So the Schindler Operation has ended -- for now -- with the online temptress "Leslie" (@Currahee88) dropping her revenge porn on Twitter, causing maximum "life ruination," as Encyclopedia Dramatica would call it, then waiting through a full 24-hour news cycle to make sure Gawker, the Telegraph, and others would take a whack - then she re-appeared humbly pretending to be sorry, and apologize. Oh, and for good measure, even refuted those claims -- rapidly and furiously spread by the authoritarian feminists for a day and beyond -- that she was a victim of sexual harassment online.
For the record, I had my expression of solidarity up for Schindler immediately -- and I have to say, I had a number of both liberal and conservative males come to me and wag fingers and pontificate about "poor judgement" -- and I sure didn't have as many re-tweeters in that first 24 hours as I did the next day, after her "apology" made it clear that she wasn't "harassed." So telling. Meanwhile, not a single woman reproached me or him -- because from the get-go they saw that little smiley and that "thank you" and that coquettish "I'm scared" and rolled their eyes and realized there was NOTHING unsolicited or "harassing" about these dick picks. Nothing at all.
Also for the record, those who took the high road among our ideological enemies: @conor64 and @ggreenwald. Those who didn't: @ioerror, @emptywheel. And others, predictably, because the difference between professional journalists who write for mainstream papers and magazines, and bloggers, is, well, that.
Then John himself came on with a Mea Culpa, not before Leslie restored her Twitter account oddly, for one supposedly covered in remorse. And so a veil is drawn over the affair, and one hopes that Schindler will keep his job -- he did no wrong but it's a "morals" question that a military college might have some rule or thought about. Fortunately, it's the end of the semester, and perhaps everyone will get back to normal by the fall. What a horrible waste it would be if Schindler lost his credentialed position -- and for no good cause.
Although I realize it follows the literary rules of a genre in our society, I wasn't happy to see his apology extend even to his snarky tweets telling various obvious assholes online to go read a book -- it fuels the bad guys, and the ones heckling him are far worse.
For example Tolstoved, who is one Jesse Stavis, a PhD student (or maybe he has his PhD by now? ) serving as an instructor in the Russian department at the University of Washington. He's a real asshole, because he heckles NSA recruiters that come to his campus -- which is a legitimate function and shouldn't be disrupted -- I hate it when people think you protest government policy by denying others freedom of speech and association.
But more than that, he deliberately came on my blog on the day I published my book and flooded it with utter crap -- specious, false, literalist attacks that weren't remotely related to any "academic discourse" in the slightest - they were just griefing. I don't know if Jesse is in a trained cadre organization -- or worse -- or whether he just learns his tradecraft on the Internet with the rest of the insolent kiddies -- likely the latter. But he's a coward, and not worth Schindler's little finger.
Most of those harassing him, including the contrived heckler from Europe to whose department Schindler finally wrote, are not operating in good faith, are not really interested in debate, but are ideological shills of the sort they pretend he is. In fact, if Schindler were only a shill, nobody would bother with him; it's precisely because he's not a shill and genuine and smart and articulate and funny that they worry.
Oh, and one hopes "Leslie" might "get help" as the kids online say, and perhaps visit Alcoholics Anonymous, as it's more than likely that depression fueld by alcoholism were contributing factors for her destructive and vindictive act.
Except, I think there's more to this story, and while many -- including Schindler himself -- may not want to belabor it when he's trying to get his shattered life back -- since I've been pursued by these same people, I'm going to lay out my thoughts here.
I continue to maintain this was a deliberate, calculated operation, encouraged by Russian intelligence, set up and played out for a year, to discredit -- and try to ruin -- one of the most informed and cogent critics of the Snowden Operation there is.
This operation bears all the signs of provokatsiya, of Soviet-style tradecraft inherited by Russian intelligence, and all the signs of the typical honey pot or active measure or agent of influence or asset. And the chief feature of these operations is that you can't "prove them" to the satisfaction of those who are only too happy to see them go down, or even to those sympathetic with a figure like Schindler.
