Posts Tagged ‘FBI’

 

A major international police operation to bust child predators involved police sharing child pornography with over a million unsuspecting online subscribers for a year after investigators took control of the dark web’s largest child abuse forum. Though hundreds of pedophiles were arrested after the site was shut down, the police sting involved undercover officers sharing extremely disturbing content and encouraging followers to engage in sexual acts with children. But police say it was worth it.

A new report reveals that Australian police were running the largest pedophile and child pornography forum on the internet for a year as part of a joint initiative between Australian, European, and Canadian police as well as the US Department of Homeland Security to track down the site’s administrators and child porn producers. Over the weekend the Norwegian newspaper VG published its bombshell investigation which confirmed that between October 2016 and September 2017 a special police task force based in Queensland, Australia was able to quietly hack the site “Childs Play” which had reached over a million registered accounts and had thousands of active users.

Queensland police at Taskforce Argos, including investigator Paul Griffiths (pictured). Image source: Kinsa.net

The task force was able to identify the site’s top tier administrators, leading to hundreds of international arrests and criminal investigations, but not before crossing what critics see as a significant ethical line: to expose those behind the site, police themselves posted child pornography and facilitated what was essentially a pedophile online meet-up.

The site has existed since April 2016 on the dark web, which made it next to impossible to identify users and administrators as the dark web operates based on layers of encryption which ensures complete anonymity. Not only did the forum include over one hundred active producers of child pornography who would daily post videos and images, but even more disturbingly involved a smaller inner circle who shared child torture videos.

Among this inner circle were Childs Play administrators ‘Warhead’ and ‘Crazymonk’ – later revealed to be 26-year old Canadian Benjamin Faulkner and 27-year old Tennessee native Patrick Falte, according the VG report. Both had previously worked as internet security professionals and were active technical support providers for pedophilia related internet sites – the two had initially met, for example, through a website called the the “Pedo Support Community.” The Australian child abuse task force had begun tracking the two by assembling profiles of their previous digital footprints in relation to child abuse related chat on the open web.

Source: Norway’s VG

Faulkner (Warhead) for example, had in 2012 posted the following to a chat forum under his previous online identity, CuriousVendetta:

A little about myself to establish credibility here: My name is CuriousVendetta, and I work as a JR forensics consultant and penetration tester for an IT security firm. On the side, I do what I can to cause general mischief on the internet with a few friends of mine…

At the pool is where I am free, and where I can generate my fantasies. I have more girls in my ‘fan club’ than I can even count.

Faulkner was working as a youth swimming instructor in the small Canadian city of North Bay in Ontario and though it appears some parents had become suspicious of his proclivities, no police reports were ever filed. Patrick Falte had lived all his life with his parents a half an hour outside of Nashville and was the more advanced technical expert of the two. Both Warhead and Crazymonk as administrators of the Childs Play dark web forum had promised subscribers increased security measures. For example users knew that should

Warhead, the site’s leader, ever miss one of his routine postings to the community which involved a message stamped with a pornographic image, it would be a signal that the community had been infiltrated by police.

But police did infiltrate the community and took it over, partly due to mistakes made by the administrators. The forum transacted in Bitcoin – common for the dark web – but Crazymonk had his bitcoin wallet linked to his personal email address, making it easy for the US Department of Homeland Security to locate him. Other mistakes which helped police included both site leaders posting identifying information in various on the open web which helped investigators build profiles for the two. From there police not only began monitoring the pair – even installing tracking devices on their vehicles – but were also able to observe all communications and postings on the site through a backdoor. It was soon understood that the two would occasionally drive for over 10 hours to meet multiple times a year. After months of monitoring, the two met in person at a usual spot

in Manassas, Virginia, where one of Childs Play’s users had regularly offered the men his 4-year old daughter to rape while being video taped.

It was in Manassas that US federal agents finally made the arrest, but only after the 4-year old had already been raped in a Virginia home. Authorities told VG that they had no way of knowing of the rape beforehand, citing online messaging as not indicative of that information. The video tape would later be used to convict Faulkner and Falte, who were given life sentences for both the rape and running the site. After the arrests, the Australian task force, known as Argos, then moved in to assume the identities of the arrested site administrators. Investigators studied the pair’s online language styles and characteristics, eventually posting an admin message so that users wouldn’t get suspicious, which of course required the child pornography image stamp.

