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Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity on U.S. Election: All Signs Point to ‘Leaking,’ Not Traceable ‘Hacking’

Dec. 13, 2016 (EIRNS)—The claims of the CIA and others who charge that Russian President Putin and others "hacked" the U.S. election with the goal of defeating Hillary Clinton are "evidence-free," the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) show in a Memorandum released today.

It states:

"We draw on decades of senior-level experience— with emphasis on cyber-intelligence and security—to cut through uninformed, largely partisan fog.

"We have gone through the various claims about hacking. For us, it is child’s play to dismiss them. The email disclosures in question are the result of a leak, not a hack. Here is the difference between leaking and hacking:

"Leak When someone physically takes data out of an organization and gives it to some other person or organization, as Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning did.

"Hack When someone in a remote location electronically penetrates operating systems, firewalls, or any other cyber-protection system and then extracts date.

"All signs point to leaking, not hacking. If hacking were involved, the National Security Agency would know it—and know both the sender and the recipient.

"In short, leaking requires physically removing data—on a thumb drive, for example—the only way such data can be copied and removed, with no electronic trace of what has left the server via a physical storage device."

When hacking is involved, "the NSA is able to identify both the sender and the recipient involved." Because of the Snowden releases, the VIPS

"can provide a full picture of NSA’s extensive domestic data-collection network... which include at least 30 companies in the U.S. operating the fiber networks that carry Public Switched Telephone Network as well as the World Wide Web. This gives NSA unparalleled access to data flowing within the U.S. and data going out to the rest of the world, as well as data transiting the U.S."

"In other words, any data that is passed from the servers of the Democratic National Committee or of Hillary Rodham Clinton—or any other server in the U.S.—is collected by the NSA. These data transfers are broken down into smaller segments called ‘packets’, which enable the transfer to be traced and followed through the network...."

"All the packets that form a message are assigned an identifying number that enables the receiving end to collect them for reassembly. Moreover, each packet carries the originator and ultimate receiver internet protocol number (either IPV4 or IPV6) that enables the network to route data. When these email packets leave the U.S. the other ‘Five Eyes’ countries (the U.K,., Canada, Australia and New Zealand) and the seven or eight other countries participating with the U.S. in the bulk-collection of everything on the planet would also have a record of where the email packets went after leaving the U.S.

"These collection resources are extensive; they include hundreds of trace route programs that trace the path of packets going across the network and tens of thousands of hardware and software implants in switches and servers that manage the network.

"The bottom line is that the NSA would know where and how any ‘hacked’ emails from the DNC, HRC or any other servers were routed through the network."

The VIPS point out that the statements of the anonymous intelligence agency spokesmen are "equivocating"—they say things like "our best guess" or "our opinion," etc. that show that the emails alleged to have been "hacked" cannot be traced across the network. Given the NSA’s extensive trace capability, we conclude that the DNC and HRC servers ... were not hacked. The evidence that should be there is absent; otherwise, it would surely be brought forward, since this could be done without any danger to sources and methods. Thus, we conclude that the emails were leaked by an insider—as was the case with Edward Snowden or Chelsea Manning. Such an insider could be anyone in a government department with access to NSA databases, or perhaps someone within the DNC."

The VIPS point out that media statements about ‘what the CIA believes’ are misleading because "the CIA is almost totally dependent on the NSA for ground truth in the communications area. ... It beggars belief that the NSA would be unable to indentify anyone—Russian or not—attempting to interfere in a U.S. election by hacking."

For the Steering Group, VIPS

  • William Binney, former Technical Director, World Geopolitical & Military Analysis, NSA; co-founder, SIGINT Automation Research Center (ret.)
  • Mike Gravel, former Adjutant, top secret control officer, Communications Intelligence Service; special agent of the Counter Intelligence Corps and former United States Senator
  • Larry Johnson, former CIA Intelligence Officer & former State Department Counter-Terrorism Official
  • Ray McGovern, former U.S. Army infantry/intelligence officer & CIA analyst (ret.)
  • Elizabeth Murray, Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Middle East, CIA (ret.)
  • Kirk Wiebe, former Senior Analyst, SIGINT Automation Research Center, NSA (ret.)

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