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Helpful piece on Russian controversy

Posted by on Dec. 13, 2016 at 1:31 AM
  • 4 Replies
Russia and the U.S. Election: What We Know and Don’t Know


DECEMBER 12, 2016
The Interpreter
By MAX FISHER

The swirl of revelations and allegations about Russian involvement in the American presidential election, which has been building since the summer, can be difficult to keep straight.

For example, though analysts often say that Russia “hacked the election,” this shorthand refers to something much subtler than altering the vote itself — just one of many points of growing confusion. What follows is a guide to what is known and is not, and to separating fact from misconception.

What was Russia’s role in the election?

• Russian security agencies infiltrated Democratic National Committee email servers last year and again this spring, according to American intelligence assessments and several independent security firms. The Russians also hacked a private email account belonging to John D. Podesta, the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

• This summer, intermediaries linked to the Russian government passed the emails to WikiLeaks and to an anonymous WordPress blog called Guccifer 2.0. Those outlets released the emails publicly, generating weeks of unfavorable coverage of Mrs. Clinton’s campaign.

• Initially, many analysts believed that Russia’s goal was to sow confusion and undermine Americans’ faith in their government — a common Russian tactic — rather than to steer the election’s outcome.


• However, after the election, the Central Intelligence Agency concluded that Russia had released the emails with the primary goal of bolstering Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign.

• No information has emerged suggesting that the C.I.A. believes that Russia’s involvement decided the election’s outcome.

Was the election itself hacked?

• There is no evidence that hackers, from Russia or elsewhere, tampered with the vote tallies.

• Mr. Trump has said there was widespread voter fraud that favored Mrs. Clinton, and some liberal commentators have suggested that the election was hacked. Independent analysts say there is overwhelming evidence against both claims.

• A widely circulated New York magazine article reported that two voting experts had urged Democrats to push for a recount, on fears that hackers had manipulated the vote. But one of those experts disputed that article, writing in a post on Medium that he had urged a recount but had doubted hacking.

• The White House and election officials have said the vote shows no sign of tampering and accurately reflects popular will.

• A recount effort led by the Green Party candidate, Jill Stein, is unrelated to the revelations that Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee and Mr. Podesta’s emails.

Did Russia swing the election for Mr. Trump?

• It is impossible to say for sure. Because the email leaks unfolded over weeks, and concurrently with many other election dramas, polls cannot easily isolate the impact of the leaks.

• Mr. Trump won three crucial Midwestern states by very small margins. So even if the leaks swung only a small percentage of votes, that could have been enough to change the election outcome.


• But this same logic applies to dozens of factors, including the F.B.I.’s late-stage investigations related to Mrs. Clinton’s private email server. Political scientists have demonstrated that even changes in weather and the performance of sports teams can alter how people vote.

• All available evidence suggests that voters freely selected Mr. Trump on Election Day in sufficient numbers for him to win the presidency under the Electoral College system. But that does not diminish the seriousness of Russia’s intervention in the election, which appears to be unprecedented.

Why does the C.I.A. think Russia wanted to help Mr. Trump?

• The C.I.A.’s assessment is not public, but is thought to turn on another alleged hack. Russia also hacked data from the Republican National Committee but declined to release whatever it found, intelligence agencies told Congress. That has given credence to theories that Moscow actively favored the party’s candidate.

• Mr. Trump has repeatedly promised to realign the United States with Russia and has praised its president, Vladimir V. Putin. Many in Moscow view Mrs. Clinton as hostile to Russia.


• The evidence in any assessment of Russian government motives is circumstantial, and not all American intelligence agencies share the C.I.A.’s view.

• The timing suggests that, if Moscow decided to help Mr. Trump, it did so only after hacking the servers of both parties’ national committees. Both were infiltrated well before Mr. Trump’s rise.

• Mr. Trump, at a July news conference, publicly urged Russia to hack Mrs. Clinton’s emails. But this could not have precipitated or encouraged the Russian hacks — they had taken place months earlier.

Did Russia spread pro-Trump fake news?

• Russian state media outlets have favored Mr. Trump and opposed Mrs. Clinton, but their reach in the United States is limited. (Their influence in Europe is much stronger.)

• A firm called PropOrNot claimed that the Russian government had flooded American social media with fake election news. But several independent analysts challenged the report’s methodology, which classified mainstream sites as Russian propaganda and did not demonstrate a link to Moscow.

• Fake news is a growing problem, at times driven by companies in Eastern Europe that write and spread the articles. But those companies appear to be motivated by profit-seeking rather than any political agenda.

What was Russia’s goal in meddling?

• There are two schools of thought: first, that Russia sought to weaken the United States by stirring up uncertainty and miring Mrs. Clinton, who seemed all but certain to win, in scandal; and second, that Russia sought specifically to elevate Mr. Trump to the presidency.

• Those theories are not mutually exclusive. For instance, Moscow may have started with the first goal and then added the second as a hoped-for bonus.

