Is it just me or has someone decided to go after Trump ?

By Patrick BAHZAD 

6a00d8341c72e153ef01b7c851603e970b-800wiThere are nine days left until Inauguration Day and it feels like each one of these days is going to count. A shit-storm of epic proportions is blowing over the US, coast to coast, and I cannot remember having witnessed anything of this magnitude since, well, since 9/11 and the case for WMDs. You might think that is a bad analogy. Maybe. But I can smell when something is not right from a mile away and, believe me, something is not right here. I will not engage in lengthy speculations about what is going to happen now, or whether or not someone colluded with someone else. What I am going to do though is present a brief reminder of the facts (the evidence if you like) and then throw in a couple of thoughts based on my personal experience and gut feeling.

To be honest, I don't like Trump. He is a successful businessman though and I respect that. He campaigned hard, said a lot of things (some of which I found disgusting), but he also – obviously – touched on something that is dear to a significant segment of the electorate. He won the election fair and square, in line with the provisions of the US Constitution, and I would challenge anyone to prove otherwise. As far as I'm concerned, that is the end of the story. Now of course, the issues that we have been dealing with since early December are not linked to the election as such. Remember ? The current debate started when the dust had settled on all the claims about "Hillary won the popular vote", "let's do a recount" and so on. I'm not sure this is a coincidence, but that is just me …

The DHS/FBI "Joint Analysis Report"

Fact is however that the first official IC report to look into the matter of the DNC hack was the DHS/FBIS "Joint Analysis Report" of December 29th 2016. And what a strange report that was, starting with a disclaimer which read that the report was "provided for information purposes only. The Department of Homeland Security does not provide any warranties of any kind regarding any information contained within". Admittedly, you need to take a few basic precautions with Intel reports. But claiming as a matter of baseline, that you can't be held accountable to anything you're writing does sound a little weird.

There were weirder elements still in the report itself, which is basically a summary of findings made by private cybersecurity companies which dealt with the DNC hack, in particular "Crowdstrike". But those findings only make up for 3 pages out of the 13 contained in this JAR. The rest is related to barely relevant technical details or to mitigation strategies and practices any 5 year old should be aware of. There was also a list of suspicious IP adresses that organizations should be on the lookout for, because they could be linked potentially to the entities that attacked the DNC. Funny enough, some 40 % of these addresses were TOR exit nodes (you can make up your own mind about what this could mean) and some addresses were even attributed to the wrong country: IPs in Switzerland were identified as "Swaziland", Danish IPs as Germans (probably because ".dk" can be easily misread as ".de").

Typos and misunderstandings you might say. But that kind of error, in addition to the global layout of the report, definitely points to a very rushed approach, not to an intel report that is careful worded and thought through. Talking about intel, what did the JAR have to say in that regard ? Well, not much actually, at least not much more than the reports published weeks and months before by cybersecurity experts who had analyzed the DNC hack.

The only thing new or different in the December 29th report was actually that DHS and FBI came up with a new name for the hackers and that in itself is interesting: "Grizzly Steppe". Good title for a novel if you ask me, and definitely catchy. The thing is, up until then, everybody in the private sector who had been involved with the analysis of the hack basically had identified two different hacker groups, which had both hacked the DNC at various moments and for different periods of time.

In short, what DHS/FBI called "Grizzly Steppe" were actually known up until then as "Advanced Persistant Threat 28", aka "Fancy Bear", and "Advanced Persistant Threat 29", aka "Cosy Bear". Let's not burden ourselves with technical details here, there is plenty of literature out there about both groups, their methods and tools. Suffice to say that APT 28 is considered to be part of GRU (Russian Military Intelligence) and APT 29 of FSB (Russian domestic intelligence).

Questions arising from the JAR

Each of these two entities hacked the DNC at specific times that did not overlap and it seems that only material recovered by the GRU was subsequently leaked and damaged the democratic party in the election. The FSB hackers on the other hand seemed to stick more to intel work in the traditional and commonly accepted way, breaking into DNC servers, stealing information, but basically keeping it for further use, like any intelligence agency might do in similar circumstances.

Why then would the DHS/FBI bundle both these groups together into one big "Grizzly Steppe" hacking operation ? To be honest, I don't know, but it certainly makes things easier for anyone wishing to make an easy case about "Russia meddling in the US presidential election". After all, attribution of cyber-attacks is difficult enough when you got one attacker, let alone when you got two.

So maybe, just maybe, someone decided to cut corners a little for the sake of making the charges stick. To be honest, there is not much doubt in my mind that the first hacking, i.e. the "intelligence gathering" operation, was done by the Russians. There is ample evidence to back up such a claim. The second however, which is the one that really matters because it ended with the leaks, raises at least one question.

The "smoking gun" that was provided by "Crowdstrike" private cybersecurity to prove Russian GRU was behind this attack was a software tool known as "X-agent", of which Crowdstrike found traces in its forensic analysis of the DNC servers. That tool is closely associated with GRU hackers, so much so that it is considered by many experts as a kind of digital fingerprint or DNA of GRU involvement. The problem is that this tool is not used exclusively by GRU hackers anymore and the much hyped up analogy with a Russian cyber operation against Ukrainian artillery units in 2014, which allegedly also used "X-agent" to devastating effect against Kiev's forces, does not seem to provide the strength of evidence needed to be affirmative that "X-agent" is indeed solid proof of GRU involvement.

The CIA/FBI/NSA "Intelligence Community Assessment"

The JAR report however did not bother going into such details, as it just simply stated that two separate groups of Russian hackers were responsible for the hacks. Period. Overall, not really compelling evidence. This is where the "Intelligence Community Assessment" of January 7th 2017 comes into play. This unclassified/public version is the result of CIA, FBI and NSA analysis of evidence related to the the same substance as the JAR of December 29th 2016. Only seven days in between both documents. You have got to wonder why, if the first report felt already a bit rushed and unconvincing, did the IC feel compelled to produce a second one that quickly afterwards ?

Of course, some people did entertain the idea that the ICA report might contain stronger evidence or feature elements not mentioned in the first JAR report. And in truth, there was more detail in it. Only that it did amount to much, especially considering what various cybersecurity companies had argued already weeks or months earlier, just that it was now given the official seal of "approval" of the US intelligence community.

And oddly, the actual intelligence part in the ICA was only 5 pages long (out of a total 25) with the rest being barely relevant (and outdated) attachments relating mainly to Russian TV channel "Russia Today", dubbed as part of the Kremlin's media and propaganda machine. A case that could be made by any freshman studying journalism and certainly not the stuff intel reports should be made of. There were also a couple of minor mistakes in the assessment, but the main difference with the previous joint FBI/DHS report, was the strong wording attributing the hacks to the Kremlin and alleging Russia's very clearcut preference for a Trump, rather than an HRC presidency.

