Skip to main content

Why the media failed to report on largest breach of US government data in history

Upon Harold Martin’s arrest in 2016, an Obama administration official said his case was being kept under wraps “to keep this guy from becoming another NSA martyr.” The tactic seems to be have paid dividends.

by Whitney Webb

Part 3 - The Shadow Brokers: love of money or country?

In August 2016, in the aftermath of the DNC leaks among others, the group known as Shadow Brokers made its debut, releasing computer exploits that the NSA had kept hidden from the public as well as auctioning off access to an encrypted file also containing NSA data to the highest bidder. More releases soon followed, including numerous tools developed by the NSA’s elite hacking group, Tailored Access Operations (TAO).

The fact that they apparently sought not to divulge the information from the public at large — instead choosing to auction it off — as well as the fact that some of the tools they have released were later used by others for nefarious purposes, initially suggested that the Shadow Brokers were essentially cyber-criminals seeking to enrich themselves at the expense of the NSA and those who could be targeted by the content of their releases.

However, the Shadow Brokers have revealed themselves to be politically motivated, at least in part. For instance, some of their earlier manifestos condemn the “wealthy elites” and make other political references about the 2016 election and other related topics.

Yet, the strongest indication of the Shadow Brokers’ political motivations came in April last year. After President Trump ordered a unilateral strike against Syria, the Shadow Brokers wrote a message called “Don’t Forget Your Base,” where the Brokers attacked Trump for his “Goldman Sach [sic] (TheGlobalists) and Military Industrial Intelligence Complex (MIIC) cabinet” and “increased U.S. involvement in a foreign war (Syria Strike)” among other factors. They further expressed their displeasure by releasing new NSA documents that were by the far the most damaging.

Among the information exposed by the Shadow Brokers in this release, was the revelation that the NSA had developed code to hack into Palestinian banks specifically as well as the SWIFT banking system. “Potent exploits and hacking tools that target most versions of Microsoft Windows” were also made public. Currently, the group is still believed to be “holding plenty more incendiary material.

Though the Shadow Brokers have remained relatively silent for more than a year, the leaks continue to weigh heavily on the federal government, which has shown that it is still as desperate as ever to find out what information the Shadow Brokers may have. As the New York Times and the Intercept reported last month, U.S. intelligence officials paid a shady Russian national $100,000 in the hopes that he would “deliver stolen National Security Agency cyberweapons” that were in the Shadow Brokers possession in order to “get a full inventory” of what had been taken. Instead of that information, however, the Russian national “produced unverified and possibly fabricated information involving” President Trump and others, frustrating U.S. government efforts.

Yet, investigators have long been “frustrated” in their attempts to prove that Martin had “deliberately leaked or sold the hacking tools to the Shadow Brokers or, alternatively, that someone hacked into his computer or otherwise took them without his knowledge.” While “forensic clues” do exist linking him to the group, that evidence is inconclusive.

One of those clues is the fact that Martin had more than 75 percent of the TAO’s library of hacking tools in his possession at the time of his arrest. Many of those hacking tools are the very ones that have already been released by the Shadow Brokers, as well as those suspected to remain in their possession. In addition, the Shadow Brokers have also released NSA “code [that] was designed to break through network firewalls and get inside the computer systems of competitors like Russia, China and Iran” while federal authorities found “highly classified computer codes developed to hack into the networks of foreign governments like China, North Korea and Iran” in Martin’s house.

Martin’s excessive use of anonymizing software and encryption makes the possibility that the information was stolen without his knowledge unlikely. In addition, his encrypted communications in foreign languages, handwritten notes meant to explain complicated technical information to the average person, and his remote data storage online all suggest that Martin could well have been much more than a “hoarder.” Yet, from a legal standpoint, such evidence is circumstantial and fails to prove intent.

As Kiriakou explained to MintPress, intent is key in Martin’s case when it comes to proving whether he is a whistleblower, a hoarder or a disgruntled employee: “It really is all a matter of intent. If his intent was to expose waste, fraud, abuse, illegality or threats to the public health or public safety, then absolutely by legal definition he is a whistleblower. Whether he got to the oversight committees or got to the inspector general is irrelevant at that point.

However, as Kiriakou noted, the dangerous climate for whistleblowers in the U.S. makes this a much less attractive legal defense than claiming that Martin is a “hoarder,” particularly given the inconclusive links between him and the Shadow Brokers.

If Martin were indeed the source of the Shadow Brokers, their auctioning off of the information could mean that, instead of a whistleblower, he could have been motivated by more nefarious factors. Some analysts, however, have suggested that the Shadow Brokers’ “auctions” of the stolen information were meant to generate publicity – not ransom money — and that the Shadow Brokers are politically motivated to release information to expose U.S. government wrongdoing, as was the case in their release of damaging information following Trump’s strike on Syria last April.

