Robert Bennett also said "no".[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
UPDATE: 4 defense attorneys at different large law firms have been approached to join Trump's legal defense team in recent weeks. All 4 turned him down.— Katelyn Polantz (@kpolantz) March 22, 2018
The whistleblower who publicly revealed how Trump-affiliated data firm Cambridge Analytica used information mined from Facebook under false pretenses during the 2016 election cycle will give an interview to Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee as part of their investigation of Russian interference in the election, including possible ties to Donald Trump’s campaign. A lawyer for Christopher Wylie confirmed Tuesday that Wylie plans to accept the invitation from the committee’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.). Schiff said Monday that panel Democrats want to talk to Wylie to determine where and how the Facebook data was stored and used, and whether others — including Russian operatives — had access to it. “Indeed, it may be that through Cambridge Analytica, the Trump campaign made use of illegitimately-acquired data on millions of Americans to help sway the election,” Schiff said in a statement. Democrats on the House panel vowed last week to continue to investigate Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign, despite the committee’s Republican leaders announcing that they had completed a draft report about the panel’s findings. The panel is expected to approve a final version of that report Thursday, although it will not be released publicly until the intelligence community reviews it and makes any necessary redactions. House Democrats do not have independent power to subpoena witnesses to testify. But Wylie has been outspoken about how Cambridge Analytica — a company he helped build, according to a profile in the Guardian — planned to use the Facebook users’ data and an algorithm to build “psychographic” profiles that could be used to predict the political leanings of every potential American voter. Facebook gave permission to University of Cambridge psychologist Aleksandr Kogan to access information on 270,000 users of the social media site to help build a quiz app called “thisisyourdigitallife.” But the app’s reach went much further, ultimately allowing Kogan to access data on 50 million users. The information was passed on to Cambridge Analytica and Wylie, breaking the terms struck with Facebook for access to the data. Facebook found out about the events in 2015, but was told that Cambridge Analytica, Wylie and Kogan had deleted the data. Several days ago, Facebook discovered that they had not. Last year, the House Intelligence Committee spoke with Wylie’s former boss Alexander Nix — the chief executive of Cambridge Analytica — by videoconference, as Nix is located in London. Schiff stressed in his invitation to Wylie that his accounts of Cambridge Analytica’s data operations “raise serious questions about the veracity of the testimony” Nix gave to the committee.This is gratifying for a couple of reasons. First, and most obviously, we might get some information on any Russia connection (Kogan being well-connected to Russia). Secondly, it demonstrates how the Republicans on the House Intel Committee forced a premature ending to their investigation of Trump-Russia collusion. Might the Cambridge Analytica avenue be a dead end? Perhaps. But it needs investigating, and since the House Intel Committee already saw fit to interview Nix, then Wylie's testimony is also relevant. (2) North Carolina GOP REALLY had ties to Cambridge Analytica
The San Antonio Texas Fire Department said a package bomb apparently bound for Austin exploded at a FedEx distribution center in Schertz, Texas, hurting one person, a FedEx employee who apparently suffered a non-life-threatening “percussion-type” injury from the blast. An FBI agent told CBS News “it’s more than possible” the package is related to explosions that have occurred in Austin in recent days. The package exploded shortly after midnight on Tuesday.Meanwhile, a possible sixth package has also been found at a FedEx facility, this one in the Austin airport. This from the AP:
Austin police have deployed a hazardous materials squad to a FedEx shipping facility near the city’s airport to investigate reports of a suspicious package. It isn’t known yet if the suspicious package is linked to a bomb that detonated earlier Tuesday at a FedEx distribution center near San Antonio or the four bombs that have gone off in Austin this month. But the Austin Police Department says an investigation is underway.There is no confirmation at this time whether or not the package at the city airport is actually a bomb, but local authorities are taking no chances in the wake of the previous attacks in the city. There’s also no confirmation at this time of any suspects in the bombings or any motivations whatsoever.
