Media hacks criticised for obsession with Treasury non-hack story

Is there no other political stuff worth reporting on? Or is the prospects of a high level resignation or sacking too attractive to let go of?

This all happened a week and half ago but the story is still prominent. However criticism of the story obsession  is starting to emerge. “It’s ridiculous that pundits are calling for heads to roll. At the end of the day, it wasn’t a big deal. ”

These sorts of stories continue:

Derek Cheng (NZH) – Jacinda Ardern: Finance Minister’s job is safe

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is not saying when she found out about an urgent attempt from the Government Communications Security Bureau to stop Treasury boss Gabriel Makhlouf from saying his department had been hacked.

But Ardern said this morning that Finance Minister Grant Robertson’s job was safe.

The National Party is calling for senior ministers to come clean over when they knew about the GCSB’s concerns, and why Makhlouf’s “hacking” description – and Robertson’s subsequent “hacking” description – wasn’t corrected earlier, or stopped in the first place.

Derek Cheng (NZH) – Budget Bungle: the Govt was told there was no hacking but kept tight-lipped

The Government did not correct or clarify the description that the Treasury’s computer system had been “hacked” for an entire day despite being told by its cybersecurity experts that no hacking had taken place.

On the same day – Wednesday last week, the day before Budget day – the National Party also refused to reveal how it had obtained confidential Budget information, instead accusing the Treasury and Finance Minister Grant Robertson of unfairly smearing National.

Robertson said yesterday that the Government was being tight-lipped because the Treasury had called in the police, but he was also unlikely to want any further distractions on the eve of the Government’s much-hyped Wellbeing Budget.

Instead Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Robertson spent that Wednesday answering questions about hacking from National MPs in the House, while changing the language to say that the Treasury had been “attacked”.

National is demanding answers after the Herald revealed that Andrew Hampton, head of the Government Communications Security Bureau, made an urgent call to GCSB Minister Andrew Little in an attempt to stop Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf from publicly saying that his department had been hacked.

National deputy leader Paula Bennett said it was inconceivable that Little didn’t pass that information on to Robertson and Ardern straight away, and they should have immediately revealed the advice that there had been no hacking.

“If Mr Robertson received the information from Andrew Little after he released his statement, he should have immediately corrected it,” Bennett said.

Zane Small (Newshub) – Budget 2019 scandal: Beehive allegedly warned Treasury wasn’t hacked

But others are seeing things differently.

Alexander Stronach (The Spinoff) – Where you’re getting the Treasury budget data breach story all wrong

The Treasury data breach has been a shitshow. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bigger disconnect between the experts and the pundits, and I don’t say that lightly. I’m not a security guy, for what it’s worth: I’m a writer at a tech firm, but I’m fascinated by security and over the last few days I’ve been talking to people who actually know their stuff. Almost unanimously they’re calling this a breach. Almost unanimously, the pundits are off shouting that it’s “not a hack!”.

Right from the start, I’m setting a rule: we’re not going to talk about “hacking”. It means totally different things to the IT sector (anything from coding at all to randomly kludged spaghetti code that really shouldn’t work) and the public (a man in a trenchcoat saying “I’m in!”), and most InfoSec types shy away from it anyway. I’m not going to bore you with the whole hacking vs cracking debate, but we’re going to call this thing what it is: a data breach.

I’m not gonna lie, it’s bad. Somebody dropped the ball, and somebody else put a knife into it.

Still, I don’t believe Simon Bridges has committed a crime, nor has he committed breach of confidence. He has violated his CERT obligations, which at worst means he’ll get a strongly-worded nonbinding letter from MBIE telling him not to do it again. He did a bad thing, but not all bad things result in him being removed from parliament in a paddy wagon. To quote one of my anonymous sources: “he’s an asshole, not a criminal.”

It’s ridiculous that pundits are calling for heads to roll. At the end of the day, it wasn’t a big deal. Grant Robertson shrugged and moved on. The Treasury were right: what harm could somebody actually do by using that exploit? Release a half-complete version of the document a day early?

By the by, it’s not dodgy or extreme that anybody called it a ‘hack’. If there’s a problem with the word, it’s not that it doesn’t mean this, it’s that it does mean this because it’s a vague word that means wildly different things to different people.

What’s really happening is that the pundits smell blood in the water, and they don’t care what actually happened—they just want an excuse to sink their teeth in.

Same old #NZPol, I guess.

Richard Griffi (Stuff) – Blown Budget secrets shine light on overblown reactions

It is not difficult to understand the ministerial angst and aggravation generated by the political theatre that disrupted last week’s Budget announcement.

Understandably, the authors and interpreters of the ‘Budget Secret’ production still revel in the drama despite the overall predictability of the political imperatives.

A nightmare for the Treasury benches is an invasion of the stage by the clowns from the back row of the auditorium waving the script and stealing the lines, leaving the man in the top hat puce with anger. But, so it was for Grant Robertson.

Enter, stage-right, an over-excited Simon Bridges supported by loyal side-kick Paula Bennett. They proceeded to blow whistles, point fingers and range through a range of emotions from triumphant to outraged and back again.

