Category Archives: News

FBI DIRECTOR ESTIMATES 900 ACTIVE INVESTIGATIONS OF ISIS OPERATIVES IN U.S.

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http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2015/10/23/fbi-director-estimates-900-active-investigations-isis-operatives-u-s/

by JOHN HAYWARD

Addressing intelligence officials on Friday, FBI Director James Comey delivered a stunning estimate of 900 investigations currently in progress against suspected ISIS operatives, recruits, and individuals “inspired” by the Islamic State, and the number of investigations is slowly growing.

USA Today notes it is rare for FBI officials to discuss the number of investigations in this way. Comey seems to have disclosed the number in order to buttress his case that the Bureau is finding it very difficult to keep up with the anti-ISIS caseload. Referring to a particularly intense period of counter-terror activity around the Fourth of July, Comey warned, “If that becomes the new normal… that would be hard to keep up.”

Comey noted the number of Americans defecting to ISIS has decreased recently, though admitted to not being certain why this is the case—perhaps the significant number of recruits, thwarted by the FBI in their efforts to make the journey to the Middle East, has made others more cautious about trying it, as such, arrests make big news headlines. It could also be growing more difficult for the Islamic State to secure passage for its recruits into Syria.

However, USA Today ominously notes it is “unclear” how the drop-off in ISIS recruits leaving the country “may be affecting the domestic threat.” If the number of ISIS investigations is growing, but the number of recruits leaving the country is declining, it is natural to worry that means more dangerous individuals loyal to the Islamic State and its murderous ideology are plotting violent acts on American soil.

Comey seemed inclined to view the reduction in ISIS recruits departing for the Middle East as good news in testimony before the House Homeland Security Committee earlier this week.

“We’re starting to notice that curve, which was going up like a hockey stick, has flattened a little bit,” the FBI Director said on Wednesday, as reported by The Hill. “We are seeing fewer people attempt to travel to join ISIL in Syria.” He characterized the rate as dropping from roughly nine departures per month, to only six over the past three and a half months.

He also allowed for the possibility that ISIS recruits are still making the trip to Syria but have developed means of doing so without getting caught.

Comey also addressed the danger of trained terrorist recruits returning to the United States after serving abroad in the ISIS military. He described it as an issue the FBI planned to watch “for the next five years plus,” because “inevitably, there will be a terrorist diaspora out of the so-called Caliphate.”

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EXCLUSIVE: As Paris Burned, UK Muslims Told To ‘Struggle’ For Islamic State In Unprecedented Islamist Show Of Force

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BEDFORD, United Kingdom – As the distressing attacks in Paris were occurring last night, some of Britain’s most high profile and notorious Islamist extremists gathered just north of London, unimpeded, to tell hundreds of British Muslims to “struggle” for an “Islamic State.” Breitbart London was there.

At the “Quiz a Muslim” event held last night in the Corn Exchange in Bedford, panelists called British values “junk”, demanded that Muslims should “define” British law, and ominously, appeared to suggest Muslims were at war with the British.

The event was organised and chaired by Bedford-born blogger Dilly Hussain; an avid Islamist and a supporter of a global Islamic caliphate.

Mr Hussain described the event as “sort of like an Islamic Question time” – except during Question Time, there are usually disagreements. This event saw an all-male panel of “community leaders” talking to a completely segregated room, with little to disagree on.

One panellist billed to appear – Hamza Tzortzis – did not show. It is not known whether this was related to the recent revelations that showed him appearing on the extra-marital affairs website, Ashley Madison.

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From left to right: Haitham al-Haddad, Sulaiman Ghani, Adnan Rashid, Dilly Hussain, Taji Mustafa, Abdur Raheem Green, Moazzam Begg (Breitbart London/Rachel Megawhat)

The group addressed the issue of how anyone could possibly have a negative opinion of some interpretations of Islam.

“Television is a form of hypnotism”, said Abdur Raheem Green, chairman of the Islamic Education and Research Academy (iERA) which is known for sending hate preachers to UK campuses. Mr. Green is perhaps best known for his comment: “Islam is not compatible with democracy”, and for stating that a husband may use “physical force… a very light beating” against his wife.

Last night he said of television: “It is the most powerful form of indoctrination… the CIA knows…”

The other panellists agreed; the media was to blame for Islam getting a bad reputation.

