Another report: That Russian hack of the DNC probably... wasn't

Remember when the Russians hacked the DNC email and records system last year? Yeah, about that…

Cyber experts have been digging through all of the available material for over a year now trying to pin down exactly what happened but the answers to date have been less than satisfying. This isn’t the first time, but now another report has come out saying that the standard explanation we’ve been given (Russia, Russia Russia) doesn’t appear to hold water. The interesting aspect here is that this one isn’t coming from some right wing source with an ax to grind against Hillary Clinton, but rather from The Nation, a source which is generally only a couple of steps removed from being a DNC public relations firm.

The author is Patrick Lawrence, and if you take a look at other entries from his recent body of work, well… let’s just say he doesn’t spend his free time filling in for Rush Limbaugh. Lawrence’s report is a lengthy think-piece which initially spends quite a while on the background of the story and how critical the idea of Russia being behind the leaks is to many of President Trump’s detractors, But then he gets down to the complicated tale of the experts analyzing all of the evidence and the reasons they have for reaching these two, key conclusions (emphasis added):

There was no hack of the Democratic National Committee’s system on July 5 last year—not by the Russians, not by anyone else. Hard science now demonstrates it was a leak—a download executed locally with a memory key or a similarly portable data-storage device. In short, it was an inside job by someone with access to the DNC’s system. This casts serious doubt on the initial “hack,” as alleged, that led to the very consequential publication of a large store of documents on WikiLeaks last summer.

Forensic investigations of documents made public two weeks prior to the July 5 leak by the person or entity known as Guccifer 2.0 show that they were fraudulent: Before Guccifer posted them they were adulterated by cutting and pasting them into a blank template that had Russian as its default language. Guccifer took responsibility on June 15 for an intrusion the DNC reported on June 14 and professed to be a WikiLeaks source—claims essential to the official narrative implicating Russia in what was soon cast as an extensive hacking operation. To put the point simply, forensic science now devastates this narrative.

The analysis of the leaked documents is lengthy and of interest, but it also lends support to the underlying theory which prompted so many people to doubt the Russia claims in the first place. I’m not sure I personally buy into this one hundred percent, but they rely on the belief that the NSA currently has programs in place which can capture any and all electronic transfers of data to and from a known source (such as the DNC servers). If the data had been nabbed by the Russians or anyone else they should have been able to pin that down in fairly short order. But a year later they have not done so. Clearly they don’t want to reveal any of their methods our sources, but there should have been a conclusion long before now.

Then we have the Julian Assange side of the story. Of course, Wikileaks has been claiming from the beginning that the material didn’t come from the Russians. Craig Murray claimed that he flew to Washington for a cloak and dagger style, clandestine meeting “in a wooded area” with a disgusted DNC staffer who personally handed off the trove of documents to him. Does that prove anything? Nope. But somebody is either lying or wrong (take your pick) and in this case, the absence of evidence might be reasonably interpreted as evidence of absence when it comes to the silence on the NSA side.

Combine that with the forensic analysis of the revealed documents in the attached report and the Russiagate story starts looking like weak tea. If the government has anything which refutes this with some level of certainty, they should cough it up soon. Otherwise this entire narrative could collapse in a pile of failed memes.