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“Guccifer2”'s second release from DNC hack (guccifer2.wordpress.com)
122 points by chvid on June 21, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 92 comments

As tptacek indicates, it isn't remarkable that the DNC was hacked or that this hack is legit. What is interesting is the content; Parts 1 & 2 suggest, but do not confirm, that the DNC was operating as an ally of the Clinton campaign.

E.g. lots of HRC defense docs, oppo research on Biden, prominence given to HRC in candidate position tableaus, etc.

Just by framing a comment like this you're taking the person who claims to have broken into the DNC at their word, that they're not releasing selectively to build a narrative.

You know, you are right. This is the framing of the narrative I have long suspected (and there is plenty of other evidence not related to this hack supporting the theory). It is possible that the DNC had similar oppo research on HRC that is unreleased. I regret the wording of my post because the reality is simply more complex (though I did mention that it was only suggestive evidence, not conclusive proof by any means).

Of course, my bias in accepting a narrative too easily isn't real evidence that the DNC did not act as allies: there is too much existing (confirmed) evidence corroborating that.

And, as mentioned downthread, the DNC could release documents showing that they did oppo research on HRC as well.

But, absent evidence, there's no reason to suggest anything is unreleased.

I mean it would be crazy for them not to do oppo research on HRC either way. How could they have HRC defense docs unless they also have oppo research...

Releasing additional documents, though, brings more media attention to this hack, which might otherwise pass under the radar.

This probably isn't surprising, since Bernie was openly considered the outsider, but it definitely doesn't mean it's right. But because it was basically understood this probably won't change anything.

Why is it remarkable that the DNC is an ally of one of the most prominent Democrats in the country?

Because for better or for worse, the DNC pretends to hold "fair elections" in its primary. Yet at the same time it's been favoring Hillary all along. Because of the elections thing, the DNC is supposed to be fair to all candidates and not try to promote one candidate over another, set-up more people to applause for a particulate candidate in the debates, send more flyers that promote one candidate over another, and so on.

If the DNC would just "appoint" its favorite candidate, that would be fine. It's kind of a normal thing to do in Europe, actually. But then, just like in Europe, the Dem and Rep parties would have to allow other parties in the general election as well, and set up a system that works for third parties, because chances are more often than not people wouldn't be happy with the main parties' "appointed candidates".

Both the DNC and the RNC want to maintain the pretense of "fair elections" within their parties, so that people think their voices are heard, so they don't need to join another party and form a competitive grassroots movement.

> Because for better or for worse, the DNC pretends to hold "fair elections" in its primary.

There is no such thing as the DNC's primary. The only Presidential nominating election run by the DNC is at the convention, when they delegates vote on the nominee.

State parties in some states hold elections in the nominating process in the form of caucuses. Primaries, where they are used, are run by state governments, not the DNC or state Democratic parties.

> If the DNC would just "appoint" its favorite candidate, that would be fine.

That's actually what the convention is: its where the DNC appoints its favorite candidate.

> It's kind of a normal thing to do in Europe, actually. But then, just like in Europe, the Dem and Rep parties would have to allow other parties in the general election as well, and set up a system that works for third parties, because chances are more often than not people wouldn't be happy with the main parties' "appointed candidates".

No, they wouldn't, and even when there was no pretense that the nominating conventions were anything other than insider-driven affairs (which only ended fairly recently with reforms in both parties to rest more heavily on either state-run primaries or relatively-open -- compared to how they used to be -- party caucuses to select delegates, or at least inform delegate selection) the electoral system did not support third parties any better than it does now.

> not try to promote one candidate over another, set-up more people to applause for a particulate candidate in the debates

The GOP already did this to Trump at one of their debates[1], and no one threw a big fit about it then. Not a Trump supporter or claiming that it's justified, just saying it's not unheard of.

[1] http://www.vox.com/2016/2/13/10987776/republican-debate-audi...

> the Dem and Rep parties would have to allow other parties in the general election as well

They do. Every year my ballot has a multitude of other parties' candidates that I can vote for.

It's remarkable that the documents show the DNC positioning themselves as an ally of a prominent Democrat in May of 2015 (and October, re: Biden) who was not the nominee and who hadn't been voted on by any American.

In other words: favoritism in a party primary by the party infrastructure is supposed to be verboten.

I honestly don't understand why this is surprising or problematic. Working to get Democrats elected is the purpose of the DNC. They aren't some disinterested third party. Of course they have memos on how to help Hillary Clinton run for office. And I'm sure they go further back than 2015 too. I'd hope they'd do that for many Democrats, but I'd be shocked if they didn't do tons of work to help someone as prominent as HRC.