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The room was segregated (Breitbart London/Rachel Megawhat)

When Dr. Haitham al-Haddad, who was introduced as a scholar of “Islamic sciences”, asked the room if attendees were British, there was a long pause and an uncomfortable murmuring. Dr. Haddad has previously made deeply disparaging remarks about Jewish people, and is even claimed to have said that the late Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden would go to heaven.

Taji Mustafah, a senior member of the global Islamist network Hizb ut Tahrir, which works towards a caliphate, interjected: “This is a loaded question… What does it mean?” he asked. Adding later: “All these things celebrated as English, it doesn’t mean a thing”. He called British values “junk”.

“We should not ask if we need to catch up with the British”, responded Dr. Haddad, “We should be partners in defining what British is… in what the law of the land is.” All seemed to agreed that “gods law” should always be “superior” to “man made law”.

Mr. Mustafah also took the time to clarify that Islam is a “religion of war and peace, it governs every aspect of life… politics… including what you eat and wear”.

Later, when former Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg condemned ISIS because they are “killing Muslims”, a total of five people in the room of 200 could be heard clapping. When he said David Cameron was an “extremist”, almost the entire room applauded for a sustained period.

Immediately after condemning ISIS they each reaffirmed, however, the “Islamic” duty to “struggle” for an “Islamic state.”

As Maajid Nawaz, a government counter-extremism adviser explained on Facebook:

“Every single one of these speakers is a Caliphate-advocating Islamist, they believe in every core principle ISIS believes in, and they reject ISIS merely because they made their move for a Caliphate ‘too soon and too fast’.”

Adding: “You couldn’t make this sh*t up. Friday 13th nightmare, as all-male Islamist Rogues’ Gallery.”

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Women dressed “modestly” (Breitbart London/Rachel Megawhat)

Mr. Begg managed to produced an even more chilling moment however, when He appeared to suggest British Muslim were already at war with the UK in a strange analogy.

According to a Quranic story, explained Begg, “the people of Medina went to war with Persia.” One of the key characters in this tale, on the Muslim side, was of Persian origin. “He kept his name” said Begg, which contained the word “Persian.”

Therefore, “you can be a ‘British Muslims’,” he said, “It’s fine to call yourself a ‘British Muslim’ right now” he said, as if to suggest that British Muslim were somehow set against Britons as early Muslims were with the Persians.

In days before, the event had cause some alarm in the old Saxon town, just 50 miles north of London, with a population of just 80,000. There were rumours it would be cancelled.

However, 5Pillarsuk, the organiser’s website, tweeted on Thursday that they “commend” Dave Hodgson, the Liberal Democrat Mayor of Bedford for “allowing” the event to go ahead. Mr.Hussain said last night that he “hoped more councils” would invite Islamists to town.

Mr. Hussain told Bedford Today: “Some of [the speakers] are very controversial, some of them have said things that have been deemed distasteful.”

“On the flip side” he said, “none of them have broken any laws and none of them are convicted criminals.

The event, which saw Islamists themselves pit Islam and their end goals against the idea of British values, took place just a few hours before word reached the international media of the Islamist terrorist attacks in Paris, France.

One terrorist was heard to make reference to Syria – a place where Mr. Begg has been arrested for travelling to, with allegations of terror-related activity raised by the police. The charges against Mr. Begg were eventually dropped.

WHO’S WHO FROM THE ISLAMIST RALLY LAST NIGHT

The speakers on stage last night were some of the country’s most notorious hate preachers who have been banned from university campuses and allied themselves with some of the most racist, hateful, and anti-Western rhetoric the country has seen in the last decade.

Haitham al-Haddad – Sits on the UK’s Islamic Sharia Council, is known for his radical statements like “Jews are the enemies of God and the descendants of apes and pigs”, and had his speeches at the University of Westminster cancelled after it emerged that Mohamed Emwazi (Jihadi John) attended, and was potentially radicalised there. Haddad has said that Muslims should “be ready to pay the price for this victory from our blood” and has told fellow Muslims “to prepare themselves for jihad, all over the world.” He has said the death sentence for apostasy (leaving Islam) “makes perfect sense”.

Sulaiman Ghani – Has spoken in support of convicted Al Qaeda terrorists, and even appeared side by side with the Labour Party’s 2016 London Mayor candidate Sadiq Khan during a rally against Guantanamo Bay. He has said that women should be “subservient” and never be leaders, and was exposed by the Daily Mail as having worked as a “Muslim chaplain” in Britain’s National Health Service, all the while opposing organ donations.