In other words, the evidence was still begging but this was definitely a step or two up in terms of the narrative that we were being fed. You might think that this should have been the end of it. At least, as far as the public was concerned. After all, the other (classified and compartmentalized) versions of the ICA were not intended for public disclosure and were discussed, as they should be, by those they were intended for. Therefore, yes, you might think this should have been the end of the exercise in public disclosure, but you would be mistaken.

Yesterday, on Tuesday 10th 2017, a mere three days after the release of the ICA which failed to make a big impression, a document was leaked by Buzzfeed and discussed – although not published – by CNN. This document makes some of the most extravagant accusations I have ever heard.

The Trump "dossier"

What CNN alluded to is actually a dossier containing 17 short "intelligence reports" drafted between June and December 2016 by a private intelligence company headed by a former (anonymous) MI6 officer with – allegedly – extensive sources networks in Russia and Eastern Europe. The various reports contain extremely serious allegations, based on anonymous HUMINT sources and – possibly – various SIGINT intercepts, although the reports do not state this clearly. In other words, this "dossier" is the work of an nameless former intelligence officer who quotes anonymous sources.

But the story doesn't end there. Turns out, the "dossier" itself was handed over to the FBI by no other than Sen. John McCain, sometime after December 13th, and was being analyzed carefully by the FBI because the MI6 person who had drafted those documents was considered credible to the intelligence community. Furthermore, it appears that this private intelligence work had been done as part of "opposition research" on Donald Trump. The ex-MI6 officer had been tasked with it first by Republican opponents of Mr. Trump, who quickly withdrew their request, which was then taken up by the Democratic Party.

Cherry on top, various parts of the "dossier" had been circulating among journalists in the US for weeks already, but had not been published, because basically the allegations in those reports could not by verified nor proven. And not only was it known to the media, but obviously also to politics who made suggestions in several instances as to potential wrongdoing by team Trump, prior, during and after the election campaign.

I am not going to discuss the content of those allegations. Anybody who is interested can find the document online and have a look at it. What strikes me is that this is either the most outrageous attempt at discrediting a President-elect or the most unheard of collusion between as US Presidential candidate and a foreign power aiming at disruption of democratic elections in the United States.

Trump gave a few pointers about what he thought of the "dossier" during his press conference this afternoon. Needless to say, he is not amused, as CNN's reporter found out. As was also to expect, the identity of the nameless former-MI6 person is about to be known, and probably commented nationwide. Meanwhile, the House Intelligence Committee voted to allow all members of the House to get access to Friday's classified briefing on the hacking report. Nine days to go. Nine long days …

This entry was posted in Borg Wars, Current Affairs, government, Intelligence, Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

58 Responses to Is it just me or has someone decided to go after Trump ?

  1. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    Thanks for the summary and comments. Per Zero Hedge “the former MI-6 officer, now working for a private security-and-investigations firm “who produced the dossier of unverified allegations about President-elect Donald Trump’s activities and connections in Russia” is …” now known. Link is attached. Were I him, I would take an indefinite trip to parts unknown.
    This is one weird world.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  2. Jack says:

    This is getting ominous. Trump is dogged IMO. He has withstood an intense attack during the election campaign. There are many sharp knives trying to finish him off before he even gets started. This tweet is serious, specially when considered with the tweet from Drudge that Sam Peralta posted on the previous thread.
    “Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to “leak” into the public. One last shot at me.Are we living in Nazi Germany?”
    Check out @realDonaldTrump’s Tweet:
    If this escalates further as Chuck Schumer alluded to then it would be unprecedented in recent times – an internal war between the IC and POTUS. Larry Johnson has a pointed viewpoint on this matter including a recommendation to dismantle the CIA.
    Our adversaries are no doubt gonna try and take advantage. I’m particularly interested to see what the Izzies and Chinese do.

  3. JohnH says:

    This reminds me of the media frenzy that is typically a prelude to a regime change or an invasion. Usually the task of preparing the public lasts years, if not decades, though more recent campaigns against Qaddafi and Assad were much shorter.
    One thing for sure, it won’t be an orange revolution. That was already done in Ukraine.

  4. J says:

    Seems that in addition to the CIA and FBI ‘cooking’ Intel in their BS report of Russian hacking, the FBI went and sought a FISA “broad surveillance powers” authorization for Trump advisors. The FISA bench TURNED DOWN THE FBI broad surveillance powers request on Trump’s advisors, saying it wasn’t narrow enough in scope.

  5. Jackrabbit says:

    >> This reminds me of the media frenzy that is typically a prelude to a regime change …
    IMO the only logical goal of this frenzy is to convince VP Pence (a longtime friend of John McCain) to invoke the 25th Amendment. Only missing ingredient is an ‘incident’ that raises US-Russian tensions to a fever pitch.
    >> … it won’t be an orange revolution.
    It might be PURPLE (uniting Red and Blue against Trump as democrats have recently proposed) if Pence were to name Hillary as his VP (as a move to unite the country).
    Only weeks ago, many would have insisted that the above was nonsense. Other nonsense that we have seen in recent times: governments not fully investigating the downing of a jumbo jet; Western democracies supporting “allies” that use extremists as a weapon of State; No one going to jail after the world economy loses trillions of dollars due to financial fraud (2008 financial crisis); etc.

  6. Patrick,
    No, it’s not you. There are people in our government who have decided to go after Trump. This is supposed to be a honeymoon period, or at least a wait and see period. That’s the only conclusion I can make after the unprecedented reaction to this Russian influence op and those two half-assed official reports. Those were embarrassing. I would have been more impressed if the IC issued a one or two page report listing the findings and saying no evidence will be forthcoming. It’s classified and will remain classified. Actually just the diplomatic expulsions accompanied by a short, terse statement of warning by the POTUS would have been enough.
    Marcy Wheeler over at Empty Wheel is doing a good job covering this whole affair.
    I’m glad to see she also touched on the Shadow Brokers and the NSA hacks. I find that a more interesting story than the DNC hacks by themselves. A researcher going by the name of the grugq has also covered this aspect well.

