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Under Attack Part Eight: The Syria Files

“The FBI took advantage of hackers who wanted to help support the Syrian people against the Assad regime, who instead unwittingly provided the U.S. government access to Syrian systems, undoubtedly supplying useful intelligence to the military and their buildup for war.” Jeremy Hammond

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THE DAILY DOT

About a month after former FBI agent Milan Patel warned journalists that WikiLeaks’ documents might be altered, the Daily Dot published an explosive story claiming not only that WikiLeaks withheld documents from the Syria Files, but that a principal hacker allegedly involved in the Syria hack suggested changing details in the emails before leaking them WikiLeaks.  Despite the article noting that the hacker who made the suggestion may have done so in jest and that there was “no evidence” to suggest it happened, the Daily Dot ruminated about the possibility,

“…the mere mention by an actual WikiLeaks source of concealing counterfeit emails within a legitimate leak touches on concerns about the website’s practice of publishing en masse the unverified and anonymously sourced material it receives.”

Dell Cameron, co-author of the article, later stated that he never suggested WikiLeaks emails were fake but his use of the word “unverified” suggests just that.  Ultimately, however, it doesn’t matter if WikiLeaks publishes en masse or one document at a time; they always verify their documents as evidenced by the fact that they have never had to issue a single retraction in over ten years.  Verified means verified regardless so maybe the Daily Dot should save their insinuendos for outlets such as CNN, The New York Times, Washington Post, or even themselves.

The article also claimed that unnamed court documents obtained from an unnamed source show that an October 26, 2011 email allegedly sent by the head of treasury at the Central Bank of Syria, Salim Toubaji, to Russia’s VTB bank was withheld from WikiLeaks’ Syria Files.  The email discussed exactly what the title of the article suggests, “a €2 billion transfer from Syria to Russia.”  And yes, it might be shocking to hear that WikiLeaks withholds documents but they’ve done it in the past.  For instance, they generally don’t publish what has already been published elsewhere nor do they publish fake documents because that would be absurd.

So, before you decided to head down any rabbit holes let’s be perfectly clear about the facts:  The email that the Daily Dot claims WikiLeaks withheld was given to them directly from Shawn Henry, Austin Berglas, and Milan Patel’s little chismoso Sabu so how legitimate do you think this document was if WikiLeaks chose not to publish it?  And then ask yourself why it took Dell Cameron two years after he received these alleged court documents (which he’s never published) to write this story.

 

SABU AND SIGGI THORDARSON

Hector Xavier Monsegur (“Sabu”) and Thordarson

Two months after Siggi Thordarson became an FBI informant in August, 2011, he was still volunteering for WikiLeaks and still in contact with Sabu.  During an early-November IRC chat between the two stoolies, Sabu mentioned a Syrian hack and told Thordarson that “…we ended up owning syrian government central mail server.”  Lo and behold, he then uploaded the exact email the Daily Dot reported on.

After claiming to have 92GB of Syrian emails, Sabu told Thordarson that he wanted to release them through WikiLeaks adding, “#antisec might get some attention.”  Notice how the Daily Dot article only mentions the hacking group RevoluSec in their article, never AntiSec?  You may remember me previously discussing Hyrriiya, the hacker who gave Sabu the Stratfor vulnerabilities in December, 2011.  Hyrriiya was allegedly part of a group called RevoluSec that “worked on infiltrating Syrian government computers, among other projects,” while AntiSec, on the other hand, was started by Sabu after he became an FBI informant and essentially took over where LulzSec, another group formed by Sabu, left off.

After WikiLeaks published the Syria Files, a statement released by Anonymous identified members involved in the Syrian hack as “elements drawn from Anonymous Syria, AntiSec (now known as the reformed LulzSec) and the Peoples Liberation Front.”  Now, I’m not saying that the Daily Dot was wrong and that RevoluSec had nothing to do with the Syrian emails, obviously I have no idea either way.  What I am pointing out is that the Daily Dot only mentioned RevoluSec when clearly AntiSec was involved as well even if the press release wasn’t legit.