It doesn't matter. Those who know, know. Eventually they get vindictated as they have in the past with things like the VENONA files. Or we get a defector who explains it. Or maybe there's a confession of the collaborators.
Meanwhile, I'll speak to pieces of this operation that are visible.
At least 6-8 months ago, I recall asking a friend, say, don't you find it odd that this @Currahee88 is always flirting with John Schindler, flattering him, trying to get his attention, seemingly anti-Snowden, and yet she turns on other people in the same circle like a junk-yard dog.
I remember that when I first saw her constantly in interactions with @20committee, I thought she might be some graduate student in security studies, or perhaps even someone in the military, who was somehow "one of them," and that's why they accepted her, the plunging neckline in the avatar didn't hurt either, but I thought she was known to them in real life -- so intimate did she appear. And my friend commented scornfully, "Oh, that's just some wannabee groupie, somebody who wants to be his girlfriend."
Funny, it was that obvious last year, you know?
Meanwhile, @Currahee88 (the name means "stand alone" in an Indian language), this same person, supposedly "in the circle" and pro-military and anti-Snowden would double back and cross the street to heckle me. I was surprised by that. Usually people who are critical of Snowden "get it" about hackers. They don't exonerate them. Yet she made a huge point of reprimanding me for the "crime" of re-tweeting a link to the article by Rachel Marsden which somewhat punctured the myth of the Jester.
It had all the feel of a cult or some kind of really wound-up clique at the least, the way she pursued this. I noted it as odd -- I verified this when she brought her account back on. And it was typical of other heckling she did of me and others on this and other topics -- out of character. It had the feel of the Eddie Haskell type in "Leave it to Beaver" -- smirking with an artificial grin and pronouncing, "Gee, what a pretty dress, Mrs. Cleaver" and referring to "Theodore" even as he gave Wally a kick in the leg.
Something was wrong with this picture. It might have been just the normal hot-house drama and back-biting of all online life, but it seemed more orchestrated.
And when the Schindler Operation went down, Leslie was quick to return and tell people it wasn't the Jester, and of course he himself denied it. Other accounts hastened to cross the street and bang on me -- when they never had before -- to deny this. Definitely "lady doth protest too much, methinks" material.
But I should note that Leslie -- maybe not her real name, maybe a real first name or maybe the name repeatedly given with her "doxing" on Pastebin is real -- or maybe not -- is a real person. That is, her account could still be run by a group of people, but at this point Rosie Gray has written about her as if she is a real person, not a persona on Buzzfeed; I've been told by reliable sources that she is real, and has been reached on the phone and email at least.
She's no security studies student though (and never said she was -- that was just a kind of cloud-like impression) -- it turns out she is a waitress, age 35.
"I was working in a waitress in a cocktail bar/that much is true."
The doxing isn't really so helpful because it isn't confirmed journalistically and doesn't really explain motive or connections or true beliefs.
I have reason to believe that "Leslie" is another person in the circle who has created Leslie as the mule, and maybe even the Moscow Mule.
To digress (but it's related) -- elsewhere on Leslie's timeline we see she particiated in another op of the sort all too common now to discredit Hillary Clinton. She claims to be a rape victim (and we have no way of knowing if this is true or part of her online sympathy-getting campaign; it was never reported to the police so it is uncheckable). And then based on that alleged experience, she claims that Hillary is somehow insensitive and unprotective of women because early in her career, as a lawyer, she had to defend a rapist of a 12-year-old girl. Hillary, of course, is known for her promotion of women's rights -- and it is a solid record. Even the most horrid rapists in our country get legal defense, that's the law, and that's what civil rights is all about.
It's astounding that this story is being wrenched and politicized into something like Romney's punching out some guy when he was a youth -- only far worse. Because the purpose is to discredit Hillary not only as a fighter for human rights, but as a woman, to make her seem "insensitive". This story was never dredged up when she ran for president before, but now it is, because this is the technique of the Bolshevik/Saul Alinsky/Dead Agent (Scientology) method of trying to pin on someone who is decent some sin that is just the opposite of what they are believed to be, to undermine them with the public.
