It’s the 22nd of March 2018, and I find I am repeating myself on Twitter for what feels like the eight millionth time.
More rumours are circulating the DNC hack wasn’t Russia, and I’m already worn out by having to tell the truth against a tide of disinterest, disinformation, and trolling – which has often come direct from a hostile foreign state.
Even then, we damn well knew Russia was directly responsible and that Julian Assange had been working with them.
But that isn’t quite the starting point. Nor is an earlier iteration of the same argument in October 2017, which came about because of the indictment of George Papadopoulos.
On October 30th, I tweeted: “We can kiss all bullshit stories about Guccifer goodbye too. Russia had the emails. Trump and Assange got them direct.”
This was followed by a brief thread, explaining why the “George Papa” story was important.
The usefulness of the indictment of the young aide was simple: it confirmed the DNC hack timescales set out in the declassified JARs and CIA documents which I had reported on much earlier, in May 2017.
Ironically, by the time that article was written on May 22nd, I’d already submitted a 70 page statement on Russian interference in US, UK, and European elections to the international authorities.
Even then, in late October when Papadopoulos was indicted, the Russia
story hadn’t really caught on and was still regarded suspiciously as
though it was tinfoil hat territory. The focus, in the UK at least, was
still around Cambridge Analytica and the DUP, and I felt like the oddball on
the end saying Putin did it (as a Byline event I panelled, alongside Carole Cadwalladr of the Guardian, neatly showed).
By that point, however, all of this had been included in my August 2017 book, Alternative War, which was re-released, unabridged, in April 2018.
So, by Friday 13 July 2018, Russia’s involvement in hacking the DNC, leaking the documents, and hammering a brutal wedge into the heart of American democracy was not only well known to me, but had become general knowledge and public property.
At the time Rosenstein took to the stage at the DOJ, I was driving my children home for the weekend, having picked up on an otherwise innocuous tweet which said a “law enforcement announcement” was due. I wouldn’t have paid much attention, other than this was the exact language used at the last indictment of thirteen Russians of the Internet Research Agency – another strand I’d also covered in the 2017 book.
No punches were pulled by the Deputy Attorney General.
Straight out of the blocks he said: “a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia returned an indictment presented by the Special Counsel’s Office. The indictment charges twelve Russian military officers for conspiring to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.
“Eleven of the defendants are charged with conspiring to hack into computers, steal documents, and release documents in an effort to interfere with the election. One of those defendants, and a twelfth Russian officer, are charged with conspiring to infiltrate computers of organizations responsible for administering elections, including state boards of election, secretaries of state, and companies that supply software and other technology used to administer elections,” he added.
For me that was instant vindication. A triumph of Alternative War against all the odds, which suddenly made the trolling, the sleepless nights, the hammering on authority’s door, and the struggle to crowdfund my work worthwhile.
On a budget of often less than £600 a month I’d beaten the big beasts of the media and publishing to the punch by over a year. Something which was only possible because people had taken the time to get to know me, alongside the story.
But we live in scary times, and I can’t reinforce that enough.
For example, a day before the indictments, the Daily Beast published a lengthy story – which had clearly been prepared over some time – claiming an ex Florida cop was the DNC hacker and it was all just a hoax. The odd detail being he appeared to be living in Moscow nowadays.
Having no idea what was coming late on Friday afternoon, I called that story out straight away, because I already knew from my investigations it couldn’t be true. It was a new fantasy narrative to carry on the work the Seth Rich fiction failed to achieve.
But it’s the details people miss about things like this which provide the chills.
The Daily Beast fantasy was clearly planned with advanced knowledge of the coming indictments, and timed just right to collide with the truth. Which means only one of two things: either Russia knew about the indictments in advance because they are hacking the DOJ and Special Counsel, or there is a leak from somewhere at a high level.
Trump was briefed on the coming indictments before leaving for Europe to attend the NATO Summit, visit the UK, and later meet with Putin for his annual appraisal.
Whichever way you view this, it signals a very different stage of conflict has now commenced.
Nontheless, the Rosenstein announcement was an amazing experience for me. Though I’m no football fan, I was yelling in the car like I’d just scored the winning goal in the World Cup and, in a way, I had. Because the truth can still win. Even now.
In terms of the indictments and the announcement from the DOJ, the text could have been lifted straight from my May 2017 article or Alternative War itself, something which many of the book’s readers were quick to note.
The indicted Russians worked for the GRU and had engaged in active cyber operations to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. Split into two units, one worked to steal information, while another disseminated what they stole.
Access was gained to the Democrat’s systems by spearphishing – the sending of misleading email messages which dupe recipients into disclosing their security credentials. They also deployed malicious software which allowed them to “spy on users and capture keystrokes, take screenshots, and exfiltrate data.”
The DNC hacks began in March 2016, according to the indictment. Something I’d been tweeting about, and often repeating, back in 2017.
The Russians created online sites and identities, including “DCLeaks” and “Guccifer 2.0,” and used them to release thousands of stolen emails and other documents, beginning in June 2016. They also claimed DCLeaks was started by a group of American hackers and that Guccifer 2.0 was a lone Romanian hacker.
I knew this, which is why the warning flags went up as soon as I saw the Daily Beast story.
Rosenstein added: “In addition to releasing documents directly to the public, the defendants transferred stolen documents to another organization, not named in the indictment, and discussed timing the release of the documents in an attempt to enhance the impact on the election.”
That other organisation is going to be Wikileaks, led by Julian Assange.
It’s likely he will be indicted in the near future and I wouldn’t be surprised if Ecuador had already packed his bags.
Another key element of Alternative War appeared in the form of currency in the announcement: “In an effort to conceal their connections to Russia, the defendants used a network of computers located around the world, and paid for it using cryptocurrency.”
It’s a very odd feeling, as an apparently retired intelligence officer, to see your work come back together at the official end of the process. Especially when you are an agent without agency for all intents and purposes.
But this was a victory, and I intend on allowing myself to own it for a while. Because we’ve just entered wholly new territory and even I can’t yet tell you what it’s going to be like.
Perhaps, in the meantime, you might want to read Alternative War and find out what else you’re a year behind on.
If nothing else, it gives me a better shot at being able to retire from all this before I get myself into even more trouble.