We are Here for you, students of Great Mills 💗 together we can stop this from ever happening again https://t.co/bkzL1FcVgu— Emma González (@Emma4Change) March 20, 2018
BREAKING: Sheriff's spokeswoman says 3 hurt, including shooter, at Maryland high school shooting.— The Associated Press (@AP) March 20, 2018
Residents of a southwest Austin neighborhood were told to stay inside early Monday after a fourth explosion in less than a month hit Texas' capital, injuring two men and stoking fears in a city already on edge. The latest blast occurred Sunday just after 8:30 p.m. local time (9:30 p.m. ET). Two bicyclists who are believed to be in their 20s sustained injuries that were not life-threatening, officials said. The two men came across a suspicious device on the side of the road, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said during a late-night news conference. Unlike the prior explosions, the one Sunday may have been triggered by a tripwire, according to Manley. “We will not be able to send school buses into the neighborhood on Monday,” he said. “In addition to that, we're going to ask the residents in the Travis County neighborhood to stay in your homes tomorrow morning and give us the opportunity to process the scene once the sun comes up.” *** Asked Sunday whether the bombings were racially motivated, Manley said it was possible. Police believe the two earlier bombings were "meant to send a message," though Manley didn't say what that message was during a news conference earlier Sunday. The fourth explosion came just hours after officials made a direct appeal to the person responsible to contact them. In that news conference, Manley said that he hoped the bomber was watching and would "reach out to us before anyone else is injured or killed." The plea came as local and federal authorities increased the reward for information leading to a conviction to $100,000, Manley said. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott was also offering $15,000. "We don't have any evidence," Manley said. "What we know for certain is: We have three victims that are victims of color, and we have three package bombs that have exploded on the east side of Austin," where many of the city's minority residents live.
Uber has halted testing of its autonomous vehicles across North America, the company announced, after a woman was struck and killed by one of its self-driving cars in Tempe, Ariz. early Monday.
The moratorium on testing includes San Francisco, Phoenix, Pittsburgh and Toronto, Uber said.
The National Transportation Safety Board has opened an investigation into the crash, said Eric Weiss, a spokesman for the NTSB.
Uber issued a short statement.
“Our hearts go out to the victim’s family. We are fully cooperating with local authorities in their investigation of this incident,” a company spokeswoman said.
It is believed to be the first fatality in any testing program involving autonomous vehicles.
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in a tweet that the company was working to learn what went wrong.
The 49 year-old woman, Elaine Herzberg, was crossing the road outside of a crosswalk when the Uber vehicle operating in autonomous mode under the supervision of a human safety driver, struck her, according to the Tempe Police Department. She was transferred to a local hospital where she died from her injuries. "Uber is assisting and this is still an active investigation," Liliana Duran, a Tempe police spokeswoman, said in an emailed statement.Did you catch that? She crossing the road "outside of a crosswalk". Now, I'm saying that tongue-in-cheek that her jaywalking was "what went wrong", but I have a feeling a lot of tech geeks actually will blame HER for that. I have a degree in human factors (engineering design), and rule number one is that you design the thing to comply with NORMAL human behavior. You can't expect the public to walk between the lines of a crosswalk just because you have designed your machine to work that way. If you know -- or SHOULD KNOW -- how humans behave, you are liable. Whoever designed this thing, is liable. Period.
