Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
April 26, 2015

NSA Failure - THIS Hacking Of The White House Was Not Really Severe

While spending billions for spying on citizens the NSA obviously lacks the capacity to protect the White House and the State Department:

Some of President Obama’s email correspondence was swept up by Russian hackers last year in a breach of the White House’s unclassified computer system that was far more intrusive and worrisome than has been publicly acknowledged, according to senior American officials briefed on the investigation.

The hackers, who also got deeply into the State Department’s unclassified system, do not appear to have penetrated closely guarded servers that control the message traffic from Mr. Obama’s BlackBerry, which he or an aide carries constantly.

Much of that "unclassified" email still contains restricted information like official schedules and briefings. The hack certainly did some damage. The blaming of "Russian" hackers though is dubious. How did the investigators attribute this? And if they are sure why not make a public case of it? There are some hints in the reporting that the "Russian" angle is not that clear at all:

One of the curiosities of the White House and State Department attacks is that the administration, which recently has been looking to name and punish state and nonstate hackers in an effort to deter attacks, has refused to reveal its conclusions about who was responsible for this complex and artful intrusion into the government.
...
This month, after CNN reported that hackers had gained access to sensitive areas of the White House computer network, including sections that contained the president’s schedule, the White House spokesman, Josh Earnest, said the administration had not publicly named who was behind the hack because federal investigators had concluded that “it’s not in our best interests.”

Usually Russia and its president Putin get officially blamed in Washington for every evil in this world. Why not now? May there have been someone else involved? We probably can guess who from this part:

The hackers appear to have been evicted from the White House systems by the end of October. But they continued to plague the State Department, whose system is much more far-flung. The disruptions were so severe that during the Iranian nuclear negotiations in Vienna in November, officials needed to distribute personal email accounts, to one another and to some reporters, to maintain contact.

Official traffic was pushed off the official servers to completely unprotected and easy to surveil private accounts. This during the negotiations with Iran. Who could have had an interest in that? Were those "Russian" hackers speaking Hebrew? That would explain the spokesperson's claim that it was "not in our best interests" to reveal the source.

But again why isn't the NSA able to protect the unclassified email servers? Why would it take months to clean them up? Why is spying on others deemed more important than protecting ones own communication?

Think of network attacker as a needle lost on a dirty living room floor. What does the NSA do to find that needle? It goes off and searches the barn because "that's were the hay is."

There are of course also protected networks and systems but those may not be easy enough to use. Or they have also been hacked. There is a hint of that as the article ends with an ominously specific denial:

The White House, the State Department, the Pentagon and intelligence agencies put their most classified material into a system called Jwics, for Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System. That is where top-secret and “secret compartmentalized information” traverses within the government, to officials cleared for it — and it includes imagery, data and graphics. There is no evidence, senior officials said, that this hacking pierced it.

Hmm. "THIS hacking probably did not pierce that secret network. Why, if it has never been hacked, would the officials be so very specific in THIS claim? If THIS hack was not that severe which one was? What other cases of hacked government communication, by you know who, are covered up behind this claim?

Posted by b on April 26, 2015 at 9:27 UTC | Permalink

Comments

You're absolutely right b, 'NSA Failure ...' National Security Agency is what NSA is supposed to stand for. In fact it spends all of it efforts making sure that all of our communications are insecure, and easily surveilled by ... themselves. The only thing to do at this point is execute the NSA. And the CIA as well. The CIA needs no replacement. The NSA can be replaced, in its canonical role ... that's security rather then insecurity ... by the US Post Office : Article I, Section 8, Clause 7 "The Congress shall have Power ... To establish Post Offices and post Roads;". That definitely goes for the Information Superhighway and the servers, software, and protocols that will provide us all with end-to-end-encrypted email ... transparently.

I'm sure you're right about the Israelis being the culprits on this one. And in other undisclosed instances. With friends like the US and/or Israel you definitely have no need of enemies. In fact, I just read that Europeans who think of the Germans as their friends don't need enemies either.