Adnan Rashid – Has written that “the Islamic model supported by Shari’ah is a cohesive model that allows a diverse multitude of ethnicities to co-exist”. Rashid has defended the pro-Bin Laden preacher Zakir Naik, stating, “If Zakir Naik is an extremist then who is normal? How many people has he killed? How many rapes is he responsible for? How many countries has he raided and plundered?” He has also asserted that Saudi Arabia is a better place to live for women: “I’d rather women live in Saudi Arabia under the protection of Islam (and not drive, which I dont agree with) than get raped and prostitute themselves to feed their families.”

Dilly Hussain – Has a hagiographic Wikipedia page despite only running a blog, and is obsessed with trashing the British Empire. He has described the expose around the Trojan Horse plot – where Islamists infiltrated schools around the United Kingdom and implemented hard line, Islamic procedures – as “debunked”. He has urged more Muslims to infiltrate the media to change the narrative around radicalism, extremism, and terrorism – conflating journalism with activism, laughably claiming that Muslim’s Facebook statuses should be turned into blogs and sent to the mainstream media to “get your foot in the door”

Taji Mustafa – Is a long-standing Hizb ut Tahrir activist. The organisation pushes for a global caliphate, but considers itself non-violent. The group’s website has previously hosted anti-Semitic material, and it is believed to be involved with radical university societies around the country which hide behind names such as the “Global Ideas Society” at the University of Westminster, where Jihadi John went to university. The British government promised in 2010 to ban Hizb ut Tahrir, but it never happened.

Abdur Raheem Green – Has said that “Islam teaches its followers to seek death on the battlefield” and that “dying while fighting Jihad is one of the surest ways to paradise and Allah’s good pleasure”. He has called for those serving in prison on terrorism charges to be released, while at the same time telling the BBC: “I surely have said some pretty radical things and maybe even written some radical things in the past… But one thing I have been very consistent on is terrorism, participating in terrorist activities, violent revolution – is not something that I have ever thought was part of the religion of Islam.” He was recently caught on camera in London’s Hyde Park, abusing a Jewish man. He said: “Why don’t you take the Yahoudi [Jew] over there far away so his stench doesn’t disturb us?”

Moazzam Begg – Perhaps the most famous on the list, Begg served as an inmate in Guantanamo Bay, where he signed a confession stating that he was an Al Qaeda recruiter. After his release, negotiated by the Blair government in Britain, he returned to the country and retracted such statements, but admitted being at Islamic training camps. His organisation, CAGE, which represents former Guantanamo Bay inmates, has described ISIS beheader Jihadi John as a “beautiful young man”. Begg is currently free in the United Kingdom, though he has been arrested and quizzed a number of times on terror-related offences in the past few years.

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Abdur Raheem Green and Moazzam Begg (Breitbart London/Rachel Megawhat)

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Covered women on one side, men on the other (Breitbart London/Rachel Megawhat)

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Attendees (Breitbart London/Rachel Megawhat)

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“Liberated” women (Breitbart London/Rachel Megawhat)

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Men queue for entry (Breitbart London/Rachel Megawhat)

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Left: Adnan Rashid, Centre: Haitham al Haddad and Taji Mustafa, Right: Dilly Hussain (Breitbart London/Rachel Megawhat)

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Dilly Hussain (Breitbart London/Rachel Megawhat)

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Haitham al Haddad (Breitbart London/Rachel Megawhat)

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Sulaiman Ghani (Breitbart London/Rachel Megawhat)

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Taji Mustafa (left) and Abdur Raheem Green (Right)

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Moazzam Begg (Breitbart London/Rachel Megawhat)

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Moazzam Begg (Breitbart London/Rachel Megawhat)

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More “liberated” women (Breitbart London/Rachel Megawhat)

Campus Wars Are about Power, Not Justice

Tim Wolfe, the president of the University of Missouri system, abruptly resigned. Why? The popular narrative is that his “inadequate” response to a series of racist incidents on campus triggered a massive student backlash, including an unprecedented “strike” by the university’s football team, and he finally caved to the pressure.

Yet this explanation collapses under the slightest scrutiny. The idea that Wolfe presided over a racially insensitive educational empire is a sad joke. A timeline of racial outrages in Columbia is sparse indeed, showing two allegations of racial name-calling (on a campus with 35,000 students) and one disturbing incident in which a swastika was drawn on a dorm wall with human waste.