From a distance it did all seem a tad over the top but maybe you had to be there.

The usually pragmatic Robertson rose to the bait. He over-reacted while bit players ran in circles claiming the sky was falling.

It may be naive suggestion but surely a flexible, relatively young nation can do better than blindly follow the tenets of political behaviour originally constructed by a different Parliament on the other side of the world by politicians representing a very different constituency in very different circumstances.

Does the Opposition always have to find everything the Government puts in place the work of the Devil, and does the Government leadership always have to dismiss everything the Opposition does as trivial and without consequence?

And am I really asking myself this question?

He shouldn’t have to ask it. The Government and the Opposition should be asking themselves whether they are acting like representatives and leaders.

 

 

GCSB tried to stop Treasury hack claim

NZ Herald: GCSB tried to stop Treasury boss Gabriel Makhlouf from saying website, Budget had been ‘hacked’

Political reporter Derek Cheng has uncovered new details of the hours leading up to Treasury boss Gabriel Makhlouf’s claims that his department’s website had been hacked for Budget details.

The Government’s spy agency made urgent calls to the Beehive before Makhlouf’s public statement – we reveal today what they told at least one senior Government Minister.

The new details come as Makhlouf faces a State Services Commission investigation over the way he handled claims the website had been hacked. It later transpired that Budget details could be uncovered using the Treasury’s search engine.

Matthew Hooton:

Could it have been little more than Makhlouf’s understanding (or misunderstanding) of what ‘hack’ meant?

Hack: “gain unauthorized access to data in a system or computer.”

Was whoever searched like crazy through the weekend authorised to do that? Was Simon Bridges and National authorised to release budget details two days early?

Authorise: “give official permission for or approval to (an undertaking or agent)”

Hgas: “who gives a stuff?”

Rachinger convicted and discharged

Ben Rachinger has been found guilty of obtaining by deception and discharged, in the case involving Cameron Slater an attempted hack of The Standard blog.

Rachinger had entered a guilty plea last year and was trying to get a discharge without conviction but now has a fraud conviction.

Suggested on Whale Oil last December “So yes, I think a short custodial sentence is appropriate” so they didn’t get what they wanted either. With Slater getting a discharge without conviction after diversion any penalty for Rachinger would have been a travesty.

Newshub: Former Whale Oil associate Ben Rachinger convicted and discharged

A hacker who was hired by right-wing blogger Cameron Slater to infiltrate a left-wing blog site has been convicted and discharged.

In December, IT consultant Ben Rachinger pleaded guilty to obtaining by deception after he was paid $1000 by Mr Slater to hack into The Standard, with the aim of embarrassing the Labour Party.

Mr Slater admitted his part in the plot and was discharged without conviction in May 2016.

Newshub in December 2016: Slater-hired hacker pleads guilty to fraud

A hacker who was hired by blogger Cameron Slater to infiltrate a left-wing blog site has pleaded guilty to fraud in the Manukau District Court.

IT consultant Ben Rachinger, 28, was hired by Mr Slater to hack into left-wing website The Standard, with the aim of embarrassing the Labour Party.

Mr Rachinger was paid $1000 by Mr Slater, but never carried out the hack they discussed. Instead he blew the whistle to TV3’s The Nation, telling the programme he was asked by Mr Slater to figure out who The Standard’s contributors were and record their IP and email addresses.

Police alleged Mr Rachinger never intended to follow through with the promise he made to Slater. He was charged with obtaining $1000 by deception for saying he could and would hack the site.

Slater made a complaint to the police, which led to the charge.

A summary of facts shows Mr Slater believed Labour politicians were writing for The Standard and posting their views anonymously online.

He offered Rachinger $5000 – paying him $1000 up front – believing the hack on The Standard’s servers would uncover evidence of links to Labour.

Mr Slater admitted his part in the plot and was discharged without conviction in May.

As part of his legal deal Slater needed to admit guilt, but in posts on Whale Oil afterwards sounded far from contrite

Somehow, the media are still saying Cam ordered the hack.  Well, if that was even remotely true, then I don’t understand how stupid he was by asking the police to get involved and asking Ben to share his discoveries with police.  That clearly shows Cam had no intent to do anything stupid.

More details from last year: Slater’s statement on Rachinger looks dirty and Slater versus Rachinger.

Rachinger got embroiled in dirty dealings and has paid for it with a conviction, albeit with no other penalty. Newshub said “he’s looking forward to the chance to put the matter behind him”. Lesson learnt hopefully.

Slater managed to avoid conviction, but his reputation took a further hit and he exposed his hypocrisy on political hacking and his inclination towards dirty politics and retribution.

 

The ‘Meh’ election?

There seems to be two major things at play around the Western world in elections, interference by hacking, and a growing dissatisfaction of voters.

Attempts to influence elections via social media manipulation and data hacks, allegedly by the Russians may or may not be making a difference but the intent seems clear.