The site’s server was located in Australia, which was important to the international investigation as Australian law gives police broad leeway to commit crimes in

pursuit of investigations, especially in relation to catching child pornographers. Task force Argo’s officers not only uploaded the image, thereby convincing subscribers that nothing was wrong, but according to VG issued the following message to the community:

“I hope that some of you were able to give a special present to the little ones in your lives, and spend some time with them. It’s a great time of year to snuggle up near a fire, and make some memories.”

Police, while running the site, also continued to share images and videos while undergoing their year-long investigation which identified numerous video producers as well as consumers of the content. For example the task force posted a video of an eight-year-old girl being raped only two weeks after taking over the forum, which was viewed 770,617 times, according to the report. Such extreme police tactics, which authorities argue was necessary to rescue victims and put predators behind bars, have outraged some of the victims’ families.

VG reporters were able to speak to a mother of one the victims whose video was used by police as part of the operation: “My daughter

should not be used as a bait… It is not right for the police to promote these images,” she said. But police investigators told VG in response to criticism that, “There is definitely a balance between what we want to achieve and how we go about it.” And added, “Eventually we get to the point where it isn’t worth running the forum any more. But as long as we’re identifying victims, producers and abusers, we will keep running it.”

A similar investigation by the FBI in 2015 of a site significantly smaller than Child’s Play’s size made 870 arrests and rescued 259 children after agents kept it online for just two weeks. The FBI came under fire for actively sharing, promoting and facilitating the transfer of thousands of images and videos. But the Australian task force ran a site which was over five times the size and content volume for close to a year.

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New and gripping information surfacing involving possible video tap, letter and potential numerous accomplices.

Unless we come to terms with 9/11 and the obvious fact that the official government story is a ridiculous fairytale, it’ll be hard for our nation to move forward in an intelligent, courageous and ethical manner.

Many of the most destructive trends which have defined our post September 11, 2001 environment, such as a loss of civil liberties and endless barbaric wars of aggression abroad, have been directly related to our false understanding of that awful terrorist attack.

As I’ve always maintained, I have no idea what really went down on that day, I just know that the U.S. government and its intelligence agencies are not being honest.

Although it’s been a long time coming, we’re finally uncovering some kernels of truth about the attack and the role Saudi Arabia played in carrying them out. Much of this progress has been driven by family members of those who died, some of whom are suing the Saudis for their role in that despicable slaughter of civilians.

I’ve written about these lawsuits on several occasions, but here’s an updated summary from Common Dreams, published two days ago:

As our summer draws to a close and ushers in a cool and rainy September, there is a solemn chill in the air marking the approaching anniversary of the infamous attacks on the World Trade Center that took place September 11th, 2001 – nearly sixteen years ago. The memories are still fresh for the survivors and the family members of victims who are to this day living with their losses while continuing to fight for accountability through both the military court in Guantanamo, where individuals involved in the attacks have been tried or are still facing painstakingly slow trials. This upcoming sixteenth anniversary of 9/11 will be the first time since the attacks that the families now have another legal recourse for seeking accountability not only from individuals but from a nation involved in the attack: Saudi Arabia.

Introduced in the Senate on September 16th, 2015, the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) removed a major roadblock to justice by opening the way for private US citizens to file suit against the Saudi government, which was previously protected by the blanket immunity given to foreign governments. There is much that we do not yet know about what went on behind closed doors with regard to the orchestration of the 9/11 attacks, but the declassification of the portion of the 2002 Congressional Joint Inquiry known as the 28 pages on July 15th, 2016, after 14 years of secrecy, offered the preliminary hope of some much-needed answers. Of the 19 total hijackers who carried out the attacks, 15 were from Saudi Arabia, and evidence contained within the 28 pages pointed to financial connections between these individuals and members of the Saudi government.

Curiously, however, Saudi Arabia’s suspected culpability in the attacks has not been reflected in US response. From the War on Terror in Iraq and Afghanistan to President Trump’s attempted travel ban affecting a list of seven Muslim-majority countries—from which Saudi Arabia is notably absent, it would appear that our government’s enthusiasm for retaliation against “Islamic terror” has a blind spot in the shape of the US alliance with Saudi Arabia.