One might conclude that the authors excluded AntiSec from their article because Sabu was under the FBI’s control at the time which would seem to imply that the FBI was involved with the hacking of the Syrian government.  According to federal prosecutor James Pastore, the FBI was not only logging all of Sabu’s online activities, they installed a video surveillance system in his home.  Don’t forget they were also monitoring their other informant Siggi Thordarson at the same time.  So yes, I’ll take “The U.S. government used hackers to infiltrate the Syrian government, stockpiled the data, tried to set Julian Assange up in the process, and then sold Jeremy Hammond down the river for ten years” for $500,” please.

 

DELL CAMERON

So who is Dell Cameron, the co-author of the article?  Well, according to a scarce amount of resources out there, he’s an “infamous computer hacker,” one of Anonymous’ earliest members, and apparently used to go by the online handle “DBCoopa.”  According to this WordPress blog, “Thought For Your Penny,” it was only after some hacking shenanigans involving the Texas Department of Corrections that Cameron “went straight” and became an investigative journalist for the Daily Dot.  And as surprising as it may or may not sound, it appears that Cameron used to be an avid supporter of both Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.  Early on he promoted Assange’s freedom, WikiLeaks’ publications, and the financial support of the organization.  In 2012, he tweeted things out like:

“Defend #Assange!”

“Stop the US Govt. Protect #Assange”

“Freedom For Assange!!!”

“OpProtectAssange engaged. We do not forgive. We do not forget. – #Anonymous. Free #Assange.”

However, the tides began to turn in October, 2012, after WikiLeaks posted an overlay on the front of their website which included a video asking people to “Vote WikiLeaks” and donate.  Anonymous considered it a paywall and freaked but according to arstechnica.com, the overlay disappeared if you donated, shared the video, or tweeted about their campaign.  Arstechnica.com also noted that it “disappeared automatically after a period of time.”  So, even though it wasn’t an actual paywall, members of Anonymous didn’t hesitate from publishing their scathing (and sometimes not so accurate) reviews here and here.  A WikiLeaks supporter posted a response in return here.

Cameron was also annoyed by the so-called paywall and tweeted that “People complained and they took it down.  I’ll be more skeptical in the future, but I’m not dismissing all their [WikiLeaks’] work,” implying that he would start dismissing some of their work?  He went on to say that he felt like the banner was a deliberate attempt to sever ties with Anonymous and that he supported the development of a new “global leaks” platform by those “who left [WikiLeaks] in disgust” like Birgitta Jónsdóttir and Daniel Domscheit-Berg rather than allowing WikiLeaks some sort of imagined monopoly on leaks.  Maybe he didn’t get the memo about Domscheit-Berg’s OpenLeaks?

 

YOUR ANON NEWS

Let me first preface this by stating for the record that sometimes Anonymous’ drama can be more confusing than the Magic Roundabout in Swindon and the history behind the @YourAnonNews (YAN) Twitter account appears to be no different.  So, with that in mind let me try to coherently explain the backstory as to how Dell Cameron eventually (and allegedly) became an administer for @YourAnonNews.

Christopher Banks, also known as @JackalAnon, is the alleged founder of the now infamous Anonymous Twitter account that boasts almost 1.7 million Twitter followers as of today.  After members of Anonymous decided to start their own media outlet in early 2013, Banks led a fundraiser through Indiegogo which eventually raised over $50,000.  However, he skipped out on the part where he was suppose to mail supporters’ their merchandise and was later accused of pocketing a large portion of the funds raised.

By November, 2013, members approached Banks and offered to help fix the situation if he agreed to relinquish control of the YAN account.  Allegedly he did, leaving Dell Cameron and another person in control.  Then, in January, 2014,  Cameron and others including journalist Dan Stuckey decided to start a non-profit organization that would “hold all that is tangibly YAN essentially in trust,” and yes, this really happened because apparently you can license the idea of Anonymous.  According to the ibtimes.uk,

“Cameron along with others involved with the account including Nicole Powers, Gregg Housh and lawyer Tor Ekeland, came together to form a de facto board to try and administer the account.  Their plan was to move the intellectual property into a non-profit organisation which would run the account in the future.”