The BND's excuse is that they didn't know the gun was loaded. Don't think that will fly either.

Posted by: jfl | Apr 26 2015 9:52 utc | 1

as usual, this story is a case of misdirection: how the US and its institutions are under assault from the terrorists, yada yada. it may have happened but don't delve too deeply, or ask what it means or from whence it sprung. that the NSA is primarily inward-directed, for one thing, is a subject to be avoided. ed snowden brought unfortunate attention to that aspect, from the POV of the forth branch of the government. unprotected servers by their very nature are low-hanging fruit, as were the millions of documents bradley manning turned over to wikileaks. with millions of persons possessing clearance, how could US adversaries not already possess this information? we seem to be in an environment of very silly disclosures about relatively unimportant matters, while the good stuff escapes scrutiny. the disclosures that US hostages were killed in drone strikes, for example: what darker and more insidious business eludes notice while we talk about this?

Posted by: Hugo First | Apr 26 2015 10:24 utc | 2

Were the Russians speaking Hebrew?Lieberman hacked the WH?These bastards are the most arrogant scum on the planet,whose hubris is undermined by their lack of souls and honor.

Posted by: dahoit | Apr 26 2015 13:12 utc | 3

Nailed it, b. One and only one country is above getting accused of hacking the President.

Posted by: ess emm | Apr 26 2015 14:24 utc | 4

All of the networks have been hacked. The technique used in Stuxnet is illustrative (although this was outgoing against Iran) (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stuxnet). Some hacks are difficult to clean up because they hide in the programmable RAM inside the disk drives (http://spritesmods.com/?art=hddhack), or in the network cards.

Best to use a manual typewriter and a courier if you want secure communication.

Posted by: Sidhe | Apr 26 2015 15:02 utc | 5

I'm pretty certain that Snowden's NSA revelations would have been greeted with unrestrained mirth and merriment by the Hacking Community. They were already anonymous, so they were the folks with the LEAST to fear from the NSA. For the NSA, on the other hand, hackers suddenly became their (invited) pests and worst nightmare.

And I just adore b's concept of a hack so-o-o serious that someone had to tell the JYT to tell everyone that there's been a very non-serious hacking event (which we almost don't care about)...

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Apr 26 2015 15:49 utc | 6

@5 - seems to be a favorite of the Clintons according to Morris. Here and elsewhere, he talks about keeping it oldschool.

http://thehillarydaily.com/hillary-cant-type-look-to-humas-and-cheryls-emails/


The Clintons never used the White House computer for their own work. Hillary even wrote (or copied) her book manuscripts in long hand. Although ghost writer Barbara Fineman was paid $120,000 for writing It Takes A Village, she proudly waved hundreds of hand-written pages on yellow legal pads to pretend she wrote it all herself. She never acknowledged Fineman’s work.

Bill can’t type either. When I wrote his 1995 State of the Union Speech, I typed it on an IBM Selectric that the White House dug up from the basement. He told me that he didn’t want me to put it in the official computer system, because then his staff would see it.

So, he carefully copied every word in his distinctive left hand penmanship. I still have a copy of it. Then he pretended that he had written it himself.

Posted by: Cahaba | Apr 26 2015 16:24 utc | 7

The US government always subverts the truth to its agenda. No government official or agency can be trusted.

Posted by: Arius | Apr 26 2015 18:54 utc | 8

#8

As an AmeriKan, I agree and don't understand these people that listen to NPR, repeat USG wishful-thinking blather, and then ridicule others for checking out Sputnik or Fort Russ. The gov't. has no one to blame but itself for destroying their credibility (if they had any) and people's trust in their highly polished mouthpieces. I always considered myself progressive - not the sanctimonious, bomb every country until they are free kind of colonialist dickhead though - but the last two USSA govts really are beyond the pale with their bullshit fake democracy agenda. Only an AmeriKan idiot would still be drinking this Kool-Aide.
What makes them think that you can trust what the gov't says anymore than you could when the Bush crime family was in charge?