Getting at the truth of the extent to which the Saudi government sponsored and aided in the attacks is a vital step towards justice and closure for families that, until JASTA, had the power of foreign sovereign immunity standing in its way. Despite fierce oppositionfrom Saudi lobbyists and a presidential veto that argued that it would invite similar lawsuits against the United States government from victims of US war crimes, JASTA was successfully passed into law on September 28th, 2016. Only two days later, the first lawsuit under this new act went forward. DeSimone v. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, filed by the widow of US Navy Commander Patrick Dunn, set the precedent for many other lawsuits of its kind to follow.

While some JASTA lawsuits came from single individuals or families as in the case of DeSimone v. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, others were filed in the form of consolidated complaints with hundreds of plaintiffs issuing shared demands. Ashton et al v. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is one of the largest class action lawsuits of this kind, sporting the names of over 800 family members and 1500 survivors. Filed March 20th, 2017, the lawsuit as of the time of this publication is contending with a motion filed by Saudi Arabia to dismiss it from the court. Lawyers for the plaintiffs have until October 2nd to submit documents opposing the motion.

Evidence of at least some Saudi complicity in the attacks is pretty much undeniable at this point, and if you missed it the first time, I suggest you read my summary of what we learned in the infamous “28 Pages.”

But now we have even more information. A lot more. For instance, take a look at some of what the New York Post reported over the weekend:

Fresh evidence submitted in a major 9/11 lawsuit moving forward against the Saudi Arabian government reveals its embassy in Washington may have funded a “dry run” for the hijackings carried out by two Saudi employees, further reinforcing the claim that employees and agents of the kingdom directed and aided the 9/11 hijackers and plotters.

Two years before the airliner attacks, the Saudi Embassy paid for two Saudi nationals, living undercover in the US as students, to fly from Phoenix to Washington “in a dry run for the 9/11 attacks,” alleges the amended complaint filed on behalf of the families of some 1,400 victims who died in the terrorist attacks 16 years ago.

The court filing provides new details that paint “a pattern of both financial and operational support” for the 9/11 conspiracy from official Saudi sources, lawyers for the plaintiffs say. In fact, the Saudi government may have been involved in underwriting the attacks from the earliest stages — including testing cockpit security.

“We’ve long asserted that there were longstanding and close relationships between al Qaeda and the religious components of the Saudi government,” said Sean Carter, the lead attorney for the 9/11 plaintiffs. “This is further evidence of that.”

Citing FBI documents, the complaint alleges that the Saudi students — Mohammed al-Qudhaeein and Hamdan al-Shalawi — were in fact members of “the Kingdom’s network of agents in the US,” and participated in the terrorist conspiracy.

They had trained at al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan at the same time some of the hijackers were there. And while living in Arizona, they had regular contacts with a Saudi hijacker pilot and a senior al Qaeda leader from Saudi now incarcerated at Gitmo. At least one tried to re-enter the US a month before the attacks as a possible muscle hijacker but was denied admission because he appeared on a terrorist watch list.

Qudhaeein and Shalawi both worked for and received money from the Saudi government, with Qudhaeein employed at the Ministry of Islamic Affairs. Shalawi was also “a longtime employee of the Saudi government.” The pair were in “frequent contact” with Saudi officials while in the US, according to the filings.

During a November 1999 America West flight to Washington, Qudhaeein and Shalawi are reported to have tried multiple times to gain access to the cockpit of the plane in an attempt to test flight-deck security in advance of the hijackings.

“After they boarded the plane in Phoenix, they began asking the flight attendants technical questions about the flight that the flight attendants found suspicious,” according to a summary of the FBI case files.

“When the plane was in flight, al-Qudhaeein asked where the bathroom was; one of the flight attendants pointed him to the back of the plane,” it added. “Nevertheless, al-Qudhaeein went to the front of the plane and attempted on two occasions to enter the cockpit.”

 

The pilots were so spooked by the Saudi passengers and their aggressive behavior that they made an emergency landing in Ohio. On the ground there, police handcuffed them and took them into custody. Though the FBI later questioned them, it decided not to pursue prosecution.

But after the FBI discovered that a suspect in a counterterrorism investigation in Phoenix was driving Shalawi’s car, the bureau opened a counterterrorism case on Shalawi. Then, in November 2000, the FBI received reporting that Shalawi trained at terrorist camps in Afghanistan and had received explosives training to perform attacks on American targets. The bureau also suspected Qudhaeein was a Saudi intelligence agent, based on his frequent contact with Saudi officials.

