DNC Computer Intrusion – Bernie Sanders’ Insider or Russian Hackers?

During the 2016 Election Campaign the there were two releases of information via WikiLeaks; 1) DNC E-mails that were released beginning on July 22, 2016, just prior to DNC convention and 2) John Podesta’s e-mails that were released in 35 parts, part 1 on October 8th and part 35 on election day, November 7, 2016, a total of 58,375 e-mails.

In addition there were also leaks of DNC server information via DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0.

This article will focus on the July release of DNC e-mails.

The Case For a Russian Hack

September 2015

When Special Agent Adrian Hawkins of the Federal Bureau of Investigation called the Democratic National Committee in September 2015 to pass along some troubling news about its computer network, he was transferred, naturally, to the help desk.

His message was brief, if alarming. At least one computer system belonging to the D.N.C. had been compromised by hackers federal investigators had named “the Dukes,” a cyberespionage team linked to the Russian government.

The F.B.I. knew it well: The bureau had spent the last few years trying to kick the Dukes out of the unclassified email systems of the White House, the State Department and even the Joint Chiefs of Staff, one of the government’s best-protected networks.  [NY Times]

2016

The DNC response was low key to say the least, their tech-support tech wrote:

TameneMemo
DNC Response to FBI call [op cit.]

FBI Director, James Comey, has confirmed that the DNC denied the FBI access to their server, for forensic analysis, in the time leading up to April of 2016.

The bureau made “multiple requests at different levels,” according to Comey, but ultimately struck an agreement with the DNC that a “highly respected private company” would get access and share what it found with investigators.


The Old Curmudgeon comments
Three obvious reasons pop to mind, 1) they feared some damaging evidence re: HRC personal server would be divulged, 2) they feared that evidence of a crime would be divulged, or 3) they feared an internal leak would be found, vice an external hack.


Finally in April of 2016 they hired CrowdStrike Services to review the security of its system and install a “robust set of monitoring tools,” (internal DNC memo by Mr. Yared Tamene, a tech-support contractor at the DNC [op cit.])

On June 12th Julian Assange issued a statement about an impending release of e-mails relating to HRC.  ““We have upcoming leaks in relation to Hillary Clinton … We have emails pending publication, that is correct,”

On June 14, 2016 the Washington Post broke the story and on June 15, 2016 Crowdstrike went public, implicating two Russian hacking groups, with ties to the Government.  This was in response to a claim by Guccifer 2.0 that he was the source of the breech.  As proof he released the Oppo Research file on DJT and other documents the most recent, Jan. 12, 2017,  a denial that he has any ties to Russia.

TrumpOppo
TOC Trump Oppo [op cit]
On October 7, 2016 DHS and DNI issued a joint statement:

The recent disclosures of alleged hacked e-mails on sites like DCLeaks.com and WikiLeaks and by the Guccifer 2.0 online persona are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts. These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process. Such activity is not new to Moscow—the Russians have used similar tactics and techniques across Europe and Eurasia, for example, to influence public opinion there. We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.

It is reported that on November 17 ” James Clapper, the nation’s top intelligence officer, told Congress his agencies “don’t have good insight” into a direct link between WikiLeaks and the emails supposedly hacked by a Russian operation from Democrats and the Hillary Clinton campaign.

On December 14, 2016 James Clapper cancelled classified briefing to House Intelligence Committee.

[Devin] Nunes [Rep CA – Chairman] had requested that National Intelligence Director James Clapper, with participation from FBI Director James Comey and CIA Director John Brennan, brief committee members in a closed session on Thursday. That briefing has now been cancelled.

The California Republican, in a letter sent to Clapper on Monday, said he wanted clarification about why the CIA is now saying that Russian hacks of political campaign committees earlier this year appeared to be aimed at helping President-elect Donald Trump and hurting Democrat Hillary Clinton. Nunes pointed to testimony from Clapper in a public hearing in November that the Intelligence Community lacked the evidence to draw such a conclusion.  [USA Today]

On December 29, 2016 the Department of Homeland Security issued a Joint Analysis Report which attributed the attacks to “Russian civilian and military intelligence Services (RIS)” groups code named  as APT28 and APT 29, where APT is mnemonic for Advanced Persistent Threat.

