Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Last Call For The Crown Prince Of Cyber Crime

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman apparently had Washington Post and Amazon owner Jeff Bezos's phone hacked months before Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi was butchered at MBS's orders.

The Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos had his mobile phone “hacked” in 2018 after receiving a WhatsApp message that had apparently been sent from the personal account of the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, sources have told the Guardian.

The encrypted message from the number used by Mohammed bin Salman is believed to have included a malicious file that infiltrated the phone of the world’s richest man, according to the results of a digital forensic analysis.

This analysis found it “highly probable” that the intrusion into the phone was triggered by an infected video file sent from the account of the Saudi heir to Bezos, the owner of the Washington Post.

The two men had been having a seemingly friendly WhatsApp exchange when, on 1 May of that year, the unsolicited file was sent, according to sources who spoke to the Guardian on the condition of anonymity.

Large amounts of data were exfiltrated from Bezos’s phone within hours, according to a person familiar with the matter. The Guardian has no knowledge of what was taken from the phone or how it was used.

The extraordinary revelation that the future king of Saudi Arabia may have had a personal involvement in the targeting of the American founder of Amazon will send shockwaves from Wall Street to Silicon Valley.

It could also undermine efforts by “MBS” – as the crown prince is known – to lure more western investors to Saudi Arabia, where he has vowed to economically transform the kingdom even as he has overseen a crackdown on his critics and rivals.

The disclosure is likely to raise difficult questions for the kingdom about the circumstances around how US tabloid the National Enquirer came to publish intimate details about Bezos’s private life – including text messages – nine months later.

It may also lead to renewed scrutiny about what the crown prince and his inner circle were doing in the months prior to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post journalist who was killed in October 2018 – five months after the alleged “hack” of the newspaper’s owner.

Now that second bold paragraph stating The Guardian doesn't know what was taken from Bezos's phone may be true, but we know part of what happened after the hack: Bezos's extramarital affair was exposed by Trump's favorite tabloid, the National Enquirer, which led to Bezos's costly divorce from his now ex-wife MacKenzie.

Bezos responded by flat out naming National Enquirer publisher David Pecker as the man behind his hacked phone, and last March he named MBS as the person who the operation was funded by.  This story today isn't news, what is news is the method, using WhatsApp and a nasty picture file that hid the back door.

Let's not forget that Bezos, as much of a billionaire villain that he is, has made mortal enemies of both Donald Trump and MBS.  Frankly, watching them battle it out is great.

Pressed The Meat, Con't

My issues with The Intercept's Glenn Greenwald are legendary, his role in helping Dudebro Defector damage the US and allowing Russia to steal the US crown intelligence jewels can't be underestimated.  Without the information Russia undoubtedly got from Snowden, would they have been able to compromise the US as much during the 2016 election cycle?  There are  lot of hard question that I think Greenwald has to answer.

However in his current home of Brazil, he has gotten under the skin of autocratic and homophobic President Jair Bolsonaro once too often, and now Greenwald faces what are certainly trumped-up criminal conspiracy charges against him for his reporting on Bolsonaro's corrupt regime.

Federal prosecutors in Brazil on Tuesday charged the American journalist Glenn Greenwald with cybercrimes for his role in the spreading of cellphone messages that have embarrassed prosecutors and tarnished the image of an anti-corruption task force.

In a criminal complaint made public on Tuesday, prosecutors in the capital, Brasília, accused Mr. Greenwald of being part of a “criminal organization” that hacked into the cellphones of several prosecutors and other public officials last year.

Mr. Greenwald could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Intercept Brasil, a news organization Mr. Greenwald co-founded, has published several articles based on a trove of leaked messages he said he received last year.

In a 95-page criminal complaint, prosecutors say Mr. Greenwald did more than merely receive the hacked messages and oversee the publication of newsworthy information.

Citing intercepted messages between Mr. Greenwald and the hackers, prosecutors say the journalist played a “clear role in facilitating the commission of a crime.”

