Bill Gertz – The Washington Times Reports
U.S. intelligence agencies are said to be closely watching Russian online blogs and other postings for any signs that Moscow hackers have covertly obtained the bulk of Hillary Clinton’s email messages stolen from her private email server and are preparing to make them public.
A U.S. intelligence official told Inside the Ring that the indications of the email release are being closely watched, although the veracity of at least two postings on the matter could not be confirmed as authoritative.
A State Department official has said Russia is one of at least three foreign governments likely to have obtained the full content of the former secretary of state’s server through covert hacking operations. The other two are China and Israel.
Russian intelligence agencies are suspected of cyberintrusions that obtained sensitive political information contained in Democratic National Committee networks. Last week, reports surfaced that computer networks of the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation were also compromised, also by Russian hackers.
Russian intelligence is considered to be the most capable nation-state cyberespionage and cyberwarfare power, and its intelligence-gathering operations in the U.S. are said to be going at Cold War levels.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, a former KGB intelligence officer schooled in the black arts of covert operations, would be the top authority to order the release of the Clinton emails, if in fact Moscow has obtained the tens of thousands of private emails.
A possible Russian motive for making public all the emails would be to undermine any Justice Department influence in the ongoing FBI investigation of the private email server, an investigation said by FBI sources to have expanded into whether the server was used improperly to boost the fortunes of the Clinton Foundation.
Federal sources have complained that portions of the Justice Department have been politicized to support the liberal agenda of the Obama administration, citing a 2010 investigation into how terrorist detainees at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, obtained photos of CIA interrogators. During a counterintelligence probe, Donald Vieira, chief of staff at the Justice Department’s National Security Division, was forced to recuse himself from the investigation. The reason was not made public, but officials said some in the Justice Department in the past worked as advocates for the detainees at nongovernmental organizations and were linked to the CIA officer photos found inside the detainees’ cells.
Mr. Putin may being calculating that the release of some of the highly classified information within the emails could be used against Mrs. Clinton to influence the U.S. presidential election.
Alternatively, Mr. Putin could use his access to the emails for blackmail should Mrs. Clinton win the election in November.
Some intelligence officials suspect Mr. Putin, who was posted in East Germany during the Cold War, may be using similar tactics against German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The Russian leader also could attempt to influence the election in favor of Donald Trump, the likely Republican nominee, whom he has called “bright.” Mr. Trump has said Mr. Putin is a leader he could “get along very well with.”
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