This data was used to create profiling algorithms that would allow us to explore mental vulnerabilities of people and then map out ways to inject information into different streams or channels of content online so that people started to see things that may or may not be true. This is a company that took fake news to the next level.Not only was that data used for microtargeting voters, Wiley claimed, but by tracking the response to those messages in real time on social media, the firm could advise the campaign where Trump should visit and what words would resonate most with voters in the region. In fact, Steve Bannon, former chief strategist for President Donald Trump and executive chairman of Breitbart News, told Bloomberg in late October of 2016, “I wouldn’t have come aboard, even for Trump, if I hadn’t known they were building this massive Facebook and data engine. Facebook is what propelled Breitbart to a massive audience. We know its power.” Bannon previously served as Cambridge Analytica’s vice president before joining the Trump campaign. Many of its methods were exposed in a recent piece from The Guardian that profiled Wylie, who along with consulting company Strategic Communication Laboratories (which is the parent to Cambridge Analytica) and University of Cambridge professor Dr. Aleksandr Kogan had their accounts suspended by Facebook on Friday night. Facebook is also looking into the ties between one of its employees, Joseph Chancellor, and Global Science Research, a company that helped Cambridge Analytica, according to CNN. Cambridge Analytica, which is backed by billionaire conservative donor Robert Mercer, is already under investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for possible connections to Russian interference in the election. It’s also under investigation by the U.K. Parliament for potential violations of data privacy and claims it did illegal work for the pro-Brexit campaign. Facebook, in an unprecedented move Saturday, moved to suspend Cambridge Analytica from the social media site following the bombshell reports about the data breach. Facebook VP and deputy general counsel Paul Grewal has accused the firm of running “a scam and a fraud,” as he described it to the Times. However, he pushed back on claims of a data breach. “The claim that this is a data breach is completely false,” Grewal said in a statement. Wiley was also banned from Facebook this weekend. What Mueller and his team of investigators will be interested in is whether or not there was a connection between this voter profiling with the kind of intrusion into social media he has already included in recent indictments of Russians. One clue that might merely be coincidence is the timing. Here is what we learn from the indictment:
Starting at least in or around 2014, Defendants and their co-conspirators began to track and study groups on U.S. social media sites dedicated to U.S. politics and social issues. In order to gauge the performance of various groups on social media sites, the ORGANIZATION tracked certain metrics like the group’s size, the frequency of content placed by the group, and the level of audience engagement with that content, such as the average number of comments or responses to a post.According to Christopher Wylie, the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower who is the main source for the article linked above, he met Steve Bannon in the fall of 2013 and by 2014 their work was underway. But there is another confluence of events that is even more interesting. Back in October 2016, just days before the election, Joshua Green and Sasha Issenberg did some reporting on the Trump campaign and the work of Cambridge Analytica in particular. Here is how they described their strategy at the time:
Instead of expanding the electorate, Bannon and his team are trying to shrink it. “We have three major voter suppression operations under way,” says a senior official. They’re aimed at three groups Clinton needs to win overwhelmingly: idealistic white liberals, young women, and African Americans… On Oct. 24, Trump’s team began placing spots on select African American radio stations. In San Antonio, a young staffer showed off a South Park-style animation he’d created of Clinton delivering the “super predator” line (using audio from her original 1996 sound bite), as cartoon text popped up around her: “Hillary Thinks African Americans are Super Predators.” The animation will be delivered to certain African American voters through Facebook “dark posts”—nonpublic posts whose viewership the campaign controls so that, as Parscale puts it, “only the people we want to see it, see it.” The aim is to depress Clinton’s vote total. “We know because we’ve modeled this,” says the official. “It will dramatically affect her ability to turn these people out.”Those Facebook “dark posts” seem to be a favorite tool used by Parscale and the Cambridge Analytica consultants. I’d bet that we haven’t even seen the tip of the iceberg in terms of how those were used during the campaign. But compare the above to what the Mueller investigation included in their indictment of the Russian bots.
In or around the latter half of 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators, through their ORGANIZATION-controlled personas, began to encourage U.S. minority groups not to vote in the 2016 U.S. presidential election or to vote for a third-party U.S. presidential candidate.