No rational, sentient human being believes system presidents can be responsible for what lunatics do with their own feces, or that they can prevent any given student from shouting racial slurs. Not even the worst communist dictatorships could control the speech of all their subjects. Wolfe couldn’t stop drunk undergraduates from hurling insensitive insults even if he established his own gulag and deployed commissars across campus.

His deposition has nothing to do with justice and everything to do with power. The campus culture wars aren’t about “victims” or “racial injustice” or “safe spaces.” People who shriek in the quad, launch hunger strikes in a blaze of publicity, or stand outside free-speech events and chant for censorship aren’t anyone’s victims. They’re not weak. They don’t need “protection.” They’re revolutionaries, and the revolution they seek is nothing less than the overthrow of our constitutional republic, beginning with our universities.

This is a movement built from the ground up around power and coercion. They hate free speech because free speech represents nothing but a threat — a chance for dissenters to expose the bankruptcy of their ideas. They hate due process because due process stands in the way of class-based justice, of identity-based jurisprudence. They hate the orthodox Christian faith because it rejects their sexual ideology and places the human conscience beyond the reach of mortal man. It’s a movement enabled by weakness and empowered by cowardice. Only the intellectually and emotionally weak fall for the notion that students truly are “traumatized” by exposure to dissenting ideas. Only cowards lack the conviction to stand for the most basic American constitutional values, preferring capitulation to enduring even a few days or weeks of public critique.

Fortunately for the radicals, our universities are populated by the craven and the cowardly. Push a professor, even slightly, and it’s likely he’ll fold. Demand faculty support for your protest, and dozens will rush to join, self-righteously advancing their own false oppression narratives even as they enjoy lives billions of others would covet. There is nothing brave about these people. They are not “elite.” They don’t deserve a single dime of taxpayer money or one cent of student tuition. They dishonor their schools and their country. University leaders have no will at all. They have earned nothing but contempt.

Closeted campus conservatives timidity contributes to the narrative that there is something shameful about their beliefs. To read anonymous letters from professors who are afraid to “out” themselves in a hostile campus culture is to read the sad dispatches of people too pitiful for their profession. Do something else, anything else, than merely sit and watch while the revolutionaries shred the Constitution, reject our culture, and assert their own will to power.

No one is shooting at trustees. No one is beheading professors. There’s no guillotine in the quad. Instead, campus “leaders” tremble before hashtags and weep at the notion of losing a football team so inept that it couldn’t score a touchdown through most of the month of October. Let them strike. With an offense that inept, the SEC won’t even notice.

These are the times that try men’s souls? No. These are the times of men without chests. The Left has the will to power. University leaders have no will at all. They have earned nothing but contempt.

Obama, Hillary Toying With ‘Civil War’ Over Gun Confiscation

On November 2, The Daily Beast pointed to recent statements from President Obama and Hillary Clinton regarding the implementation of Australian-style gun confiscation and suggested “civil war could erupt on American soil” if any administration actually tried to confiscate privately owned firearms.

The Daily Beast theoretically agreed that “confiscation on a massive scale” may be “the only way to solve American gun violence,” but they pointed out that it was not realistic and suggested Hillary risks causing irreparable divisions by talking about confiscation then mocking gun owners as conspiracy theorists waiting for “black helicopters” to come take their guns away.

According to The Daily Beast, confiscation was workable in Australia because there was no Second Amendment and the government only had to take 650,000 guns. That is a far cry from the “350 million” believed to be in Americans’ hands.

Yes, “350 million.”

But even more important than the number of guns is the depth of American “devotion” to them. And The Daily Beast observes that it is this devotion–this dedication to the philosophy and tradition underlying the right to keep and bear arms–that turns the mere mention of confiscation into something that could literally rip the country apart.

The Daily Beast put it thus, “The prospect of confiscation—as much as it might, theoretically, reduce drastically or even eliminate gun crime altogether—is simply impossible in the United States.” They pointed to statements by Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson, who stressed that Jews could have curtailed the Holocaust had they retained their guns. The Daily Beast suggests Carson hit on something “Second Amendment enthusiasts are fond of arguing,” namely, “that gun rights are enshrined in the Constitution not only for the sake of hunters or people who want to protect their homes and businesses from criminals, but also to allow the population to resist an overreaching government.”

