(National Sentinel) Deep State: A Russian operative managed to bilk U.S. spy agencies out of $100,000 last year over what turned out to be phony promises to deliver cyber weapons and compromising information about President Donald J. Trump.
As reported by The New York Times, the money was delivered to the operative in a suitcase in a hotel room in Berlin in September and was intended to be the first installment of a $1 million payout, according to U.S. officials, the Russian operative and documents reviewed by the paper.
At issue: Theft of secret hacking tools used by the National Security Agency at a time when officials within the NSA were attempting to learn the full extent of what had been stolen.
The Times noted further that the NSA was apparently not interested in the alleged information regarding the president, in part because they didn’t believe it was valid:
Several American intelligence officials said they made clear that they did not want the Trump material from the Russian, who was suspected of having murky ties to Russian intelligence and to Eastern European cybercriminals. He claimed the information would link the president and his associates to Russia. Instead of providing the hacking tools, the Russian produced unverified and possibly fabricated information involving Mr. Trump and others, including bank records, emails and purported Russian intelligence data.
The United States intelligence officials said they cut off the deal because they were wary of being entangled in a Russian operation to create discord inside the American government. They were also fearful of political fallout in Washington if they were seen to be buying scurrilous information on the president.
The Times noted that the NSA worked through an American businessman who is based in Germany in order to provide the agency with cover. Also, the paper noted that the NSA spent months tracking the Russian operative’s “flights to Berlin, his rendezvous with a mistress in Vienna and his trips home to St. Petersburg.”
Also, the paper said the NSA used its official Twitter account on several occasions to send coded messages to the Russian.
The Times noted further:
The episode ended this year with American spies chasing the Russian out of Western Europe, warning him not to return if he valued his freedom, the American businessman said. The Trump material was left with the American, who has secured it in Europe.
The Russian claimed to have access to a staggering collection of secrets that included everything from the computer code for the cyberweapons stolen from the N.S.A. and C.I.A. to what he said was a video of Mr. Trump consorting with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel room in 2013, according to American and European officials and the Russian, who agreed to be interviewed in Germany on the condition of anonymity. There remains no evidence that such a video exists.
The paper noted that U.S. spies became suspicious of the Russian after he expressed an eagerness to sell the “kompromat” — compromising material — because it “raised suspicions among officials that he was part of an operation to feed the information to United States intelligence agencies and pit them against Mr. Trump.”
The Times noted that U.S. spies were far more interested in the hacking tools the Russian operative allegedly possessed:
The cyberweapons had been built to break into the computer networks of Russia, China and other rival powers. Instead, they ended up in the hands of a mysterious group calling itself the Shadow Brokers, which has since provided hackers with tools that infected millions of computers around the world, crippling hospitals, factories and businesses.
Also, U.S. counterintelligence officials believe that Russian spy services are working to exploit what they see as political divisions in the U.S. regarding various scandals involving some FBI and DOJ officials under the previous administration, the Times reported.
“Russian hackers are targeting American voting databases ahead of the midterm election this year, they said, and using bot armies to promote partisan causes on social media,” the Times reported. “The Russians are also particularly eager to cast doubt on the federal and congressional investigations into the Russian meddling, American intelligence officials said.”
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