So that lets me know we could be dealing here with a particular nest of accounts that work overtime to discredit people they view as "neo-cons" -- some of the most vicious and nasty political operatives out there. But you'd have to wonder why those people, who spend most of their time taking aim at much more public and high-traffic bloggers like Robert McCain or Lee Stranahan, would bother with this niche of people who criticize Snowden -- people UTTERLY drowned out in the din of pro-Snowden media and blogging coverage. Truly, why bother? Well, for the hard-core sectarian, there can never be even one person who disbelieves as they could potentially unravel the entire fiction, but somehow, I don't think it's this particular bunch.
Also on Pastebin, you can find speculation about a group of accounts around the Jester, believed either to be his sock puppets or fans or associates.
And sure enough, these accounts figure in with the Schindler story, either flattering or attacking Schindler, and also harassing people like me.
@Non_disclosure has been particularly active in heckling Snowden critics and seems to come with the ready-made set of views that fit such persons. One thing he's been busy doing is leaking out to various other accounts that he is "really Rachel Marsden" and then letting it be known to other accounts that he is likely "the Jester". So it's designed to keep people tied up in knots, confused, and fighting each other instead of doing the simple Jesus test:
"By their fruits ye shall know them."
Most of the people in these groups of accounts don't pass the Jesus test. Their fruits are indeed bitter and they aren't sweet as they claim to be. This is why this article by Ashera Research is particularly useful, because it tracks the claims over time, and shows that the "life ruination" quotient is high, and the jihadi site damaging is low. Or so it seems. This article also lacks names, and journalistic follow-up.
It's a shame there aren't journalists who are willing to get to the bottom of these stories, but they are put off by things that sound like they are conspiracies. See my conversation with the Christian Science Monitor reporter who doesn't doubt that there is some kind of operation going on here, but won't pursue it because "it can't be proved."
So let's come to another creepy figure amidst this bunch, @5150Committee, or "Fake John Schindler". I've always assumed -- because he has the same set of issues, obsessions, and linguistic patterns -- that this person is exactly the same as the figure once known as Mr. X, and then later as Jack Montano, SeniorEquis1775, Escobar, OpHatchAct2 and similar accounts, quite a few of them banned or deleted at this point.
Just as the Schindler Operation was going down and the private correspondence was being leaked, who should send me an email but OpHatchAct2 -- who speaks in his emails so much about @5150Committee in the "asking for a friend" mode that naturally you are further convinced that they are the same person, or at least in the same group.
That email was was received by me at 12:55 June 23rd, but on his email, it was date stamped Sun, 22 Jun 2014 20:51:56 and said that OpHatchAct2 had "ZERO" to do with "the weird crap is apparently going down as of 12:15 a.m. EST Monday June 23 with one of Schindler's longtime gal pal accounts (by longtime I mean dating back almost a year to July 2013), @Currahee88."
Well, it's not that OpHatch knew about the operation ahead of time -- although it's always possible -- it's just that the date stamp for him isn't EST. If he's 4 hours ahead, where is he? Well, actually, he's 3 hours ahead, because he is forwarding to me an email that he has likely mass-mailed to others, and that explains the discrepancy in the minutes.
Why do I think that? Why, because for days before and after this email about @20committee and @Currahee88, I've been harassed by emails screaming about my coverage of Russian news and accusing me of being a CIA agent and Nazi lover from this same OpHatch -- all of them cc'd to all kinds of people from Alex Jones to Matt Drudge.
When I looked at Twitter as soon as I got that email, the offending tweets were already there.
OpHatch goes to huge pains to explain that he knew knowing about this operation, had nothing to do with it, and that it was unrelated to his own beefs with Schindler.
But here's the thing. He also complained that @Currahee88 had "spear-phished @5150Committee" -- and if you look at the pictures on her Twitter account, she triumphantly holds up two screenshots of a URL she has obtained, which resolves to a server registered to the University of California at San Diego
Those who have watched @20committee be heckled by OpHatch for a year on his various socks know that his latest obsession has been this belief that "Schindler spear-phished him" to try to out him and get him prosecuted.Schindler denied doing this.
