True Facts About Seth Rich

It has been less than a year since the murder of Seth Rich. In that short time, the story of his murder has taken on a life of its own. Like the murder of John F. Kennedy, it has already difficult to separate fact from fiction in the tragic case of Seth Rich.

Seth Conrad Rich was a 27-year-old native of Omaha, Nebraska who worked for the Democratic National Committee as the Voter Expansion Data Director. His job there entailed working on a computer applicationto help voters find their local polling place.

On the morning of Sunday, July 10, 2016, Rich was walking home in the Bloomingdale neighborhood of Washington, D.C. At 4:19 a.m., police patrolling the area heard gunshots and used Sharp Spotter, a system that uses acoustics to determine to direction of shots, to locate the scene of the attack.

Multiple sources say that Rich was still alive when police arrived at the scene, which was only a block from his house. He had multiple gunshot wounds and there were signs of a struggle. Early reports, such as this one from a local CBS affiliate, state that Rich was alive and conscious when he was taken to the hospital where he died a few hours later. Police have never revealed whether he was able to provide information about his killer.

Other early reports do support the claim that none of Rich’s personal items seemed to be missing. The local NBC affiliate quoted Rich’s mother, Mary, who said, “There had been a struggle. His hands were bruised, his knees are bruised, his face is bruised, and yet he had two shots to his back, and yet they never took anything. They took his life for literally no reason. They didn’t finish robbing him, they just took his life.” Rich’s father, Joel, also confirmed to the Washington Post that nothing was taken.

The New York Daily News reported on July 11 that police had said that there was no indication of robbery, but that attempted robbery had not been ruled out as a motive for the attack. Joel Rich said that he believed that Seth had attempted to fight off his attacker before he was killed.

Many of the sources also point out the high crime rate in the neighborhood where Rich was killed. NBC’s Channel Four pointed out that robberies using guns were up 12 percent in the Metro Police Fifth District and that seven people had already been killed there in addition to Rich that year. The New York Daily News noted that armed robberies had doubled in Bloomingdale over the previous year.

Almost two weeks after Rich’s murder, on July 22, the first dump of Democrat emails from WikiLeaks was posted. Even as the emails were posted, there was immediate speculation that the source of the emails was of Russian origin. The date range of the first DNC hack was from January 2015 through May 2016, about two months before Rich’s murder. A second trove emails stolen from John Podesta was dumped by WikiLeaks beginning on October 7, 2016, three months after Rich’s death.

The conspiracy theories seemed to have started within days of the murder. On July 13, a conspiracy site called Whatdoesitmean.com cited a Kremlin intelligence report that said that Rich was preparing to meet with FBI agents in order to testify against Hillary Clinton. The story reports that the FBI agents were really a “hit team” that was then “captured yesterday after a running gun battle with US federal police forces just blocks from the White House.” There were no reports of captured hit men or “running gun battles” in other sources.

The WikiLeaks angle to the story came several weeks later. WikiLeaks founder and accused rapist, Julian Assange, appeared on Dutch television on August 9, almost a month after the murder, and hinted that Rich was the source of the pilfered emails, although he never expressly stated any connection with Rich.

The same day, WikiLeaks offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of Rich’s murderer. The District of Columbia Metropolitan Police had previously offered a $25,000 reward. Other individuals, including Rich’s brother, have offered additional rewards.

On May 15, 2017, a private detective named Rod Wheeler told a local television news reporter that he had evidence that Rich had contacted WikiLeaks before his death. Two days later, Wheeler retracted his claims. NBC News reported that Ed Butowsky, a Dallas businessman and Breitbart contributor, hired Wheeler to investigate the murder on behalf of the Rich family. Butowsky initially denied being connected to Wheeler, but eventually admitted his involvement to CNN. A spokesman for the family said that Wheeler had showed them no evidence to support the allegations that Seth had contacted WikiLeaks.

Police also told the Washington Post that Rich’s computer and email had been examined and that there was no evidence that he was connected to WikiLeaks. A former law enforcement official with knowledge of Rich’s laptop told NBC News, “It never contained any e-mails related to WikiLeaks, and the FBI never had it.”

Still, the rumors keep coming. The Russian embassy tweeted on May 19 that Rich was the “WikiLeaks informer” and accused the US media of ignoring the truth about his murder. At about the same time, Kim Dotcom, a European hacker fighting extradition to the US from New Zealand on money laundering, racketeering and wire fraud charges, claimed to have known Seth Rich as the WikiLeaks source.

District of Columbia Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Kevin Donohue recently told NBC’s local affiliate that Rich’s murder was still under investigation, but that there was no truth the WikiLeaks rumors. “This is a robbery that ended tragically. That’s bad enough for our city, and I think it is irresponsible to conflate this into something that doesn’t connect to anything that the detectives have found,” Donahue said. “No WikiLeaks connection.”

If Rich’s murder is still unsolved, the mystery of the DNC hacking is not. In January 2017, the Director of National Intelligence released an unclassified version of a report detailing the unanimous assessment of the American intelligence community that the Russian government was behind the cyberattack. The assessment echoed the findings of CrowdStrike, a private cybersecurity firm retained by the DNC.

In the case of John Podesta’s emails, investigators have identified a fraudulent email that urged Podesta to click a link and change his password. Podesta did so and compromised his email password as a result. This sort of breach is known as “phishing.”

Time reported in January that the CIA had even identified the individual Russian officials who had passed the stolen emails to WikiLeaks. The report said that the information followed a “circuitous route” to WikiLeaks so that Assange could plausibly deny Russian involvement.

At this point, there are a few basic problems with the conspiracy theory that Seth Rich was the source for the stolen Democratic Party emails. First, Rich was murdered before WikiLeaks published the emails. Second, the DNC’s internal investigation pointed to the Russians, not an internal leaker, as the source of the breach. Third, US counterintelligence has identified the real perpetrators of the theft, the Russian government. Most importantly, there is not a shred of evidence that ties Rich to WikiLeaks other than unsubstantiated innuendo. There is not even evidence that Rich had access to the emails that ended up the hands of WikiLeaks.

Conversely, it would be logical for the Russians and WikiLeaks to implicate the conveniently dead Rich in the leak to distract attention from the real culprits. Intelligence agencies agreed that the Russian covert operation that interfered with the election seemed to be partly to sow chaos and partly to help Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton. Even with Trump in the White House, Vladimir Putin seems to relish causing chaos and doubt about the US government.

Rich’s family, who have the most to gain in seeing their son’s killers brought to justice, reject the conspiracy claims. Rather than embracing the conspiracy, the family released a statement that called upon the conspiracy theorists to stop defaming their son’s reputation and distracting attention from the real killers. “We are a family who is committed to facts, not fake evidence that surfaces every few months to fill the void and distract law enforcement and the general public from finding Seth’s murderers,” the statement said.

“It’s sad but unsurprising that a group of media outlets who have repeatedly lied to the American people would try and manipulate the legacy of a murder victim in order to forward their own political agenda,” a spokesman for the family told Business Insider. “I think there is a special place in hell for people like that.”

This 2 Keystroke Error Is Why Clinton Deserved To Lose

Any campaign staffed with people who can’t navigate the shallow waters of phishing emails and how basic online security should be handled ought not to win even a race for dog catcher. But then again, this was the campaign of a woman who kept her email server in her own basement, with a backup in a bathroom in Colorado, when she was secretary of state.

It simply proves that phishing works. Especially when naïve Clinton campaign staffers believe every email they receive. In this case, it was IT staffer Charles Delavan who mistakenly responded using the word “legitimate” instead of “illegitimate” that handed Clinton chairman John Podesta’s password over to hackers.

nyt_delavan_hack

The email in question was purportedly from Google, claiming that hackers had attempted to access Podesta’s account. According the the NYT, hundreds of these were sent to all kinds of political targets. It just so happens that the one read by this Podesta aide, who had access to his boss’s email, resulted in the rube clicking on the link in the phishing email not the one in the reply by Delavan.

“This is a legitimate email,” Charles Delavan, a Clinton campaign aide, replied to another of Mr. Podesta’s aides, who had noticed the alert. “John needs to change his password immediately.”

With another click, a decade of emails that Mr. Podesta maintained in his Gmail account — a total of about 60,000 — were unlocked for the Russian hackers. Mr. Delavan, in an interview, said that his bad advice was a result of a typo: He knew this was a phishing attack, as the campaign was getting dozens of them. He said he had meant to type that it was an “illegitimate” email, an error that he said has plagued him ever since.

Not only did the person who got the phishing email fall for it and misread the reply, but the IT staffer apparently didn’t go back and correct his mistake. And nobody realized it for months. Apparently, getting dozens of phishing emails isn’t enough for IT folks to send a “to all” email with the title something like “Security Alert: DO NOT CLICK ON LINKS in emails that appear to be from Google.”

Because that’s what any normal company would do (like, maybe Goldman Sachs, or Exxon, which will be in charge of running America’s economy and diplomatic corps, respectively). I used to run a payment services company, and we would have been hauled over the coals if anything like this happened to us. We got tested for it regularly by outside security consultants.

Clinton deserved everything she got. She deserved to be hacked because her campaign was too dysfunctional and naïve to take even the most basic security measures to protect their online data. And because she was this careless at the State Department, and in her own campaign, we have every reason to believe she would have been just as careless as president.

I won’t give any credit or praise to Russian hackers or their purposes in hurting Clinton and helping Trump. But really, it’s good this happened before the election, because we really dodged a bullet keeping this disaster away from the White House.

The John Harwood Emails

In the Wikileaks revelations, it turns out John Harwood of CNBC and the New York Times asked John Podesta of the Clinton camp for questions to ask Jeb Bush.

I hope John Harwood comes forward with Republicans he asked for questions to ask Hillary Clinton. But I presume none will be forthcoming.

In 2015, the worst of all the Republican debates was the CNBC debate. Many Republicans blasted Harwood’s choice as a moderator because of his perceived biases against the GOP. But it turned out that CNBC had exactly zero capable moderators, though Harwood’s questions decided tilted toward liberal presuppositions.

I think, given that debate and now this email, it is a fair question to ask if Harwood also sought Democrats’ advice on questions to ask Republicans during that debate.

During that debate, Harwood clashed with Donald Trump over Trump’s economic policy. We now have an email from Harwood to Podesta wherein Harwood gloats about provoking Trump and Harwood accepting, in 2015, the Obama position that the GOP “veering off the rails.”

The problem is that Harwood seems to have an unusually close relationship to Podesta. In May of 2015, he warned John Podesta that Ben Carson could cause Clinton trouble in a general election (that email also calls into question Harwood’s judgment).

He praised Clinton’s defense of the email scandal at a time many mainstream reporters were critical of it. In fact, on twitter Harwood was one of the reporters most dismissive of Clinton’s email situation.

Mollie Hemingway has chronicled Harwood’s liberal world view and his frequent insertion of Democrat friendly personal opinion into his reporting. As she notes, Twitter gives more examples of this.

I have no doubt that a lot of reporters have close relationships with Democrats. Most reporters in Washington tend to have a liberal world view and form their opinions and questions with liberal presuppositions. The problem with Harwood is simple. Wikileaks has compiled a laundry list of emails from John Podesta’s hacked email account and Harwood seems to be the most frequent reporter to email and, on top of that, the reporter who most frequently emails both praise and advice for the Clinton campaign.

Additionally, many of the criticisms about reporters that have shown up in the Wikileaks files really misunderstand how a lot of reporters and other journalists work. There is often an open conversation happening behind the scenes and often times campaigns do try to seed information, doubts, and questions with reporters.

It is the accumulated stack of email correspondence between Podesta and Harwood that is most troubling. Certainly the two men can be friends, but given the nature of the correspondence it seems Harwood should have recused himself from moderating a Republican debate and perhaps disclosed the friendship in his reporting.

While John Harwood may accept that the GOP has veered off the rails, and in 2016 it is obvious he was right, one of the many reasons people have gravitated to Donald Trump is a lack of trust in Washington institutions, including the press. The presumption of many Americans these days is that the Washington press corps and political racket work in concert to protect a status quo that benefits Washington at the expense of the people. These emails do nothing but affirm that opinion.

Clinton Insiders Knew Weiner Was Sexting Underage Girls in 2011 But Did Nothing

Clinton insiders John Podesta and Neera Tanden knew that Anthony Weiner was being investigated for sexting a 17-year-old high school student in 2011. This emerged through a Wikileaks hacked email released Monday, according to a Daily Mail report.

The email detailed lurid claims of private messages to an underage girl being investigated by police – and was met with the response ‘oof’ by Podesta.

‘Police on Friday afternoon came to the home of a 17-year-old high school junior to ask her about direct online communications she has had with Rep. Anthony Weiner,’ email read, quoting a Fox News article from the same time.

‘Two officers from the New Castle County Police Department arrived at the girl’s home around 4:30 p.m. and asked to speak with the girl’s mother about the daughter’s contact with Weiner. Another officer appeared at the home a short time later.’

Podesta is currently Clinton’s campaign chairman.

Such is the Clintons’ confidence in their ability to manage and manipulate the press, jurisprudence, and consequences that they did nothing to stop the flood of emails, self-dealing and influence-peddling at the State Department and the Clinton Foundation.

Abedin’s laptop never got the BleachBit treatment, even though they knew her husband was badly damaged goods. It just never entered anyone in the Clintons’ circle’s mind that Weiner’s troubles could ever touch them. Because Clintons are supposed to be untouchable. Bill survived an impeachment trial for lying under oath–he’s just another ex-president disbarred lawyer. Hillary survived Benghazi and the FBI.

Just imagine how a Clinton administration would govern, knowing that she is basically untouchable. It’s not the fact that the next president, should she win, will be under FBI investigation for crimes worse than Watergate or Nixon’s missing 17 minutes of tape. It’s the fact she will be convinced she can get away with anything from day one.

Like Nixon, Clinton staffers knew they had a potential situation with their boss’ skeletons in the closet, and like Nixon, they thought they’d keep going and get away with it. It was only when she realized a special prosecutor was a real possibility in 2015 that “project memory hole” was initiated. By then, everyone had forgotten about Carlos Danger and his tumescent friend’s proclivities for young girls.

I will lose no sleep from their oversight.