  7. Augustin L says:

    Trump talked about rigged elections and incited the wounded lumpen to unrest while they were actively looking for ways to rig the vote. Brad Parsdale’s Alamo big data team knew that if not for rigging the election was already, his team ran all types of projections with various models and always came out on the loosing end. I quote Brad Parsdale’s the man running the command center: “we have three major voter suppression operations underway, aimed at white liberals, young women and African American voters.”. Again: ”the aim is to depress Clinton’s vote total, we know because we’ve modeled this out”. In other words, the only path to any competitive outcome is massive voter suppression. The GOP is also looking to purge millions of minority voters to keep the senate and deliver the white house to Trump, but current high voter turnout mirror numbers from 2008 when Barack Obama was elected in a landslide… Here’s another quote from the man leading Trump’s Alamo Team underligning they are only selling a product to the deplorables (Cambridge analytica’s data allows them to intimately know what deplorables want to hear) :” You have to find out what people want and then convince them why your product is the right one.” What financial firms own Cambridge Analytica ? I suspect they had another bunker with techies hacking into voter tabulation centers to outright change voting results in their favour. The pot calling the kettle black…
    Can U.S. elections be stolen ?

  8. Castellio says:

    Chris Hedges comments on the “Intelligence Report” and “Clapper’s actions” in… where else…. RT.
    He reduces the intelligence report to four key intentions: discredit Trump, discredit independent journalists, justify hostilities with Russia, give Democrats an excuse for why they lost.

  9. TTG,
    Thx for the links… I’ve read all that is out there over the weekend. Quite exhausting 😉

  10. I guess “voter suppression” didn’t exactly work out. Must have been the hacking that managed to change voting results… What a load of BS !

  11. Lemur says:

    The baseless nature of these allegations show how desperate the deep state is. They’re all of tricks, and know Trump will be cleaning house in 9 days.

  12. Fred says:

    Augustin L,
    Yeah, and the Russians were behind the Michigan Democratic Party’s “rigged” primary in 2008?,_2008

  13. Lemur says:

    thanks for Correcting the Record

  14. Mark Logan says:

    A Devil’s Advocate question:
    In the current climate, created and sustained in no small way by our “news” being 90% political gossip, s-house rumors present a damned if you do/don’t. Either you air them out or be accused of covering them up.

  15. The Beaver says:

    Forbes has more information :
    In 2010, Steele was one of four former British intelligence officers who spoke at a black tie gala dinner in central London (the exact location was kept confidential from the public) that celebrated the 100th anniversary of MI6. There were various sessions held at the event, including ones led by Andrew Rostov, a retired KGB counterintelligence colonel, and Brian Kelley, a retired CIA case officer.
    Check the second commentator in that article

    Now some more rats are coming out :

  16. eakens says:

    Chuck Schumer’s comments were to conveniently prescient for comfort

  17. bks says:

    Something is wrong alright. It’s like Mussolini in 1923.

  18. Peter AU says:

    Russia is and has been under attack from the US for some time. Information, sanctions ect.
    Their defence strategy is two pronged.
    1) warnings against military attack. eg.. the calibre missile demo from the Caspian, and the shadow brokers NSA hack.
    2) Internal collapse of their attacker through exposing to American citizens and the world what the US government has been up to. Syria – Erdogans oil convoys for a start, but in the period since Russia entered the Syrian war most of the average commenters on MSM now understand that the “moderate” rebels will bring in at best sharia law without democracy, at worst it will turn into another Libya.
    If Russia hacked DNC and I am not yet convinced they did (as in sending information to wikileaks) as there have been a number of whistle blowers that have acted out of ethics over the years, then this would also be part of a defensive strategy.
    No matter how the DNC information or Podesta’s emails got out, the ruling cliche in the US is being brought out into the open. Something like an exorcism? Hence the desperate propaganda we see now.

  19. euclidcreek says:

    Getting the Israeli’s and Bibi in his corner: good move by Trump. He’s gonna need all the friends he can get.

  20. Valissa says:

    On a similar theme, this piece by Philip Giraldi…
    Washington Invented Hacking and Interfering in Elections – Weaponized hacking all began with Stuxnet

  21. ann says:

    Iran, Iraq and Syria are not our problem. Our problem in inside the beltway of Washington D.C. So they must point elsewhere. Screaming, ” Look, bear”, he is dangerous.
    Screaming “look terrorist” , we must destroy them.
    Scream “the terrible Dragon, he has stolen from us “. .
    When it is the U.S. tax code that is the root of all evil in the world.

  22. Sam Peralta says:

    Let us assume that the Russians were the party that ran a successful phishing exploit that snared the DNC and Podesta’s emails. For a moment let us disregard that the DNC had poor infosec by having the word “password” as their password. Everyone in the IC community knows that we, the Russians, the Chinese, the Israelis, the Brits, the French, etc all spy on each other and have been doing that for a very long time. Nothing new here. Our IC have been caught with their hand in the cookie jar many times, from intercepting our ally Merkel’s phone to real coups in South America. The Israelis have been stealing our deepest national security secrets for a long time. The Chinese downloaded our entire federal government employee database. In this case what was disclosed was the truth. Not misinformation.
    So, why this reaction, this time, to the purported Russian phishing exploit? Why this hysteria? Why are the CIA, NSA & FBI pushing this so hard? Why the amp up of vitriol against Russia now? Why the attempt by the IC to de-legitmize the election result? I can understand the Democrats and the MSM but not the IC.