So meanwhile, the likely scenario seems this: Leslie decided to do one of those "missions" that the hacker and provocateur set always does, whether in Anonymous or working for Russian intelligence, in order to prove their reliability and loyalty to the cause.
In the Anonymous setting, these "missions" or "ops" as they call them can be conceived in a freelance manner and not "approved" and then the aspiring script kiddie hopes to eventually come to the attention of an Anonymous higher-up their very rigid chain of command (it's not the loose thing people imagine) by doxing or DDoSing a victim hated by "hive mind". If he accomplishes his mission and it is seen as a "hit," he will move up the ladder in the intricate cult.
For a KGB or later FSB informant or asset, it could be more disciplined -- an assignment would be given from the top-down. Often, the assignments given were ridiculously simple and unnecessary. For example, go get a newspaper clipping that of course the KGB could get itself. But what was important wasn't the content of the assignment but THAT the agent would be put on the hook then, beholden to the KGB as having done a favour for them.
Bradley Manning did this sort of favour for Assange finding the cable about the FBI's surveillance in Iceland; I have hypothesized that Jacob Appelbaum and Laura Poitras, who come from a movement and an organization with this kind of cadre method would have demanded the same of Snowden -- and possibly he of them. Maybe Runa Sandvik had to come to Honolulu to his crypto party and give him a Tor sticker...
So Leslie went vigorously about this challenge, and purported to come up with something about this @5150Committee account related to the University of San Diego. We don't know if she could triangulate this with other data she had picked up to zero in on the person who might be @5150Committe or not -- we can't even be sure that the entire thing was faked up as a op-within-an-op to make it look like she had gotten Schindler's enemy mad (when all along he could have been DMing Leslie in cahoots).
There are services now that home right in on the server, but they aren't accurate. There are a variety of different locations showing for this server. One is in the parking lot of a branch of the San Diego Public Library across from the Salvation Army. Doesn't that fit the picture of some loon, mumbling to himself, the character OpHatch is always trying to pretend to be? (And I have no doubt now it is a pretense, having seen the last bit of hate mails and threats he has sent to me -- and his staging of a discreditation campaign of me as Nazi-loving CIA agent blah blah). But wouldn't the public library have its own server? Maybe they use the university's system?
The other locations go to near a university department in San Diego that matches with information that I have come up with in researching about a possible figure who might be doing this, or it goes to another parking lot at the beach, or to an apartment building near the university. Well, the person could be in a car or on a bike with a laptop.
But it's not conclusive and the entire thing could be a false lead, just to keep people tied up in knots.
(If you want to see how inaccurate these services are, look up your own ISP on them and find yourself in the river and not in a building.)
Meanwhile, we notice that Leslie has on other occasions flirted with military men, tried to get close to them, and try to get information out of them, including a person she thought was a Navy SEAL. What's up?
Here's another odd thing, related to Leslie's friends, and similar to Leslie. Here's a group of people on Twitter who are all security or regional experts -- I even know two of them because one of them follows me and retweets my every pearl of wisdom (something I never trust on Twitter), and another blocked me.
In this group, like a rose among thorns, if you will, is the account said to be "the Jester's girlfriend" (I don't know if this means in real life or online, likely the latter). This Texan doesn't seem to be in security studies, and I'm told that she has had a life checkered with her husband's arrest for child pornography and her own involvement in some hacking story and an even more bizarre and intricate story involving a chess federation scandal. She doesn't seem to fit in intellect or class with the others, yet there she is, put into a Follow Friday grouping, even with a "thanks, Angel".
What to make of things like that? These are accounts with under 2000 followers that almost never chat or make comments, but only tweet or retweet headlines on the topic. Are they all socks? To what end?
One sees these sort of mysteries all the time on Twitter, and perhaps *cough* Twitter is the great equalizer and class and regional and nationality differences are dissolved in the great encounter of minds online.
Somehow, I don't think that's it, though.