More, investigators learned that the two Saudis traveled to Washington to attend a symposium hosted by the Saudi Embassy in collaboration with the Institute for Islamic and Arabic Sciences in America, which was chaired by the Saudi ambassador. Before being shut down for terrorist ties, IIASA employed the late al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki as a lecturer. Awlaki ministered to some of the hijackers and helped them obtain housing and IDs.

The FBI also confirmed that Qudhaeein’s and Shalawi’s airline tickets for the pre-9/11 dry run were paid for by the Saudi Embassy.

“The dry run reveals more of the fingerprints of the Saudi government,” said Kristen Breitweiser, one of the New York plaintiffs, whose husband perished at the World Trade Center.

Carter said in an interview that the allegations that the Saudi Embassy sponsored a pre-9/11 dry run — along with charges of other Saudi involvement in the 9/11 plot, from California to Florida — are based on “nearly 5,000 pages of evidence submitted of record and incorporated by reference into the complaint.”

They include “every FBI report that we have been able to obtain,” though hundreds of thousands of pages of government documents related to Saudi terror funding remain secret.

 

Finally, let me end this post by sharing a video put together by James Corbett, which has attained nearly 3 million views.

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This is a story that refuses to go away. Recall the post from earlier this month, Backlash Grows Months After the FBI’s Sham Investigation Into Hillary Clinton, in which we learned:

 Feeling the heat from congressional critics, Comey last week argued that the case was investigated by career FBI agents, “So if I blew it, they blew it, too.”

But agents say Comey tied investigators’ hands by agreeing to unheard-of ground rules and other demands by the lawyers for Clinton and her aides that limited their investigation.

 

“In my 25 years with the bureau, I never had any ground rules in my interviews,” said retired agent Dennis V. Hughes, the first chief of the FBI’s computer investigations unit.

Instead of going to prosecutors and insisting on using grand jury leverage to compel testimony and seize evidence, Comey allowed immunity for several key witnesses, including potential targets.

What’s more, Comey cut a deal to give Clinton a “voluntary” witness interview on a major holiday, and even let her ex-chief of staff sit in on the interview as a lawyer, even though she, too, was under investigation.

Agreed retired FBI agent Michael M. Biasello: “Comey has singlehandedly ruined the reputation of the organization.”

Comey made the 25 agents who worked on the case sign nondisclosure agreements. But others say morale has sunk inside the bureau.

“The director is giving the bureau a bad rap with all the gaps in the investigation,” one agent in the Washington field office said. “There’s a perception that the FBI has been politicized and let down the country.”

While the above article focused on the opinions of retired agents, today’s article zeros in on the growing frustrations of current agency employees.

The Daily Caller reports:

FBI agents say the bureau is alarmed over Director James Comey deciding not to suggest that the Justice Department prosecute Hillary Clinton over her mishandling of classified information.

According to an interview transcript given to The Daily Caller, provided by an intermediary who spoke to two federal agents with the bureau last Friday, agents are frustrated by Comey’s leadership.

“This is a textbook case where a grand jury should have convened but was not. That is appalling,” an FBI special agent who has worked public corruption and criminal cases said of the decision. “We talk about it in the office and don’t know how Comey can keep going.”

Another special agent for the bureau that worked counter-terrorism and criminal cases said he is offended by Comey’s saying: “we” and “I’ve been an investigator.”

After graduating from law school, Comey became a law clerk to a U.S. District Judge in Manhattan and later became an associate in a law firm in the city. After becoming a U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York, Comey’s career moved through the U.S. Attorney’s Office until he became Deputy Attorney General during the George W. Bush administration.

After Bush left office, Comey entered the private sector and became general counsel and Senior Vice President for Lockheed Martin, among other private sector posts. President Barack Obama appointed him to FBI director in 2013 replacing out going-director Robert Mueller.

“Comey was never an investigator or special agent. The special agents are trained investigators and they are insulted that Comey included them in ‘collective we’ statements in his testimony to imply that the SAs agreed that there was nothing there to prosecute,” the second agent said. “All the trained investigators agree that there is a lot to prosecuted but he stood in the way.”

Indeed, there were many red flags surrounding Comey from the beginning. So much so that I wrote an article in 2013 titled, So Who is James Comey, Obama’s Nominee to Head the FBI?