  23. ‘The Beaver’, IZ,
    Thanks for those links.
    A story in the ‘MailOnline’ this morning is headlined:
    ‘Will you look after my cat?’ Ex-MI6 spy ‘who worked with murdered Alexander Litvinenko’ flees his £1.5m home ‘fearing for his life’ leaving his pet with neighbours after being outed as the man behind the dirty dossier on Donald Trump.’
    (See .)
    I particularly liked the comment with the second highest number of ratings – ‘Why is he scared for his life? He didn’t upset the Clinton.’
    More seriously, some background.
    It appears that Christopher Steele was posted to Moscow as Second Secretary in the British Embassy in 1990 – seemingly this was MI6 cover. So he would have been there when the ‘station chief’ was Sir John Scarlett, before that figure was expelled in a ‘tit for tat’ row in 1994.
    Following his disastrous role, as chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, in propagating the ‘fake intelligence’ which made possible the disastrous invasion of Iraq, Scarlett was appointed to head MI6: a job he held in the period leading up to Litvinenko’s poisoning.
    As to what Scarlett and Steele may have been up to in Moscow, key figures in the training of the future oligarchs, notably Khodorkovsky and Berezovsky, in ‘Western business methods’ were Christopher Samuelson and Christian Michel, then of a company called Valmet.
    In May 2005, as Khodorkovsky was awaiting sentence, the pair – in an imprudent fit of garrulousness – spilled a lot of beans to Catherine Belton, then with the ‘Moscow Times’, later with the ‘Financial Times’.
    In addition to the fact that at the critical time Samuelson and Michel’s company was majority controlled by Riggs Bank, Belton mentions in passing that ‘with the help of British government connections, Valmet had already built up a wealthy clientele that included the ruling family of Dubai.’
    Moreover, it seems that the oligarchs’ training in Western ‘best practice’ on looting and money-laundering began very early – the first contacts between Valmet and Menatep were in late 1988.
    (See . )
    It seems that, with the general daffiness that seems to characterise the kind of people MI6 recruits, people like Scarlett and Steele continued to think it a bright idea to side with Berezovsky and Khodorkovsky against Putin’s determined campaign to wrest control back from them.
    Likewise, in all the bitter fights within the post-Soviet space, MI6 has sided with the anti-Russian forces – notably, with the ‘Orange Revolution’ in Ukraine, and the insurgents in Chechnya and probably further into the Caucasus.
    Much of this support – particularly as regards ‘information operations’ – has however been done at arm’s length, through ‘private security’ companies like Erinys International and Titon International, and RISC Management. This made it possible to sustain the pretence that Berezovsky-funded ‘information operations’ specialists, like Litvinenko and the Washington-based Yuri Shvets, were simply engaged in ‘due diligence’ operations.
    It would appear eminently likely that Orbis Business Intelligence was, and is, performing similar functions.
    It is clear from some of the material in the documents produced in evidence to Sir Robert Owen’s farce of an inquiry into Litvinenko’s death, in the course of 2005 it was decided to have another ‘bite at the cherry’ of the famous ‘Melnichenko tapes’, which had been instrumental in facilitating the original ‘Orange Revolution.’ (Much more material which was available to the inquiry was suppressed, and the most important points about the evidence which was produced not used in Owen’s report.)
    As with the material supposed to establish that the former Ukrainian President Kuchma had actually sold the Kolchuga aircraft detection to Iraq – as distinct from discussing a sale – this involved taking actually incriminating material and then having Shvets and his people doing some deft editing.
    What Shvets and Litvinenko did was to take a genuine revelation, to the effect that the notorious Ukrainian mobster Semyon Mogilevich was working for Russian and Ukrainian, intelligence, and then edit other fragments in a bid to establish that he was personally close to the Russian President.
    On the basis of this, it was then claimed that, while acting as an agent of the FSB and under Putin’s personal ‘krysha’, Mogilevich had been attempting to supply a ‘mini nuclear bomb’ to Al Qaeda.
    (See ; .)
    It seems reasonably clear that parallel scaremongering operations were undertaken by elements in Russian intelligence, with the intention of suggesting that Berezovsk and Litvinenko might be supplying either a ‘mini nuclear bomb’ (aka ‘suitcase nuke’ or a ‘dirty bomb’) to the Chechens.
    In a post on Owen’s inquiry on SST a year ago, I attempted to explain how these ‘information operations’ battles are likely to have led to Litvinenko’s death, and the reasons why there is a kind of covert collusion between Western and Russian intelligence to keep the actual truth of what happened under wraps.
    ( .)
    As regards current events, it seems to me possible that Steele was actually engaged in producing a report. Equally, however, it is perfectly possible that this whole story is a diversion, designed to give a bogus appearance of credibility to its contends, and also obscure its actual history.

  24. Richardstevenhack,
    Thx for your input, I’m pretty familiar with most cyberexperts opinions on the DNC hack, including Carr and the The Grugg. What they disagree about is actually the hacking that took place in the spring of 2016, not so much the part that started in late 2015.
    Also, Jeffrey Carr didn’t debunk anything, he has a different (minority) opinion. Doesn’t mean he’s wrong, doesn’t mean he’s right either. I referred to the controvery abt use of “X-agent” in my piece anyway.
    As far as information abt APT 28 and 29 is concerned, featuring it as based on “flimsy evidence” does make you look a bit foolish. Nobody is seriously challenging the fact that these groups are affiliated with Russian Intel. The question is more whether or not one or both of them were actively involved in the DNC hack.
    Other than that, you can make up any assumptions and theories you like, that’s your business. Present them as fact or established truth however is a different matter.

  25. SP,
    I think the IC is making a clear distinction between hacking as a way of gathering intelligence, which is pretty much common and accepted practice, and the use of hacked emails and other info to damage one part involved in the campaign, ie “meddling” or “interfering”.
    As for why the IC is so vocal about it now, I’m afraid there is no clear cut answer to it, but the timing and insistence raise legitimate questions.

  26. Pacifica Advocate ,
    Palast can write whatever he wants and so do I.

  27. bks,
    “It’s like Mussolini in 1923” ? Strange, I haven’t noticed any black shirts marching on D.C.

  28. Peter AU,
    Again, there’s a difference btw the gathering of intel based on “hacking”, which is just a case of SIGINT, and the leaking of compromising material in order to influence the outcome of an election, or weaken one candidate’s position.
    I don’t think anybody is seriously arguing about the 1st part. The 2nd however is more of an issue. I’ll give it to you though, the US is no stranger to interfering with other ppl’s elections. Does it mean, they should accept foreign powers (hypothetical) meddling with their own ? Of course not !

  29. b says:

    APT 28 and APT 29 are not “groups”.
    These are methods of hacking using specific tools.
    As soon is such a method is known and the tools either copied or reverse engineered by various international hackers it is impossible (without further evidence) to pin those methods/tools to specific actors.
    Both, APT28 and APT 29, have been known for years now. The relevant tools are by now freely available to various actors (including Ukrainian). To still tag those method/tools as unique for specific actors is unprofessional from a IT perspective.
    For comparison look at the STUXnet attack. It was reverse engineered by Kapersky and other anti-virus companies. Anyone can now use the elements of the attack, modified or original, and use them for other purposes. No professional would today claim that any new STUXnet like attack must have come from Israeli/U.S. services. A new STUXnet attack could come from anywhere. Unless there is very significant other evidence no attribution would be possible.
    I do not understand, TTG, why you claim otherwise.

  30. b,
    I think most of us are familiar enough with the concept of APT.
    Claiming the whole toolbox is “out there” is one thing, stating anybody could use it, extract info and cover their tracks reasonably well, that is an entirely different proposition.
    Maybe that is the reason you’re having trouble with the notion of “cyber attacks’ attribution”.