Both groups have historically targeted government organizations, think tanks, universities, and corporations around the world. APT29 has been observed crafting targeted spear phishing campaigns leveraging web links to a malicious dropper; once executed, the code delivers Remote Access Tools (RATs) and evades detection using a range of techniques. APT28 is known for leveraging domains that closely mimic those of targeted organizations and tricking potential victims into entering legitimate credentials. APT28 actors relied heavily on shortened URLs in their spear phishing email campaigns. Once APT28 and APT29 have access to victims, both groups exfiltrate and analyze information to gain intelligence value. These groups use this information to craft highly targeted spear phishing campaigns. These actors set up operational infrastructure to obfuscate their source infrastructure, host domains and malware for targeting organizations, establish command and control nodes, and harvest credentials and other valuable information from their targets.

The Baltimore Sun had this to say about the JAR,

[It] met widespread criticism in the technical community. Worse still, some of the advice it offered led to a very alarmist false alarm about supposed Russian hacking into a Vermont electric power station.

Advertised in advance as providing proof of Russian hacking, the report fell embarrassingly short of that goal. The thin gruel that it did contain was watered down further by the following unusual warning atop page 1: “DISCLAIMER: This report is provided ‘as is’ for informational purposes only. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does not provide any warranties of any kind regarding any information contained within.”

On January 6, 2017 Mother Jones reported:

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Friday released its declassified report on Russia’s efforts to influence the outcome of the 2016 election by hacking Democratic outfits during the campaign.

The report comes a day after top intelligence officials, including Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on the issue. During the hearing, Clapper said the intelligence community has grown more “resolute” in its assessment that Russian intelligence was involved in the hacks aimed at the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. On Friday, Clapper, Rogers, FBI Director Jim Comey, and CIA Director John Brennan briefed President-elect Donald Trump on the classified evidence linking Russia to the hacks and the leaking of the swiped emails. After the briefing, Trump released a statement noting that Russia is one of many actors that try to hack US targets, but the statement did not acknowledge the US intelligence community conclusion that Moscow had mounted the cyberattack against the United States as part of an operation to help elect Trump president.

The report concluded:
Assessment1.jpgAssessment2Assessment3Assessment4
President Obama, in his final press conference, January 18, 2017 make an interesting statement, confirming that DNC computer breach was an inside job (leak vs hack).
  1.    “… not conclusive whether of not WikiLeaks was witting or not in being the conduit through which we heard about the DNC e-mails that were leaked …” (14 sec in)”

The Case For Bernie Sander’s Insider

On July 25, 2016, just 2 day after WikiLeaks posted the the documents, ABC reported, under the headline The 4 Most Damaging Emails From the DNC WikiLeaks Dump:

WikiLeaks leaked nearly 20,000 emails on Friday from top Democratic National Committee officials, exchanged from January 2015 through May 2016. Several emails released show that although the DNC was supposed to remain neutral during the primary contest, officials grew increasingly agitated with Bernie Sanders and his campaign, at some points even floating ideas about ways to undermine his candidacy.

Regardless of who was behind the leak, the fallout for the DNC has been severe. Just one day before the Democratic convention was set to begin, DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz announced her resignation, effective at the end of the week. And as expected, Sanders supporters, hundreds of whom are delegates at the convention, are furious about the content of the emails.

[The 4 emails:]

[1]  DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz Calls Sanders Campaign Manager Jeff Weaver an “A–” and a “Liar”

[2]  One email shows that a DNC official contemplated highlighting Sanders’ alleged atheism — even though he has said he is not an atheist — during the primaries as a possibility to undermine support among voters.

[3]  “Wondering if there’s a good Bernie narrative for a story which is that Bernie never ever had his act together, that his campaign was a mess,” DNC National Secretary Mark Paustenbach wrote in an email to National Communications Director Luis Miranda on May 21. After detailing ways in which the Sanders camp was disorganized, Paustenbach concludes, “It’s not a DNC conspiracy it’s because they never had their act together.”

[4]  As the primary season wore on, Wasserman Schultz appeared to grow exasperated with Sanders’ desire to stay in the race when the delegate math was against him — in one email lamenting the fact that he is an independent in the Senate but was running as a Democrat in the primaries. In an April 24 email she received with an article describing the ways Sanders felt the DNC was undermining his campaign, she wrote back, “Spoken like someone who has never been a member of the Democratic Party and has no understanding of what we do.”

