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FBI arrest NSA Contractor for leaking top-secret information on Russian hacking

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Political Editor – LeNora Millen

A federal contract worker appeared in court Monday after her arrest for leaking a top-secret NSA report, which detailed how Russian military hackers targeted U.S. voting systems.

The top-secret intelligence document describes procedures Russia used to infiltrate the U.S. infrastructure by use of a spear-phishing email scheme targeting local government officials and employees.

Upon the release of the Intercept story report published Monday, the Justice Department was expedient in announcing the arrest of the 25-year-old federal contractor from Georgia in connection with the disclosure.

Reality Leigh Winner, a contractor with Pluribus International Corp., made her first federal court appearance in Augusta, Ga., Monday afternoon.  Winner was charged with removing and mailing classified materials to a news outlet, as reported by the DOJ.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein credited federal law enforcement agents with acting quickly to identify and arrest the defendant.

“Releasing classified material without authorization threatens our nation’s security and undermines public faith in government,” Rosenstein said.

Winner printed and improperly removed classified intelligence reporting, which contained classified national defense information from an intelligence community agency and unlawfully retained it, according to data recorded in court documents.

Reality Winner, Photo Credit: NBC News

The intelligence document published by the online news organization Intercept, describes more detailed information about Russian efforts to hack voting systems in the U.S., a week before the 2016 presidential election. Although the document doesn’t necessarily confirm hacking changed any votes, it raises the possibility that Russian hacking may have breached some elements of the voting system, with disconcertingly uncertain results.

Information noted in the top-secret document, pointed to the Russian military intelligence as perpetrators responsible for conducting a cyber-attack on at least one supplier of voting software and sent phishing emails containing malicious software to more than 100 local election official days before the 2016 election, The Intercept reported

The top-secret NSA report notes that findings are based on information obtained in April.  The document does not reveal the “raw” intelligence that may have led to the report’s conclusions.

Information specified in the NSA document:

Russian intelligence “executed cyber espionage operation against a named U.S. Company in August 2016, for the sole purpose of obtaining information on elections-related software and hardware solutions.”

The Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate, or GRU, was behind the operation according information gathering in the report.

The Russian “spear-fishing” attack involved sending local government employees emails that appeared to be from e-voting vendors containing Microsoft Word documents loaded with malware. Once the recipient opened one of the documents, the hackers would gain control of the infected computer.

To make the emails appear legitimate, the Russians tried to hack an election software company’s email system, The Intercept reported.

“Although the document does not directly identify the company in question, it contains references to a product made by VR Systems, a Florida-based vendor of electronic voting services and equipment whose products are used in eight states,” The Intercept reported.

In late October, the hackers began to send emails that appeared to be from a VR system employee, the document says. The emails were sent to 122 addresses tied to local government organizations.  Officials involved in the management of voter registration systems, were reported as the likely targets. The emails contained “trojanized” attachments that would allow the hackers to gain access to the infected computer.

It is unknown whether the aforementioned spear-phishing deployment successfully compromised all the intended victims, and what potential data could have been accessed by the cyber actor. The report published Monday is based on a “top-secret National Security Agency document” provided by an anonymous source. The report was “independently authenticated,” according to The Intercept.

An unnamed U.S. intelligence officer told The Intercept not to read too much into the document because, “a single analysis is not necessarily definitive.”

In response to the report, VR Systems’ Chief Operating Officer Ben Martin told the Intercept: “Phishing and spear-phishing are not uncommon in our industry. We regularly participate in cyber alliances with state officials and members of the law enforcement community in an effort to address these types of threats. We have policies and procedures in effect to protect our customers and our company.”

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Former Congressman Harold Ford Jr. Fired by Morgan Stanley for Alleged Misconduct

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Harold Ford Jr., a former congressman, was fired by the financial services firm Morgan Stanley following allegations of misconduct, NBC confirmed on Thursday.

Morgan Stanley declined to say specifically what prompted the firing. The allegations were presented after a woman who was not employed at the firm accused Mr. Ford of acting inappropriately in a professional setting.

Mr. Ford’s termination reported by HuffPost as an exclusive has been challenged by the former Congressman as “false claims.”