Breitbart News previously reported that Founding Father James Madison used Federalist 46 to make that very point–that armed citizens could band together and resist their government, should it tend toward tyranny. And he pointed out that this demonstrated American exceptionalism inasmuch as citizens of other nations, lacking arms, also lacked the ability to resist.

The Daily Beast addressed the way Hillary mentioned confiscation only later to mock gun owners for fearing the government might come after their guns:

Clinton can joke all she likes about Americans fearing “black helicopters” taking their guns away, but it is no exaggeration to suggest that civil war could erupt on American soil were the U.S. government to attempt anything remotely resembling what was done in Australia.

The column in The Daily Beast is aptly titled, “Yes, They Want to Take Your Guns Away.”

US Special Forces sent to Syria as ‘human shields’ to salvage terror assets

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Finian Cunningham
RT

Obama’s decision to send Special Forces into Syria is being widely viewed as a US military escalation in the country. The troop dispatch also signals that the US trying to forestall Russian successes in wiping out Washington’s regime-change assets in Syria.

In short, the US Special Forces are being used as “human shields” to curb Russian air strikes against anti-government mercenaries, many of whom are instrumental in Washington’s regime-change objective in Syria.

First of all, we need to view a host of developments, including the hastily convened “peace talks” in Vienna, as a response by the US and its allies to the game-changing military intervention by Russia. That intervention, beginning on September 30, has not only dealt massive blows to militants, it has completely changed the balance of forces to give the Assad government the upper hand in the war against foreign-backed extremists. That, in turn, has sent the US-led powers trying to topple Damascus into disarray.

Recall the scattered reactions from Washington and its allies, including Britain, France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. At first, Washington tried to rubbish Vladimir Putin’s order to aid his Syrian ally with airstrikes as “doomed to fail”.

Then there were overblown, unverified, claims of civilian casualties from Russian strikes, plus there were American claims that Russian cruise missiles had gone wildly astray, hitting Iran. There was also much angst over Russia striking “moderate rebels” instead of the Islamic State terror network. All such accusations, encouraged with Western media amplification, were designed to undermine Russia’s military operation.

Then there were threats from Saudi Arabia and Qatar that they would launch direct military action in Syria to “protect” the populace from the joint firepower of Assad and Putin. That idea was quickly shelved (one wonders by whom?).

Another seeming knee-jerk response came from Turkey and rightwing politicians and pundits in the US which revived talks about the creation of “safe havens” in northern Syria, ostensibly to protect civilian refugees, but also tacitly and more importantly, to give cover to “rebel” groups from Russian air strikes and Syrian government ground troops.

None of these reactions have gained credibility despite Western media hype. On the contrary, it soon became clear that Russia’s military intervention in Syria was a masterstroke by Putin, wiping out large swathes of the anti-government mercenaries, stabilizing the Assad government, and winning much popular support both within Syria and across the Middle East, and indeed around the world.

Last week, America’s top military official, General Joseph F Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Senate committee that Russia’s air support had changed everything. “The balance of forces right now are in Assad’s advantage,” he said.

This is the context in which to interpret the latest, surprise move by Obama to send Special Forces into Syria. It is more about inhibiting Russian success in destroying the sundry anti-regime forces on the ground than about either “helping the fight against Islamic State” as claimed, or about misgivings of a large-scale American invasion.

The troop contingent that Obama has ordered amounts to 50 Special Forces personnel. That is hardly going to be a decisive blow to Islamic State militants, even if we believe the official rationale for their deployment.

The White House, in its announcement, was at pains to emphasize that the troops would not be in a combat role and would only be acting to “advise and train” Kurdish fighters and others belonging to the little-known Syrian Arab Coalition.

But here is perhaps the significant part of the story. “The move could potentially put the American troops in the cross hairs of Russia,” reports the New York Times. Significantly, too, the Pentagon will not be informing the Russian military of the exact whereabouts of its ground personnel.

That suggests that the real purpose for Obama sending in the troops is to restrict Russian offensive operations by introducing the risk of bombing American forces. In effect, the US Special Forces are being used as human shields to protect American regime-change assets on the ground.

These assets include an array of jihadist mercenary brigades, which the US and its allies have invested billions of dollars in for the objective of regime change in Syria. The misnomer of “moderate rebels” belies abundant evidence that the mercenaries include Al Qaeda-linked terror groups, including Islamic State. CIA supplies of anti-tank TOW missiles as well as Toyota jeeps are just a glimpse of the foreign covert-sponsorship.

