you that information – and quickly – this would probably mean it does not have any.”

We also appealed to Obama in his final days in office to order the chiefs of the NSA, FBI and CIA to the White House and have them lay all their cards on the table about “Russian hacking,” and show him what tangible evidence they might have – not simply their “assessments.” We added, “We assume you would not wish to hobble your successor with charges that cannot withstand close scrutiny.” Having said this, we already were reaching the assumption that there was no real evidence to back the “assessments” up.

FBI: Not Leaning Forward

The FBI could still redeem itself by doing what it should have done as soon as the DNC claimed to have been “hacked.” For reasons best known to former FBI Director James Comey, the Bureau failed to get whatever warrant was needed to confiscate the DNC servers and computers to properly examine them.

In testimony to the House Intelligence Committee six months ago, Comey conceded “best practice is always to get access to the machines themselves.” And yet he chose not to. And his decision came amid frenzied charges by senior U.S. officials that Russia had committed “an act of war.”

But is it not already too late for such an investigation? We hope that, at this point, it is crystal clear that the answer is: No, it is not too late. All the data the FBI needs to do a proper job is in NSA databases – including data going across the Internet to the DNC server and then included in their network logs.

If President Trump wants to know the truth, he can order the FBI to do its job and NSA to cooperate. Whether the two and the CIA would obey such orders is an open question, given how heavily invested all three agencies are in their evidence-impoverished narrative about “Russian hacking.”

Let us close with the obvious. All three agencies have been aware all along that NSA has the data. One wonders why it should require a Presidential order for them to delve into that data and come up with conclusions based on fact, as opposed to “assessing.”

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  • LostInTheStars

    Democrats are supposedly the party that believes in science. Since I am a former registered member, I have lots of friends who belong to the Democratic Party. Every single one of them is absolutely convinced there is solid evidence that the Russians hacked the election and the hack is why Hillary lost. When I bring up actual data such as that presented in this article, they get so angry they won’t even continue to carry on a conversation with me. Even more disturbing is the fact that every single one of them is convinced that Putin is the devil incarnate and – if I understand them correctly – strong military action is needed to take him out.

    • janchup

      Challenging any faith based belief system -Russian Hacking- always meets resistance.

  • jadan

    The same lack of reason and objectivity prevails with 9/11. There is no forensic analysis. Evidence accounts for nothing. Is there a level in hell where lying propagandists are given their just reward? What happens to nations when there is no truth everyone salutes? I answered my own question! We can see it right here and now!

    • DebraRElliott

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    • NikitaBPierce

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    • The just reward for propagandist is to expose their lies to daylight.

  • Tom Paine

    Amazing how human crowds are so easily brainwashed.
    As for what level in hell? The liars should be cast into a sea of shit and forced to eat it for all eternity.

  • PlanetZee

    Unless I am mistaken, the hacking is a relatively minor side issue. Russian money, Russian co-ordination, voter manipulation thru advertising, voter suppression thru access to voter records, and the issue of how high the corruption goes are the issues involving the Russians and the election. I is my opinion this article is an attempt at distraction.

    • Joze

      Russian money … is like US/EU money in any other (non US/EU) election, state of the art
      Russian coordination … is like US/EU coordination in any other (non US/EU) election, state of the art
      voter manipulation thru advertising … well, *any* advertising is essentially manipulation, and again, to say that only Russians are doing it is …
      voter suppression thru access to voter records … this, if proven, would finally be something

      issue of high high the corruption goes … well, as high as money can reach. Nothing Russia-specific here

    • It wasn’t a hack, but a leak.

      • PlanetZee

        And my point still is, it’s nothing more than a distraction, at this point. Seth Rich would disagree, given the chance. People harping about the hack/leak do so to distract from the real treason of the republican party and the president.

        • Yes its a distraction courtesy of the shadow government.

          This article has a detailed explanation about the download speed which indicates that it was internal.

          Just to be absolutely clear about this – The Russians have absolutely nothing to gain from supporting either side of a corrupt duopoly, no matter who won the election, US policies remain exactly the same.

          I do believe there’s testosterone fueled competition inside the shadow government with different factions fighting over control.

          The road goes on forever and the party never ends.

          • PlanetZee

            Whether it was a hack or a leak, it’s purpose was to reveal the corruption of the electoral process by the DNC. The DNC worked for the benefit of Clinton’s election instead of an honest vote. That’s real. The “shadow government” is real. In times past it was referred to as the hidden hand. Eisenhower called it the military industrial complex. It’s real and it’s in control. But that’s not what Comey is after. He’s on the trail of Russian money and it’s influence on the election, along with Trump’s personal corruption. And how deep does the collusion cancer reach into the Republican party.
            Great song.