So looking at these various accounts and their interactions, I start to get a sense of a faction, if you will, or a movement, that basically sounds like a kind of Oathkeepers outfit. These are people who glorify the military, but without really looking at the military's purpose in the context of a civil society or its civilian control. They have a contrived and over-heated sense of harm done to "the people of America" by officials, particularly military officials, who have turned out to be corrupt or violated their oaths. Snowden fits into that category for them, obviously.
They don't exactly fit the profile of a Tea Party or Ron Paul type because they don't seem to have the same list of obsessions, and they are more liberal. In fact, they think Tea Partiers are stupid and even destructive to the military. They aren't anti-gay or racist; they drink like horses and take drugs randomly; they want "freedom" and do a little bit of flag-waving but not like Confederates or biker gangs. They worship the Jester because they see him as having all the good qualities of military (stealth, strength, cunning, bravery, steely determination to fight enemies) without any of the bad qualities that keep coming up with our military as I have written about at length here -- figures like Petraeus or McCrystal who through weakness or vanity or stupidity end up creating wild scandals and undermining our nation's image and perhaps real security as well -- and hey, perhaps they had their own Moscow Mules at work in their stories, too.)
As I said about the Jester before, he exists because the real armed services and intelligence agencies aren't doing their job. By that I mean they are undermined by poor management but more to the point, factions of bureaucrats and officers who really do have a mindset antithetical to what have traditionally been America's foreign policy goals and democratic methods. Snowden couldn't have happened otherwise; he didn't happen in a vacuum; he happened within a culture, a wikification, as I've called it, just like Manning.
These are people raised on the Internet who dislike Israel, admire Putin, think we should be friends with Iran, and want to wind down the "war on terror" because they think Islam is a religion of peace that America is primarily to blame for riling up. These are who grew up without any of the landmarks we older people have in our consciousness of the 6-day war or the Chechen wars or the Iranian hostages.
I encounter this faction or others similar to it all too often, and most troubling, I encounter it in young people in power in the State Department, embassies abroad, multilaterals and various agencies. They admire Snowden and think he did something important. They don't get it about Russia; hell, they *are* Russian. That's just it -- the government doesn't support Russian studies and put a priority on Russian area studies and language anymore by non-Russians who are therefore unbiased and friendly to US policy; they skimp and take second-generation or 4th wave Russians without checking to see what their political beliefs are -- and more often than not, unlike past waves of emigration, they are pro-Kremlin and anti-American -- they've learned this on their college campuses, if not at home.
But here's the thing about this faction or overlapping factions or "movement" -- they might have some views that overlap with people like me (or Schindler, for that matter), but their methods are antithetical to the rule of law. They believe in dirty tricks, subterfuge, sabotage -- the end justifies the means.
I have only a vague sense of this faction sabotaging Schindler because I haven't had time to study it or look for it, and I haven't even heard of things like the "Tenthers" until this week. But it's that kind of thing -- a faction, a sect, if you will, devoted to "taking action" and remaining underground.
Why am I speaking of factions and not some 50-year-old chain-smoker named "Ivan" who is good at photoshopping and even simulating geolocation of Twitter account photos for Omaha, Nebraska?
If you woke Leslie up at 3:00 in the morning and asked her if she were a Russian agent, she'd deny it furiously. If you gave her a lie-detector test or worse, some harsh interrogation -- she'd still deny it vigorously and she'd likely be right -- because she is likely not a conscious agent of any kind at all. Indeed, the very idea might be antithetical to her beliefs.
Instead, she is a Moscow Mule. She is someone used to convey ideas and hints and nudges without question by other operatives to the side or above her -- because unconsciously -- she is the beast of burden of the operation, if you will.
Yes, I'm aware that the Moscow Mule is an entirely fake drink.
Now, that means you have to ask who the "real" Russian agents are in groups like this. Are they the silent people who barely make an appearance or have so many cut-aways you can't find them? Are they actual Russians or agents of influence who are actually more visible? Or are they the ones that seem to try really hard to seem like crazy, loony, sectarian Americans -- you know, like Tea Party or Oathkeeper types -- yet are "off" just a bit and are crazy...like a fox?
