Saturday, July 14, 2018

Nothing is easier than getting an indictment

Trying to imagine how an investigation team that had a bunch of flashy assertions with no evidence managed to compose a couple of paragraphs like these from the indictment (from the money laundering count 10):
59. ...To further avoid creating a centralized paper trail of all of their purchases, the Conspirators purchased infrastructure using hundreds of different email accounts, in some cases using a new account for each purchase. The Conspirators used fictitious names and addresses in order to obscure their identities and their links to Russia and the Russian government. For example, the domain was registered and paid for using the fictitious name “Carrie Feehan” and an address in New York. In some cases, as part of the payment process, the Conspirators provided vendors with nonsensical addresses such as “usa Denver AZ,”'“gfhgh ghfhgfh fdgfdg WA,” and “1 2 dwd District of Columbia.” 
60. The Conspirators used several dedicated email accounts to track basic bitcoin transaction information and to facilitate bitcoin payments to vendors. One of these dedicated accounts, registered with the username “gfadel47,” received hundreds of bitcoin payment requests from approximately 100 different email accounts. For example, on or about February 1, 2016, the gfadel47 account received the instruction to “[p]lease send exactly 0.026043 bitcoin to” a certain thirty-four character bitcoin address. Shortly thereafter, a transaction matching those exact instructions was added to the Blockchain.
Like this?
AGENT 1: Say guys, I'll bet those conspirators used bitcoin accounts to pay for their nefarious activities!
AGENT 2: How many?
AGENT 1: Oh, hundreds probably. The more they had the harder it would be to tell they were working for GRU, which they probably were. They'd use fictitious names, like dcleaks could be registered to "Carrie Feehan", and nonsensical addresses such as  “usa Denver AZ”, “gfhgh ghfhgfh fdgfdg WA”, and “1 2 dwd District of Columbia”. Just talking off the top of my head.
AGENT 2: Christ I'm high. That's nuts. Let's tell Mueller to put those in the indictment, because any grand jury would think it's real evidence, although you just made it up.
But I'm finding it a lot easier to imagine the investigators, who are cyber investigators and not authors of technofiction, just had every single one of those bitcoin addresses and the whole account records, and showed them all to the grand jury. And maybe Greenwald hasn't had a chance to look at the indictment yet.

That is, the level of detail in this indictment is such that you can't help feeling they know everything about, at least, what was being done by foreign actors, including but not limited to these 12 GRU officers who masqueraded as "Guccifer 2.0" and "". About Americans, it's not likely they know that much unless they had really credible evidence of criminal activity to take in to the cyber investigation. One of the biggest stories in this whole mess ought to be, in the end, how the safeguards against abuse of American citizens imposed on the NSA after 2006 have really tended to work—the marketing and training materials mostly from before 2006 unearthed by Edward Snowden and endlessly publicized by Glenn Greenwald don't actually make the point Greenwald was trying to make them make. As I was saying almost exactly four years ago, before anybody but a lunatic could have conceived of an actual Trump presidency,
As ever, I think the NSA surveillance is (1) probably unnecessary and would be better dropped, (2) not as harmful to the public as feared, and (3) a very unfortunate distraction from the very serious abuses of the Border Patrol, ICE, FBI, and CIA Ops division, making the dudebros at their keyboards feel like upscale victims while overwhelmingly poor people of color suffer real physical invasions of privacy and unlawful arrest and detention and sometimes torture; and stupidly focusing rage on President Obama, who is (perhaps not very effectively) trying to make things somewhat better.
I was wrong to doubt that the work they could do could be as important as what they've been doing for the past two years.

But finally, the caution issued by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein regarding the actual hacking and money laundering conspiracies stealing computer files from the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee and delivering them to WikiLeaks
The conspirators corresponded with several Americans during the course of the conspiracy through the internet. There’s no allegation in this indictment that the Americans knew they were corresponding with Russian intelligence officers.... 
and the hacking of state election authorities and personnel in several states which allowed them to obtain complete records for 500,000 voters in one state (I'm guessing Florida)
There’s no allegation in this indictment that any American citizen committed a crime. There’s no allegation that the conspiracy changed the vote count or affected any election result.
don't mean Americans beyond Papadopoulos, Flynn, and Gates aren't going to get cited very soon for their work with the conspiracies, in particular those Americans who began to get involved in the scheme around the time of the Trump Tower meeting of 9 June 2016 or the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July. Including Paul Manafort, who was at the heart of both of these.

Cross-posted at The Rectification of Names.

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