Russia’s devastating air campaign over the past month – over 1,600 targets destroyed according to Moscow – has no doubt caused apoplexy in Washington, London, Paris, Ankara, Riyadh and Doha. An urgent stop to their “losses” had to be invoked. But the foreign sponsors can’t say it openly otherwise that gives the game away about their criminal involvement in Syria’s war.

This perspective most likely explains the hastily convened “peace conference” in Vienna. US Secretary of State John Kerry’s apparent concern to “stop the bloodshed” does not seem credible as the primary motive. Why the concern now after nearly five years of bloodshed?

It is not about a “quest for peace” as the BBC reported. The move is more credibly about Washington and its allies maneuvering to give their regime-change assets in Syria a reprieve from Russia’s firepower. One of the main points agreed in Vienna this weekend is the implementation of a “nation-wide ceasefire”.

Another indicator of what is really going on are reports this week of the large-scale airlifting of jihadist mercenary groups out of Syria. According to senior Syrian army intelligence, up to 500 mercenaries were flown to Yemen onboard Turkish, Qatari and Emirati planes. The fighters were brought to Yemen’s southern city of Aden from where they were dispatched to battle zones inside Yemen by the American-coordinated Saudi coalition. The US-Saudi coalition is waging war in Yemen to reinstall the regime of exiled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi ousted by Houthi rebels earlier this year.

Aden is under the military control of Saudi and Emirati forces and Yemen’s airspace has been closed off by the coalition coordinated by US and British military planners based in Saudi capital Riyadh. It is inconceivable that plane loads of jihadists could be flown into southern Yemen without the knowledge of Washington.

So what we are seeing here is a concerted effort by Washington and its allies to stem their covert military losses in Syria. Sending in American Special Forces – a seemingly dramatic U-turn by Obama to put boots on the ground in Syria – is just one part of a wider effort to forestall Russian success in stabilizing Syria. These US forces are not about a “deepening of American involvement in a war [Obama] has tried to avoid”, as the New York Times would have us believe. They are being sent in to act as human shields against Russian airstrikes.

The putative ceasefire under a so-called peace process is another element of the US-led salvage operation. The real agenda is about giving Western, Turk and Arab-sponsored jihadists a space to regroup, and if needs be flown out of the Syrian theatre to resume their imperialist function in Yemen and, no doubt, elsewhere when required

Disabled Veteran Fired From Home Depot, For Being A Disabled Veteran

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In this episode of EBN Special Report, we discussed discrimination of a disabled veteran in the workplace. CJ Scalf, is a disabled veteran, that was hired by Home Depot, through a federally supported program. For the same reasons CJ was hired, were the same reasons he was fired. Home Depots reaction? NOTHING!!!!

We also touch on the missions of both the Oathkeepers, and Warrior Outdoors, as well as touch on the hijacking of our 2nd Amendment.

》》 http://goo.gl/LPZeAH 《《

Listen to a first class round table discussion with:

Steward Roades: Founder of the Oathkeepers

Veterans and Oathkeepers:
-Allen Lardiari
-Mouse

Founder of Warrior Outdoors: Bobby Wiggins

PLEASE CALL HOME DEPOT TO SHARE YOUR DISGUST WITH THEIR TREATMENT TO OUR VETERANS! DEMAND A FEDERAL INVESTIGATION!!

Home Depot Store number: 304-760-0444

Oathkeepers website: http://www.oathkeepers.org

Warrior Outdoors website: http://www.warrioroutdoors.org

LISTEN NOW! 》》 http://goo.gl/LPZeAH 《《

AP Exclusive: Clinton Email Server Setup Risked Intrusions

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BY JACK GILLUM AND STEPHEN BRAUN

WASHINGTON (AP) — The private email server running in Hillary Rodham Clinton’s home basement when she was secretary of state was connected to the Internet in ways that made it more vulnerable to hackers while using software that could have been exploited, according to data and documents reviewed by The Associated Press.

Clinton’s server, which handled her personal and State Department correspondence, appeared to allow users to connect openly over the Internet to control it remotely, according to detailed records compiled in 2012. Experts said the Microsoft remote desktop service wasn’t intended for such use without additional protective measures, and was the subject of U.S. government and industry warnings at the time over attacks from even low-skilled intruders.

