Documents published by WikiLeaks that belonged to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) could not have been hacked via the internet and must have been initially downloaded from within the US, according to an investigation by members of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).
Bill Binney, a cryptogropher and former technical director at the US National Security Agency (NSA), blew the whistle on the agency's mass surveillance programmes after serving with them for 30 years. Mr Binney detailed for Sputnik why the forensic evidence proves that key claims of Russiagate (regarding Russian officials hacking the DNC servers) are a "farce".
Sputnik: A recent investigation by you and some of your colleagues at Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity determined that the Democratic National Committee documents published by WikiLeaks in 2016 could not have been hacked by actors outside the US and instead had to have been downloaded onto a USB or CD-ROM.
Bill Binney: Yes, that's right. And we have forensic evidence to prove it.
Sputnik: Could you please break down, for the average layperson, exactly how you came to this conclusion?
Bill Binney: Well, we did it by looking at the published DNC emails by WikiLeaks. In other words, the original assertion was that the DNC data was hacked externally, from Russia or by the Russians in Europe or something, and then transferred to WikiLeaks to publish so they could influence the election.
We looked at the DNC emails that were documented by WikiLeaks on the web. And that came down in three groups. One came down on 23rd of May 2016 and the other 25th of May 2016 and then one on the 26th of August of 2016. All of those three batches of emails had last modified times ending in an even number and even second, rounding up to the second, not including milliseconds. So, that meant to us that that was the property of the FAT (file allocation table) format. It's a programme that when you read data to a thumb drive or CD ROM, and the programme indexes stuff on the [CD] and the thumb drive, for example, it then also rounds off the last modified time to an even number. That tells us very simply that there is 35,813 emails, all with the same property FAT file formatting saying that hey this was read [ie downloaded] to a thumb drive or a CD ROM before WikiLeaks got it to publish. Which meant it was physically transported to WikiLeaks. So, for us, that meant it was not a hack. Period.
We also had [CEO of cyber security firm Crowdstrike] Shawn Henry give testimony, I think it was the 7th of January of 2017, the secret testimony that just came out, where he said ‘we had indications that the data was exfiltrated, but we didn't see the data exfiltrated’. Well, the indications that it was [exfiltrated], is this a FAT file format, to my mind. I mean, Shawn Henry never said specifically why his people were saying that. So for us, the only thing he could be [basing] it on what was last modified time.
Sputnik: So, just to be clear, when information is downloaded onto a CD roam or thumb drive, you're saying that there's a particular process, which means that, the last modified time will be recorded in such a way onto those files that is different than if those files were hacked and taken from a server across international boundaries or across a very long distance.
Bill Binney: Right. And we had provided all this data to the courts. Also we've included the Podesta emails, which show how a hack could occur and what the last modified times looked like. And that's a, that's also published by WikiLeaks, I think on the 21st of September , that's the date for that, that they put it out there. And the modified times of those files… close to 10,000 of them I think, run through even and odd numbers and various times, including milliseconds, things of that nature. So all that stuff, all that data, we provided to several courts, and several sets of lawyers to introduce as evidence in court and we were prepared to testify to that in court.
Sputnik: And is it not possible for the last modified time to be changed somehow or modified itself?
Bill Binney: Sure, but I don't know of a programme that does, other than FAT, I mean, keeping in mind, you're talking about 35,813 files. If you want to change them, you can go in and do them individually one at a time. I don't know of any other programme that does it automatically, which is what what's happened here, because it's just a straightforward consistency. Humans make errors. If they go in and do something like that, they'll make errors somewhere in the files. We didn't see any errors at all. So that's a program doing [it].
Sputnik: How many people from VIPs would you say were involved in this investigation that you conducted?
Bill Binney: Probably about six and a couple of auxiliaries, as we call them, in the UK cooperating with us. And we had a couple other people from outside VIPS helping us because they were also interested in getting to it too. Also, people who retired from commercial companies, running fiber lines and things like that.
Sputnik: If you were still working at the NSA and you were tasked to investigate an alleged hack would you have additional technical resources if you worked for the government, then if you're doing it independently?
Bill Binney: Yeah, absolutely. This is one of the reasons why I started in August of 2016 saying that this entire Russiagate story was a farce. And that basically came out by knowing the capacity of NSA. The capabilities of them being able to capture stuff on the web. I mean, [the NSA] have over almost a hundred tap points inside the United States, all loaded up with fiber optic lines… You know, it can take everything off those lines and capture it. [A]nd that was true across the US as well as all the external points exiting and entering where you exit and enter the US.
And you'll notice that NSA never said they saw any of the data transferring anywhere on any line. And that's because it didn't, it went on a thumb drive, you know, that's the difference. That was one of the main reasons I said that this was not a hack. Because if it was NSA would have it. Like they did when the Chinese hacked one of the places over here in the US about six years ago. The government said, the hack came from this building in Shanghai.
Sputnik: And is there any kind of a practical or legal consideration as to why the NSA can’t publish its findings regarding the DNC servers?
Bill Binney: Actually, there isn't, if the president approves, I mean, he can declassify anything he wants.
Sputnik: So where do you go from here? Is there more to investigate in relation to this subject or is this the end of the matter for you?
Bill Binney: As far as I'm concerned, we have absolute proof that this whole thing […] Russiagate, is a fabrication. It was a fabrication of the FBI, CIA and the DOJ primarily, but also included the State Department and [Department for Homeland Security] and a number of other departments.
Sputnik: There are those that argue Julian Assange will have a fair trial in the US should he be extradited. What can you tell us about the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, where Mr Assange would be tried?
Bill Binney: That's a court that's pro CIA because it's in that jurisdiction of CIA. This is why they picked that court because it's pro CIA and whatever national security issues come up, they will always go with that national security. So, you have a prejudiced judge in a court to begin with.
Sputnik: Would there be a jury with 12 men and women?
Bill Binney: Pulled from the area and most of them work for the government. So, you know, you just look at it. I mean, that should be a disqualifier as a jury from my point of view. But also think of it this way: Julian Assange published data he was given. So has the New York Times, The guardian, all the major publications, the Washington Post, they've all done that. So why aren't they being charged also?
Sputnik: Well, the US government is claiming that the first amendment does not apply to foreign journalists.
Bill Binney: Well then why don't they go after The Guardian?
Sputnik: Maybe they're next?
Bill Binney: [I]f you accept their premise - of the US government - that means that any journalist anywhere in the world, publishing any article that exposes crimes by the US government, the US government can charge them with conspiracy to violate national security. So, every reporter in the world is now liable based on that [premise].
This interview has been edited for concision and clarity