Friday, May 5, 2017

New Evidence Bolsters Probability that Hillary Clinton Was Hacked - William F. Marshall

by William F. Marshall

The discovery of this information and its possible significance requires some explanation.

We the American people were told repeatedly by Hillary Clinton and her proxies during the endless 2016 presidential election that her brazen use of a personal, unsecure email server to traffic some of the nation’s most sensitive secrets was not a problem, because her email system was never hacked. But was this really the case? I believe emails divulged by Judicial Watch suggest that her computer may well have been compromised by hostile actors.

FBI Director James Comey told us in his extraordinary July 5, 2016 statement to the media announcing his decision not to seek Mrs. Clinton’s prosecution for her email set-up: “With respect to potential computer intrusion by hostile actors, we did not find direct evidence that Secretary Clinton’s personal email domain, in its various configurations since 2009, was successfully hacked.”

Mrs. Clinton herself told us on October 9, 2016 in the second presidential debate against Donald Trump: “After a yearlong investigation, there is no evidence that anyone hacked the server I was using and no evidence that anyone can point to at all; anyone who says otherwise has no basis.”

I believe Judicial Watch may have unearthed the “smoking gun” revealing just such a compromise, or at least an attempt to hack Mrs. Clinton’s system. At the very least, I believe this finding should have been investigated by federal authorities if they were aware of it. If they were not aware of it, or were aware, but have not investigated it to date, they should do so now.

The discovery of this information and its possible significance requires some explanation.

In the fourteenth production of Huma Abedin’s emails transmitted from her account that Judicial Watch obtained as a result of litigation against the State Department, on Page 287, we see a very interesting email exchange occurring between Ms. Abedin and Mrs. Clinton on November 20, 2009. Mrs. Clinton had received an email from someone she clearly did not know, named Jonathan Weston. His signature block in his email to Mrs. Clinton indicated that he was a Congressional Liaison Coordinator with something called the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, based in Washington, DC. The email bears a subject line which should raise the hack antennae of anyone who has been using a computer for more than a week: “I Thought You Might Enjoy This.”

The body of Mr. Weston’s email (or whoever sent the email over his name) is fairly sophisticated. It is six paragraphs long, addressed to “Dear Colleagues,” and describes the contents of a report produced by Mr. Weston’s organization on Chinese economic policy.

There are three potentially alarming aspects to this email exchange.

First, the writer, Mr. Weston, indicates that there is a file attached to the email. The file is supposed to be the report produced by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission described in the email. Files attached to emails are notorious for containing viruses.

Second, Mrs. Clinton forwarded the email on to Ms. Abedin, with the note: “Pls print. And who is he?” This off-hand comment reveals that Mrs. Clinton, the US Secretary of State and one of the most powerful people in the world, whose communications would be coveted by foreign intelligence services, is receiving an email from someone she doesn’t know on a personal email account presumably known only by a select group of family, friends and confidantes. It also implies, given her direction to Ms. Abedin to print the message, that she was interested in its content and may have clicked on the attached file.

Third – and here’s our Sherlock Holmesian “There you have it, Watson!” moment – when the email hit Ms. Abedin’s computer, her antivirus program added the prefix “*** VIRUS ***” to the subject line of the email.

But this is no laughing matter.

In a search of the State Department’s “Virtual Reading Room,” where it posts documents that it has released through FOIA requests, to see if this email exchange had been published by the State Department before Judicial Watch received it, I discovered that it had, but the version previously published by the State Department was apparently obtained from Hillary Clinton’s computer records, not Ms. Abedin’s. The State Department’s previously released version did not contain the virus warning. This suggests that Mrs. Clinton’s computer did not have an anti-virus program, or at least not one able to detect that this email from Mr. Weston contained a virus. Ms. Abedin’s computer, however, did have an anti-virus program and did detect the virus, based on the VIRUS warning in the subject line after Mrs. Clinton forwarded it to Ms. Abedin.

Did Mrs. Clinton click on the file the email contained, thereby possibly introducing a virus into her computer? Was Mrs. Clinton’s computer thereby compromised by a malevolent actor? Has the FBI seen this email exchange and questioned Mr. Weston about it? Did they ask Mrs. Clinton if she clicked on the attachment that was in this email?

Jonathan Weston does exist, and he did work for a real think tank in Washington, DC called the US-China Economic and Security Commission from October 2009 to March 2013, according to his LinkedIn profile. Interestingly, Mr. Weston’s own organization, the US-China Economic and Security Commission, was revealed in 2012 to have been the target of a major cyber-attack, reportedly emanating from India. In a 2012 Reuters article discussing the attack, in an irony of ironies, Mr. Weston -- listed as a “spokesman” for the organization -- was quoted about the impact of the attack on his employer.

We know from the Wikileaks disclosures of John Podesta’s emails and those of other Democratic National Committee employees that he and his staff were the victim of a spearphishing attack, which IT specialists have claimed the Russians perpetrated. According to an IT specialist whom I consulted, the email Mrs. Clinton received from Mr. Weston also bears the hallmarks of a spearphishing attack.

As former US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Andrew McCarthy, has laid out in typically brilliant fashion in National Review, Mrs. Clinton could, and should, have been criminally charged for her egregious violations of law with regard to the handling of classified national security information. He makes this charge notwithstanding a recent epic apologia of FBI Director James Comey’s dereliction found in the New York Times. As Mr. McCarthy points out in NR, Mrs. Clinton’s use of an unsecure email system during her tenure as secretary of state “almost certainly caused the compromise of government secrets to foreign intelligence services.”

In a sane world, it would seem that federal investigators should try to learn if in fact Mr. Weston’s email was the source of a virus, and whether Mrs. Clinton clicked on a virus-laden file. But in a sane world, she would have already been charged.

William F. Marshall has been an intelligence analyst and investigator in the government, private and non-profit sectors for over 30 years. Presently he is a Senior Investigator for Judicial Watch, Inc. (The views expressed are the author’s alone, and not necessarily those of Judicial Watch.) 

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