Harold Ford Jr., a former congressman, was fired from his position as a managing director at the financial services firm Morgan Stanley for what the company described as behavior “inconsistent with our values.”CreditMike Groll/Associated Press

In a statement provided by his lawyer, Mr. Ford denied the sexual harassment allegations, stating in a tweet on Thursday that he will be bringing legal action against the reporter, for making false claims against him, as well as Morgan Stanley for wrongful termination.

“This simply did not happen,” Mr. Ford wrote. “I have never forcibly grabbed any woman or man in my life.” He added that socializing with members of the press was part of his job, and said that “false claims like this undermine the real silence breakers.”

Mr. Ford served five terms in Congress as a Democrat representing a Tennessee district after first being elected in 1996—serving as Congressman from 1997 to 207.

He joined Morgan Stanley as a managing director and senior client-relationship manager in 2011 as a vice chairman and senior policy adviser at Bank of America.

Amid the heightened scrutiny of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior toppling key figures in the entertainment and political arena, Mr. Ford is the latest high profiled man to lose his job in recent days for similar allegations.

Time magazine on Wednesday named the “Silence Breakers” its Person of the Year. They shared personal stories about harassment and assault and sparked the #MeToo movement.

According to Time, the #MeToo became a hashtag, a movement, a reckoning. But it began, as great social change nearly always does, with individual acts of courage.

In a tweet acknowledging his thoughts on the “Silence Breaker” quite pointed in his statement, Mr. Ford said the following in regards to news of his firing on Thursday, “This simply did not happen.  I have never forcibly grabbed any woman or man in my life.”

In another tweet, Mr. Ford spoke about his professional demeanor and his tremendous respect for the brave women speaking out “in this important national dialogue.”  Mr. Ford was pointed in stating that false claims alleged against him “undermine the real “Silence Breakers.”

Mr. Ford appeared as a frequent guest on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” MSNBC – which is owned by NBC 4 New York’s parent company.

“We are looking into the report about Harold Ford Jr.,” a spokeswoman for MSNBC said. “During that time he won’t be a guest on MSNBC.”

LeNora Millen            12-7-17

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TV One Cancels Roland Martin’s Morning Show ‘News One Now’

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TV One is canceling Roland Martin’s morning show “News One Now,” Roland made the announcement in a tweet Wednesday.

“Fam, the sad news is true. The staff of @tvonetv #NewsnewOneNow was informed this afternoon that after four years of doing groundbreaking and award-winning work, the show will cease production at the end of the year,” Martin tweeted.

Martin, who thanked audiences for their support, said the last episode will air on Dec. 21.

Roland Martin’s morning show “NewsOne Now” was cancelled due to budget cuts according to various reports from reliable sources.

“They called a meeting on Wednesday and told the staff they were canceling the show. They’re having significant financial problems and they have to scale back,” a source said. “After four years of award-winning programming and distinguished service to our viewers as the only black daily newscast on television, the network has made the difficult decision to suspend the production of NewsOne Now as a daily morning news show. The last live show is scheduled [Dec. 21],” TV One’s interim GM, Michelle Rice wrote in a memo.

Host of “News One Now” Roland Martin speaks on stage during ColorofChange.org 10 Year Anniversary Gala. (Rob Kim/Getty Images for ColorOfChange)

The news of “NewsOne Now” cancellation shocked Martin and staffers according to sources. The network had recently expanded the morning show to two hours in September.

The memo added: “While we will continue our long-standing partnership with Roland Martin to ensure his important voice can be heard across all Urban One platforms examining issues of importance to the black community, we regret this decision adversely affects several of our valued colleagues whose positions will be eliminated with the suspension of the show.”

The network issued a statement on Twitter that read, “We are committed to providing quality news to our viewers and to our long-standing relationship with @rolandsmartin #NewsOneNow who will continue to have a voice on #TVOne.”

LeNora Millen         12-07-17

 

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President Donald Trump will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel

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Why declaring Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is so controversial?

The final status of Jerusalem has always been one of the most difficult and sensitive questions in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If the United States declares Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, it would be seen as prejudging that question, deciding an issue that was supposed to be left to negotiations and breaking with the international consensus on the holy city.
Recognizing Jerusalem as the capital also moves the United States one major step closer to relocating the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which would be seen as cementing Israeli sovereignty over the city.

More from CNN…

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