On July 22nd Real Clear Politics’ Head to Head Average of National Polls had HRC leading by 2.6% (44.2 vs 41.6).  By August 27 her lead had grown to 6.3% (48.4 vs 42.1).  DJT had a bump in the polls between the July 22nd and July 30th while HRC remained flat.  [Post convention bump, Wikileaks, or combination?]

HRC had a 5% – 7% lead from Aug 3rd to the 27th, therefore it is difficult to argue that the WikiLeaks e-mail releases had a negative impact on her campaign.

RCPDNChack

While these were some of the headlines during that period:

  • DNC chairwoman will resign in aftermath of committee email controversy [The Washington Post, 7/24/16]
  • Bernie  Sanders’ Hollywood Supporters Stage Another Protest At Democratic Convention [Variety, 7/27/16]
  • Bernie Sanders supporters protesting outside DNC distance themselves from flag burning [LA Times, 7/29/16]
  • Why were Democrats at convention so angry? [Daily News, 7/29/16]
  • Sanders’ Washington state loyalists not yet basking in the Clinton glow [The Seattle Times, 7/30/16]
  • Clinton must figure out how to bridge the divide with Sanders loyalists [Philly.com/The Inquirer, 7/31/16]

The thrust of the leaks was the DNC’s bias against Bernie Sanders.  ThinkProgress

ThinkProgress is a news site dedicated to providing our readers with rigorous reporting and analysis from a progressive perspective.

under the headline:

Debbie Wasserman Schultz Resigns From DNC In Wake Of WikiLeaks Email Dump
Reported

At the time Wasserman Schultz released her statement, thousands of supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) were marching through Philadelphia, some of whom were calling for her resignation.

FireDebbie

A supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., holds up a sign call calling for Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee to be fired, Sunday, July 24, 2016, in Philadelphia. CREDIT: AP PHOTO/ALEX BRANDON [ThinkProgress]

ThinkProgress went on to report:

Sanders praised her decision to step down “for the future of the Democratic Party,” and called for more open, transparent, and impartial leadership.

The scenario of a leak, is not mutually exclusive with the DNC servers having been penetrated by one or more individuals or groups (Dukes, Guccifer 2.0, APT28, APT29, Cozy Bear, Fancy Bear, DCLeaks source).  Nor, is the scenario of the system having been hacked mutually exclusive of the material being leaked by an insider.  Couple this with the inherent bias, of organizations that search for external penetrations, which leads them to find external penetrations.  Thus it is not surprising that FBI and CrowdStrike ascribed the source of the information to a hack.

Remember the DNC did not allow the FBI to do a forensic analysis of their servers.

Julian Assange on Source

NBC Nightly News reported on July 25, 2016:

Assange to Richard Engel: No Proof Russians Used WikiLeaks in DNC Leak

The Belfast Telegraph reported on December 16, 2016:

Julian Assange: Russian government not source of leaked DNC and Podesta emails – WikiLeaks editor contradicts CIA claims in new interview

Can we ascribe a motivation

Given the fact that the press focused on the HRC bias of the DNC it is reasonable to believe that a Bernie Sanders supporter could have leaked the information.

Likewise it is reasonable to believe that the Russians were trying to embarrass HRC.

The NY Times reported, on December 16, 2016:

Clinton Says ‘Personal Beef’ by Putin Led to Hacking Attacks

Hillary Clinton said on Thursday that the hacking attacks carried out by Russia against her campaign and the Democratic National Committee were intended “to undermine our democracy” and were ordered by Vladimir V. Putin “because he has a personal beef against me.”

Speaking to a group of donors in Manhattan, Mrs. Clinton said that Mr. Putin, the Russian president, had never forgiven her for the accusation she made in 2011, when she was secretary of state, that parliamentary elections his country held that year were rigged.

“Putin publicly blamed me for the outpouring of outrage by his own people, and that is the direct line between what he said back then and what he did in this election,” Mrs. Clinton said.

“Make no mistake, as the press is finally catching up to the facts, which we desperately tried to present to them during the last months of the campaign,” Mrs. Clinton told the group, which collectively poured roughly $1 billion into her effort. “This is not just an attack on me and my campaign, although that may have added fuel to it. This is an attack against our country. We are well beyond normal political concerns here. This is about the integrity of our democracy and the security of our nation.”