 In light of the latest revelations that the NSA is spying on the communications of millions of Verizon customers courtesy of information provided by the FBI, it probably makes sense to know a little more about Obama’s nominee to head that Bureau.  That man is James Comey, and he was a top Department of Justice attorney under John Ashcroft during the George W. Bush Administration (since then he has worked at Lockheed Martin and at the enormous Connecticut hedge fund Bridgewater Associates).  This guy defines the revolving door cancer ruining these United States.

Now back to The Daily Caller.

 According to Washington D.C. attorney Joe DiGenova , more FBI agents will be talking about the problems at bureau and specifically the handling of the Clinton case by Comey when Congress comes back into session and decides to force them to testify by subpoena.

DiGenova told WMAL radio’s Drive at Five last week, “People are starting to talk. They’re calling their former friends outside the bureau asking for help. We were asked to day to provide legal representation to people inside the bureau and agreed to do so and to former agents who want to come forward and talk. Comey thought this was going to go away.”

He explained, “It’s not. People inside the bureau are furious. They are embarrassed. They feel like they are being led by a hack but more than that that they think he’s a crook. They think he’s fundamentally dishonest. They have no confidence in him. The bureau inside right now is a mess.”

He added, “The most important thing of all is that the agents have decided that they are going to talk.”

Corruption in the USA has now reached the level where it starts destroying the entire fabric of society itself. This is a very dangerous moment.

Earlier this week, Republican leaders in both houses of Congress took the FBI to task for its failure to be transparent. In the House, it was apparently necessary to serve a subpoena on an FBI agent to obtain what members of Congress want to see; and in the Senate, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee accused the FBI itself of lawbreaking.

Here is the back story.

Ever since FBI Director James Comey announced on July 5 he was recommending that the Department of Justice not seek charges against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as a result of her failure to safeguard state secrets during her time in office, many in Congress have had a nagging feeling that this was a political, not a legal, decision. The publicly known evidence of Clinton’s recklessness and willful failure to safeguard secrets was overwhelming. The evidence of her lying under oath about whether she returned all her work-related emails that she had taken from the State Department was profound and incontrovertible.

And then we learned that people who worked for Clinton were instructed to destroy several of her mobile devices and to remove permanently the stored emails on one of her servers. All this was done after these items had been subpoenaed by two committees of the House of Representatives

Yet the FBI — which knew of the post-subpoena destruction of evidence and which acknowledged that Clinton failed to return thousands of her work-related emails as she had been ordered by a federal judge to do, notwithstanding at least three of her assertions to the contrary while under oath — chose to overlook the evidence of not only espionage but also obstruction of justice, tampering with evidence, perjury and misleading Congress.

As if to defend itself in the face of this most un-FBI-like behavior, the FBI then released to the public selected portions of its work product, which purported to back up its decision to recommend against the prosecution of Clinton. Normally, the FBI gathers evidence and works with federal prosecutors and federal grand juries to build cases against targets in criminal probes, and its recommendations to prosecutors are confidential.

But in Clinton’s case, the hierarchy of the Department of Justice removed itself from the chain of command because of the orchestrated impropriety of Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Bill Clinton, who met in private on the attorney general’s plane at a time when both Bill and Hillary Clinton were subjects of FBI criminal investigations. That left the FBI to have the final say about prosecution — or so the FBI and the DOJ would have us all believe.

It is hard to believe that the FBI was free to do its work, and it is probably true that the FBI was restrained by the White House early on. There were numerous aberrations in the investigation. There was no grand jury; no subpoenas were issued; no search warrants were served. Two people claimed to have received immunity, yet the statutory prerequisite for immunity — giving testimony before a grand or trial jury — was never present.

Because many members of Congress do not believe that the FBI acted free of political interference, they demanded to see the full FBI files in the case, not just the selected portions of the files that the FBI had released. In the case of the House, the FBI declined to surrender its files, and the agent it sent to testify about them declined to reveal their contents. This led to a dramatic service of a subpoena by the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on that FBI agent while he was testifying — all captured on live nationally broadcast television.

Now the FBI, which usually serves subpoenas and executes search warrants, is left with the alternative of complying with this unwanted subpoena by producing its entire file or arguing to a federal judge why it should not be compelled to do so.

On the Senate side, matters are even more out of hand. There, in response to a request from the Senate Judiciary Committee, the FBI sent both classified and unclassified materials to the Senate safe room. The Senate safe room is a secure location that is available only to senators and their senior staff, all of whom must surrender their mobile devices and writing materials and swear in writing not to reveal whatever they see while in the room before they are permitted to enter.