The very next month after the “de facto board” established Your Anon News, LLC, Cameron, Stuckey and journalist Andrew Blake were leaked the court documents that Cameron used in his article accusing WikiLeaks of withholding Syrian emails.  In March all hell broke loose after Cameron and Stuckey apparently locked out other board members from the Twitter account—but then relinquished control the following day.  The account was supposedly handed over to other Anonymous members and a few days later YAN’s Tumblr account announced that they were taking @YourAnonNews “back to basics.”

So, before we even get into the whole “So does this mean that @YourAnonNews is compromised?” let me just say this again:  Anonymous’ drama can be more confusing than the Magic Roundabout in Swindon so, no, I have no idea if it is or isn’t.  What I do find interesting is the fact that while Cameron was involved with the account and obviously by extension the collective Anonymous, he was cranking out articles about Sabu, Jeremy Hammond, and even Barrett Brown.  Pando eventually called him out for not disclosing the relationship, a relationship that according to Cameron ended in July, 2014.

The obvious problem with Cameron not disclosing his relationship with Anonymous is that one might conclude that his articles from 2014 were biased because it.  For instance, he reported that the FBI’s own informant, Sabu, “led hacks against 30 countries,” and that Sabu orchestrated the Stratfor hack.  However, just because his articles didn’t sound terribly FBI-ish, there are sentences here and there that stand out.  For example, in the same article I linked above he reported that, “the FBI at some point lost control of its own sting operation [Stratfor],” as if attempting to absolve the FBI of any responsibility for Stratfor customers’ credit card information being leaked.  But again, Cameron wasn’t publishing obvious bowls of alphabet soup and because of his close ties with Anonymous most would assume that if there was any bias to be had in his writing it would have been in favor of the hacking collective.

But then the hot tub happened.

(Side note:  I recommend you read the Pando article. It mentions how YAN threatened Pando over their 2014 article, “Almost Everyone Involved in Developing Tor was (or is) Funded by the US Government.”  And then see this and this.)

 

HOT TUBS AND TEAM8

Dan Stuckey and Dell Cameron, June, 2017

On March 15, 2015, the Anonymous community came to a screeching halt after former Vice journalist Dan Stuckey, co-founder of TheSabuFiles.com along with Cameron and Andrew Blake, posted a Vine of himself and former FBI informant Sabu enjoying a leisurely soak in a hot tub.  Sabu is heard saying on the video, “I’m with Dan Stuckey.  Fuck Anonymous.  We’re at fuckin’ Spa Castle.  Expect my review soon, bitches!”  So yes, that unbelievably and definitely happened three years after Sabu set up hackers including Jeremy Hammond on the behalf of the FBI.

As one can imagine, if you thought Anonymous freaked hard over WikiLeaks “paywall,” they went Anonymousaures Rex over Stuckey’s hot tub betrayal.  But it wasn’t just the hot tub scene that had Anonymous steaming.  Back in December, 2014, Stuckey had invited Sabu to a Vice party and then in 2015, the Daily Dot brought Sabu on as a contributor.  And sure, the Daily Dot tried to explain their staggeringly poor decisions but it didn’t stop Anonymous from launching #OpDDD (Operation Daily Dot) and reviving the hashtag #FuckSabu.

Here’s where it gets even more interesting.  In 2015, it appears that Sabu also nabbed a speaking engagement at a @SuitsandSpooks event organized by “cyber warfare expert,” Jeffrey Carr.  According to an archived page from Carr’s company that started Suits and Spooks, the now-defunct cybersecurity firm, Taia Global, the purpose of the conference series is:

“…to bring members from the 16 agencies in the U.S. Intelligence Community together with innovative thinkers from the disparate worlds of technology, finance, entertainment, and science for a day of frank discussions and innovative problem solving.”

In the past Taia Global partnered with Glass GC run by Nada Bakos, a former CIA analyst and YUGE Assange fan who likes to tweet things like “Reminder: WikiLeaks is a ‘hostile intelligence service helped by Russia,’ says CIA Director Mike Pompeo,” and Dov Yoran’s ThreatGrid which has since been acquired by Cisco.  It also liaisoned with Michael Sandoval’s Atigeo whose board members have included the founder of Providence Energy Corp., a former CEO of Boeing, a former CPO at Facebook, and a former Federal Trade Commissioner.