Posted by: farflungstar | Apr 26 2015 19:43 utc | 9

EVERY government always subverts the truth to its agenda. No government official or agency can be trusted, anywhere in the world.

Posted by: ralphieboy | Apr 26 2015 21:40 utc | 10

only the iranians would hack the mack...they have the most to lose.

Posted by: mcohen | Apr 26 2015 22:02 utc | 11

Well, yeah, it is interesting that in both the NYTimes article and the CNN report the accusations are against "Russians" or "Russian hackers", they are never against "Russia".

And, yes, interesting indeed that the only practical example given was the effect this had on the P5+1 talks, to which Russia (but not "Russians", presumably) was a full participant.

Odd indeed.

But, still, if the US government wanted to finger Russia then they wouldn't pussy-foot around: they'd say "Putin did this!!" and to hell with anything as mundane as evidence.

And, yeah, if the US government wanted to finger Israel then they would pussy-foot around: they'd say "No, I can't tell you who did this [wink] [wink] but let me tell you a little story from the P5+1 talks [nudge][nudge]".

But this? This is falling between two stools.

I'm not saying your *wrong*, but I am saying that's a very long bow you are pulling.


Posted by: Johnboy | Apr 26 2015 22:53 utc | 12

@12

The insinuation by b is not "wrong" but indirect as it should be. The Western world is controlled by private finance and money which has been ruled by families for centuries through unfettered inheritance. Now it just so happens that those centuries old families are predominantly Jewish and who do you think they are going to ask to do their dirty work?

Unfettered inheritance and ongoing accumulation of private property have given us the global plutocrat led American empire that is now terrorizing the rest of the world as it disintegrates. The AIIB by China seems to be the latest gauntlet thrown down by the sovereign finance/money side but it remains to be seen if the private finance/money Western world will give up its centuries of power without taking the world back to a radiated stone age in the process.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Apr 27 2015 0:42 utc | 13

psychistorian

ff

Posted by: mcohen | Apr 27 2015 1:35 utc | 14

@12 john boy quote "...the accusations are against "Russians" or "Russian hackers", they are never against "Russia".

not to put too fine of a point on it, but can you tell me the difference you're trying to articulate? with he western msm has used every opportunity it can to cast russia negative light, when they aren't directly blaming putin for everything else.. i think your comment is pretty irrelevant.. the msm agenda here is consistent and on point for neo con central.. the beautiful thing about the western msm is they never back any of the shit up, regardless of the slander, innuendo, suggestion, propaganda - call it what you want.. they never substantiate any of it.. this makes anyone reading the western msm look for alternative media where some semblance of objectivity is a part of the package..when it comes to russia or russians, it is generally always missing..

Posted by: james | Apr 27 2015 2:20 utc | 15

Obama has a BlackBerry? I guess he' a cutting-edge kind of guy.

They say the Russians also erased places on his WalkMan tapes.

Posted by: Ken Nari | Apr 27 2015 13:02 utc | 16

@15 The point is this: if this had been carried out by the government of Vladimir Putin then the accusation would have been that "Russia" had hacked the email system.

But since the words used are "Russians" and "Russian Hackers" then the accusation stops short of that, which suggests that the Obama Administration knows that this was not carried out by whatever now passes for the KGB.

Think about it.
Think about it.
Think about it.

The Obama Administration is not at all happy with Putin, and yet they are passing up an opportunity to demonize him by saying that this hacking was done by his government.

And that doesn't strike you as the least bit odd?

"with he western msm has used every opportunity it can to cast russia negative light, when they aren't directly blaming putin for everything else"

Bingo. The word you used is "Russia". Not "Russians" nor "Russian Hackers".

It's easy enough to use the catch-all word "Russia" - as you have just ably demonstrated - yet both the NYTimes and CNN managed to restrain themselves from using that word.