Without a through forensic analysis of the DNC’s servers we may never know the source of the information, a leak or a hack.

There is also the question: If Russian Intelligence Services had been in the server via an affiliated hacking group, why would they have another group hack the same system, risking detection and exposure of the fist penetration in any subsequent investigation?

 

 

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The Alfa Bank/Trump Cabal to Destroy HRC’s Candidacy Exposed

Out there in some Domain Name Servers is a domain with the name {mail1.trump-email.com} (without the braces) and if you do a DNS lookup you will find its IP address is 66.216.133.29 which is shown to belong to Cendyn  a company that does e-mail marketing for 30,000 hotel clients.  The actual e-mail operation is outsourced to Listrak, which actually owns and operates the server.  In reality the actual hardware is located in a Data Center in Philadelphia, about a hundred miles from Trump Tower.

In June of 2007 Cendyn began providing its services to The Trump Organization:

Cendyn, the leader in interactive marketing for the hospitality industry,
has been selected as The Trump Organization’s exclusive interactive
marketing agency. Implementation of Cendyn’s products and services will
enhance The Trump Organization’s global online presence which includes
the website http://www.trump.com, along with more than 50 private label
websites for Trump owned properties and investments (real estate, golf
and hotel).

All rather routine, until 5:36 PM, October 31, 2016 when Franklin Foer published an article in Slate Was a Trump Server Communicating With Russia?   He cites “group of computer scientists” who speculate, based on analysis of ” nearly comprehensive logs of communication between servers”.  One of these scientist, code named Tea Leaves in the article, found “what looked like malware emanating from Russia. The destination domain had Trump in its name, which of course attracted Tea Leaves’ attention.  He and some cyber-security friends concluded:

The irregular pattern of server lookups actually resembled the pattern of human conversation—conversations that began during office hours in New York and continued during office hours in Moscow. It dawned on the researchers that this wasn’t an attack, but a sustained relationship between a server registered to the Trump Organization and two servers registered to an entity called Alfa Bank.

This may have been what Harry Reid was referencing in his October 30th letter to FBI James Comey:

ReidLetter

Asked what evidence exists of such a connection, Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson cited classified briefings.

“There have been classified briefings on this topic,” Jentleson said. “That is all I can say.”

Shortly after the Slate article, HRC posted, via Twitter (I assume the time stamp represents a different time zone rather than advanced knowledge):
HRCTweet

On November 1st the first debunking of the Slate story started appearing, via major sources (Forbes, NY Times, Snopes) and was followed by blogs of technology reporters and other computer scientists (Errata Security, Verge  , Vox and others) .

Slate followed up on November 2, discounting the arguments against the theory that something nefarious was taking place between the Cendyn server and Alfa bank.  Foer prefaced his response with:

Publication of my article was quickly followed by responses from the Trump campaign and Alfa Bank, both of which offered more detailed accounts of the server activity than they had provided when I’d asked them for comment. My piece also elicited a series of valuable objections and credible alternate theories from technology reporters and other computer scientists. I take these seriously and believe they also deserve public airing and exploration. Several of the critiques of the hypothesis offered by the experts in my piece offer simpler, more benign explanations for the server activity.

The Trump Campaign response:
TrumpReply

In his conclusion he acknowledges that it was reported that the FBI had investigated the server:

As the New York Times reported on Tuesday, after my story published, the FBI looked into the server activity but “ultimately concluded that there could be an innocuous explanation, like a marketing email or spam, for the computer contacts.”

But he persist in he belief in the nefarious activity:

Or maybe it’s less than innocent, as the computer scientists suggested and still believe. (I’ve checked back with eight of the nine computer scientists and engineers I consulted for my original story, and they all stood by their fundamental analysis. One of them couldn’t be reached.) I concluded my account of these scientists’ search for answers by arguing that the servers and their activity deserved further explanation. Hopefully my story and the debate that has followed will move us closer to a fuller understanding.

 

 

Democrats on Committee on the Judiciary Failed to Adequately Vet Jeff Sessions

Based on all of the current brouhaha in the mainstream press about the two meetings of Sen. Jeff Sessions and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak it is clear that the Democrats on the Senate Committee on the Judiciary failed to adequately vet Sen. Sessions.