For instance, prosecutors contend that Mr. Greenwald encouraged the hackers to delete archives that had already been shared with The Intercept Brasil, in order to cover their tracks.

Prosecutors also say that Mr. Greenwald was communicating with the hackers while they were actively monitoring private chats on Telegram, a messaging app.

Mr. Greenwald moved to Brazil in 2005 after meeting David Miranda, a Brazilian man he later married and who became a federal congressman last year.

It's a terrible situation that Greenwald discovered too late that there are far worse people in reality than the villainous version of Barack Obama that lived inside his head.  Practically everything he accused Obama of doing, Bolsanaro is doing right now, including throwing journalists like Greenwald in jail.

Greenwald also looked the other way on the kinds of abuses Russia did to journalists, including imprisonment and hey, outright murder.  But you know what? Not even Greenwald deserves this.  No journalist does.

There's a certain amount of irony here, considering Greenwald does things like "Go on Tucker Carlson's White Power Hour and trash the Democrats as fascists" but it's also a journalist being jailed for telling the truth.

Impeachment Reached, Con't

As the Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump is scheduled to begin deliberations on ground rules this afternoon, the White House and the Senate GOP are doing everything they can to stifle evidence, prevent any witnesses, and end the trial by this time next week.

President Trump’s legal defense team and Senate GOP allies are quietly gaming out contingency plans should Democrats win enough votes to force witnesses to testify in the impeachment trial, including an effort to keep former national security adviser John Bolton from the spotlight, according to multiple officials familiar with the discussions.

While Republicans continue to express confidence that Democrats will fail to persuade four GOP lawmakers to break ranks with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has opposed calling any witnesses in the trial, they are readying a Plan B just in case — underscoring how uncertain they are about prevailing in a showdown over witnesses and Bolton’s possible testimony.

One option being discussed, according to a senior administration official, would be to move Bolton’s testimony to a classified setting because of national security concerns, ensuring that it is not public.

To receive the testimony in a classified session, Trump’s attorneys would have to request such a step, according to one official, adding that it would probably need the approval of 51 senators.

But that proposal, discussed among some Senate Republicans in recent days, is seen as a final tool against Bolton becoming an explosive figure in the trial. First, Republicans involved in the discussions said, would come a fierce battle in the courts.

Trump’s trial begins in earnest Tuesday on the two impeachment charges: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. They center on the allegation that Trump withheld military aid and a White House meeting to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, including former vice president and 2020 candidate Joe Biden. The Trump administration stonewalled the House impeachment probe, denying witnesses and documents.

In an organizing resolution released Monday and authored by McConnell and his team, the rules would allow either the president’s defense team or the House impeachment managers to subpoena witnesses if the Senate agrees, but any witnesses would first have to be deposed. “No testimony shall be admissible in the Senate unless the parties have had an opportunity to depose such witnesses,” the resolution says.

Blocking witnesses such as Bolton — or shielding the testimony from view — could carry political risks for Republicans. Bolton has said he would testify if subpoenaed by the Senate.

“Democrats will ask, ‘Don’t the American people deserve to know the truth?’ ” said William A. Galston, a senior fellow in governance at the Brookings Institution. “On the other hand, they may well calculate that public testimony would create uncertainties that they’re willing to go to considerable lengths to avoid.”

Republicans don't want a court fight, they don't want evidence, and they certainly don't want witnesses.  The trial resolution that Mitch McConnell plans to vote on today basically limits both sides to 24 hours over 2 days, with each day not starting until 1 PM, meaning that Dems will be going long into the night with nobody watching while the GOP could simply rest its case as soon as possible after making whatever crapass arguments and go straight to the Q&A period to Chief Justice Roberts.

It's very possible that the entire trial could be over by this time next week.  In case of any deviation from this track, the Senate GOP will take it immediately to court, and who knows what happens then.  Again, Trump doesn't want this, so I would expect GOP senators to be browbeaten within in inch or two of their political lives until they all follow the script.

We'll see what happens, but it would take a miracle to avoid the scenario where Trump isn't acquitted by the end of the month.


Related Posts with Thumbnails