And that doesn't seem odd to you?

Posted by: Johnboy | Apr 27 2015 22:01 utc | 17

@17 johnboy... your conclusion in the first 2 paragraphs suggests no malevolent intent on the part of the obama admin.. i have a harder time with that myself. i agree the nyt and etc are a mouthpiece for the obama admin although that is referred to as 'the free press' in the west, lol..

in answer to your question at the end - no.. for me, it is like going to the dairy queen.. you know you are going to get ice cream.. just how it is served up - it is much the same with the obama admin wanting to characterize everything to do with russia as bad, and putin as evil.. that is the basic story line that is never strayed from.. in that regard, one could be accused of thinking these corporation papers are doing the work for the mic, while the obama admin is doing much the same.. very little differs from the usa media circa 2015 and what would have been the russian media under pravda.. i just see this as more of the same, even if it doesn't directly accuse russia, or putin - same end result - ''hey everybody - here is another reason to get down on russia/putin'... it gets boring.. i hope more people turn off these mainstream media outlets..

Posted by: james | Apr 28 2015 1:05 utc | 18

johnboy.. read the link b provides at the top of the post.. if that isn't out and out propaganda aimed negatively towards russia/putin - i would be hardpressed to describe it any other way.. of course the tradition of the nyt is not to be able to back anything of this up with something concrete.. perfect for propaganda!

Posted by: james | Apr 28 2015 1:08 utc | 19

@james@19

I can't second guess Johnboy@17, but I will give you my two pennies on the matter. What b is highlighting is the nuances of a potential diversion, a make-believe in which the NYT article is signaling "Russians" as the possible perps of the penetration, without making a solid accusation at Russia, because they can't. The article mentions "Russians" 8 times, while alluding to "Russia" only twice, in very general terms, first in the context of "renewed tension" between the US and "Russia" due to Crimea, blah, blah, blah; and second, that the WH is "bombarded with cyberattacks daily NOT ONLY (my caps) from Russia and China." "Russians" can be anywhere, inside or outside of Russia, related or not to the Russian government. The generalization didn't escape b, a keen reader of details, all he did was to throw a shadow of doubt on the whole shenanigan, his hypothesis not far from real. The WH opens a backdoor for the Israelis to enter, then makes a general accusation towards the usual suspects, it is picked up by the MSM, and it becomes truth out of sheer repetition. Not a bad attempt of a diversion, I am sure it works for the general reader, not here at MoA.

Posted by: Lone Wolf | Apr 28 2015 3:47 utc | 20

I like all the theorizing about definitive attribution. It's nice to split-hairs n such things, but...

Dubious and misleading attribution never stopped to catch its breath for the truth before now. Certainly not at the NYT or the like. Does everybody still remember the forensically unverifiable "leak" from Sony - allegedly over "The Interview"? It's still called the "North Korea Hack", despite all of the strong indication of inside actors at Sony.

These are not hair-splitters in the professional steno pool.

I still would NOT put it past Israel to be the perpetrator. Cui bono? But evidence will have to turn on something more than the Kremlinology of American MSM.

Posted by: Jeremiah | Apr 28 2015 4:06 utc | 21

So long as this topic invites speculation, and the Official Story doesn't come close to adding up, then the articles in question could be viewed as a warning of the "We know who you are and we know what you did" variety.

Obama owes Bibi some painful payback for his divisive treachery in Congress a few weeks ago. And a significant splinter group of Obama's "International Community" is moving slowly but surely toward full recognition of Palestine as a fully-fledged Nation.

If Bibi did to me what he did to Obama, and I was Obama, I'd have had the demented little scumbag bumped off. I suspect that Obama, being a man of Peace, may be ready to help Bibi die the "death of a thousand cuts."

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Apr 28 2015 4:10 utc | 22

@18 "johnboy.. read the link b provides at the top of the post"

I did indeed, and then followed the link from *there* to the original CNN scoop.