• Russia is waging similar campaigns across Europe, at times through cyberattacks and selective leaks, with the apparent goal of undermining Western unity.

• The Kremlin sees itself as under siege by a hostile West that it perceives as bent on Russia’s destruction. Russian military leaders advocate shadowy “new generation warfare” — through propaganda and cyberattacks, for example — to destabilize adversaries from within.

• Not all misconceptions are directed by Moscow, however. Social media rumors that overstate Russia’s involvement in the United States election risk playing into Moscow’s goal of undermining Americans’ faith in the legitimacy and integrity of their democracy.
by on Dec. 13, 2016 at 1:31 AM
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Replies (1-4):
jpickens
by Platinum Member on Dec. 13, 2016 at 3:00 AM

A lot of people are focusing on the fact that its "just emails" and not the actual votes but all of that is stored using the same technology/infrastructure that is absolutely touchable.  I just don't think brushing this off is worth setting the precedence that we'll allow external cyber attacks like this. Too many that are just thinking "right now" and "this election" and not the long term risks. 

So much that concerns me about this. 

Clairwil
by Ruby Member on Dec. 13, 2016 at 7:38 PM


Quoting pdxmum:

Russia also hacked data from the Republican National Committee but declined to release whatever it found, intelligence agencies told Congress.

DC Leaks has posted e-mails stolen from a handful of Clinton campaign staffers, several retired military officials, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and financier George Soros’s Open Society Foundation. And, as TSG first reported on August 12, the site’s “Portfolio” also includes a collection titled “The United States Republican Party.”

While the nearly 300 Republican-related e-mails posted on DC Leaks are uniformly innocuous, the collection is noteworthy for the scope of victims it reveals. The material includes correspondence lifted from the campaign committees of various elected officials, including Senator John McCain, Senator Lindsey Graham, and Representative Robert Hurt. Several state GOP organizations, Republican PACs, and campaign consultants also had their e-mail accounts compromised.

The GOP hacking sampler on DC Leaks includes correspondence scattered across a four-month period ending in late-October 2015. One of those stolen e-mails indicates that the Russian hackers had access to the RNC’s e-mail server.

An October 13 e-mail sent to info@gop.com is among the correspondence posted to DC Leaks. The e-mail, sent by a Republican voter, was addressed to Priebus and addressed “gun control rhetoric” from Democratic candidates and their operatives.

So how did an e-mail sent to the RNC’s public-facing address end up in the hands of hackers? For that answer, allroads lead to Tennessee.

As TSG previously reported, the Republican elected officials and organizations whose e-mails appear on DC Leaks have all used Smartech, a Chattanooga-based firm, to host their web sites and e-mail operations. The company and its parent, Airnet Group, have done work for a Who’s Who of Republican figures, including George W. Bush, Karl Rove, John Bolton, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, and the Koch brothers.

While Smartech officials did not return TSG phone calls and e-mails seeking comment on whether their systems had been compromised, a Republican client of the company told TSG that the firm privately acknowledged such a breach.

Tom Del Beccaro, ex-chairman of the California Republican Party, told TSG that Smartech admitted being hacked. The firm’s disclosure came several months ago, not long after DC Leaks published its portfolio of stolen GOP e-mails. Del Beccaro, who unsuccessfully ran this year for the Senate seat being vacated by Barbara Boxer, contracted with the firm to host his campaign’s web site and e-mail server.

Since the 2008 federal election cycle, Smartech has been paid more than $11 million by the Republican National Committee for a wide variety of tech services, including web hosting and call centers. During the final four months of the 2016 campaign, the RNC paid Smartech nearly $400,000 for “data services,” Federal Election Commission records show. In a front-page testimonial on the Airnet web site, the GOP enthuses that the company has been “an all-encompassing intelligent technology provider and knowledge resource for the RNC.”

The Republican Party’s main web site, gop.com, was hosted for many years by Smartech, which was supplanted by Amazon in early-2014. Within the past two months, the GOP web site has contracted with Fastly, a content delivery network whose clients include BuzzFeed, Vimeo, and Kayak. Amazon, whose CEO Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post and has a net worth dwarfing Trump’s, has been the frequent target of scorn from Trump. Bezos, Trump contends, is a tax-avoiding monopolist with a “huge antitrust problem.”

But while Smartech has not hosted the gop.com web site for more than two years, the company has continuously provided the RNC with its e-mail service, records show.

At Smartech, the RNC’s e-mail server is dubbed “barracuda1.” The same mail server, records show, was used by many of the Republican candidates (McCain, Graham, Hurt, Del Beccaro, former Rep. Michele Bachmann) and state parties (Illinois, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Wyoming) whose e-mail accounts were compromised and had some of their correspondence posted to DC Leaks.