It looks likely that Marine Le Pen will lose the French election but the fact that a candidate like her can come second shows that many voters are wanting something relatively radical to replace what they have now.

The UK election is certain to have some social media skulduggery but we will have to wait and see if hackers succeed in obtaining data to try and at least disrupt proceedings there – however it’s hard to see anything getting in the way of Jeremy Corbyn dragging Labour down to a bad defeat there.

Coming up in September Germany have their elections and there are already rumblings about attempted interference there.

And in New Zealand we have our election in September too.

We have already had an attempt to swing an election here by hacking, when Nicky Hager launched his Dirty Politics book in the lead up to the 2014 election using illegally obtained emails and other communications. It’s unlikely the Russians were involved in that but they may well have learnt something from.

What may not have been learnt from the New Zealand example is that using hacked data to influence an election can backfire, or at least fail to fire the incumbent government.

The second major factor is what appears to be a growing dissatisfaction with the status quo, whether it be the established government (as in Washington) or with international alliances (as with Brexit and the UK).

Voters seem to be attracted to more radical options because they want change from what they currently have. However while disillusionment and dissatisfaction are common the radical changes are in different directions.

Hence the rise of Donald Trump in the US, and the popularity of Bernie Sanders. They appealed to quite different voter groups.

And in the French presidential election the final two choices are a fairly radical right wing-ish Marine Le Pen, versus Emmanuel Macron, who has been a member the Socialist Party (PS) from 2006 to 2009 of minister in a socialist government, and only started his f En Marche! ‘political movement’ a year ago.

In New Zealand it’s sort of the same and also quite different. The left (Labour and Greens) are struggling to get much traction. Instead we have a mix of radical/maverick and a long established politician, Winston Peters. He has been doing the outlandish vagueness tricks that seem to have worked for Trump, as well as having a running battle with the media.

NZ First are polling better than they have for some time in the lead up to our election. Time will whether their support grows or not. Peters is going hard out anti-immigration, and the media are as usual giving him a lot of publicity, but that may or may not flow through to September.

So for a long time New Zealand has already had Peters attacking the media and being rewarded with publicity, plus dog whistling against immigrants. And we have also had an attempted hack interference.

And while some politicians and media are trying to talk up growing divides and discontents I’m not sure that there is a significant aversion to the status quo here that there is elsewhere. National have maintained unprecedented (under MMP) levels of support for an incumbent government.

They are showing signs of wavering, but the main alternative, Labour, have conceded they can’t match one-to-one and have set up an alliance of sorts with the Greens to try to compete. So far, going by the polls, that has not worked very successfully.

Change here may hinge on NZ First, but in the last few elections voters have resisted giving Peters a say in Government, or more accurately, sufficient voters have kept supporting the status quo.

While New Zealand has major housing issues and also a growing income divide and social issues of concern, our economy is generally doing very well. While we have always had “bloody Government” discord it is nothing like the ‘drain the Swamp’ level of Washington discontent.

While immigration numbers are being debated we don’t have the border problems and numbers of illegal immigrants that cause growing concern in the US and Europe. Peters is trying to scapegoat immigrants, and Labour has dabbled at that as well, but it’s hard to know whether that will appeal to prompt many voters to want to change the government. It had a negative effect for Labour.

One of the media’s biggest concerns seems to over who of Bill English and Andrew Little is the most boring. So they look for headlines elsewhere, hence the promotion of Peters and Jacinda Ardern, and trying to push new faces like Chlöe Swarbrick.

Kim Dotcom dominated a lot of coverage (and election spending) last election, as did the quirky Colin Craig, but the Internet Party in particular failed to attract voters.

Despite some threats Dotcom is largely out of the picture so far this year, Craig is too busy in court, and the one success of Dirty Politics was to have rendered Whale Oil down to rancid.

Despite some politicians and political activists trying to talk down the country and talk up a need for revolution, and despite some media searching for sensation, there seems to be no significant public discontent with our current government. It’s more like ‘meh’.

We don’t really have the levels or depths of discontent that are evident elsewhere.

There have been claims that Wikileaks (or the Russians or both?) have a data dump ready to go for New Zealand.

But if our election campaign is hit by a Dotcom promoted dump of hacked material is that going swing things? Or will the people vote ‘meh’.

Despite the best efforts of some media to sensationalise things – the overplaying of the Pike River videos by Newshub a recent example – and despite Dotcom or Hager or the Russians or the Aussies or whoever dumping on New Zealand this could turn out to be the ‘Meh’ election.

Macron hack dump on eve of French election

From Missy:


The French Presidential Election Campaigning officially finished at midnight Friday ahead of the second round voting tomorrow.

Last night several gigabytes of data – emails and documents – from Macron’s campaign was released online. Macron is accusing Russia for the hack and leak, the campaign are also claiming that some of the emails are faked. As it was done late last night, and Macron’s statement just before the midnight cut-off Le Pen is unable to comment on the leak.

There appears to be know evidence that it was Russia that hacked his campaign, it seems that it is just easy for Russia to be blamed, allegedly the spread of the information began with far right groups in the US and were picked up by Le Pen supporters.

Macron’s team have thought for a long time that Putin has been trying to mount a smear campaign against him via state media and has openly complained about it, RT have said they plan to sue Macron over the accusations. This is – in my opinion – a little hypocritical of Macron as he had no qualms about the EU using friendly media to mount a campaign against Le Pen, nor does he have a problem with the EU breaking protocol and opening supporting him over Le Pen.

The Telegraph: Russia blamed as Macron campaign blasts ‘massive hacking attack’ ahead of French presidential election

Russia, FBI and hacked elections

Two articles of inter from last week on the US election – one saying that the consensus view of the CIA was that “Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected”, and the other a detailed analysis of ’10 crucial decisions’ that affected the presidential election.

Washington Post: Secret CIA assessment says Russia was trying to help Trump win White House

The CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system, according to officials briefed on the matter.

Intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and others, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, according to U.S. officials. Those officials described the individuals as actors known to the intelligence community and part of a wider Russian operation to boost Trump and hurt Clinton’s chances.

“It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on an intelligence presentation made to U.S. senators. “That’s the consensus view.”

During the campaign Trump said a number of times that a rigged election was a serious concern, but he doesn’t seem to think this is a big deal – see Trump: Claim of Russia Meddling “Ridiculous,” Dems Making Excuses.

(With Kim Dotcom claiming that WikiLeaks may target next year’s New Zealand election this should be of some concern here).

Looking back through the presidential campaign Glenn Thrush at Politico: 10 Crucial Decisions That Reshaped AmericaNothing about the most dramatic campaign in memory was a foregone conclusion. The inside story of the pivotal choices that got us to President Trump.

It should be remembered that the election was eventually decided by I think about 50,000 votes in three states, so it was very close.

When deciding whether to contest the presidency Trump rated his chances at 10%.

This is a detailed analysis that’s worth reading if you are interested in what lead up to the result that shocked the world. The ten ‘crucial decisions’:

1. Hillary Clinton copies the Obama playbook. December 12, 2013.

But, in the end, Brooklyn simply failed to predict the tidal wave that swamped Clinton—a pro-Trump uprising in rural and exurban white America that wasn’t reflected in the polls—and his candidate failed to generate enough enthusiasm to compensate with big turnouts in Detroit, Milwaukee and the Philadelphia suburbs.

Either way, there was something missing that technocrats couldn’t fix: The candidate herself was deeply unappealing to the most fired-up, unpredictable and angry segment of the electorate—middle-income whites in the Middle West—and she couldn’t inspire Obama-like passion among her own supporters to compensate for the surge.

2016 wasn’t 2012 because Obama wasn’t the nominee.

2. Jeb Bush decides to run for president. December 16, 2014.

There wouldn’t have been a President Donald Trump without Jeb Bush. A rebel needs a crown to crush, and the wolfish insurgent found his perfect prey in this third Bush to attempt to claim the White House, a princeling of a family that by 2015 had come to represent everything angry GOP voters hated about their own party.

3. Donald Trump taps Corey Lewandowski as his campaign manager. January 7, 2015.

It was probably the single most important decision Trump made early in his campaign for the presidency and, true to form, the candidate made it without much consultation or due diligence, and without quite knowing what he was getting into.

“What do you think of my chances?” Trump asked Lewandowski as soon as he sat down in Trump’s office, according to a person familiar with the interaction.

“Five percent,” Lewandowski replied.

Trump countered with his own assessment: 10 percent.

“Let me propose a deal,” Trump then joked. “Let’s settle on 7½.”

4. Bernie Sanders doesn’t attack Clinton on her “damn” emails. October 13, 2015.

The second problem was more durable, utterly avoidable, entirely self-inflicted and ultimately damning: Clinton’s enemies were starting to weaponize the murky tale of her private email server, an issue that would do her permanent political damage, sap public trust and, eventually, hand Trump a winning issue. “It’s a cancer,” a longtime Clinton insider told meas her campaign was ramping up. “She’s her own worst enemy,” another said.

Lucky for Clinton that Sanders wasn’t her worst enemy. Sanders, an (uncommonly) principled politician who was as intent on running the campaign he wanted as in winning, attacked Clinton on the issues he felt were the most important. Under pressure, he would eventually bash Clinton on her refusal to release the text of her Wall Street speeches, her cozy relationship with fat cat donors, her late-in-the-day conversion to an opponent of trade deals. But that was only in later debates, and only after Clinton and her team had savaged Sanders on his gun control record.

Most of all, he flummoxed his own advisers by steadfastly refusing to attack Clinton on the issue that would hurt her most: the emails.

5. CNN shows Trump’s empty podium for 30 minutes. March 3, 2016.

This was symbolic of how obsessed media became with Trump coverage – in this case remarkable focussing on his absence rather than his presence.

But if Trump’s time was, literally, money for the networks, the cable-Trump marriage was also unprecedented in a way that threw the political coverage dangerously out of balance.

The absurdity of the situation was laid bare on March 3, 2016, when CNN, Fox and MSNBC prepared to air what was billed as Trump’s much-anticipated rebuttal to Mitt Romney’s claim that the GOP front-runner was a “phony” and a “fraud.” Trump was supposed to start talking at 1:30 p.m., but he was strategically, playfully late.

The live shot of a flag-backed podium in Maine sat empty for five, 10, 15, eventually 30 minutes of Donald-free empty space that illustrated the vacuity of the celebrity-driven frenzy that defined Trump’s early campaign. CNN officials dismissed the incident, arguing that the image was just that—a static picture—that provided a backdrop for a stream of talking-head banter, much of it critical of Trump.

For Trump, the point was clear: He was so much more important than any of his rivals that even his absence was more newsworthy than their presence, and the networks did nothing to dispel that view, airing his speeches in their entirety when no other candidate or even President Obama was afforded that privilege.

6. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio play patty-cake with Trump at the debates. August 6, 2015.

The only two candidates who ever really had a real chance to stop him—golden boy hawk Marco Rubio of Florida and Tea Party icon Ted Cruz of Texas—made the calculation that ignoring Trump, and letting him run amok in the early debates, was their best chance at self-preservation.

The decision by the two young senators—they are both just 45 years old today—may well go down as one of the most consequential wimp-outs in recent politics.

But it seemed to make perfect sense in the summer of 2015, when Rubio’s Capitol Hill-based circle and Cruz’s Houston-based operation simultaneously decided on a hands-off-Donald approach.

7. Trump insults the parents of a dead war hero. July 28, 2016.

The final night of the convention was supposed to be Clinton’s big night, and many of the reporters who crammed into the press section in the early evening of July 28 were busily pre-writing their big Hillary speech stories when Khizr Khan and his wife, Ghazala, walked onto the stage.

“Donald Trump: You’re asking Americans to trust you with their future. Let me ask you: Have you even read the United States Constitution?” said Khizr Khan, whose son, a Muslim-American Army captain, had died protecting his fellow soldiers from a suicide bombing in Iraq in 2004.

Khan spoke, in a quavering monotone, about the injustice of Trump’s proposed Muslim immigration ban. By the time he pulled out a tiny dog-eared copy of the Constitution from his suit jacket pocket, the audience was on its feet, and reporters on press row were plucking out their ear buds to hear what he was saying. “I will gladly lend you my copy,” Khan told Trump, as his wife silently stood next to him, fighting back tears.

It was a critical moment in the election, or so it seemed at the time—“an appeal from a regular person for Trump to show some human decency,” in the words of former Jeb Bush adviser Tim Miller, “which he never does.”

Privately, Trump fumed about the Khan speech—he hated to absorb any insult without responding—even as the people around him, including Manafort, encouraged him to let it go. But there was, as always, no controlling Trump.

This is a concern about Trump as president, especially internationally. Some think that Trump a ‘telling it like it is’ tough guy stance will allow the US to dominate countries like China, others dread what it could precipitate.

The public hated it. A Fox News poll taken in the first week of August signaled to GOP leaders (wrongly, as it turned out) that Trump was cooked and could never recover: He dropped from running neck-and-neck with Clinton to 10 points down over the course of two weeks. “I thought that was it,” said one former Trump aide.

“If he loses,” Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, told me at the time, “his attack on Khans was the turning point.”

But here’s the thing: At that very moment, Mook’s own internal data was showing that Trump’s negative message overall—his “diagnosis of the problem” as Brooklyn called it—was resonating.

Clinton’s team laughed off Trump’s nomination speech. Yet her pollster John Anzalone and his team were stunned to find out that dial groups of swing state voters monitored during the speech “spiked” the darker the GOP nominee got.

8. Clinton decides to take a summer break. August 1, 2016.

Trump wasn’t dead. And the polls clearly showed that whatever he said or did, he still commanded between 36 and 43 percent of the national vote. The partisan divide was simply that stark, the animosity toward Clinton that real.

But it was a genuine boot-on-neck moment for Clinton’s Brooklyn operation.

Too bad it was the height of summer, and the Clintons had made plans they refused to change with their rich friends. So, the race almost, seemingly in the bag, Clinton came off the road, for a work-and-play semi-hiatus to regroup for the big fall push that saw her take four consecutive weekends off the trail, post-convention.

So at this moment of Trump’s maximum vulnerability, Clinton was work-vacationing with the likes of Jon Bon Jovi, Paul McCartney and Jimmy Buffett in the manses of Long Island, Beverly Hills, Martha’s Vineyard and Silicon Valley.

But Trump, surprisingly resilient and coachable when he needed to be, was to make masterful use of Clinton’s absence.

9. Trump goes scorched earth after Access Hollywood tape. October 7, 2016.

One month before Election Day, Donald Trump was hit by a bombshell that would have spelled instant electoral death for anybody without his chutzpah (or even a human-apportioned sense of shame).

On a Friday morning four weeks before the voting, the Washington Postobtained a hot-mic tape from a 2005 appearance on Access Hollywood in which Trump described in gross detail an incident in which he had sexually assaulted a woman who resisted his romantic entreaties.

The fallout was swift, damaging and seemingly campaign-killing.

The candidate’s daughter Ivanka, two people close to the family said, was mortified, and urged him to apologize immediately.

Trump’s natural instinct—stoked by Bannon’s attack-when-attacked attitude—was to give as little ground as possible.

One longtime adviser to Trump described the strategy this way: He couldn’t do anything about the tape—it was out there for everybody to hear—but he could stick with “his core brand” by reinforcing his refusal to play by the usual rules of politics.

Trump came out of it seen as he wanted to be: a defiant candidate who flouted rules of “political correctness” and whose in-your-face candor consistently registered in polls as the perceived attribute voters liked most about him. And anyways, it was a classic Trump move: When you’re caught doing something indefensible don’t even try to defend it—attack.

Trump, a guy who couldn’t seem to shut up, urged his surrogates to “go dark,” according to a former aide.

Trump’s numbers collapsed again, but Bannon never doubted that his pal could pull it out and urged Trump to indulge his most brazen showman’s impulses by turning damning on-tape proof that he was a sexual harasser into a populist crusade against the “rigged system.

10. Jim Comey sends a letter to Congress. October 28, 2016.

Clinton wanted to run her campaign her own way. To the frustration of her staff, that often entailed less retail campaigning: She insisted more often than not on flying back to her house in Chappaqua on most days, and held her debate prep sessions at a nearby conference center instead of doing them on-the-fly in battleground states, so she could combine cramming and campaigning.

That hesitation about “the campaigning part” was why, despite their confidence Clinton would pull out a win, many in her camp came to see the campaign as a high-stakes game of musical chairs: The candidate who had the worst final news cycle would probably lose.

It was Clinton.

On a sleepy Friday afternoon 10 days before the election, FBI Director James Comey sent a letter informing Congress that he had obtained a big new batch of emails pertaining to Clinton’s email server. It was a revelation widely (and inaccurately) cast as his decision to “reopen” the case, after having announced in early July that Clinton had been cleared of wrongdoing but had been reckless in setting up her private email server.

Top officials for both campaigns said the revelation—which turned out to be an inconsequential cache of previously parsed emails kept on the laptop of Clinton aide Huma Abedin’s estranged husband, Anthony Weiner—was a game-changer in a race in which Clinton had little margin for error.

A campaign that was notable for Trump doing everything not by the book which kept shocking many, and for Clinton’s flawed candidacy and flawed campaign, two of the biggest deciding factors turned out to be Russian and FBI involvement.

It’s nothing new that Russia and the US interfere in elections of other countries but the extent Russia has allegedly done this in the US to this degree is unprecedented.

The way hacked emails have been used should be a concern around the world.

It’s not new – hacked emails and other communications featured in Nicky Hager’s ‘Dirty Politics’ book launched early in New Zealand’s 2014 general election, as it turned out unsuccessfully. But I suspect that how that was done will have been noted and learned from.

WikiLeaks tried a different approach in the US election, drip feeding emails over a period of time. This certainly had an impact.

Ultimately FBI head James Comey’s interference probably swung the election in Trump’s favour at a crucial time, but that situation was set up and enabled by the hacking and the drip feeding.

Democracy is at real risk of being trashed by hacking.

Dirty anti-dirty politics

‘Dirty Politics’ failed to swing the electorate against the Government last election, but it seems far from over.

‘Dirty Politics’ was raised as a major defence in the Williams versus Craig defamation trial, with Craig citing it as justification for his extraordinary responses to successful attempts to trash both his political career and the Conservative Party.

And despite bidding farewell in 2014, Whaledump reappeared briefly on Twitter recently.

Then this comment came up (posted elsewhere) yesterday:

How many wake up calls does the New Zealand public need?

Dirty politics.

Extensive slavery and fish dumping – environmental destruction – and screeds of evidence that the goverment has known about it for years and covered it up. And now customs covering up more abuses of the poorest, most exploited people in the world!

The Lying away the outrageous increase in child poverty and homelessness.

New Zealand’s key role, as yet unreported, in Panama. Of course, what many people don’t know is that that company has strong connection to Mi6 and the CIA: for it was the NZ goverment who initiated that financial arrangement, during the Iran crisis, given how much dirty operational money needed to be obscured… that’s right, folks… just as all the Iranian intel passed through the New Zealand embassy in Manila during that time, it was New Zealanders, and Mi6 employees stationed in NZ who facilitated the cashflow! Wonder why NZ has some strange surveillance concern with Iran? It’s historical.

Conspiracy theory no doubt…. As likely as members of the Hearst dynasty tied up with the Weather Underground moving to Christchurch and changed their surname to Tree.

What’s the point of the media, and you so-called leftists in the face of what you really face…. You can’t even see the tip of the iceberg! Sorry, just a little disappointed. Please, travel some more. Go live in a pagoda for a month in an empoverished province of a Western fucked nation.

Those who can, do what they can. We will live and die unknown and you will never know any better. Well, better to try than to do nothing at all. But you know who this is, don’t you SIS and friends. Thanks for the visit last year by the way. I didn’t say anything and showed her a good time. Trust she enjoyed herself.

In the next few months more revelations will come out – if there are people ready to listen. But to what end? To what effect? So depressing. Banging the old head against the wall…

It took you (opposition, media) two bloody years to twig to the extent of migrant labour abuses despite individuals from fairfax and other media organizations having the truth rubbed in your noses, repeatedly, by friends of ours. But there’s been some good work, especially by one particular journo now working for radio NZ. You know who I mean. Shoutout, sister! Still, you – the media – haven’t reported on the fact that anti-slavery activists have been harassed into the dirt by the intelligence services.

Yes, correct: go talk to all those who have housed, fed, and advocated for abused migrant workers. The filmmakers who tried to bring the issue to attention also. Followed, harassed, and intimidated by our own security services as well as by private contractors. No doubt they were affecting New Zealand’s economic well being…

Talk to the director of Slaves of the Ocean about it. Talk to the activists who protected the fishermen who fled the Oyang. It’s an incredible story of human rights defenders – patriots of the highest order – being harrasssed and crushed by the state and by private contractors working closely together. They were even spying the hell out of the Anglican Church, for God’s sake. Facist, anti – human rights surveillance. Yes, in New Zealand.

Oh, to change the subject just slightly (cough – prettty obvious guys), be quite skeptical about who exactly was behind the leak of Slater’s emails. Curious, isn’t it, who was mentioned in those dumps (not always by the same people by the way).

[Redacted] Think about it… that doesn’t apply to all releases….

[Redacted]

Ask yourself how many leaks of this magnitude have not resulted in an arrest. Yes. Ponder that. In the history of large scale hacks, how often is it that the purpetrator (lol) has not been caught?

The true situation is much, much more complex that people realize. The mix is extraordinary.

Reasons for why the PM didn’t want to pursue “Rawshark”?

[Redacted]

Another breather who unfortunately left a trail of sorts is an activist authorities don’t dare arrest because the dirt he has is even worse, much, much worse and damaging. GCSB and industry related.

Another is a woman with such just cause very few in the NZ public, no matter how mean they may have become, would abide her persecution I bet – and they bet too clearly.

Oh and there’s others… It’s an open joke among hackers how open the systems of Slater, that slithery insect, were. He should be grateful to the hackers he so loathes. They have standards or morals to such a degree that they have agreed to draw a line[Redacted] That’s right, Cam: some of them have had that used against them by the security services you praise so much. I’m afraid they operate to a much higher ethical standard.

Will anyone ever get to the bottom of it? Well the truth is they mostly have and for the above and other reasons it won’t come out. [Redacted]

If this comment gets through, know, players listed above, that we know all your weaknesses. We have documents for East Germany and dirt for Africa. But you know that don’t you? You rely on the fact that the public doesn’t care: that it doesn’t care about the minutiae of your business, of the shady deals you do, [Redacted]…. could run to 500 pages but due to go clubbing just shortly…

We are here, we are not going away, and any move (or more moves) you make against us will result in devastating leaks. But you know that.

We have communicated what we expect. And recently you have been coming to the party at least in terms of prosecuting migrant labour abuses. Smiley face and big tick!

But we are not going away. We know you purposefully did not consult with Maori over the Kermadecs. It’s not the first time you have tried to use Tangata Whenua (sorry, the Maori Party who are hardly representational) to shoot down labour and environmental issues at sea. Remember when the Maori Party changed their mind at the last moment in respect of the foreign charter legislation? They looked freaked out, didn’t they…. I wonder why. Don’t forget who you are dealing with. You cannot arrest us, we know too much – and you know that very well now don’t you?

We know you know who we are. Hell, we don’t even bother to hide ourselves to mr [Redacted]. Top bloke.

Until soon

Sounds dirty as, all round.

I think this needs airing but I have redacted claims and accusations against people that aren’t backed by evidence – it’s difficult to know what is dirty, and what might be dirty lies.

Time will tell whether ‘in the next few months more revelations will come out’, and whether anyone much will listen.

Geiringer on Slater’s diversion

Felix Geiringer @BarristerNZ

  1.  Before offering diversion, the Police MUST consult the victim. In this case they did not even tell the victim there had been an arrest.
  2. Reparation is one of the two primary purposes of the scheme. In this case, Slater was not required to do anything by way of reparation.
  3. Diversion is generally only offered to first time offenders but http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10673417
  4. Diversion is only offered for minor offending. In Hager case, Manukau District Manager described offences under this section as serious.
  5. To qualify, Slater had to admit responsibility and show remorse. His media statement claims he has never done so and still does not.
  6. Diversion is “unlikely to be appropriate” where the “offender refuses to identify co-offenders”. Who was Slater’s mysterious “funder”?
  7. Diversion is “unlikely to be appropriate” where offender was the organiser. Eg, the offender was soliciting others to commit crime.

I’ve run out of steam. There are probably more.