In more than 10 hours of testimony [1] [2] and a questionnaire of more than 700 questions [3], they failed to ask the simple question:

“Senator Sessions, what contact have you had with Russian emissaries since President Elect Trump announced his intention to run on June 16th, 2015?”

Instead Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) posed the following written question [4]:

“Several of the President-elect’s nominees or senior advisers have Russian ties. Have you been in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after election day?”

To which Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Al.) answered without any ambiguity:

“No”

And Sen. Al Franken (D -Mn.) asked, in the hearing:

“CNN just published a story alleging that the intelligence community provided documents to the president-elect last week that included information that quote, ‘Russian operatives claimed to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump.’ These documents also allegedly say quote, ‘There was a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump’s surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government.’

“Now, again, I’m telling you this as it’s coming out, so you know. But if it’s true, it’s obviously extremely serious and if there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do?”

To which Sen. Sessions answered:

“Senator Franken, I’m not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I didn’t have — did not have communications with the Russians, and I’m unable to comment on it.”

If he had been a little more explicit and replied:

“Senator Franken, I’m not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I didn’t, in my role as a surrogate  —  I did not have communications with the Russians, and I’m unable to comment on it.”

Then the issue of his meetings, in his role as a Republican Senator, with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, at the RNC convention and in his Senate office would be moot.

It is clear that the subject of the reply was “those activities” e.g. “evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the  Russian government in the course of this campaign

Google give “undergoing the specified process” as the definition of “in the course of”

Thus the allegation that Sen. Sessions perjured himself, lied, or mislead congress are patently ridiculous, in my opinion.

$40 M Double Diamond Interchange

A Double Diamond Interchange (DDI) is under construction at the intersection of I-95 & SR-2oo in Yulee, at a cost of $39,980,000, before the normal cost overruns.  Historically 82% of highway projects over $5 M have cost overruns.  FDOT held an open house Thursday (2/23/17).  In promotional information FDOT claims:

This will be a significant improvement in safety, since long left turns crossing traffic lanes to enter or exit the Interstate will be eliminated. Additionally, the DDI promotes added efficiency with only two clearance intervals (the time for traffic signals to change from green to yellow to red) instead of the six or more found in other interchange designs.

The supporting safety information is an analysis of the performance of a DDI at the intersection of I-44 & Route 13 in metropolitan Springfield, Missouri.

Looking at the subject of safety first.  “Lt. Renee Graham, Nassau County Sheriff’s Office Special Operations, said the current interchange at I-95 and S.R. 200/A1A “has a high crash rate,” adding that she hopes that the DDI would result in fewer crashes.”

Let me digress for a moment.  As an engineer it was drilled into me to NEVER use the word hope always uses either expect or plan.  Also high crash rateis a subjective term, I would hope NCSO has data.

The report (op cit) cites a prior 5 year (2004 – 2008)  prior accident average of 114 incidents and a post (Aug 2009 – Aug 2010) incident rated of 56, a 46% reduction.  It would be interesting to see a 5 year post analysis (Aug 2009 – Aug 2014) analysis, but evidently no one has done the analysis.

John Stack (vice chair Nassau County Planning and Zoning Board) raised the option of a Flyover Interchange, which he, and I, expect would be a safer alternative, if safety is the major concern.

The efficiency of the DDI is often cited, but the data does not support any significant improvement.

ddi_eff
These results (op cit) are based on a computer model, not measured data.  The total AM traffic volume was 2095 vehicles per hour entering/exiting I-44 and a PM volume of 1890 vehicles per hour.  It would be interesting to see the corresponding data FDOT has for our interchange.  Downtown Springfield vs Nassau County, it should be a significant difference.

There is a 8% improvement in AM total delay and 12% increase in PM total delay.  Likewise AM total stops decreased by 7% and PM total stops increase 11%.  Aggregated the delay time increased 3.5%.  So much for improved efficiency.

 

 

 

Fake News: How the Clickbait Site Create It.

What Happened

On January 31st, after an overnight flight,  Sidd Bikkannavar, an engineer at California Institute of Technology’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Ca., arrived at the gate, at 5:00 am.  He was changing planes at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport.  Since it was his port of arrival in the US he was required to clear customs before boarding his connecting flight at 6:40.  He had just spent two weeks competing in a solar power car race from the tip of Chile to Santiago [1].  The trip was not work related, but he carried his work phone in case the office wanted to contact him.