The reason they call it an "operation" or "op" whether at the FSB or Anonymous is because it has methods and means and a beginning, middle, and end, and an intended effect and an aftermath and perhaps a "gift that keeps on giving" as a bonus. But it's meant to be secret and distractive and subversive, so it's not possible to detect. A blogger like me without resources can't really get anything out of it, even though we might see all the contours of "Moscow's hand."
I think as with the Snowden Operation, as it is called, or the Snowden Hack as I call it, that there are hacker movements like WikiLeaks and Anonymous that are either collaborating with or infiltrated by Russian agents, and then all it takes is a nudge here and there. You know, a blog post, a Crypto Party guest list, an email, a PGP key, a photo, a clue -- a something. A nudge -- and away we go.
Sometimes you can stir up a whole bunch of trouble just by getting people mad at each other who used to be friends on the same side of the barricades.
Along the way, it's easy to create many diversions and distractions. Some people aren't very bright and tangle it up further. There's a Russian-language account who keeps dropping Russian chastushki (limericks) about professors and dicks, perhaps automated. There's an Anon who seems to hold one of those sharia-like courts berating Lesie and "educating" her. There's another Anon berating her for selling Tre (The Archer) down the river. And so on. The usual online derp, and tiresome cult-like sect.
Who has the time to sift through it? I hope someone bothers, especially if they have all those network identifying tools which I personally don't want to bother with now.
There's of course the Archer -- the account that "white-knighted" it for Leslie, with a name similar to the Jester, but that may be just "leet speak". Why was this account even needed? To avoid having the Leslie account banned. That way she could delete the offensive pictures, once she proved the provenance from herself, because they are a TOS violation, and have this other account flog them to maximize the damage -- and then not care if he is banned or forced to delete. There's a person by this name in the Navy. Maybe another person with just the same name...
So let me come now to a last funny data point -- the Jester YouTube with the Russian-language news web site open in the background that makes up the wallpaper of a video about the use of his hacker tool Xerxes to take down a site.
While one of the persons said to be the Jester -- and then rejected as such -- Robin Jackson -- is said to know Russian, the ongoing Jester figure doesn't seem to know it. Or does he?
The news site is an obscure one -- what amounts to a local shopper in the Crimea -- yes, that Crimea which was just forcibly annexed by Putin.
But the stories shown are from 2010 long before the invasion -- they are about Easter ceremonies, about awards ceremonies for the Russian Navy, hyper local stories for those towns in the Crimea like Feodosiya.
In months of total immersion in the Ukraine war, I've never come across that very local publication, because it is not a major news vehicle -- when I say "shopper," I'm trying to convey that it's a rough equivalent of not even the Village Voice, but Town & Village, which is my neighbourhood newspaper.
Why would an American military man have that particular local news site open on his desk top?
One theory might be that he was gathering intel on Russia in some fashion. In the very old days, the Soviets used to prevent foreigners from ever seeing their newspapers, local or national even, because they feared Western spies getting intel from them. In fact, journalist Nick Daniloff was set up and arrested precisely for accepting a bundle of provincial newspapers -- the hardest kind for foreigners to get - which were sought after not only by spies, but by scholars and journalists because even with state censorship, they had useful things to convey about how life was lived outside the main cities where foreigners were not allowed.
But that's no longer a factor today, and even if you could glean things like ship movements, or determine an occasion when a spy on the ground could go and observe the line-up of military leaders and observe relations (such as at an awards ceremony), it seems like an awfully clumsy way to get it -- there are likely much more sophisticated methods.
So another theory is that a person who was from that locale would be interested in reading about his home town, as only a such a person can be interested in such papers, i.e. the Jester is from there.
Crimea is a place of a lot of activity -- there are ports -- but it's somewhat cut off from Russia (it's only getting a bridge built now after the occupation). But it's a place of criminal activity as well, and the people who came to political power there are connected to the Russian mafias, because mafias the world over get into shipping, and what is shipped, like arms or metals.
A third theory -- the publication had classified ads in which Russians selling bot networks could advertise in code. That has to be studied more, but that might be why a hacker in the US would be studying a very local paper.
That's all for now, and I don't have time to put in any links or spell out names. To be continued...