Geiringer will be very familiar with the Hager case as he has represented Hager.

Who funded the non hack?

Questions are being asked about who the funder was for the fee to be paid for the attempt by Cameron Slater to hack The Standard.

I understand that in his police statement Slater claimed there was no funder.

But in his Media Statement from Cameron Slater on Benjamin Rachinger and the hack of The Standard that never actually happened Slater states:

Ben wanted $5,000 for what he described as The Standard data he held.  That’s not the sort of money I have access to at the drop of a hat, especially as Ben had been regularly requesting and receiving a living wage from me already.  I needed to organise a sponsor to assist.

A sponsor sounds like a funder.

David Fisher in Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater admits soliciting hack

Documents presented to the court by Rachinger claimed Slater wanted “to use hacked information from the website The Standard on behalf of a funder to embarrass the Leader of the Opposition and Head of the Labour Party, Andrew Little, on the first day of Parliament sitting in 2015”.

In his statement today Slater said:

I’m going to make a number of factual statements today in this release, and I am going to write a number of articles that will delve into some of the detail of what has developed.

I wonder if he will set the record straight on who provided the funds.

And was he given the whole $5,000? It is alleged that Rachinger only received $1,000.

 

Slater on the Standard hack

Suppression lapsed today at 4 pm on the case of Cameron Slater paying Ben Rachinger to hack The Standard.

Irony abounds, not the least of which being Slater’s attempt to get permanent suppression despite campaigning against suppression and having been convicted on 9 charges of breaching suppression (2010).

On top of this Slater appears to have breached his own suppression, as his media statement appeared on Lauda Finem overnight with a stated post time:

by Cameron Slater on May 9, 2016 at 9:52pm

This post was pulled after several hours. This indicates that Slater still has an association with LF, and unlike Bradley Ambrose who yesterday requested LF correct false information about him and was point blank refused Slater seems to have been able to get a whole post pulled.

Slater then posted this statement on Whale Oil at 4 pm when the suppression lapsed.

MEDIA STATEMENT FROM CAMERON SLATER ON BENJAMIN RACHINGER AND THE HACK OF THE STANDARD THAT NEVER ACTUALLY HAPPENED

Even the headline seems to make a mockery of the judge’s statement in his judgment, paragraph :

He has accepted his guilt and embarked on a programme to address that.

He has candidly acknowledged his mistakes that he has made and he wishes to put those behind him.

I do not doubt the genuineness of that position.

Slater seems to be ignoring all that as a court convenience.

He writes:

Today, with the lifting of the Police-requested and Court-ordered suppression…

The Police requested interim suppression to assist with a fair trial (that didn’t happen due to diversion),but when Slater sought permanent suppression “the position of the police is that it is neutral on suppression” .

Judgment [6]: Accordingly, before me is an application from Mr Slater yo a s 200 of ther Criminal Procedure Act 2011 for ongoing and permanent suppression…

I’m going to make a number of factual statements today in this release, and I am going to write a number of articles that will delve into some of the detail of what has developed.

So, probably ignoring his diversion obligations.

His statement  looks to have a number of ’embellishments’ as well.

As we know now, nothing that happened under the guise of what has now become known as Dirty Politics broke any laws.  People may not like the tactics, but there was nothing to charge anyone over.  Nothing.  Not just me.  Anyone.

To get diversion you have to admit guilt of the charge. the judge stated “He has accepted his guilt” – of the charge of “counselling and/or attempting to procure Mr Rachinger to access the computer system of The Standard website to obtain property or a benefit, namely computer files (ss 249(2)a and 311, Crimes Act 19621).

In other words, he has admitted breaking the law, he convinced the judge he genuinely accepted his guilt, but now implies no laws were broken (albeit misleadingly with Dirty Politics).

We all know about the game of Politics, but following a criminal attempt to subvert an election, to have certain elements in media use their employers’ and private resources to attempt to destroy me, my family, my friends and colleagues was a whole new low.

More “poor me the victim” per Dirty Politics.

Slater admitted guilt on trying criminally to destroy Andrew little and Labour and Lynn Prentice and The Standard.

It is with this back story that I was isolated, angry and deeply resentful at the hypocrisy of media who were on the one hand claiming all the rights, protections and expectations of being journalists for themselves and Mr Hager, but none of those applied to me only because I was and remain a commercial threat and am deeply disliked for being effective at what I do.

Trying to justify his actions as an understandable reaction to pressure.

Additionally, I was and remain intensely resentful of the usual commentators on the left and in the media that had made it their personal project to destroy me – professionally and personally.

So instead of being remorseful he is on the attack.

He goes on at length, then concludes:

Today, a new chapter starts.  A chapter where I start fighting back in public, rather than continue to suffer the uncontested lies perpetrated by my political opponents and aided and abetted by personally motivated, well resourced and complicit media.

My first article on what happened will be published on whaleoil.co.nz later today.

And there seems to be at least some orchestration of comments on his post.

It sounds like he has learnt nothing and once out of the court is trying to continue with more guns blazing.