Saturday, July 14, 2018
What's the Russian translation of Ham Sandwich?
First, Mueller, back in February 2018, filed an indictment against Russians and Russian business entities for "conspiracy to defraud the United States" which I didn't know was a real thing. That hasn't gone so well. It seems more like a PR stunt than actual criminal justice as Russia was never going to extradite any of the named and involved individuals. But one of the entities charged hired lawyers in America who entered their unconditional appearance on behalf of this one accused, pled not guilty and demanded speedy trial and discovery of all the evidence the feds had. Oops. That wasn't supposed to happen. The trial was recently delayed 90 days by agreement of the parties but eventually the Mueller team will have to put up or shut up (and, if the latter, dismiss the indictment against the one actually fighting back). That last would be embarrassing. It's almost completely out of the news now but it's not gone away.
Now, Mueller has indicted 12 Russian government types for hacking the DNC and John Podesta's computers and stealing a lot of very embarrassing e-mails which Assange via Wikileaks was happy to dole out in batches in 2016. It might be partisanship on my part, but I have never believed that the Russians did any such thing. Clearly, Podesta opened up his hard drive due to a "spearfishing" probe, and somehow or other, the DNC e-mails got to Wikileaks. But who did it? How can you tell who did any hacking?
I've read the recent indictment. Long on evidence about the details of what it takes to hack a computer. Little shorter on evidence that the 12 Russians charged were indeed the Gucifer 2 who gave the e-mails to Wikileaks. The computer geeks (and I use that term affectionately) have looked at the possibility of downloading over an internet connection all the data that Gucifer 2 obtained. I have no knowledge of what one of them, Bill Binney, is talking about so this could be nonsense, but he tells us the amount of data taken could not have been accomplished over the net based upon the time-stamped files downloaded. The time-stamps are apparently really important. So, if Binney is right it's more likely the e-mails came from downloading onto a physical drive, like a thumb drive. I doubt that Russians in Russia could use a thumb drive on a computer in America. Ergo, it had to have been an inside job of some sort. I'm not on board with the Seth Rich conspiracy theory. De mortuis nil nisi bonum.
I would feel less skeptical about this new Russian indictment if I knew for a fact that the FBI forensic teams have actually examined the DNC computer (or server or whatever) to see if there were traces of hacking in it that looked Russian, assuming hackers leave evidence of national origin behind when they hack things. We've been told that happened but, as far as I can tell, that opinion came from a foreign company and not from the FBI computer crime lab. I also would feel better about this not being a PR stunt if I knew that, at least once, an FBI special agent had talked to Assange in England about how his outfit got the information. Seems like a normal investigative thing to do. Well maybe not with our current FBI. They decided Hillary Clinton's innocence before they talked to her and other important witnesses. So there's that.
Anyway, if I were licensed to practice before the Court where the indictments were filed, I would seek to defend one of the Ruskies pro bono and demand the discovery. Then the fun would start, I believe.