If Martin was, in fact, the source of the Shadow Brokers, it is possible that he could have been unaware of the Shadow Brokers’ plans to auction the information and may have thought they would release the information to the public. However, making the case that Martin could be a whistleblower who leaked to the Shadow Brokers is again a matter of intent. As Kiriakou noted: “If his intent was to stop something that NSA was doing as a matter of policy and he went to the Shadow Brokers to stop it, then an argument can be made for whistleblowing. But if he did it just to do it or if he did it because he was disgruntled, then no, he’s not a whistleblower.

Source, links:


[1] [2] [4]

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

How neoliberalism manufactured consent to secure its unlimited power

From David Harvey's A Brief History of Neoliberalism
Part 3 - The corporate-backed institutions behind the rapid and artificial ideological transformation of the American society in favor of neoliberalism
In the US case I begin with a confidential memo sent by Lewis Powell to the US Chamber of Commerce in August 1971. Powell, about to be elevated to the Supreme Court by Richard Nixon, argued that criticism of and opposition to the US free enterprise system had gone too far and that ‘the time had come –– indeed it is long overdue –– for the wisdom, ingenuity and resources of American business to be marshalled against those who would destroy it’. Powell argued that individual action was insufficient. ‘Strength’, he wrote, ‘lies in organization, in careful long-range planning and implementation, in consistency of action over an indefinite period of years, in the scale of financing available only through joint effort, and in the political power available only through united action and n…

Mystery solved: here's why the Western mainstream media suddenly 'discovered' the war in Yemen

globinfo freexchange
Why it took so long for the Western mainstream media to 'discover' the war in Yemen and the war crimes committed by the Saudi coalition in full co-operation with the US?
One might think that the humanitarian disaster there - caused also by the blockade of goods for the relief of the civilians - has become so obvious, condemned multiple times by the UN, that the media finally forced to speak about it.
In previous article we attempted to explain the 'unexplained phenomenon' and the fact that CNN surprisingly returned to the issue to openly condemn the US support to the Saudi coalition atrocities against civilians in Yemen.
Yet, despite that the Saudi regimes have been, traditionally, the best allies of the Western neocolonialists, this time, the US had serious reasons to overthrow the Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). And, surprisingly enough, at the center of this underground conflict lies an attempt by the US to privatize Aramco, Saudi Arab…

CIA had an agent at a newspaper in every world capital at least since 1977

Joel Whitney is a co-founder of the magazine Guernica, a magazine of global arts and politics, and has written for many publications, including the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. His book Finks: How the C.I.A. Tricked the World's Best Writers describes how the CIA contributed funds to numerous respected magazines during the Cold War, including the Paris Review, to subtly promote anti-communist views. In their conversation, Whitney tells Robert Scheer about the ties the CIA’s Congress for Cultural Freedom had with literary magazines. He talks about the CIA's attempt during the Cold War to have at least one agent in every major news organization in order to get stories killed if they were too critical or get them to run if they were favorable to the agency. And they discuss the overstatement of the immediate risks and dangers of communist regimes during the Cold War, which, initially, led many people to support the Vietnam War.
globinfo freexchange
James Jesus Angleton wa…

How the corporate elite started to eliminate the Left and the power of the US working class right after the end of WWII

globinfo freexchange
Richard Wolff brilliantly explains the economics behind the great US anti-leftist purge (McCarthyism) after 1945:
At the end of WWII - late 1940s into the 50s - something remarkable happened politically in the United States. And it was in many ways surprising. Suddenly, a group of people in the United States who had been celebrated as heroes, became instead - almost overnight – demons. From being leaders they became traitors.
Communists - members of the American Communist Party, Socialists - members of the two socialist parties at that time, and active leaders of the labor movement - the big organizing drives of the CIO in the 1930s and 40s, had brought millions of Americans who had never been in unions before, into the unions. They joined the unions because they thought it would be a safe way to make it through the Great Depression of the 1930s. At least safer than not being in a union.
And together, the Communists, the Socialists and the Unionists, really struggled …

Trump proves he is completely clueless on what's the real reason behind the mass layoffs epidemic in big businesses and how to deal with it

globinfo freexchange
Donald Trump's response to recent General Motors' decision to close plants and slash jobs, proves that he is completely clueless on what's the real reason behind the mass layoffs epidemic in US big businesses and how to deal with it.
The media circulated what Trump thinks to do about it, including threats against GM to impose auto tariffs, or, his most beloved action: penalties on foreign cars.
Yet, perhaps the most hilarious part in the whole story, is that one of the key frontline tools of the global neoliberal capital immediately published an 'in your face' article to make Trump realize that he is completely powerless too, against the forces of the markets. Here are some interesting parts:
... market forces are tough to beat, even if you’re president. Trump captured the White House thanks in large part to the story he told -- that he could reverse America’s industrial decline. He promised to bring back manufacturing and fossil-fuel j…