Records show that Clinton additionally operated two more devices on her home network in Chappaqua, New York, that also were directly accessible from the Internet. One contained similar remote-control software that also has suffered from security vulnerabilities, known as Virtual Network Computing, and the other appeared to be configured to run websites.

The new details provide the first clues about how Clinton’s computer, running Microsoft’s server software, was set up and protected when she used it exclusively over four years as secretary of state for all work messages. Clinton’s privately paid technology adviser, Bryan Pagliano, has declined to answer questions about his work from congressional investigators, citing the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination.

Some emails on Clinton’s server were later deemed top secret, and scores of others included confidential or sensitive information. Clinton has said that her server featured “numerous safeguards,” but she has yet to explain how well her system was secured and whether, or how frequently, security updates were applied.

Clinton has apologized for running her homebrew server, and President Barack Obama said during a “60 Minutes” interview aired Sunday that it was “a mistake.” Obama said national security wasn’t endangered, although the FBI still has yet to complete its review of Clinton’s server for evidence of hacking.

On Tuesday, however, the White House left room for results of the Justice Department’s investigation into her server. “The president certainly respects the independence and integrity of an independent investigation, including those that are conducted by the FBI,” press secretary Josh Earnest said.

Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon said late Monday that “this report, like others before it, lacks any evidence of an actual breach, let alone one specifically targeting Hillary Clinton. The Justice Department is conducting a review of the security of the server, and we are cooperating in full.”

The AP exclusively reviewed numerous records from an Internet “census” by an anonymous hacker-researcher, who three years ago used unsecured devices to scan hundreds of millions of Internet Protocol addresses for accessible doors, called “ports.” Using a computer in Serbia, the hacker scanned Clinton’s basement server in Chappaqua at least twice, in August and December 2012. It was unclear whether the hacker was aware the server belonged to Clinton, although it identified itself as providing email services for clintonemail.com. The results are widely available online.

Remote-access software allows users to control another computer from afar. The programs are usually operated through an encrypted connection — called a virtual private network, or VPN. But Clinton’s system appeared to accept commands directly from the Internet without such protections.

“That’s total amateur hour,” said Marc Maiffret, who has founded two cybersecurity companies. He said permitting remote-access connections directly over the Internet would be the result of someone choosing convenience over security or failing to understand the risks. “Real enterprise-class security, with teams dedicated to these things, would not do this,” he said.

The government and security firms have published warnings about allowing this kind of remote access to Clinton’s server. The same software was targeted by an infectious Internet worm, known as Morta, which exploited weak passwords to break into servers. The software also was known to be vulnerable to brute-force attacks that tried password combinations until hackers broke in, and in some cases it could be tricked into revealing sensitive details about a server to help hackers formulate attacks.

“An attacker with a low skill-level would be able to exploit this vulnerability,” said the Homeland Security Department’s U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team in 2012, the same year Clinton’s server was scanned.

Also in 2012, the State Department had outlawed use of remote-access software for its technology officials to maintain unclassified servers without a waiver. It had banned all instances of remotely connecting to classified servers or servers located overseas.

The findings suggest Clinton’s server “violates the most basic network-perimeter security tenets: Don’t expose insecure services to the Internet,” said Justin Harvey, the chief security officer for Fidelis Cybersecurity.

Clinton’s email server at one point also was operating software necessary to publish websites, although it was not believed to have been used for this purpose. Traditional security practices dictate shutting off all of a server’s unnecessary functions to prevent hackers from exploiting design flaws.

In Clinton’s case, Internet addresses the AP traced to her home in Chappaqua revealed open ports on three devices, including her email system. Each numbered port is commonly, but not always uniquely, associated with specific features or functions. The AP in March was first to discover Clinton’s use of a private email server and trace it to her home.

Mikko Hypponen, the chief research officer at F-Secure, a top global computer security firm, said it was unclear how Clinton’s server was configured, but an out-of-the-box installation of remote desktop would have been vulnerable. Those risks — such as giving hackers a chance to run malicious software on her machine — were “clearly serious” and could have allowed snoops to deploy so-called back doors.

The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology, the federal government’s guiding agency on computer technology, warned in 2008 that exposed server ports were security risks. It said remote-control programs should only be used in conjunction with encryption tunnels, such as secure VPN connections.