The data scientist who gathered information on millions of Americans for Cambridge Analytica, the controversial data firm that worked for Donald Trump's presidential campaign, says he would be happy to testify before Congress and speak to the FBI about the work he did for the company. Aleksandr Kogan made the remarks in an email he sent to colleagues at Cambridge University this weekend that was obtained by CNN. "I've also seriously been asked if the FBI has reached out, if the two congressional committees in the United States have reached out, and if Parliament or any authorities in the UK have reached out. No one has—I suspect they realize I'm actually not a spy. Though if anyone does, I'd be more than happy to testify and speak candidly about the project," he wrote in the email. Kogan's company provided data on millions of Americans to Cambridge Analytica beginning in 2014. The data was gathered through a personality test Facebook application built by Kogan. When Facebook users took the test they gave Kogan access to their data, including demographic information about them like names, locations, ages and genders, as well as their page "likes," and some of their Facebook friends' data. Facebook says that Kogan told them he was gathering the data for academic purposes and that by providing the data to Cambridge Analytica he had breached Facebook policy. On Friday, Facebook suspended both Kogan and Cambridge Analytica from its platform. The suspension came ahead of reporting in The New York Times and The Observer in London on Saturday that alleged Cambridge Analytica may not have deleted the data when it was asked to do so by Facebook in 2015 — a claim Cambridge Analytica denies. "It's been honestly a surreal week," Kogan wrote to his colleagues, "I've been asked quite seriously by reporters from the NY Times and the Guardian if I am a Russian spy. I really tried to explain that one seems just silly. If I am Russian spy, I am the world's dumbest spy." Facebook has accused Kogan of lying about why he was collecting the data, a claim Kogan disputes in the email, writing, "we never claimed during the project that it was for academic research. In fact, we did our absolute best not to have the project have any entanglements with the University."I'm sure we'll learn more. And at least one guy is. Using British law, he is suing Cambridge Analytica to get information on... himself. What it is, how it was collected, etc. See the pleading below: [embeddoc url="http://www.ashford.zone/images/2018/03/Prof-David-Carroll-UK-Legal-Claim-against.pdf"]
I haven’t been able to lay hands on the final agreement, but I do have a copy of a draft, and it is a doozy. It would expose violators to penalties of $10 million, payable to the federal government, for each and any unauthorized revelation of “confidential” information, defined as “all nonpublic information I learn of or gain access to in the course of my official duties in the service of the United States Government on White House staff,” including “communications . . . with members of the press” and “with employees of federal, state, and local governments.” The $10 million figure, I suspect, was watered down in the final version, because the people to whom I have spoken do not remember that jaw-dropping sum. It would prohibit revelation of this confidential information in any form — including, get this, “the publication of works of fiction that contain any mention of the operations of the White House, federal agencies, foreign governments, or other entities interacting with the United States Government that is based on confidential information.” As outlined in the document, this restriction would cover Trump aides not only during their White House service but also “at all times thereafter.” The document: “I understand that the United States Government or, upon completion of the term(s) of Mr. Donald J. Trump, an authorized representative of Mr. Trump, may seek any remedy available to enforce this Agreement including, but not limited to, application for a court order prohibiting disclosure of information in breach of this Agreement.” This is so ridiculously excessive, so laughably unconstitutional, that I doubted, when it first came my way, that anything like it was ever implemented — only to do some reporting and learn otherwise.Public employees can’t be gagged by private agreements. These so-called NDAs are unconstitutional and unenforceable. As the article suggests, everyone knew they were unenforceable -- that's why they signed them (you have to pick your battles, I guess). But this means that the dumbest guy in the room was the President of the United States, who either believed the NDAs were enforceable OR believed that others would believe it. Either way, he was and is wrong. And even ASKING employees to sign these things is a problem for the administration:
Another peril of taking a guy who has never done public service of any kind, and making him president.