Annnnnnnnd.... both use the same language: "Russians" and "Russian Hackers", but not "Russia".

The reason **why** they choose the former and not the latter is given in the CNN article: "The intrusion was routed through computers around the world, as hackers often do to hide their tracks, but investigators found tell-tale codes and other markers that they believe point to hackers working for the Russian government."

To me that means that the USA spooks are not totally convinced by those "tell-tale codes", since they have to be concerned that anyone sophisticated enough to break into those systems is also going to be sophisticated enough to drop some Red Herrings in their wake.

"if that isn't out and out propaganda aimed negatively towards russia/putin"

No, sorry, it isn't.

Out and out propaganda would NAME "Russia" and would NAME "Putin", and the closest you get anywhere in those two articles is the sentence that I just quoted from CNN.

My take is that the USA has gone over this break-in with a fine-tooth-comb, and they have found evidence that suggests to them that the Russians are responsible. But the USA has a problem: it knows that the hackers know that the USA will go over this with a fine-tooth-comb, and so the USA will know that the hackers will know that it is in their interests to leave a false trail.

That's the problem with espionage and counter-espionage: it pays to be paranoid, but at what point do you dispense with the paranoia and make a decision regarding the truth?

The US spooks aren't at that point yet, which is why they are playing these word games.

That doesn't mean that Putin DIDN'T do it, nor does it mean that Israel DID do it.

But it does suggest that the USA thinks that it is the former but can't rule out that it is the latter.

Or, put another way: they BELIEVE that Russia did this, but they aren't totally CONVINCED that Russia did this.


Posted by: Yeah, Right | Apr 28 2015 6:52 utc | 23

This is worth a look:

"Iranian forces have fired at and seized a US cargo ship with 34 sailors on board, according to Saudi Arabian state TV.

The vessel has been directed to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas on the southern coast, Al-Arabiya has reported.

It remains unclear why the ship was captured, and whether the shots injured anyone on-board, as neither US nor Iranian officials have confirmed the allegations."
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/irans-military-seizes-us-cargo-ship-10210291.html

Posted by: plantman | Apr 28 2015 15:02 utc | 24

Turns out it was not a U.S. ship that the Iranians seized, but the MV Maersk Tigris cargo ship, flying the Marshall Islands flag. http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-04-28/iran-forces-seize-us-cargo-ship-34-people-board-al-arabiya-reports

Posted by: lysias | Apr 28 2015 15:09 utc | 25

@20 lone wolf.. thanks. i figured that much out.. it is all conjecture, but you are right that folks at moa are more critical of what they read, especially from the msm..

@23 yeah, right.. not sure if you are john boy under a different name, but thanks for your viewpoint... regardless it is more of the demonizing of russia as i see it.. that is the script the msm has on lock hold.. doubt it will change any time soon.. thanks.

Posted by: james | Apr 28 2015 18:48 utc | 26

Forest fires heading for Chernobyl nuclear plant – Ukraine Interior Ministry:

Police and National Guard units are on high alert. Ukraine’s Prime Minister personally went to the affected area to oversee the firefighting. He says the situation is under control, “but this is the biggest fire since 1992.”

However, in comments to Russia’s Moscow Speaks radio, a representative of Greenpeace Russia said that the situation is much worse: “A very large, catastrophic forest fire is taking place in a 30-km zone around the Chernobyl power plant. We estimate the real area of the fire to be 10,000 hectares; this is based on satellite images. This hasn't been officially acknowledged yet.”

The potential danger in this fire comes from the radioactive contaminants the burning plants have absorbed, ecologist Dmitry Shevchenko told RT. “A lot of radionuclides have accumulated in the soil, the trees and other plants. And of course when something like a fire happens, together with the smoke, the radionuclides can travel great distances.” Shevchenko is the deputy coordinator for the ecology protection organization Environmental Watch on North Caucasus.

Posted by: lysias | Apr 28 2015 19:14 utc | 27

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