According to Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the FBI violated federal law by commingling classified and unclassified materials in the safe room, thereby making it unlawful for senators to discuss publicly the unclassified material.

Imposing such a burden of silence on U.S. senators about unclassified materials is unlawful and unconstitutional. What does the FBI have to hide? Whence comes the authority of the FBI to bar senators from commenting on unclassified materials?

Who cares about this? Everyone who believes that the government works for us should care because we have a right to know what the government — here the FBI — has done in our names. Sen. Grassley has opined that if he could reveal what he has seen in the FBI unclassified records, it would be of profound interest to American voters.

What is going on here? The FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton has not served the rule of law. The rule of law — a pillar of American constitutional freedom since the end of the Civil War — mandates that the laws are to be enforced equally. No one is beneath their protection, and no one is above their requirements. To enforce the rule of law, we have hired the FBI.

What do we do when the FBI rejects its basic responsibilities?

During last night’s “Commander in Chief” forum in which both presidential candidates laid out their views about the future of the US military, as well as the country’s defense and security, with both committing numerous gaffes, none appears to have gotten as much criticism as event moderator Matt Lauer. As the NYT reports this morning, “charged with overseeing a live prime-time forum with Donald J. Trump and Hillary Clinton, as a dry run of sorts for the coming presidential debates, Lauer found himself besieged on Wednesday evening by critics of all political stripes, who accused the anchor of unfairness, sloppiness and even sexism in his handling of the event.”

The reason for the anger, originating mostly on the left, is that having been granted 30 minutes with each candidate, Lauer devoted about a third of his time with Mrs. Clinton to questions about her use of a private email server, then seemed to rush through subsequent queries about weighty topics like domestic terror attacks.

The highlight of the event, and what set the stage from the beginning, was a question from Navy veteran Lt. John Lester who set the adversarial mood with a question about Hilllary reckless handling of classified material.

As a Naval flight officer I held the top secret sensitive compartmentalized information clearance. And that provided me access with materials and information highly sensitive to our war fighting capabilities. Had I communicated this information not following the prescribed protocols I would have been prosecuted and imprisoned. Secretary Clinton, how can you expect those such as myself who are and were trusted with America’s most sensitive information to have any confidence in your leadership as president when you clearly corrupted our national security.

Hillary used her fallback excuse that the documents were not marked as classified, one which she had reverted to previously when she explained she didn’t know what the “c” designation means. As reported yesterday, Julian Assange announced that Wikileaks has thousands of cables Hillary Clinton signed with a “c” that designated it as classified confidential, and suggested he would disclose proof that Hillary has lied.

Lauer was also lambasted when an Army veteran in the audience asked Mrs. Clinton to describe her plan to defeat the Islamic State, Mr. Lauer interjected before the candidate could begin her reply. “As briefly as you can,” he said, one of several moments where the anchor spoke over Mrs. Clinton to remind her that their time was running short.

The NBC host was then slammed for for not asking follow-up questions and letting Trump flip from previous statements he’s made. Reporters especially took issue with Lauer not pushing back on Trump’s claim that he has opposed the Iraq War from the start.

As the NYT adds, journalists and longtime political observers pounced. “How in the hell does Lauer not factcheck Trump lying about Iraq? This is embarrassingly bad,” wrote Tommy Vietor, a former aide to President Obama. Glenn Kessler, the chief fact checker at The Washington Post, posted a link to NBC’s check of Mr. Trump’s claim and wrote: “@MLauer should have been prepared to do this.”

“Lauer interrupted Clinton’s answers repeatedly to move on. Not once for Trump,” Norman Ornstein, the political commentator, wrote in a Twitter message, adding: “Tough to be a woman running for president.”

 Trump has maintained throughout his campaign that he never supported the Iraq War, although early interviews prove otherwise. Clinton, who went first during the NBC News event, charged that she and Trump both made a mistake in supporting the war in its beginnings. On social media, surrogates for Mrs. Clinton began mounting a sustained attack on the anchor. “Imagine if @NBCNews had done its job,” wrote Nick Merrill, her press secretary, on Twitter. Neera Tanden, a close Clinton ally, was even harsher: “I guess the good news is that Matt Lauer isn’t moderating an actual debate,” she wrote.

The criticism captured what has become a common complaint about media coverage during this election: that news organizations and interviewers treat Mrs. Clinton as a serious candidate worthy of tough questions, while Mr. Trump is sometimes handled more benignly.