White House lawyers who knowingly participated in a scheme to illegally coerce unrepresented non lawyer employees & deprive them of First Amendment and other rights could be subject to bar discipline for violating ethics rules —and maybe even lose their licenses https://t.co/UOWd3y7yQS— Norm Eisen (@NormEisen) March 19, 2018
Powerful: Hundreds of #Baltimore Poly students laying on ground to honor 17 victims killed in FL shooting & to push for stricter gun laws #NationalSchoolWalkout #NationalWalkoutDay #WalkoutWednesday pic.twitter.com/0pSFht6tVN— Rick Ritter (@RickRitterWJZ) March 14, 2018
For the most part, school teachers and administrators were on board with the protest, except in the South where many schools forbid such a walkout. In one such school, student stopped in the hallway at 10:00, gone on one knee, and prayed silently for 17 seconds. Nice. A successful day, summed up nicely by one of the Parkland high school shooting survivors.
"In an ideal world, the 20 first graders and kindergartners who died at Sandy Hook would be in middle school... The 17 victims from Stoneman Douglas would probably be eating lunch right now," student says at #NationalWalkoutDay rally https://t.co/9UbJD8FATr pic.twitter.com/77EQYqxmkw— CBS News (@CBSNews) March 14, 2018
Oh. I should have mentioned.... even younger kids took part.
To the parents supporting their children walking out, thank you for raising this new generation of leaders. To the parents who didn’t support their children who walked out anyway, thank you for raising this new generation of leaders. #NeverAgain #MarchForOurLives— Cameron Kasky (@cameron_kasky) March 14, 2018
YOUNTVILLE (KRON) - The Veterans Home of California Yountville is on lock down Friday morning after reports of an active shooter who is holding 3 hostages. The Veterans Home tells KRON4 around 10:45 a.m. the entire facility, located at 260 California Dr., was ordered to shelter in place. This is the largest veterans home in the United States, housing about 1,100 men and women. There are preliminary reports of 30 shots fired outside the main dining area. It is unclear if the shots were live rounds, according to an official from the Veteran's Home. California Highway Patrol is on scene.
Many reports the man is acting alone and had body armor. Other reports are saying 3 hostages. Reported gunman at
#Yountville Napa scanner says he is armed with M4 rifle— BevMarie (@evenbev) March 9, 2018
UPDATE: After hours of trying to communicate with the gunman, police sent a robot in. The gunman was dead from a self-inflicted wound, as were the three hostages -- all employees of the Pathway Home. CNN:
#Napa authorities say the shooter is known to local law enforcement. He is believed to be holed up in one building on the veterans home complex with as many as 3 hostages. #Yountville #activeshooter @24_7_News.— Michael McGauley (@McGauley2) March 9, 2018
The man who killed three hostages at a Northern California veterans' home suffered from bipolar disorder, various physical ailments and anger issues, sources said.
Authorities said that Albert Wong, a 36-year-old Army veteran, used to be a resident of the Pathway Home, the Yountville facility where he engaged police in a standoff Friday. The Pathway Home, which operates out of the Veterans Home of California, is a nonprofit that helps post-9/11 military veterans reintegrate into civilian life, including by counseling clients with post-traumatic stress disorder.
The ordeal ended when police stormed the building and found Wong and three of the facility's employees -- Jennifer Golick, 42, Christine Loeber, 48, and Jennifer Gonzales, 32 -- dead.Wong had been kicked out of the program after he threatened one of the women, a law enforcement source told CNN. "Whatever happened out there, he didn't say he was going to shoot anybody," Wong's brother, Tyrone Lampkin, told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. "He said he wanted to get back at them, talk to them, yell at them, not to kill them. He didn't mention that." Lampkin, who told CNN Wong was his adoptive brother, said they hadn't seen each other since 2010 but communicated via text. Records show Wong was in the Army reserves from October 1998 until December 2002 and served in active duty from May 2010 to August 2013. He was deployed to Afghanistan from April 2011 to March 2012, the records show. Lampkin told CNN Wong seemed OK after his stint in the military. "He talked to us about it, showed us pictures on Facebook, seemed happy, like nothing was wrong," said Lampkin, who lives in Minneapolis. But Wong was dogged by leg and back injuries and struggled with bipolar disorder, Lampkin said. He needed medication for his condition, Lampkin said, but complained that it was ineffective and would go off the drugs because he didn't think they were helping.