Sidd is a Global Entry card holder, which allows him expedited Custom and Boarder Protection passage via a kiosk where his passport and finger prints are scanned to verify identity, and a receipt is printed which allows him to exit without further inspections.

kiosk5

But that didn’t happen this time, his receipt had a bold X printed across it.  He presented it to the agent and was promptly taken to a holding area.  After about 40 minutes he was taken to to an interview room.  The agent ignored Sidd’s bags and ask for his cell phone and pin.  Sidd was reluctant, he was carrying his “work” phone.  The agent had provided Sidd with a document titled “Inspection of Electronic Devices” when he first entered the room.  Sidd relented and gave the agent the pin.  He was taken back to the holding area.

After about 30 minutes the agent returned and gave Sidd back his phone, informing him that CBP had run “algorithms” on the device to search for threats. It came up clean, so Bikkannavar was free to go.

Sidd was concerned that his social media had been compromised, so he closed down his accounts.  He eventually reactivated his account and posted details of what happened on Facebook.

siddpost

How It Got Reported

On Feb 12th the online publication The Verge published a story based on the FB post and a phone interview by Loren Grush. The headline “A US-born NASA scientist was detained at the border until he unlocked his phone”

Sidd is not  a NASA employee, nor a scientist, he is a software engineer.

The article brought up the fact that it was after the President’s Immigration Executive Order:

“four days after the signing of a sweeping and controversial executive order on travel into the country. The travel ban caused chaos at airports across the United States, as people with visas and green cards found themselves detained, or facing deportation.”

Which had absolutely nothing to do with a US Citizen, with Global Entry returning to US.

They continued:

Seemingly, Bikkannavar’s reentry into the country should not have raised any flags. Not only is he a natural-born US citizen, but he’s also enrolled in Global Entry — a program through CBP that allows individuals who have undergone background checks to have expedited entry into the country. He hasn’t visited the countries listed in the immigration ban and he has worked at JPL — a major center at a US federal agency — for 10 years.

Implying that it must have something to do with previously mentioned EO and his non Anglo-Saxon surname.

They added:

Bikkannavar noted that the entire interaction with CBP was incredibly professional and friendly, and the officers confirmed everything Bikkannavar had said through his Global Entry background checks. CBP did not respond to a request for comment.

The site SecondNexus.com picked up the story, on the 13th,  with the headline “U.S.-BORN SCIENTIST DETAINED, FORCED TO UNLOCK NASA PHONE AT BORDER”
The phone now belongs to NASA not California Institute of Technology.

They finished with:

CBP has not responded to requests for comment. Last, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) filed complaints against CBP for demanding that Muslim American citizens give up their social media information when they return home from traveling overseas.

Note: The social media questions pre-date the current administration.

Implying that Sidd was stopped because his Indian surname could have been mistaken for Muslim.  The only problem is because of his Global Entry background check they would have known this wasn’t true.  And Global Entry should have preclude confusing his name with any similar name on a watch list.

Then the clickbait site thewrap.com morphed it into “US-Born Muslim Scientist Detained, Forced to Unlock NASA Phone” with no citation on their source that Sidd was of the Muslim faith.  IMHO they jumped to the conclusion from the CAIR reference above.

The Times of India picked up the story today (14th) with the headline; “Indian-origin Nasa scientist detained at US border, phone confiscated”.  Some of their story:

A US-born Nasa scientist of Indian-origin was detained by US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) authorities on his return to America from a trip to Chile and pressured into unlocking his phone, amid an anxious debate on how far the Trump administration intends to take the “extreme vetting” that it has promised and whether it would be applied to more recent US-citizens of foreign origin.

With his light skin and long brown locks, Bikkannavar does not look very “foreign” (or “Muslim” as some reports erroneously described him; his last name is from the Hubli-Dharwad region in North Karnataka).

… aside from the profiling it ostensibly involved,…

There is growing concern in liberal civil liberties circles over whether such vetting will also be imposed on US citizens and permanent residents of “foreign origin”, with some commentators arguing that Trump’s slogan of “Make America Great Again” is a thinly-disguised attempt to “Make America White Again.”

What I think Happened

I will go out on a limb and speculate that CBP/Global Entry flagged Sidd’s phone because the number had been picked up by one of the three letter agencies motoring some suspicious number in Chile or pinged on a cell tower in a suspicious location being monitored.

 

 

Metamorphosis of a UK news story into a Trump hate piece.

A progressive friend on FB, who post a lot of “click bait” Trump hating news stories recently posted a story originally on Alternativemediasyndicate.com (AMS) that was posted on FB by FreakOutNation (FON), the “click bait” site on FB in this case.  At the time of this writing FON had 811 likes and 662 shares of the story.  They also have a domain; freakoutnation.com.  Both domains hide behind proxies, WHOISGUARD, INC in the case of FON and Registration Private Organization: Domains By Proxy, LLC in the case of AMS.

The headline “Trump Supporter “Kicked Pregnant Muslim Woman In Stomach Killing Unborn Twins” with a graphic picture of an injured woman lying on the ground.

pregnant-muslimah-678x381
Photo from AMS

It turns out that the incident took place in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, UK vice America as implied by “Trump Supporter”.

An image search on Google and Google UK found no matches, leading me to believe that the photo was never published in any of the UK reports of the incident.  The AMS site has a propensity to use unrelated photos in their stories.  A story on a 2016 pipeline leak featured an image of a 2008 pipeline fire.

The August 6, 2017 incident was widely reported in the UK press (Guardian, Sun, Standard, Huffington Post UK, Metro, Telegraph and others).

The Metro reported under the headline “Man charged over racist attack in which woman lost unborn twins”

Read more: http://metro.co.uk/2017/02/06/man-charged-over-racist-attack-in-which-woman-lost-unborn-twins-6430971/#ixzz4Y6EcdH2z

The Huffington Post, UK edition, ran this headline “Pregnant Woman Loses Baby After ‘Racist’ Attack In Milton Keynes”

Read more: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:t7pbhpZdFuoJ:www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/pregnant-woman-loses-her-baby-after-racist-attack-in-milton-keynes_uk_57d812c1e4b0a32e2f6ce9da+&cd=8&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

Now for the AMS story:

A MAN was charged today charged over a race attack on a pregnant woman who later lost her unborn twin babies.

[Today would be September 13/14, 2017, the date he was arrested and charged.]

David Gallacher, 37, is accused of assaulting the mum-to-be by kicking her in the stomach as she walked close to a mosque.

[All UK reports indicate “The woman was attacked as she returned to her car from a shop at 198 Water Eaton Road”.  The closest Mosque is over a half mile away.]

Gallacher has been bailed to appear at Milton Keynes Magistrates’ Court
He also allegedly attacked a man who tried to intervene during the incident in Milton Keynes, Bucks., last August.

The unnamed woman, who is a mum-of-four, was forced to flee her home in fear as a result of the assault.

[Not reported in any of the UK sources I looked at published in September, it was reported in February 6 Sun story.]

Her 40-year-old husband also had to give up his job as a taxi driver to stay home and reassure his traumatised wife.

[Not reported in any of the UK sources I looked at published in September, it was reported in February 6 Sun story.]

He also allegedly attacked a man who tried to intervene during the incident in Milton Keynes, Bucks., last August.

Before they were scrubbed, social media pages, including Facebook indicated Gallacher was a “fan” of Donald Trump.

[A little vague in the tie to Trump, “indicated” & “fan” don’t translate as supporter to me.  No screen captures provided.]

[Support – to uphold (a person, cause, policy, etc.) by aid, countenance, one’s vote, etc.; back; second.  How does a homeless man in UK “aid” “countenance” or “vote” for DJT?]

[Report is dated September 13/14 based on today above.  If they were “scrubbed” at that time how did AMS gain access to them before they were scrubbed?]

[A Google UK search for “Trump +”Milton Keynes” +pregnant” produced no results leading me to believe that the FB reference may be false, supported by a search “”david gallacher” “milton keynes” +facebook” which found no results.]

Gallacher was today charged with assault causing actual bodily harm, assault by beating and two counts of racially/religiously aggravated assault.

[A charge of “child destruction” in the death of the twins, has not been filed, it is very difficult to prove in an English court.]

He has also been charged with three counts of assaulting a constable as they arrested a man in a separate incident on September 14 last year.

Gallacher, of no fixed abode, has been bailed to appear at Milton Keynes Magistrates’ Court on 14 March.

After publishing this article, I found that Snopes.com also published a review of the claim, also finding it a mixture.