Mr. Lauer did manage to extract several head-turning statements from Mr. Trump. He confronted Mr. Trump with a crass Twitter message from 2013 in which the future candidate suggested that sexual assaults in the military were a logical result of men and women serving together. “It is a correct tweet,” Mr. Trump said.

When Mr. Lauer asked if Mr. Trump actually believed he knew more about the Islamic State than American generals, the candidate replied: “The generals have been reduced to rubble.” When Mr. Lauer brought up Mr. Trump’s admiration for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, noting that Mr. Putin had invaded Ukraine and was suspected of hacking Democratic emails, Mr. Trump refused to say a negative word about him. “Do you want me to start naming some of the things that President Obama does?” Mr. Trump asked.

With the formal debates set to begin on Sept. 26, Lauer’s performance seemed to preview the troubles that television moderators could face in balancing fairness with accountability. Trump, with his Houdini-like ability to squirm out of direct answers, is a particularly tough subject for interviewers, who will be forced to determine on the fly when to interrupt with a prime-time fact-check. Chris Wallace, the Fox News anchor who will handle the third presidential debate, drew criticism this week when he said, “I don’t view my role as truth-squading.” Questions for Hillary, meanwhile, will be seen as politically charged if they touch on topics many outside the mainstream find as important, such as her health or her conduct relating to the FBI probe and/or her receipt of numerous funds from foreign sources such as Saudi Arabia.

However, the biggest reason why Lauer’s conduct was furiously slammed by the mainstream may be the outcome of the first quasi-debate, best captured by NBC itself.

The story of how Hillary’s “personal” emails came to be deleted using, the now infamous, BleachBit is quite the tale.  Below we attempt to piece together how the story unfolded per the recent FBI disclosures.

Here is a quick summary of the timeline of events:

  • February 2013 – Hillary resigns from State Department
  • Spring 2013 – Hillary aide Monica Hanley backs up Pagliano Server to Apple MacBook and a thumb drive
  • February 2014 – Monica Hanley attempts to upload Hillary email archives to new Platte River Networks (PRN) server but encounters technical issues
  • Early 2014 – Monica Hanley mails Apple MacBook to Undisclosed PRN Staff Member to upload Hillary email archives to new PRN server.  Undisclosed PRN Staff Member then uploads Hillary’s emails to a gmail account and then transfers them over to the new PRN server.  The Undisclosed PRN Staff Member deletes most of the emails from gmail but indvertently leaves 940.
  • Early 2014Monica Hanley advises Undisclosed PRN Staff Member to wipe the Apple MacBook clean after uploading Hillary’s emails to the new PRN server but he forgets to do it
  • Early 2014 – Undisclosed PRN Staff Member mails Apple MacBook back to Clinton and it is promptly lost
  • December 2014 – Hillary delivers 55,000 emails to State Department
  • December 2014 / January 2015Heather Samuelson and Cheryl Mills request emails be deleted from their computer using BleachBit
  • December 2014 / January 2015“Unknown Clinton staff member” instructs PRN to remove archives of Clinton emails from PRN server
  • March 2, 2015 – NYT releases an article showing that Hillary used a personal email server in violation of State Department rules
  • March 4, 2015Hillary receives subpoena from House Select Committee on Benghazi instructing her to preserve and deliver all emails from her personal servers
  • March 25, 2015 – Undisclosed PRN Staff Member has a conference call with “President Clinton’s Staff”
  • March 25 – 31, 2015 – Undisclosed PRN Staff Member has “oh shit” moment and realizes he forgot to wipe Hillary’s email archive from the PRN server back in Decemberwhich he promptly does using BleachBit despite later admitting he “was aware of the existence of the preservation request and the fact that it meant he should not disturb Clinton’s e-mail data on the PRN server.”
  • June 2016 – FBI discovers that Undisclosed PRN Staff Member forgot to erase 940 emails from the gmail account he created to help with the PRN server upload

And now the details…

Hillary resigned from the State Department in February 2013.  Shortly thereafter, in “spring 2013”, Hillary’s close aide, Monica Hanley, worked with Bill Clinton’s aide, Justin Cooper, to archive all of Hillary’s emails from the “Pagliano Server” that Clinton used to house her State Department emails while serving as Secretary of State.  With Cooper’s assistance, Hanley was successful transferring all of Hillary’s emails from the “Pagliano Server” to an Apple MacBook with a duplicate copy saved to a “Thumb Drive”.