As attention turns to threats facing 2018's midterm elections, we're learning hard lessons from what went down in 2016. (Plus, what we can except coming up) There were many aspects to my research and human intelligence operation exploring what exactly was going on behind the scenes, but this article focuses on only one, Guccifer 2.0. So, there were lots of 2016 election related incidents. Just to name a few:This post was the basis of a lecture he just gave at the SAS2018 (the 2018 Security Analyst Summit being held right now in Cancun) -- I'm sure his presentation was more colorful and detailed. But it does make Guccifer 2.0 out to be a bit of a neophyte -- a person (or persons) who can hack into places but not know what he grabbed.
We know there were four primary election outlets, including Wikileaks, Guccifer 2.0, DC Leaks and Internet Research Agency. Quick org chart breakdown here: With these leaks, I turned my attention to Guccifer 2.0, who showed up (timely) after Guccifer 1.0 was arrested for cyber crime. Early on, G2 started dropping docs from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). As this is happening, I’m trying to wrap my head around exactly the kind of severity of threat we’re facing here. So, how do I get more info? Is it possible to now secure thousands of independent election jurisdictions? (Gave up on this, but more on that later) So, how do you collect data on a super-secret information operation? The old-fashioned way, of course. Chat them up. The Dilemma: How do you develop a fully backstopped persona on short notice to start eliciting a foreign intelligence operative? Spoiler Alert: You play on their own biases. Just like that, two months of exchanges between myself and G2 began. Normally, you wouldn’t expose your identity to the “bad guy,” but this exchange was very different. They already knew exactly who I was. Four Main Takeaways:
- DNC got hacked
- DCCC got hacked
- John Podesta’s email got hacked
Now you’re thinking, there’s no way this is going to work, right? Well, I was just as surprised as you are. Let's delve in. With a simple Google search, it would have come up that I’ve been investigating numerous breaches. (No evidence they had any idea until two months later) They did, however, look at the domain of my email (johnbambenek.com), which is my “political” domain. Come to find out, the docs he had were worthless. G2 and WikiLeaks made no attempt to package a story. He didn’t release the same docs he sent me and started scrubbing metadata after being “caught” red handed. After All This, What Are the Key Takeaways?
- They should have already known who I was and that I was researching election related issues.
- Whatever information they had, they were looking for media and, specifically, Republican officials to leak it to.
- My own identity was the best backdrop.
- No incremental risk from adversary if I was known.
So, What Can You Expect Next?
- Guccifer 2.0 didn’t have a deep political understanding, making their efforts way less effective.
- They didn’t attempt to package or create a narrative.
- There were no apparent relationships with friendly journalists.
- There was no “investment” in these operations and they made simple OPSEC mistakes (in part, using an unsupervised cutout)
- They got better over time – 2016’s influence op was luckier than it was sophisticated.
- The US is vulnerable because of own doing. We even undermine our own institutions.
- In politics, if you get under their skin, you get another helping. They’ll be invested next time.
Sarah Sanders said the situation with the payment to Stormy Daniels has "already been won in arbitration." Asked who won and when, she said, "The arbitration was won in the president’s favor."— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) March 7, 2018
Footnote: Yes, I am aware if the "EC" initials over the "DD" in the lower right hand corner of every page. But that does not resolve the problem -- it only muddies it. If that means that "EC" was Trump's agent, then why didn't "EC" or EC's agent (Cohen) sign the actual NDA itself?
Stormy Daniels lawyer, @MichaelAvenatti responds to me re Sanders' statement Trump won at arbitration: “yeah and he also won the popular vote.”— jimrutenberg (@jimrutenberg) March 7, 2018