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That time when Bambenek trolled Guccifer 2.0

Wednesday, Mar 7, 2018

* Axios

In August 2016, John Bambenek, a former Republican state senate candidate in Illinois, launched his own clandestine investigation of Guccifer 2.0, the public face of the Russian cyber break-in at the Democratic National Committee. What Bambenek found was that the Guccifer 2.0 persona — believed to be a cover for Russia’s military intelligence arm — reflected a more slapdash chapter in the operation to sow U.S. election chaos than usually presented.

Why it matters: In transcripts of Twitter messages that Bambenek shared with Axios, Guccifer 2.0 seemed to be either careless or indiscriminate, apparently failing to do even a cursory check on Bambenek, and with only a vague understanding of what he was sharing.

How it happened: In June 2016, the DNC told the Washington Post that hackers apparently working for the Russian government had penetrated its computer networks. The day after, Guccifer 2.0 surfaced with the first of a trove of stolen DNC documents, including a 231-page dossier on Donald Trump, the start of a drumbeat of leaks that would dog Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign until she ultimately lost in November.

Not long after, Bambenek approached Guccifer 2.0, asking for documents to help the Republican cause. “I knew I had a good chance of passing the Google test for being a Republican, and it came at a time when Guccifer was probably receiving many inquiries from the press,” he told Axios. […]

The catch: Bambenek wasn’t wearing a GOP hat while conducting the conversation. Instead, he was an executive at Fidelis, a Bethesda, MD, cybersecurity firm that, along with CrowdStrike, had quickly attributed the attack to Russia. Bambenek was more or less just continuing the investigation out of curiosity.

The FBI was in the loop: “Every [direct message] I sent, every [one] I received was turned over to the FBI immediately. I assumed they would have been monitoring the account to begin with,” Bambenek said.

    Though Guccifer 2.0 provided him exclusive documents, they focused on almost comedically non-competitive races.

Go read the rest.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

17 Comments
  1. - John Bambenek - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 12:23 pm:

    Thanks, Rich. The check is in the mail. ;)


  2. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 12:36 pm:

    I dont want to get too into it, but the story suggests that any Russian info would be pretty valueless without US political operatives filtering and manipulatong the info. In other words, collusion.


  3. - TKMH - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 12:49 pm:

    @Three Dimensional Checkers

    Enter Roger Stone.


  4. - John Bambenek - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 12:49 pm:

    Three Dimensional Checkers-

    That is in essence I point I am making. The Russians would know how to play a “Roy Moore” piece of dirt… but then again, those are easy. For the minor stuff, you need local political understanding that they don’t have here (they do in Eastern Europe in areas that used to be in the USSR and close to it). They have relationships with various journalists. They don’t have that here.

    The other TL;DR is that “we” helped do the work for them. Assange published tens of thousands of emails and every reporters, political activists, and commentator did their own deep dives to “find” stories. That’s why it “worked”. We started our own political fire, they dumped some more fuel on it, and we’ve spent the last almost 2 years fanning the flames even higher.


  5. - illinois manufacturer - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 12:51 pm:

    Thanks for your patriotism to the US that is….for some in high office that needs to be made clear. Btw since Rauner is still running his business shouldnt he disclose if he has any foreign investors…..


  6. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 12:56 pm:

    At the most broad and generous accounting, it’s all pretty embarrassing, these times, on our watch.

    You read a story like this, you’re tempted to abuse the ATM and find where Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett are lingering for lunch.


  7. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 1:03 pm:

    ===The other TL;DR is that “we” helped do the work for them.===

    The Russians only had to exploit the enormous political divide in this country and they did so extremely well. They didn’t create the vast partisan tribalism that passes for politics-as-blood-sport these days. They simply used it against us to sow further discord. It’s actually a brilliantly executed plan.

    If only the big brains in Washington, in both parties and in the media, would remember country before party, we’d make ourselves a much harder target and could recognize some of this stuff rather than perpetuate it.


  8. - John Bambenek - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 1:10 pm:

    47th Ward-

    I contrast how “we” responded to how the French did who had basically the same thing happen to them (high level targets had email compromised, lots of doc dumps). They immediately said they uploaded fake documents, downplayed the significance and everyone fell in line.

    First and foremost, the Russian government wants a destabilized US with a public having little to no confidence in our institutions. We had the power to deny them that, and we utterly failed to do so.


  9. - DuPage Saint - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 1:14 pm:

    It also helps that all the true believers think any disagreement or dissent is a sign of apostasy. Each party is heading for the extreme. Can you imagine Chuck Percy Ev Dirksen Edgar Jim Thompson being voted in by Republcans? Today Demcrats are also on the purity binge.


  10. - PlayK8 - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 1:16 pm:

    47th Ward
    If only the big brains in Washington, in both parties and in the media, would remember country before party, we’d make ourselves a much harder target and could recognize some of this stuff
    rather than perpetuate it.
    Well said.


  11. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 1:18 pm:

    –Can you imagine Chuck Percy Ev Dirksen Edgar Jim Thompson being voted in by Republcans?–

    In 2018 Illinois?

    Yes. They would be way tough to beat. Because they would appeal to Democrats and the critical Independent vote.


  12. - Amalia - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 1:42 pm:

    this story makes the Russians sound clueless and pointless. I think other facts show this is not true.


  13. - Arthur Andersen - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 3:43 pm:

    Nice work, John. Wish you could run for Champaign County SA. ;)


  14. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 5:59 pm:

    John Bambenek, I agree that the media is incentivized to create scandal, and it made the country vulnerable to this manipulation. More generally, the erroding trust in government on both sides of the political spectrum made us vulnerable too.

    Lots of respect for doing this, Mr. Bambenek. Pretty cool.


  15. - Skeptic - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 6:11 pm:

    What a laugh. And this is the bugbear that haunted America’s political consciousness?

    Putin must regret the day when could get presidential candidates (Obama) to promise ‘flexibility’ after the election and to mock as old fashioned suggestions that Russia was an threat.


  16. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 6:21 pm:

    –What a laugh. And this is the bugbear that haunted America’s political consciousness?–

    Nothing against John, but are you confusing him with Robert Mueller?

    They’re not the same guy.

    In just a few short minutes on the google, you can compare and contrast Mueller’s record of patriotism, service and integrity with the likes of Trump, Hannity, Carlson and Dobbs.

    I double-dog dare you, comrade.


  17. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 7:47 pm:

    –Putin must regret the day when could get presidential candidates (Obama) to promise ‘flexibility’ after the election and to mock as old fashioned suggestions that Russia was an threat.–

    An English as a second language course seems to be in order.


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