By: Earnest Jones | 12-12-2016 | News
Photo credit: The Goldwater

U.S. Government Targeting Journalists: New Cyber-Intelligence Leaks Reveal

Thousands of emails have been released by WikiLeaks from a US cyber-security contractor. As a result, a whistleblowing journalists by the name Barret Brown was freed from federal prison. However, the emails highlighted a list of journalists and governments that are being targeted. Anonymous released emails back in February 2011 that belonged to HBGary Federal, thanks to WikiLeaks which has released those emails in a batch of 60,000 emails in a searchable database.

WikiLeaks released the emails in a move that was aimed at dedicating them to Brown who was imprisoned behind bars for reporting on the HBGary leaks and the hacking of the private intelligence company Stratfor back in 2012. The hack enabled WikiLeaks to release and publish 5.5 million emails from the hack. Brown was accused of obstruction of justice, threatening a federal officer and being an after the fact accessory resulting in 63 months in federal prison. The HBGary Federal emails included proposal from a company seeking to spy on Russia using wireless sniffers and mobile devices. This unveiled the NSA’s capabilities prior to Snowden’s move when he disclosed everything back in 2013.

The leaked emails revealed that Greg Hoglund the HBGary executive had proposed that a sniffing operation should be carried out in Russia by targeting cell phone carriers Vimpelcom and TeleSystems. Hoglund wrote that the NSA has unlimited resources while the CIA has operatives but they both lack the ability to manage complex campaigns.

In the proposal, Aaron Barr the HBGary CEO added a plan to infiltrate groups and governments with fake personalities on social media. Barr wrote that he would create a few personas for the executive members of the organization in a bid to get email traffic. He also proposed that the plan be pitched as a whitepaper to a large defense contractor such as ManTech. However, the whole scandal exploded and Barr had to resign from HBGary after the 2011 hack. ManTech purchased HBGary Federal subsidiary after it was shutdown.

HBGary had teamed up with Plantir Technologies to target WikiLeaks and its volunteers. This came after WikiLeaks released Bank of America documents and hence the bank pitched the project. Plantir is a big data analysis organization that serves the intelligence communities and the US military, the company was founded by Peter Thiel who is a major supporter of Trump.

Barr proposed to Matthew Steckman a Plantir engineer back in 2010 with strategies to go after journalist who supported WikiLeaks, Barr suggested the use of strategies such as disinformation that aims at creating messages with the intent of discrediting or sabotaging the opposing WikiLeaks. Barr proposed that fake documents be submitted and then the errors be called out. This strategy was unleashed against WikiLeaks after John Podesta’s emails started being published.

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