After becoming aware of the hacking, “barracuda1” clients like McCain, Graham, and Hurt have relocated their campaign e-mail accounts from Smartech. Notably, while some prominent Republicans have shied from linking Russia to the DNC and Clinton campaign hacking, McCain and Graham have shown no such hesitance. McCain has said that, “it’s clear the Russians interfered” in the presidential election. In return for meddling in U.S. affairs, Graham announced, “I’m going after Russia in every way you can go after Russia...I want Putin personally to pay a price.”


(SOURCE)

coolmommy2x
by Platinum Member on Dec. 13, 2016 at 10:11 PM
Good luck to Graham on that initiative.

Quoting Clairwil:

Quoting pdxmum: Russia also hacked data from the Republican National Committee but declined to release whatever it found, intelligence agencies told Congress.

DC Leaks has posted e-mails stolen from a handful of Clinton campaign staffers, several retired military officials, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and financier George Soros’s Open Society Foundation. And, as TSG first reported on August 12, the site’s “Portfolio” also includes a collection titled “The United States Republican Party.”

While the nearly 300 Republican-related e-mails posted on DC Leaks are uniformly innocuous, the collection is noteworthy for the scope of victims it reveals. The material includes correspondence lifted from the campaign committees of various elected officials, including Senator John McCain, Senator Lindsey Graham, and Representative Robert Hurt. Several state GOP organizations, Republican PACs, and campaign consultants also had their e-mail accounts compromised.

The GOP hacking sampler on DC Leaks includes correspondence scattered across a four-month period ending in late-October 2015. One of those stolen e-mails indicates that the Russian hackers had access to the RNC’s e-mail server.

An October 13 e-mail sent to info@gop.com is among the correspondence posted to DC Leaks. The e-mail, sent by a Republican voter, was addressed to Priebus and addressed “gun control rhetoric” from Democratic candidates and their operatives.

So how did an e-mail sent to the RNC’s public-facing address end up in the hands of hackers? For that answer, allroads lead to Tennessee.

As TSG previously reported, the Republican elected officials and organizations whose e-mails appear on DC Leaks have all used Smartech, a Chattanooga-based firm, to host their web sites and e-mail operations. The company and its parent, Airnet Group, have done work for a Who’s Who of Republican figures, including George W. Bush, Karl Rove, John Bolton, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, and the Koch brothers.

While Smartech officials did not return TSG phone calls and e-mails seeking comment on whether their systems had been compromised, a Republican client of the company told TSG that the firm privately acknowledged such a breach.

Tom Del Beccaro, ex-chairman of the California Republican Party, told TSG that Smartech admitted being hacked. The firm’s disclosure came several months ago, not long after DC Leaks published its portfolio of stolen GOP e-mails. Del Beccaro, who unsuccessfully ran this year for the Senate seat being vacated by Barbara Boxer, contracted with the firm to host his campaign’s web site and e-mail server.

Since the 2008 federal election cycle, Smartech has been paid more than $11 million by the Republican National Committee for a wide variety of tech services, including web hosting and call centers. During the final four months of the 2016 campaign, the RNC paid Smartech nearly $400,000 for “data services,” Federal Election Commission records show. In a front-page testimonial on the Airnet web site, the GOP enthuses that the company has been “an all-encompassing intelligent technology provider and knowledge resource for the RNC.”

The Republican Party’s main web site, gop.com, was hosted for many years by Smartech, which was supplanted by Amazon in early-2014. Within the past two months, the GOP web site has contracted with Fastly, a content delivery network whose clients include BuzzFeed, Vimeo, and Kayak. Amazon, whose CEO Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post and has a net worth dwarfing Trump’s, has been the frequent target of scorn from Trump. Bezos, Trump contends, is a tax-avoiding monopolist with a “huge antitrust problem.”

But while Smartech has not hosted the gop.com web site for more than two years, the company has continuously provided the RNC with its e-mail service, records show.

At Smartech, the RNC’s e-mail server is dubbed “barracuda1.” The same mail server, records show, was used by many of the Republican candidates (McCain, Graham, Hurt, Del Beccaro, former Rep. Michele Bachmann) and state parties (Illinois, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Wyoming) whose e-mail accounts were compromised and had some of their correspondence posted to DC Leaks.

After becoming aware of the hacking, “barracuda1” clients like McCain, Graham, and Hurt have relocated their campaign e-mail accounts from Smartech. Notably, while some prominent Republicans have shied from linking Russia to the DNC and Clinton campaign hacking, McCain and Graham have shown no such hesitance. McCain has said that, “it’s clear the Russians interfered” in the presidential election. In return for meddling in U.S. affairs, Graham announced, “I’m going after Russia in every way you can go after Russia...I want Putin personally to pay a price.”

(SOURCE)

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GloriousChaos
by Silver Member on Dec. 14, 2016 at 5:25 AM
Let's be real: had china, North Korea or any middle eastern country done the same to the RNC to favor Hillary and reverse the outcome, the republicans would have been apoplectic.

It isn't ok because it was Russia.

OF COURSE we should investigate and respond.
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