> favoritism in a party primary

Do the documents show that or are you inferring it based on what hasn't been leaked?

Even if we grant that the DNC leadership thinks Hillary is the best... so what? It's a political party that takes public input from voters as one factor in deciding a nominee. The DNC shouldn't stuff ballot boxes and should try it's best to make the primaries as fair as possible, but to pretend they don't have like some candidates more than others strikes me as unrealistic.

Working to get Democrats elected: okay

Party preferences in a Democrats-against-Democrat competition while publicly declaring the party infrastructure neutral: not okay

That is, the DNC is supposed to be about promoting the chosen candidate to the American people, not actively picking one.

Nobody doubts that official favoritism isn't theoretically _allowed_ in a party primary, it just goes against the theory that it is a truly wide-open contest where the American people decide the direction of their government.

Remember superdelegates? The system is explicitly designed to not be a 100% democratic process.

(It used to be wholly decided by party elders in secret. I'm glad we mostly use primaries now, but I can see the merit of that approach. I bet the Republican leadership wishes that's still how it worked right now. )

1) superdelegates are not the DNC.

2) The Democratic party's official position is not that superdelegates are a complement to a 100% democratic process but instead that they exist _solely_ to ensure that party leaders are properly seated at the convention and do not have to compete with grassroots activists for participation at the national convention.

I don't personally believe that (2) is a good-faith defense of what superdelegates are, but that is the DNC's position. And it's worth mentioning that there are valid reasons for superdelegates: how do you deal with a potential nominee like John Edwards, what if the convention is truly contested (with 3+ candidates and no 1st-ballot victory?).

The Republican primary went largely as it should have been, and arguably Trump should have received an even larger share of the final delegates. Voters expressed their preference and that person became the nominee (whatever I think of their preference is irrelevant).

Actually my read on Wasserman's quote (reproduced in another comment) is that superdelegates exist to promote the seating of grassroots delegates, the implied logic being that if the superdelegates weren't delegates, they would simply be elected in place of grassroots delegates with the result being a decrease in their representation (If I were the type to try and be a delegate, I really wouldn't want to run against Obama, Clinton, or Carter in their home districts)

Right, the two ways of looking at superdelegates that you and I describe are essentially dual. The point is that the purported intent of superdelegates is not to change the outcome (i.e. make the process not 100% democratic), as was claimed above. Now, if that's not true, then the superdelegate system is much more difficult for me to defend, as a party member. I'd be inclined to join a different party, like the Greens.

> they exist _solely_ to ensure that party leaders are properly seated at the convention

Who said that? I've never heard that before. Of course the superdelegates are intended to have a say in the nominee.

The Chair of the Democratic party (google for any number of sources):

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, let me just make sure that I can clarify exactly what was available during the primaries in Iowa and in New Hampshire. The unpledged delegates are a separate category. The only thing available on the ballot in a primary and a caucus is the pledged delegates, those that are tied to the candidate that they are pledged to support. And they receive a proportional number of delegates going into the — going into our convention.

Unpledged delegates exist really to make sure that party leaders and elected officials don’t have to be in a position where they are running against grassroots activists. We are, as a Democratic Party, really highlight and emphasize inclusiveness and diversity at our convention, and so we want to give every opportunity to grass-roots activists and diverse committed Democrats to be able to participate, attend and be a delegate at the convention. And so we separate out those unpledged delegates to make sure that there isn’t competition between them.

Since I must assume that you are not stupid, I have no choice but to be insulted that you think so little of the HN audience that you expect we would become convinced of your assertion after reading that statement.

Thank you for the substantive reply. Cheers!

That is, the DNC is supposed to be about promoting the chosen candidate to the American people, not actively picking one.

Neither the DNC or any other political party is obligated to hold elections at all. They're perfectly free to nominate a candidate by fiat if they want to. Clearly, as a matter of marketing, they want to be as inclusive as possible and not appear to be picking favorites. But that's purely a PR consideration, not a moral one. As a practical matter, one of the intermediate goals for anyone running for high office is to make sure they have a lot of supporters in the party infrastructure. Only in the general elections do "the American people decide the direction of their government." The parties are free to do as they wish, democratically or not.

Why a system that encourages interparty infighting is not a good thing for democracy.

Just switch to OMOV and have each state democratic party vote on a leader and have them run for president would save a vast amount of cash being wasted.