Is “Muslim Ban” the Right’s version of the Left’s “Assault Weapon Ban”?

Are they both the bogeyman used to stir up the base?

To continue with this discussion I must first define “assault weapon”.  The definition varies among jurisdictions I will us California’s definition as it is among the strictest.

“assault weapon” shall also mean any of the following:

  1. A semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that has the capacity to accept a detachable magazine and any one of the following:
    1. A pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon.
    2. A thumbhole stock.
    3. A folding or telescoping stock.
    4. A grenade launcher or flare launcher.
    5. A flash suppressor.
    6. A forward pistol grip.
  2. A semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that has a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds.
  3. A semiautomatic, centerfire rifle that has an overall length of less than 30 inches.
  4. A semiautomatic pistol that has the capacity to accept a detachable magazine and any one of the following:
    1. A threaded barrel, capable of accepting a flash suppressor, forward handgrip, or silencer.
    2. (B) A second handgrip.
    3. A shroud that is attached to, or partially or completely encircles, the barrel that allows the bearer to fire the weapon without burning his or her hand, except a slide that encloses the barrel.
    4. The capacity to accept a detachable magazine at some location outside of the pistol grip.
  5. A semiautomatic pistol with a fixed magazine that has the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds.
  6. A semiautomatic shotgun that has both of the following:
    1. A folding or telescoping stock.
    2. A pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon, thumbhole stock, or vertical handgrip.
  7. A semiautomatic shotgun that has the ability to accept a detachable magazine.
  8. Any shotgun with a revolving cylinder.

SENATE BILL 23 ASSAULT WEAPON CHARACTERISTICS

NB! An assault weapon is NOT an automatic weapon, automatic weapons were banned by the National Firearms Act of 1934.

An I will also propose the following working definition of “Muslim Ban” as implemented by  Executive Order on January 27, 2017 EXECUTIVE ORDER: PROTECTING THE NATION FROM FOREIGN TERRORIST ENTRY INTO THE UNITED STATES

Suspension of Issuance of Visas and Other Immigration Benefits to Nationals of Countries of Particular Concern (Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libra, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen)

Notwithstanding a suspension pursuant to subsection (c) of this section or pursuant to a Presidential proclamation described in subsection (e) of this section, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may, on a case-by-case basis, and when in the national interest, issue visas or other immigration benefits to nationals of countries for which visas and benefits are otherwise blocked.

entry of nationals of Syria as refugees is detrimental to the interests of the United States and thus suspend any such entry until such time as I have determined that sufficient changes have been made to the USRAP to ensure that admission of Syrian refugees is consistent with the national interest.

Notwithstanding the temporary suspension imposed pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may jointly determine to admit individuals to the United States as refugees on a case-by-case basis, in their discretion, but only so long as they determine that the admission of such individuals as refugees is in the national interest — including when the person is a religious minority in his country of nationality facing religious persecution, when admitting the person would enable the United States to conform its conduct to a preexisting international agreement, or when the person is already in transit and denying admission would cause undue hardship — and it would not pose a risk to the security or welfare of the United States.

They are both unsupported by any data.  There is no data showing that legal immigrants (tourists/students/green card holders/asylum seekers/refugees) from the seven countries covered by the ban have been involved in a terror attack.  While there is data supporting attacks by immigrants of other countries such as Saudi Arabia.

Likewise there is no data showing that any of the cosmetic features that define an assault weapon have played any roll in the lethality of any mass shooting.  An argument could be made relative to the 10 round magazine, as larger (15 round) magazines were used in some cases, but they were legal in the local jurisdiction.   It is also a popular misconception that assault weapons are automatic weapon.

“I would be willing to bet that at least 50 [percent] to 60 percent of the people who are calling these things assault weapons and assault rifles really think they’re machine guns, among the media,” he said. “Among the general public, it’s probably up around the 80 [percent]-to-90 percent range.”

Bob Owens, editor of the website Bearing Arms in Washington Times article  http://tinyurl.com/zt5uyu6

One of the earliest mass shooting, the Texas Tower Shooting (1966) killed 16 people and did not involve an assault rifle.  One study of 133 mass shooting between 2009 and 2015 found that 11% involved “assault weapons” but as previously postulated no study I have found purports to attribute the features of a assault weapon added to the lethality.