  31. The Beaver says:

    The Guardian has more on Steele:
    I wonder who “outed” him. The first time I saw his ID was on Forbes ( which may have got it from the Mirror since both of them published it at the same time – 17 hours ago on the East Coast here)
    This part is edifying:
    In the US presidential campaign Steele was initially hired by a Washington DC political research firm, to investigate Trump on behalf of Republicans opposed to his candidacy. He was kept on the assignment after Trump won the nomination and his information was circulated to Democratic party figures and members of the media, Reuters said.
    Eventually he began dealing with the FBI regarding the dossier, sources told Reuters, but he became frustrated at the bureau’s slow progress and cut off contact. The material then circulated in political and media circles before ultimately making its way into the public domain.

  32. Peter AU says:

    “Does it mean, they should accept foreign powers (hypothetical) meddling with their own ?”
    First question that would have to be asked and decided on – is the hypothetical meddling malign or benign?
    From my point of view, being neither Russian nor American, America was marching towards nuclear confrontation with Russia. Not good for American nor Russian citizens.
    For some time now I have felt that democracy does not work very well if the voters do not have access to accurate information.
    Under the circumstances, can there be a black and white answer to the question you have posed?

  33. Richardstevenhack,
    Carr is as single-mindedly biased against the premise that the Russians conducted an influence operation against the US as many commenters here on SST. I include you in that group. Your Ukrainians working with the DNC theory is flimsy and a bit too tin-foil-hat for me. I’d be more interested and more impressed if someone claimed Israel’s Unit 8200 was behind this and provided some evidence to support that theory.
    Companies like CrowdStrike and the IC use a painstakingly thorough methodology to analyze these things. They are becoming better at determining attribution. No single data point determines attribution. The analysis involves years of looking at the tools, techniques, targets, data taken and infrastructure used to perpetrate many data breaches. Bits and pieces of identifying data are collected on the hackers outside of the actual data breaches. Analysts sift through all this data, sorting through all the obfuscations and misdirection thrown up by the hackers before establishing attribution.
    The IC does this with more collection and analytical tools at its disposal. For example, the FBI doesn’t need the DNC servers to conduct forensics. They had the upstream data from those servers which augmented and checked the forensic analysis already conducted by CrowdStrike and others. LE and the IC work with these private companies all the time now. The FBI would only need to seize the DNC servers if this was a criminal investigation. Obviously, it is not.

  34. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    DH, Beaver;
    Many thanks for the information and the analysis. IMO the probability that we are observing a Borg-Ukronazi gambit is getting higher with each disclosure. Now Clapper has backed off. 8 days to go for the situation to turn full kinetic. Those who live will see.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  35. b,
    APT28 and APT29 are nicknames used by researchers as well as LE and the IC. Often they each have their own nicknames for the same series of data breaches or hacker groups. Thus the proliferation of names. It is not just shorthand for a specific tool or method. A group’s tools and methods change over time. This is tracked by researchers. Equation Group is the Kaspersky Labs nickname for NSA TAO.

  36. Richardstevenhack,
    You make the mistake that the Russian government approaches hacking in the same manner as the US. Our IC does not use freelance hackers to do our “dirty work” or try to influence those hackers to act on our behalf. The Russian government, and the Chinese government, have a very different relationship with hackers. Many Russian hackers are given a “letter of marque” to hack in support of government objectives. The hackers use their own tools and methods and even continue to hack for their own reasons. They don’t use GRU malware and GRU officers as hackers. I don’t think you’ve dealt with real Russian hackers for a decade. I have.

  37. turcopolier says:

    IMO a lot of our friends do not understand that only a small number of people in the intelligence business are exposed to any risk or hardship. Those who are; HUMINT collectors and field SIGINT people who directly support ground forces in combat for things like voice intercept. the rest of the work force resides in places like; NSA, Ft. Meade, CIA, Langley, DIA, in the Pentagon or the DIA building at Bolling AFB, overseas analytic centers at such hardship posts as England, Hawaii, oversized MI headquarters, etc. This vast majority abides in metal cubicles where they adorn their workspaces with family pictures, collections of trivia like airline sick bags, etc. The greatest stress they face is bureaucratic nastiness. Atop this work force rules the SES class of hyper-successful, “yes, minister” types who are the oppressors of those below them and sycophants who serve the politically appointed masters of the universe who rule these agencies, Tenet, Brennan, Clapper, Rogers. IMO this structure is inherently ineffective for anything but institutional and baronial self defense. IMO it should all be cut down, and cut back to the working level and people should be brought in from “outside” to run the madhouse. pl

  38. Sam Peralta,
    Those are excellent questions. The IC does not act on its own. The Administration directs them and decides what reports they release to the public. I would like to think the IC would prefer to aggressively investigate this Russian operation just as I’ve seem them aggressively investigate other Russian operations and keep those investigations secret. I think the vitriolic public reaction to this on the left and the right may be driving a lot of the IC releases at this point.
    BTW, the Chinese hack of the OPM database was all about truth, too. They didn’t download misinformation… unfortunately. Another point about the OPM hack is that the IC has not published proof that the Chinese are behind this or that the OPM hack has actually taken place. Yet there is no public outcry about this being a manufactured conspiracy.

  39. TTG,
    I have not dealt with Russian hackers, but I know that there are close relationships between ‘official’ and ‘unofficial’ operations.
    However, that does not dispose of the problems I have with this.
    An operation to try to tilt the U.S. election from Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump would, of its nature, be extremely high risk. And this was all the more so, because the general expectation, throughout most of the campaign, was that Donald Trump was very much the outsider – and this expectation is likely to have been shared by Russian intelligence. (I doubt that they had Tyler’s grasp of the on-the-ground realities.)
    It is of course possible that they would have assessed that Hillary Clinton was so inveterately hostile that there was no ‘downside risk’ to further antagonising her, but it does not seem to me sensible to take that for granted. So why risk an intervention which would be likely to be exposed, in the off-chance that this might make someone you thought a likely loser a winner?
    This does not, repeat not, mean that one could rule out the possibility of Russians hacking into all the relevant sites – indeed, if I was Putin and this had not been done, I would want to know the reasons why.
    But this is not the kind of operation which I would expect to be ‘contracted out’ to ‘letters of marque’ people, without close supervision – if the results were then to be disseminated by ‘WikiLeaks.’
    And clues which obviously appears to point to Russia, like the initials of Dzherzinsky, are precisely the kind of thing which Putin, and Gerasimov, would have every reason to avoid.
    Another point is that the notion that people in the GRU would look back to the founder of the ‘Cheka’ with any kind of respect or affection is the kind of idea I would expect to be regarded as natural by ignorant and ill-informed people in the West, or just possibly in Ukraine.
    In a paper published in June last year by Andrei Kokoshin, one of the leading Russian defence intellectual, on ‘The German Blitzkrieg Against the USSR’ 1941’, there is a very vivid description of the utter havoc which the ‘Cheka’ unleashed on the Red Army, and among things the lethal damage it did to military intelligence.
    (See .)
    As it happens, I have a vivid memory of interviewing both Kokoshin and his collaborator, General-Mayor Valentin Larionov, in Moscow in early 1989.
    What Larionov – who as I learnt later, before ending up as one of the principal military thinkers involved in the Gorbachev-era ‘new thinking’ had been a pre-eminent Soviet nuclear strategist – was trying to tell me I only began adequately to grasp years later.
    But I was struck by his tone when, talking about the ideas of Aleksandr Svechin, the great Russian Clausewitzian whose thinking he and others were reviving, he said he had been ‘repressed’ under Stalin.
    In the Kokoshin paper, he quotes Marshal Vasilevsky saying that, but for the 1937 repressions, the German invasion might never have happened. As I also learnt later, Larionov had, as a teenager, been wounded at Kursk, as well as seeing action at Warsaw, Prague, and Berlin. I somehow don’t think he was very keen on the NKVD.
    That does not mean that there may not be Russian hackers who would be perfectly happy to leave the initials of ‘Iron Felix’ as a trace. But they would either be people who for one reason or another wanted to make relations with the United States worse, or were just doing things for a laugh. Neither category of people are likely to have been given ‘letters of marque’ by Gerasimov or Putin.

  40. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I agree with you although not with “all evil”, which is rather extreme.
    The Iranian president who died last week, Ayatollah Rafsanjani, tried to improve relations with US on 4 occasions: under Bush I (who pocketed the gains with no reciprocity), and thrice under Clinton; on one occasion he was publicly slapped in the face and humiliated, on 2 other occasions his EU intermediaries to Clinton came back with the word “No”.
    I wonder if those US Government responses to his offers/efforts were yet other expressions of Hubris – as another commentator here, familiar with US efforts in Afghanistan, characterized the source of US failure in Afghanistan – or was there some other cause.

  41. Babak Makkinejad,
    ‘Hubris’ is the key to much of what is happening.
    On that subject, there was a very fine post, just before Christmas, by the former British Army Intelligence officer, and current Ottawa University professor, Paul Robinson.
    (See .)
    We Cambridge-educated sometime local newspaper hacks sometimes think an Eton-and-Oxford former Army man not quite wise to the wicked ways of the world.
    However, as someone fond of black humour, I envy the ‘light touch’ in Paul Robinson’s latest post, entitled ‘Top Secret Credulous Eyes Only.’
    (See .)
    It is so good that I cannot resist reproducing it in full:
    ‘I am distressed at the shocking lack of faith shown by so many people in the exposé of Donald Trump’s Russian connections recently published on Buzzfeed. Judging by the sceptics’ attitudes, you’d think that the report was written by some vacuum cleaner salesman trying to earn a little bit of money to pay for his daughter’s pony club membership. As if!! Human intelligence compiled from anonymous sources is known to be the most reliable basis on which to form judgements about important events. Nothing else provides such detailed insider information from the very heart of enemy institutions.
    ‘It is time people knew the truth. I have decided that it is necessary to reveal my own notes from underground (scribbled on a table napkin in invisible ink this morning and just now squirted with lemon juice). I cannot, of course, identify my sources, but I might suggest that you look up Richard Meinertzhagen’s ‘dirty paper method’ (see footnote). I can also claim that I have access to the highest echelons of the Russian government through somebody who knows somebody, who is related to somebody, who went to school with somebody, whose neighbour sharpens Vladimir Putin’s hockey skates.
    ‘These sources of mine tell me that the plot to place Donald Trump in the White House was hatched not five years ago as claimed in the BuzzFeed report, but 13 years ago at an exclusive banya in Sokolniki.
    ‘According to Source BS, the concept for what became known as Operatsiia Tuz emerged during a sweaty discussion over a dozen bottles of vodka, when oligarch Viktor Bogatyi announced that he had an idea for a new television show. Aspiring kleptocrats would audition for a job as Bogatyi’s assistant and the losers would be eliminated one by one with his famous catchphrase ‘You’re shot!’ Hearing this, a senior GRU agent, Max Otto von Stierlitz, after a pause of seventeen moments, suggested an alternative. Why not, said Stierlitz, pass the idea for the TV show on to Donald Trump to use as a vehicle for making himself popular among the American people? It would be the perfect mechanism to gradually push the Donald into a position from which he could become President of the United States of America. The rest, as they say, is history.
    ‘Source VK adds that the FSB later tried to compromise Trump during a stay in Moscow at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. To this end, the FSB tried to lure him into a liaison with a woman from Leningrad, alluringly dressed up in Louboutin shoes and truly awesome jeans. Unfortunately, Trump refused to be compromised, preferring instead the company of a respectable lady with a lapdog. An attempt to get Trump intoxicated at a drinks stand in Patriarch’s Pond also failed when the stand turned out not to have any drinks, and Trump got distracted by a large black cat.
    ‘In a final twist, Source RT reveals that the FSB’s active measures unit decided to turn Operatsiia Tuz into a classic provokatsiia, building on years of experience in maskirovka. As part of a subordinate operation, (Operatsiia Tresk), a former KGB agent known only as Opperput arranged for details of Operatsiia Tuz to be leaked to the American Democratic Party. The expectation was that the Democratic Party would covertly pass the information to the press, which would use it to defame Donald Trump. The final step would then be to feed the full details directly to the public once Trump won the presidency, thereby revealing the Democrats’ dirty tricks and exposing their willingness to plumb the lowest depths of political sleaze. This final stage of Operatsiia Tuz reached its brilliant climax with the BuzzFeed story yesterday.
    ‘Due to the highly sensitive nature of the contents above, readers are advised to shred themselves immediately upon finishing this report.’
    You see, once can a great deal in Army Intelligence. As to MI6, it now appears they recruit people who can’t even spell. But Paul Robinson actually knows his Russian literature.

  42. Richardstevenhack,
    Forensic data from a server is static. The system logs can be modified by a hacker on the fly to cover tracks or mislead. I’ve seen it done and have done it myself. The upstream data is the result of establishing pervasive surveillance on all traffic in and out of that server. It catches the efforts of a hacker to modify system logs and cover his tracks. It’s gold for a researcher.

  43. pl,
    Cutting it all back to the working level is probably exactly what’s needed. Just in the time I was in DIA, I witnessed a massive increase in bureaucratic offices with more GG-15 and SES billets for the ladder climber to crawl into. I saw a position of HUMINT expert created and someone with no HUMINT field experience moved into it. He did know to work the bureaucracy, though. I hear Brennan not only destroyed the CIA at McLean, but also destroyed the education system. There’s probably not much to work with.

  44. b says:

    Without looking at the server the FBI would not know if an insider attack happened. Watching just upstream tells you nothing about thumb-drives that may have been connected to that system.
    Further – the FBI REQUESTED access to the servers. It was denied.
    FBI to Judge:
    “The lawyer of the family of the man killed in his bed told us we could not see the crime scene.”
    “The private detective the family hired told us Putin killed him.”
    Your argument is hogwash.

  45. Bandolero says:

    Let me give you some weird opinion from myself. To understand my poor professional background let me say I know a bit about computers, unix, networks, system & db administration and stuff like that, but I have never been in the hacking & cybersecurity bizz.
    However, I have a strong opinion regarding Russiand preferences in the US election because I’ve followed the war on Syria closely. This news item was for me proof that Putin personally had a strong preference for Trup and believed he could win, quote begin:
    Putin rejects Russian military request to resume airstrikes in east Aleppo
    Published time: 28 Oct, 2016 14:54
    Edited time: 30 Oct, 2016 13:51 …
    Quote end. Source:
    It was very clear to me that Putin did not do these militarily logical air strikes to not undercut the election chances of Trump by feeding into Clinton’s anti-Russian memes. Is it allowed not to order air strikes to make your preferred candidate in an election in a foreign country better? Of course it is. There is nothing wrong with it. And Putin wanted the world to know – if he didn’t there would have been no reports that the Russian military asked for permission for air strikes.
    Is it conclusive evidence that Russia hacked the DNC? It is not. And – with my limited IT knowledge – I doubt there will ever be such conclusive evidence coming from IT forensics. Anybody can go into any supermarket in almost any country – take Germany for example, at least until last summer – to anonymously buy a SIM card for a smart phone to root it, set up a shell, a proxy and a couple of scripts & use that to command bot networks for hacking. The resulting IP2country db queries say exactly nothing of who – or which country – was behind that. All what could be said is in which country the SIM card was bought and used.
    What I very much remember from ancient days of the internet, in this context, is the technic of a joe job. For those who don’t know, see:
    And I think the concept of the joe job is very much relevant here. If I’m a Russian hacker and don’t want to be seen as a Russian hacker, I’ld surely not leave no trace of Russian in scripts, binaries, IP addresses and so on. But if I’m someone who wants that Russia gets the blame for some hacking I did, I’ld surely leave some stuff pointing for the forensic analysis to Russia.
    Now, the big question: who might have done a DNC intrusion equivalent to a joe job leaving false digital traces pointing to Russia? Well, here is a fact: the US IC blames Russia and says the forensic analysis points to Russia, though everyone with a bit knowledge knows the evidence is inconclusive for this.
    I think there is a logical explanation for this. If I’ld belong to the US IC and just had hacked the DNC and gave the stuff to Wikileaks to influence a US election I’ld also prefer forensic analysis pointing to Russia instead of the US IC. Maybe the US IC doesn’t like Clinton and the Borg? If so, I don’t think they’ld act on their own.
    Maybe POTUS doesn’t like the Borg neither? Wasn’t it Dem POTUS who made Rep Chuck “Congress is Israeli occupied territory” Hagel his Secdef? Didn’t POTUS do the deal with Russia regarding Syrian CW? Didn’t POTUS do the Iran deal? Oh, such a thought, what heresy. How could POTUS and the IC meddle in the US election? Well, Israel does meddle in US politics all the time. I remember eg Bibi giving his speech opposing POTUS & the Iran deal in US congress.
    But why would Russia accept the blame for that? Well, for Russia it’s bringing good fruit. Russophob Neocons are disempowered. War is prevented. Maybe Tillerson will besome Secretary of State. And in Russia, for Putin it’s not blame, but fame.
    And that all might fit well to the current frenzy of fake news against Trump. After Trump left the Neocons out in the cold in his cabinet setup the Borg realized that Trump is no joke but a real threat to them and they try to delegitimize him as hard as they can. My estimation: too little, too late, his hardcore fan base will carry him through these Borgist troubles.
    As I said, it’s a weird opinion from myself. But maybe someone will find some food for thought in my conspiracy theory.

  46. b,
    If you watch upstream traffic and see no evidence of a hack or data exfiltration, then you can rule out the external hack theory. Right? You would be left with only with an insider attack as an explanation. I can understand skepticism, but why are you so insistent that the Russians cannot be involved?

  47. Mark Logan says:

    The presser he held yesterday did not remind so much of Mussolini but of…
    Hybris, and the Nemesis Toto. The witch is dead so he must deliver.

  48. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    I was informed by a trustworthy islamist intelligence operative that MI6 was running Operatsiia Shestyorka and chose an appropriate agent.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  49. Bandolero says:

    Thank you for your opinion on my weird conspiracy theory.
    I agree completely with your opinion that ‘the idea that because Wikileaks got some documents from the DNC or Podesta answered a fishing email that “Russia did it” is just a knee-jerk reaction’ though I’ld let it open to describe the character of the people behind that idea. I doubt a bit that descriptions of the character of people make a criminal theory better. Here in Germany the 1st German state TV just yesterday run a six minute interview with a “psychoanalyst” in effect saying Trump is ill and mad, doesn’t know what he’s doing – and the proof for this is basically that Trump didn’t let CNN ask a qestion in his press conference.
    I couldn’t help but remember history lessons that Julius Streicher was hanged for similar propaganda stuff, and rightly so.
    Regarding the alleged hacking of the DNC I also thought about a theory that the Dems or the borg themselves were behind that. if somebody there would be clever enough to understand that the DNC’s plotting against Sanders could have caused a leak from a db admin or network admin supporting Sanders, it might have been seen by some Clintonists as a cool strategy to let someone do a hack and leave fabricated digital traces to Russia behind to discredit whatever a leaker could reveal. That would fit well to the weird reported story that the DNC IT staff for months didn’t appropriately react to FBI calls informing them about the hack, saying the DNC IT staff had no means to verify whether the FBI agent calling them from half a mile away was a prankster or not. It’s weird because it would have been very easy to verify. If I get a call from someone who claims he’s a government official I friedly ask if I may call him back using the central number of the agency, and what I would have to say there so that they connect me to him. The DNC IT guy just had to call the FBI central number, and say there he wants to be connected to the FBI official with that name to verify he’s not a prankster. The Podesta “p@ssw0rd” login also seems to have come from eastern Ukraine with a Dnipropetrovsk mobile phone IP. Such an IP might be used by a Donbass separatist, but could also be used by a pro-Clinton or pro-McCain man there – or, of course, by anyone who hacked someone’s smart phone there and set up a proxy on it.
    In the end, I found the theory that the Clintonists did the hack themselves less plausible than the idea of a grand Obama-Trump-IC conspiracy I laid out above, because I think it would be harder to explain the “weird” reports from Clapper and the IC with the Clintonist theory.
    To put it the other way round: IT forensics tend to be inconclusive evidence. If you guard secrets like Podesta did use a password harder to guess than “p@ssw0rd” and if you plot stuff you really want to hide from public don’t store the information on computers which are connected to the internet.I think Trump got it right: ‘No computer is safe,’ so use a courier instead
    So: If you plot ugly stuff and use computers connected to the internet discussing that you may end up not having anyone to blame but yourself if your dirty secrets reach the public. If you don’t want the public to know that you tell Goldman Sachs different things than the public, don’t tell Goldman Sachs different things than the public. If you are a party and don’t want the FBI to investigate your candidate, put forward a candidate who’s not under FBI investigation.

  50. The left are sore, the deep state is sore. They lost now it is scorch and burn. A Clash of Cultures: Trump versus the Media Elite

  51. Augustin L says:

    I thought this was a committee of correspondance ? Much can be gained by allowing a free flow of different views and competing ideas. My previous comment was a pretty basic and factual response to Fred and Patrick Bahzad. Unlike some american citizens I have no Coprophagia desire… This is the last place I expected to see crude censorship and Maskirovka.

  52. Augustin L says:

    I thought this was a committee of correspondance ? Much can be gained by allowing a free flow of different views and competing ideas. My previous comment was a pretty basic and factual response. Unlike some american citizens I have no Coprophagia desire… This is the last place I expected to see crude censorship and Maskirovka.

  53. The attacks on Trump may very well be connected to this sir.
    Intro – Where is Eric Braverman? A Massive and Deep Scandal.
    Great material for a contemporary history book in my opinion.

  54. turcopolier says:

    Augustin L
    When you presume to tell me or my guest authors that that we are not qualified to write on a subject you will not be published. pl

  55. Fred says:

    Augustin L,
    You must have a bad time machine since my remarks concerning your January 11th comment haven’t been responded to. While you are at it get a better tin foil hat.

  56. Richardstevenhack,
    Sorry it took so long to get back to you. I got wrapped up in the Ovi jubilation. And you are absolutely right about the publicly available evidence on this hack and release of information being insufficient to definitively prove one theory over another. I do believe evidence of two or maybe more intruders in the DNC servers was mentioned by CrowdStrike and others. That’s not unusual. Kaspersky Labs found evidence of five separate intrusions in one system they examined including Equation Group (NSA TAO). It happens. Whatever the evidence the IC had was enough to convince Trump, Pence and several of his cabinet choices that it was the Russian government behind the whole thing. We’ll never see that evidence. My acceptance of the “Russians did it” theory is based on my experience with them. The Russians have done far worse to us, IMHO, and we have kept quiet about what they did and how we responded. I find nothing shocking in a well orchestrated Russian influence operation. It’s part of modern statecraft.

  57. paul says:

    Test out this hypothesis, do your own research to examine:
    “The Trump-Putin connection is the product of Ukrainian propaganda.”
    Check out StopFake.Org, Irena Chalupa, Alexandra Chalupa, The Atlantic Council.
    Ukraine wants a war on Russia.

  58. Keith Harbaugh says:

    Patrick Buchanan has a really great column on this subject
    (published 2017-01-30, on the hysterical reaction to Trump imposing new controls on immigration):
    “The First Firestorm”
    Here are some excerpts (with emphasis added):
    That hysterical reaction to the travel ban announced Friday
    is a portent of what is to come
    if President Donald Trump carries out the mandate given to him by those who elected him.

    All five stories on page one of Monday’s Washington Post were about the abomination.
    The New York Times’ editorial, “Trashing American Ideals and Security,”
    called it bigoted, cowardly, xenophobic, Islamophobic, un-American, unrighteous.

    [T]here are lessons for the Trump White House
    in the media-stoked panic and outrage at the end of his first week in office.
    First, Steve Bannon’s observation that
    the media are “the opposition party,”
    is obviously on target.
    While Sen. Chuck Schumer was crying on camera that the ban was “un-American,”
    the media were into the more serious business of stampeding and driving the protesters.
    A second lesson is one every White House learns.
    Before a major decision is announced, if possible,
    get everyone’s input and everyone on board to provide what Pat Moynihan called the “second and third echelons of advocacy.”
    Those left out tend to leak.
    A third lesson Trump should learn is that
    the establishment he routed and the city he humiliated
    are out to break him

    as they broke LBJ on Vietnam, Nixon on Watergate,
    and almost broke Reagan on the Iran-Contra affair.
    While the establishment may no longer be capable of
    inspiring and leading the nation, so detested is it,
    it has not lost its appetite or its ability
    to break and bring down presidents.
    And Trump is vulnerable,
    not only because he is an envied outsider who seized the highest prize politics has on offer, but because
    his agenda would cancel out that of the elites.
    They believe in open borders, free trade, globalization.
    Trump believes in securing the Southern border, bringing U.S. industry home, economic nationalism, “America First.”
    They want endless immigration from the Third World to remake America into the polyglot “universal nation” of Ben Wattenberg’s utopian vision.
    Trump’s followers want back the America they knew.
    Our foreign policy elites see democratization as a vocation and an autocratic Russia as an implacable enemy.
    Trump instead sees Moscow as a potential ally against real enemies like al-Qaida and ISIS.
    There is another reason for the reflexive howl at Trump’s travel ban.
    The establishment views it, probably correctly,
    as the first move toward a new immigration policy, built on pre-1965 foundations,
    and rooted in a preference for Western-Christian immigrants first.

    When the Times rages that “American ideals” or “traditional American values” are under attack by Trump,
    what they really mean is that their ideology and agenda are threatened by Trump.

    Trump not only appears to have no desire to yield to his enemies in politics and the media, he has no choice,
    as he is now the personification of a surging Middle American counterrevolution.

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