On Monday, Breitbart investigative reporter and White House correspondent Lee Stranahan published a huge story on Breitbart.com, the facts of which should unravel the entire foundation for the Russian election hacking narrative. Stranahan based his report on increasingly discredited evidence, as well as a tweet made by President Trump on March 5th regarding the hacked DNC server:
What about all of the contact with the Clinton campaign and the Russians? Also, is it true that the DNC would not let the FBI in to look?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 20, 2017
It's true... the DNC did not allow the FBI to inspect the allegedly hacked servers; instead they used a Google-funded cybersecurity firm called CrowdStrike - which FBI director James Comey referred to in testimony Monday as a "highly respected private company" despite several reports casting serious doubt on their analysis. Furthermore, CrowdStrike was accused of using false information by the government of Ukraine in a separate December report which concluded that Russia hacked Ukrainian military hardware using the same malware allegedly employed in the DNC hack.
In light of the fact that the US election hacking narrative revolves around an increasingly questionable report published by a private company caught in a recent lie, plus the DNC's refusal to let the FBI inspect the servers in question (which President Trump tweeted about) - Breitbart's Lee Stranahan had planned to bring the issue up with White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer. Instead, Matthew Boyle - Breitbart's DC political Editor, ordered Stranahan to stand down and stay away from the White House.
In other words; don't shed light on major developments which could unravel the DNC's witch hunt. Stranahan has taken to Periscope to tell his side of the story:
Here's what Stranahan wanted to ask:
Without hearing Breitbart editor Matthew Boyle's side, ordering Stranahan to stand down seems rather odd since the Russian hacking narrative - if deemed true by Congress, would be incredibly damaging to Trump's legitimacy as President - even if there was no collusion.
Scroll down for the cliffs notes on Stranahan's article (though I encourage you to read the whole thing):
- The DNC Russian hacking claims rely entirely on a report by a private company the DNC hired called "CrowdStrike"
- (not mentioned in Stranahan's article: The Irvine, CA company was partially funded by Google, which led a $100M 'Series C' investment round)
- CrowdStrike's report ("Fancy Bear") is highly speculative, inconclusive by most standards, and does not contain "hard evidence" per CrowdStrike Co-Founder Dmitri Alperovitch:
The firm suspects they may have targeted DNC employees with “spearphishing” emails. These are communications that appear legitimate — often made to look like they came from a colleague or someone trusted — but that contain links or attachments that when clicked on deploy malicious software that enables a hacker to gain access to a computer. “But we don’t have hard evidence,” Alperovitch said.
- The MSM ran with the "Fancy Bear" report in an attempt to delegitimize Trump:
- Starting in June of 2016 and continuing to this day, the DNC, Washington Post, New York Times, and other MSM outlets have been using the CrowdStrike report to stage a smear campaign against Donald Trump in an attempt to delegitimize the President while providing an excuse for Hillary Clinton's loss.
- Cybersecurity experts and respected journalists have cast serious doubt on it's the report's validity.
- How To Get To “Reasonable Certainty” on a Russia Finding - Jeffrey Carr, Medium (12.13.2016)
- HERE’S THE PUBLIC EVIDENCE RUSSIA HACKED THE DNC — IT’S NOT ENOUGH - Sam Biddle, The Intercept (12.14.2016)
- In December, CrowdStrike published another report concluding that Russia hacked Ukranian a artillery-targeting app using the SAME "Fancy Bear" malware.
- Once again, Several new articles casting doubt on CrowdStrike's claims cropped up.
- The GRU-Ukraine Artillery Hack That May Never Have Happened - Jeffrey Carr, Medium (1.3.2017)
- Why I Still Don't Buy the Russian Hacking Story - Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg (12.22.2016)
- Skeptics Doubt Ukraine Hack, Its Link to DNC Cyberattack - Oleksiy Kuzmenko, VOA (12.23.2016)
He told VOA that contacts in the Ukrainian military units that used the app reported no losses of D-30 howitzers, which contradicts large battlefield losses referenced in the CrowdStrike report.
“I personally know hundreds of gunmen in the war zone. None of them told me of D-30 losses caused by hacking or any other reason,” Narozhnyy stressed to the VOA
- The Government of Ukraine issued a statement calling the CrowdStrike report Fake News:
In connection with the emergence in some media reports which stated that the alleged “80% howitzer D-30 Armed Forces of Ukraine removed through scrapping Russian Ukrainian hackers software gunners,” Land Forces Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine informs that the said information is incorrect.
Ministry of Defence of Ukraine asks journalists to publish only verified information received from the competent official sources. Spreading false information leads to increased social tension in society and undermines public confidence in the Armed Forces of Ukraine. -mil.gov.ua (translated) (1.6.2017)
- CrowdStrike relied on a misinterpretation of evidence for the Ukraine story -
- The information CrowdStrike relied on came from a Russian propaganda blog, not the IISS (International Institute for Strategic Studies) as CrowdStrike claimed.
- An article by VOA News details this fact and puts this whole thing into context: Cyber Firm at Center of Russian Hacking Charges Misread Data - Oleksiy Kuzmenko, VOA (3.21.17)
The CrowdStrike report, released in December, asserted that Russians hacked into a Ukrainian artillery app, resulting in heavy losses of howitzers in Ukraine’s war with Russian-backed separatists.
But the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) told VOA that CrowdStrike erroneously used IISS data as proof of the intrusion. IISS disavowed any connection to the CrowdStrike report. Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense also has claimed combat losses and hacking never happened.
So, given all of the above - should Congress still rely on the CrowdStrike report? And why was Lee Stranahan ordered by Matthew Boyle to stay away from the White House?