In 1961, US experts knew that the Soviets had only four ICBMs

globinfo freexchange
In a discussion with Paul Jay of the Real News, Daniel Ellsberg revealed that the US discovered - through a top-secret operation -that the USSR had only four(!) ICBMs back in 1961. This meant that the Soviets were very far from becoming a serious threat for the West. However, the false picture of the 'Soviet threat' remained powerful in order to permit the US to justify its frenzy nuclear armament race.
Ellsberg explains:
The estimate of 40 to 60 [Soviet intercontinental ballistic missiles] - which was pretty much in 1962 at the time of the missile crisis based on a lot of satellite photography - was much lower than was estimated earlier, from ‘58, ‘59, ‘60.
The Air Force had a higher estimate. Even the CIA official estimate in 1961 was well over 100. The State Department estimated like 160. The Air Force was much higher than that. And in August of 1961, the then commander of Strategic Air Command, Thomas Power, believed that there were then 1000 Soviet ICBMs…

False flag operations set up by private companies

globinfo freexchange
Here is another sector soon to be occupied entirely by private companies: staging successful false flag operations and the subsequent suitable psyops.
As the World Socialist Web Site reported early this year:
Cambridge Analytica’s parent company is British-based SCL. Formerly Strategic Communication Laboratories, it is a private behavioural research and strategic communication company, founded in 1993 by Nigel Oakes.
As with Oakes, SCL’s board members include scions of the British ruling class, from former military officers and defence contractors to major Conservative Party donors.
SCL boasts of providing “data, analytics and strategy to governments and military organizations worldwide,” notably the British Ministry of Defence, the US State Department and NATO. It states that it has carried out “behavioural change programs” in more than 60 countries. One of its first contracts in 1999 was promoting Indonesian President Abdurrahma…

Exploiting Khashoggi's assassination: the neoliberal predators hang over Saudi Arabia

globinfo freexchange
A month ago we gathered some information to explain the sudden 180 degrees hostile turn by the Western neoliberal status quo against the current Saudi regime.
We discovered that the US corporate dictatorship and the Wall Street mafia heavily invested on the rapid neoliberalization of the Saudi Arabian economy, with the privatization of the state-owned oil company Aramco at the heart of this plan. Suddenly, Mohammed bin Salman decided to step back from the deal.
It would be worth to note that Aramco was standing at the top of the global list of the largest oil and gas companies for 2017 with a revenue of 465.49 billion US dollars.
It seems that the neoliberal regime didn't abort its plans concerning Saudi Arabia and silently seeks to "replace" bin Salman with a more faithful puppet, exploiting, of course, the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi.
Digging a little bit more, we found plenty of evidence in the Western mainstream media, in recent years, showing …

How neoliberalism manufactured consent to secure its unlimited power

From David Harvey's A Brief History of Neoliberalism
Part 4 - Neoliberalism's second big experiment after Chile: the financial coup by the banking mafia to take over New York
One line of response to the double crisis of capital accumulation and class power arose in the trenches of the urban struggles of the 1970s. The New York City fiscal crisis was an iconic case. Capitalist restructuring and deindustrialization had for several years been eroding the economic base of the city, and rapid suburbanization had left much of the central city impoverished. The result was explosive social unrest on the part of marginalized populations during the 1960s, defining what came to be known as ‘the urban crisis’ (similar problems emerged in many US cities).
The expansion of public employment and public provision –– facilitated in part by generous federal funding –– was seen as the solution. But, faced with fiscal difficulties, President Nixon simply declared the urban crisis over in the early 1…

The Guardian in the frontline of the establishment media that have declared a dirty and ruthless war against Julian Assange, WikiLeaks and real journalism

globinfo freexchange
The Guardian has stepped up its contemptible role as one of the main media conduits for the persecution of Julian Assange, publishing unsubstantiated and sensationalist allegations that the WikiLeaks publisher met with American political lobbyist, Paul Manafort.
One of the two authors of the Guardian article was, predictably, Luke Harding. Harding has penned a stream of material aimed at undermining support for Assange and WikiLeaks and attempting to justify the efforts of the US government to prosecute him for espionage or conspiracy. Assange aptly described an error-filled 2014 book written by Harding about whistleblower Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks as a “hack job in the purest sense of the word.
The allegation that Assange met with Manafort is another desperate effort to implicate WikiLeaks in the lurid claims of the Democratic Party, US intelligence agencies and much of the media that the Russian government “interfered” in the 2016 US presidential election to pr…