Political parties use to choose the nominees in smoke filled rooms. I don't find this at all surprising. Sanders spent a long term as an 'independent', so why should people whom he never supported or campaigned for, and never helped out, want to support him, and not the most popular candidate in their network, who has spent a political career building alliances?

Political parties exist for a reason, and that reason is not to run complete unbiased open primaries so that anyone may call themselves a party member and get unbiased support of the party.

Parties are biased, there's nothing surprising about that. Both Sanders and Trump are in effect, third party candidates, running campaigns trying to usurp the existing two parties into pouring support into their campaign, because third party runs don't work.

No doubt. Parties are allowed whatever method they choose to select their nominee, including the party elites backing a popular insider.

However, we shouldn't confuse that with a democratic process. We should also recognize that such actions by the DNC would contradict their public statements to the contrary, that they intend to remain completely neutral in the primary process.

If the situation were as you claim, then the parties would not have much of an argument against stronger, populist 3rd parties, because the 2 candidates served to the voters in the General Election would no longer reflect a representative choice of American voters.

It seems like Guccifer2 could easily craft whatever narrative he wants by selectively releasing documents. For example, he could release pro-Hillary material and withhold similar material for other candidates. Or, even without any malcontent on his part, the documents he nabbed may not be fairly representative.

All media can do this

If that was the case, the DNC could easily release materials showing that his releases are not representative. They can even make them up.

Yes. That makes a lot of sense. One of the two largest political parties in the US should definitely engage publicly in a debate with "Guccifer2". Why didn't anyone else think of that?

Or they can just keep doing what their doing, just keep denying that anything else than the trump files were hacked and everything is fine.

They can do whatever they want, but then people can look at this shitshow of a story and draw their own conclusions.

If there's credible evidence that the party apparatus had decided that the fix was in from the start, they owe an explanation to their millions of supporters and rank and file members, no matter how silly the hacker's nom de guerre.

Sorry. I didn't mean to say directly that "Guccifer2" might not be a credible source. More, sort of slyly imply it.

So, you're suggesting that the DNC release oppo research on its own presumptive candidate for president.

It's quite the opposite of remarkable - Clinton was not only the clear front-runner, she was ahead in all polls by a sizable margin (that Sanders caught up as much as he did is a credit to him).

Frame it as "DNC positions themselves as an ally of the predicted nominee given no strong challengers at that time" and it sounds pretty... normal.

“The Democratic National Committee remains neutral in this primary, based on our rules,” Wasserman Schultz said.


Obviously, what the DNC says publicly and what the DNC does does not line up.

Did any of the documents release suggest that they were helping HRC _against Sanders_? Or just that they did work that would help her against a GOP candidate?

And for all we know there are also documents prepared in support of Bernie Sanders which, if leaked, would paint the parallel picture of DNC supporting him.

And that's assuming these documents are complete and unmodified. Nothing stopped this hacker from selectively editing and selectively leaking to support their agenda.

It seems relatively obvious that the DNC would have had teams preparing for both scenarios. The only difference is that Sanders has been a viable candidate for a shorter period of time.

Short answer: no, none of them.

Doesn't stop people believing that's what they say, but no - not one single thing says that.

Are there leaked documents that contradict this statement? When they're not administering primaries, the DNC spends most of their resources trying to get nominees elected in general elections. Of course they've been working on strategy for Clinton.

>favoritism in a party primary by the party infrastructure is supposed to be verboten

Since when? says who? I doubt there has ever been a time where that statement has been true.

> favoritism in a party primary by the party infrastructure is supposed to be verboten.

According to what?

they actively deny favoritism, lying to their voters.

If I were in charge of a large political organization I'd do adversarial research on all my potential candidates.

If this were the case we'd expect similar documents on HRC. So far, all we have are talking points meant to counter various negative stories and narratives about her. There is an asymmetry here in the docs on each candidate and potential candidate.

That isn't exactly a balanced approach to adversarial research (which, I agree, is not a poor idea in and of itself).

It's also possible that the DNC prioritized its research based on who was most likely to win the primary. Hillary has been the overwhelming favorite for a long time now, so I don't think it's all that surprising that most of their work has been undertaken with the assumption that she would be the nominee.

I bet they have similar files on Lincoln Chafee and Martin O'Malley, but it would have been foolish to invest as many resources in developing those as they did in the HRC file.

I saw some opposition research guys in the UVM Bailey Howe Library late last year. They stood out like a sore thumb, dressed like hipsters--in the special collections room, and pulling multiple boxes on Bernie Sanders at a time. I'd never really seen someone pull that much stuff at once before. Then again, I don't visit special collections that frequently.

One of the people who work at the library contrasted it with when Howard Dean was running for president. There were opposition research guys from that election. However, instead of dressing like hipsters, they wore black suits.

This is an incredibly fascinating story. Thank you for posting!

Clinton and Biden are both Democrats.

It's common for campaigns to run oppo on their own candidates.

If you can find something before an actual opponent does, you can pre-emptively deal with it.

campaigns yes.. party no, certainly not before the nomination or even before announcing to run


I thought that was a given. The DNC basically laundered money for Clinton to get around campaign finance laws[0].

[0] http://www.npr.org/2015/12/23/460762853/how-hillary-clinton-...

This should go without saying, but be careful downloading those documents. Guccifer 2.0 could have added a malware payload.

He also could have added his own content to craft his own narrative. I doubt any of the documents were digitally signed or could really be verified for their authenticity in any way.

That's just a different kind of malware payload, and probably a more consequential one.

The xlsx files in the first 2.0 leak were definitely not the originals (generated using Russian software).

Clean according to VirusTotal at least.

These days I think I would be more concerned about where you downloaded it from. TPTB want the social graph of people who pay attention to this sort of thing, so the metadata of access is the real juice of this and similar (wiki leaks, crypto me, etc)

Well, I'm glad you said it (:

The prevailing attitude in the software security community seems to be, Russia or not, this is probably not just some random hacker doing it for the lulz.

The game theory of publicly hacking the DNC before an election makes zero sense (what happens when/if Clinton wins), but that doesn't mean some other organization couldn't be doing it just to mess with them.

> The game theory of publicly hacking the DNC before an election makes zero sense (what happens when/if Clinton wins)

I’m having a hard time following this. The game theory of… Russians?… hacking the DNC for what purpose? How would a Clinton win affect this?

> In an earlier statement, Trump said the hack was a political ploy concocted by the Democrats. (Bloomberg)

Or maybe you’re referring to that?

Sorry, I was typing on my phone earlier.

It is awfully high risk and awfully low reward for Russia to hack the DNC right before the 2016 election. The Democrats are likely to win, and they'll come into office with a fresh memory of Russia having screwed with them.

On the other hand: if they did hack the DNC, but screwed up by getting caught, maybe it makes sense to recast the operation as some sort of Wikileaks-esque information liberation strike?

Or, some faction either inside or outside of Russia is actively trying to mess with some other faction inside of Russia by implicating them in such a cartoonish plot.

The thing I don't see being taken very seriously among security people is the idea that there is a random hacker somewhere in eastern Europe who pulled this off on their own. Not because it would be hard to do, but because the specific traces that apparently got left don't make sense for a freelancer.

> It is awfully high risk and awfully low reward for Russia to hack the DNC right before the 2016 election. The Democrats are likely to win, and they'll come into office with a fresh memory of Russia having screwed with them.

The Russian government is jonesing rather openly for a Trump win, so even if it is a bad decision on their part it seems quite likely they went ahead and did it anyway. If Clinton does win it certainly wouldn't be the first time that Putin's eagerness to square up to the US has left him in a situation where he generated American antagonism for no particular benefit to Russia. I get the impression that the Russian government enjoys its own infowars escapades a bit more than is healthy for it, and likely overrates their effectiveness a bit.

Besides, I'm not sure it really is a clearly bad decision (from a Machiavellian perspective, of course). Relations between Russia and the Clintons, the US foreign-policy set etc. seem to have already got so bad that it's not clear that even a fairly big provocation like this is likely to cause US actions to be that much more hostile than they would be anyway. For example, if Clinton gets in it seems there's a near-certainty of a big and imminent intensification of US/Russian proxy conflict, especially in Syria. Conversely if Trump does win the likely changes in US foreign policy promise to be a major and enduring victory for putinismo: it's a rare opportunity, and Trump's odds of winning aren't (yet, at least) a hopeless long-shot.

Can you please link to an analysis (or something) of the specific traces that were apparently left behind?


The "Democrats hacked themselves" is not a very good theory. I can't fathom what they would have to gain from it and, regardless, I'm certain the Clinton campaign does not want to remind people how easy it is to hack private servers.

The theory[1] is that the DNC wants to release all the bad stuff they have on Trump but don't want to do it themselves[2]. Reminding people about how many corps have been hacked actually doesn't hurt Clinton's e-mail argument that much[3] and it gets a whole lot of juicy stuff out against a candidate that isn't really an expert at political maneuvers. When protestors can beat up your supporters, and its your fault, you really don't know what you are doing[4]. Throwing a little more hate in the media works.

1) which I am explaining, not advocating

2) It actually follows a The West Wing episode (without the hacking, just using the mail, same process - different parts)

3) polling shows people who believe she did something wrong weren't going to vote for her anyway

4) as we see Trump's personnel changes this week

// my person got beat and I hate all of the above

Zero is the number of security people I know, including many who sincerely loathe HRC, who believe the DNC staged this. CrowdStrike's CEO (an acquaintance) is... uh... not exactly a Democratic partisan.

I wasn't talking about security people (I would assume they would have actual information). I was just explaining the reason some believe it was an inside job. Its not entirely off the wall given some of the other, damn near psychotic things that have happened during political campaigns.

Sorry, yeah, I'm not trying to rebut you, just adding the color that:

* People who follow this stuff uniformly don't believe the DNC staged it.

* If you were crazy enough to stage a hack of the DNC, George Kurtz's company is probably not the one you'd pick to collaborate with.

(Also: we're on opposite ends of the political spectrum, me and GK, but I would bet all the money I have against a claim that he'd done something shady here. CrowdStrike might be wrong about the Russian attribution, but they aren't making it all up.)

[edit: didn't figure you were going for the rebut, but I reread mine and thought I needed to really clarify]

On a side question, I know a lot of groups that have side channels where they discuss "inside baseball" type stuff away from non-insiders. Do security experts have a "hey did you hear about ...?" network or is it more of an I have other friends in the business type thing?

In this case, you could get pretty up-to-date on the zeitgeist of this stuff just by subscribing to DailyDave.

Thanks for the info, didn't really want to join, just wanted to know if security function like some other communities with sensitive information.

Obviously blaming the Russians is a way to spin / do damage control.

On the other hand - there are foreign interest in American politics. Just look at the big donations from Norway and Saudi Arabia. (Top donors though are "Children's Investment Fund Foundation" and other charities "for the children" :-).)

And why is anyone paying nearly 1 mio. USD for a speech? You must be getting more than what you can get by watching TV.

>And why is anyone paying nearly 1 mio. USD for a speech? You must be getting more than what you can get by watching TV.

Access is what you buy. Facetime. Your name in their rolodex.

These leaks show Donald Trump paid $115,000 for a Clinton speech, and as he says in his own words, he used that influence to buy the Clinton presence at his wedding.

No one cares about the speech, he paid $115k to get them to show to a wedding

Besides that; I find it odd that the files have very little authorship/revision history. Maybe someone more well-versed in MS Office can explain this?

The "Romanian" hacker whose command of the Romanian language is suspect:


Article talking about the files here. [0]

Also, I find it interesting that the Clinton Foundation has come out saying they have been breached as well. [1]

[0] http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/hacker-releases-clinton-fo... [1] http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-06-21/clinton-fo...

paragraph of interest:

"Clinton Foundation officials said the organization hadn’t been notified of the breach and declined to comment further. The compromise of the foundation’s computers was first identified by government investigators as recently as last week, the people familiar with the matter said. Agents monitor servers used by hackers to communicate with their targets, giving them a back channel view of attacks, often even before the victims detect them."

I wish someone would hack major news organizations, especially FoxNews, so that we can see the extent to which the news organizations collaborate and act on behalf of the political parties and donors.

Can't, they have actual firewalls and some basic security competence.

If you think that just because all their editors are on CIA payroll, I think you have to much faith in CIA security.

And for the ignorant among you that think I'm joking:


Crazy. How is this going to alter opsec in future campaigns?

Campaigns have members and volunteers with such varied skill sets. Putting security policies in would be a big ask.

Not at all. All campaigns are owned up all the time.

Why the hell are these docx and xlsx files? What kind of macro malware b.s. did he put in them? No way am I reading anything that's not plain 7bit ASCII from that website.

This is what I like, equal opportunity hacking.

Except when the FBI hacks an iphone. Then we all get mad

I don't recall anyone getting mad at the FBI hacking an iPhone.

What I think you're referring to is when "we all" got mad at the FBI for trying to force Apple to hack an iPhone. "We all" objected to the idea of a national government compelling a private company to invent new lock-picking tools.

NSI... despicable. Reading this can get you a court date.

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