Lastly, Endgame Systems has been one of Suits and Spooks sponsors in the past and if you’re not familiar with Barrett Brown’s work stemming from the HBGary emails, Endgame Systems is a murky intelligence firm he was researching before the feds came knocking on his door.  Not only that, one of Endgame Systems’ partners is Accenture who I mentioned in my previous post because, well, Accenture is also partnered with Team8, the company tied to K2 Intelligence.  If you’re interested in learning more about Accenture, head over to WikiLeaks because there’s a lot of documents posted.

The good news in all of this?  It appears that Carr doesn’t put a lot of faith in the FBI/DHS Joint Analysis Report regarding Russia’s alleged election interference or Crowdstrike’s report about the DNC “hack.”  Although Suits and Spooks was acquired by Wired Business Media in 2014, Carr remains actively involved.

 

WIKILEAKS AND THE 2016 U.S. ELECTION

There is literally nothing that made Americans lose their shiz more than WikiLeaks’ 2016 publications and the U.S. election and that includes Dell Cameron.  To be fair, I’m not aware of Cameron ever tweeting anything that was tragically over the top anti-Assange prior to 2016.  However, it seems that WikiLeaks’ publication of the DNC emails was all he needed to go on an all-out, five day Twitter spree about everything from WikiLeaks document tampering to Assange’s influence on elections around the world.  Here’s a sampling:

“It’s time to start questioning whether @wikileaks is censoring or tampering with the content of the #DNCleak” (July 25, 2016)

“In continuing to perpetuate this conspiracy theory, @WikiLeaks (and @Cernovich) are discrediting themselves among rational followers.”  (this June 25, 2016 tweet was in response to criticisms that Twitter was burying the hashtag #DNCleaks, which we now know is true)

“I’m not saying it was Russian. I’m saying there is evidence it was and he’s [Assange] telling people there isn’t.  That’s a lie…It’s not the first lie I’ve seen this week, I’ve supported them financially, and I don’t appreciate it…Whomever is running the account has been getting shit wrong on the daily. I’m questioning their motive/judgement.” (July 25, 2016 Twitter thread)

“Important to remember, for better or worse, WikiLeaks has always sought to involve itself in national elections.” (July 26, 2016)

“as a reference, it took two months to begin the release of 5 million stratfor emails…although, the release was timed to correspond w/ assange’s election activities in various countries, per wikiLeaks…” (July 27, 2016)

“i think you missed it, but this is one of my primary concerns:” (a 2:09 a.m. EST tweet from July 29, 2016, in response to “In light of #DNCLeak, worth thinking how worryingly effective a single falsified email in a doc-dump of real ones would be.”)

Former FBI agent Milan Patel

Fourteen hours after Cameron tweeted that one of his primary concerns was that there were falsified documents in the DNC emails, former FBI agent Milan Patel’s interview with Forbes.com was published.  In it he stated,

“Taking the [WikiLeaks] documents at face value from the Internet should always be questioned.  You have no idea if the documents have  been altered to drive a specific message.  And it could just be two words that could be enough to change the narrative.”

A month later Cameron published his story alleging that hackers discussed altering the Syrian emails and how WikiLeaks withheld an email that both Cameron and Milan Patel knew came directly from the FBI’s informant, Sabu.

By mid-September, 2016, WikiLeaks asked, “Why is the FBI/DOJ leaking sealed court records on WikiLeaks reframed to help Clinton’s bogus Russian narrative?” to which Cameron responded over a month later that he had received the leaked documents back in 2014, not in 2016 and long before the Assange-Russian narrative existed.  So like I asked previously, why in the world did Cameron wait until exactly a month before the U.S. election to publish this absurd article about WikiLeaks?  If anyone was sitting on documents and looking to sway the election it appears to have been Dell Cameron—possibly with the help of the FBI.

One of the most fantastical parts of this story involving the Stratfor and Syrian hacks, Wikileaks, the FBI, and Sabu is that it was the FBI, under the administration of Obama and while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, who not only allowed but supervised email leaks to WikiLeaks. Extraordinary.

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