At that point, Hanley “forgot” to provide the archived emails to Clinton’s staff.  So apparently the Apple MacBook and Thumb Drive just stayed around Hanley’s house for a year.

Then in February 2014, Hanley decided it wasn’t the best idea to leave the email records of the former U.S. Secretary of State in her sock drawer forever.  As such, she decided it was time to backup the archived emails to Clinton’s new server hosted by Platte River Networks (PRN) in Denver, Colorado.  Unfortunately, she was not successful with the remote backup and mailed the computer to an Undisclosed PRN Staff Member to help with the task.

Apparently, the Undisclosed PRN Staff Member also had difficulty uploading the emails to the new PRN server because the “Apple MacMail” format was incompatible with Microsoft Exchange.  So, he/she came up with a workaround that involved transferring all of Clinton’s emails to a new gmail account and then exporting them to the PRN server.

Gmail is pretty safe, right?

Hillary FBI BleachBit

Monica Hanley then advised the Undisclosed PRN Staff Member to “wipe the Archive Laptop” after the emails had been transferred to the new PRN server.  But apparently he forgot to “wipe” and laptop and instead just deleted the old emails.  But wouldn’t you know it…”Neither Hanely nor [Undisclosed PRN Staff Member] could identify the current whereabouts of the Archive Laptop or thumb drive containing the archive, and the FBI does not have either item in its possession.”

So the two pieces of physical hardware that could provide all the missing links in the Hillary email investigation have mysteriously gone missing.  Anyone else find that odd?

Hillary FBI BleachBit

Unfortunately, the “Undisclosed PRN Staff Member” was apparently not an “attention to detail” kind of guy as the FBI later discovered that he/she had left 940 of Clinton’s emails on gmail.  Of the 940 emails, 56 were classified as confidential and 302 were not included in the 55,000 page data dump to the State Department in December 2014.

Hillary FBI BleachBit

Hillary FBI BleachBit

Now this brings us all the way up to December 2014 when Clinton sent the 55,000 pages to the State Department.  Recall, as Politico previously reported, Hillary brought in a former campaign staffer, Heather Samuelson (34 years old), to help determine which emails were “work related” and which “yoga related.”

Shortly after providing that data dump to the State Department, in “December 2014 or January 2015,” both Heather Samuelson and Cheryl Mills requested that all emails be removed from their computers using “a program called BleachBit to delete the e-mail-related files so they could not be recovered.”

For her part, “Clinton stated she never deleted, nor did she instruct anyone to delete, her e-mails to avoid complying with FOIA, State or FBI requests for information.”

Of course not.  Hillary knew it would be a little too obvious to specifically instruct her staff to permanently delete the emails but she also knew it might be “inconvenient” to have them around.    So, she simply “decided she no longer needed access to any of her e-mails older than 60 days.”

See?  She never specifically said to delete anything she just made a simple administrative decision on document retention policies.

Hillary FBI BleachBit

Then, on March 4, 2015, Hillary received a subpoena from the House for all of her emails on her personal servers.

Hillary FBI BleachBit

Which brings us to the “Oh Shit” moment.

On March 25, 2015, the Undisclosed PRN Staff Member had a “conference call with President Clinton’s staff.”  Apparently, in the days following that call, the Undisclosed PRN Staff Member had an “‘oh shit’ moment” when he realized he had forgotten to wipe the PRN server clean as he had been instructed to do back in December by Cheryl Mills.

Therefore, sometime within the 6 days after a call with “President Clinton’s Staff,” that PRN server was wiped clean using BleachBit despite the subpoena from the House Select Committee on Benghazi received weeks earlier on March 4, 2016. 

And, of course, the Undisclosed PRN Staff Member is the only person responsible for the deletion as Mills, Hillary, President Clinton’s Office were all blissfully unaware of the actions of their rogue IT guy of Platte River Networks in Denver, Colorado.

Ironically, the rogue IT guy from PRN even admits to deleting the emails even though he “was aware of the existence of the preservation request and the fact that it meant he should not disturb Clinton’s e-mail data on the PRN server.”

Hillary FBI BleachBit

Something tells us this “Undisclosed PRN Staff Member” is not going to make out as well as Hillary when all the dust settles, which of course she can ‘wipe’ with a cloth: