Feinstein says she talked to Sanger before Stuxnet story

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 33 Comments

At the beginning of the month the New York Times’ David Sanger reported that Obama had ramped up a cyberwar against the Iranians, approving attacks using a computer worm developed by the US and Israel, called Stuxnet. That story apparently angered the Obama administration. The president himself has called out the leakers.

Stung by criticism that his aides were dishing secrets to The New York Times and other media to bolster his re-election campaign, Obama said he’d investigate.

Well in an interview on CNN last week, Senator Dianne Feinstein also denounced the leaks then said she talked to Sanger before his story came out. The problem, evidently, is that Sanger is so smart:

This is a big problem… What you have are very sophisticated journalists. David Sanger is one of the best.

I spoke with him. He came into my office, he saw me, we worked together at the Aspen Strategy Institute.

He assured me that what he was publishing he had worked out with various agencies and he didn’t think that anything was revealed that wasn’t known already. Well I read the New York Times article and my heart dropped. Because he wove a tapestry that has an impact that is beyond any single one thing, and he’s very good at what he does, and he spent a year figuring it all out.

Note that Sanger himself says that he agonized about releasing some information about the cyberwarfare story. I wonder what Feinstein told him, and how he went too far in her view. Someone surely wanted the Stuxnet story out!

On CNN Wolf Blitzer asked her, Should journalists be prosecuted? “I didn’t say that. What I said is, this is an issue we need to deal with… an enormously smart constituency of journalists who follow this…. It’s going to result in the inability of the United States to have an intelligence profile… that will be able to protect this country.”

Oh, and what is the Aspen Strategy Group?

What We Do

Through its workshops, briefings, and publications, the ASG’s distilled insights help American policymakers learn from experts, while helping the experts understand what questions trouble policymakers. No other group conducts this dialogue in the sustained depth that we achieve in our summer workshops, and with such outstanding participants from both sides of the expert-policymaker divide.

 

I picked up the Blitzer interview from Marcy Wheeler– emptywheel– who deconstructs David Sanger’s Stuxnet story and speculates on the source, and why Feinstein is mad about this:

I suggested that the Israelis coded StuxNet to escape, without telling the Americans, so as to undermine American attempts to occupy them with cyberwar to prevent hot war. That is, the implication of Sanger’s article (which he now seems to be trying to retract) is that the Israelis deliberately exposed our cyberwar attack so as to make it more likely they could start a war with Iran…

Is DiFi [Dianne Feinstein] so angry at Sanger because he ham-handedly revealed that the Israelis deliberately turned StuxNet into a potential WMD?

I hope they discuss all this at the Aspen Strategy Group, and then publish the conversation…

33 Responses

  1. lysias
    June 12, 2012, 11:50 am

    The Stuxnet code included one section entitled “Myrtus”. People quickly connected this with the Book of Esther and thus deduced that Israel was probably behind the virus.

    Why was this title included in the code if Israel didn’t want the virus’s origin to be apparent?

    • Woody Tanaka
      June 12, 2012, 12:55 pm

      What does it matter? If I were Iran, I would say that it considers the US and Israel to be one enemy and of one ideology and therefore, if either were to take action against Iran, it would consider both to be responsible and take any action it believed was necessary in response to the Amerisraeli aggression. There are a lot of really, really, really soft targets in the US.

      • justicewillprevail
        June 12, 2012, 1:38 pm

        It matters because it could demonstrate once again the two-faced nature of Israel’s relationship with the US. If they leaked it, it was to draw the US into the imbroglio, perhaps hoping for Iranian retaliation against the US, and if they re-engineered it then it also demonstrates their willingness to undermine any ‘arrangements’ with the US, and their eagerness to destabilise a wider world. None of it would surprise anybody familiar with the USS Liberty, Pollard and the catalogue of Israeli betrayals of the US, and its exploitation of their gullibility. How anyone can trust them is a mystery. They have been working night and day to hook the US into more endless, economically ruinous wars.

      • Woody Tanaka
        June 13, 2012, 10:59 am

        I guess my point is that if the Liberty, Pollard, and the myriad of other ways that history has shown israeli’s betrayal of the US and the US’s willingness to welcome that betrayal, then what would it matter? Would this be the thing that finally makes the US people see the light? Not on your life. The zionist community will say that the US was wrong for putting the limitations in the thing in the first place. Fully half of the political public in the US is already on board for attacking Iran or not having the US hold Israel back if it wants to do it.

        The fact is that the people weilding power in the US and the people who are doing so behind the scenes are all aboard with the program of linking the two states. Iran and the larger world should simply recognize that fact.

    • AllenBee
      June 12, 2012, 1:19 pm

      some computer scientists connected “Myrtus” with a symbol for computer code

      link to cryptome.org

      “According to Markoff, [in NYTimes in 2010]

      “Several of the teams of computer security researchers who have been dissecting the software found a text string that suggests that the attackers named their project Myrtus… an allusion to the Hebrew word for Esther. The Book of Esther tells the story of a Persian plot against the Jews, who attacked their enemies pre-emptively.”

      Really? Personally I’d be surprised if a crack team of Israeli software engineers were so sloppy that they relied on outdated rootkit technology (e.g. hooking the Nt*() calls used by Kernel32.LoadLibrary() and using UPX to pack code). Most of the Israeli developers I’ve met are pretty sharp. Just ask Erez Metula.

      link to blackhat.com

      It may be that the “myrtus” string from the recovered Stuxnet file path

      “b:\myrtus\src\objfre_w2k_x86\i386\guava.pdb” stands for “My-RTUs”

      as in Remote Terminal Unit. See the following white paper from Motorola, it examines RTUs and PICs in SCADA systems. Who knows? The guava-myrtus connection may actually hold water.

      link to motorola.com

      As you can see, the media’s propaganda machine is alive and well.

    • Robert
      June 12, 2012, 1:35 pm

      It’s a puzzler, lysius, but the Mossad is very arrogant. In 9/11, the Mossad left Hebrew hints and clues that they were behind it, presumably knowing that even if they were discovered, the Israeli operatives would still be released.

      One of the white vans that were apprehended by the NYPD had a mural of a plane diving into the twin towers, and in Hebrew the mural said, “Discover the pleasure of flying model airplanes.”

      You would think that spies would be discreet and get the job done without the slightest reference to the source, but that’s not the case with Mossad.

      • Charles Barwin
        June 12, 2012, 3:23 pm

        “The men were taking video or photos of themselves with the World Trade Center burning in the background, she said. What struck Maria were the expressions on the men’s faces. “They were like happy, you know … They didn’t look shocked to me. I thought it was very strange,” she said.

        The driver of the van, Sivan Kurzberg, told the officers, “We are Israeli. We are not your problem. Your problems are our problems. The Palestinians are the problem.” The other passengers were his brother Paul Kurzberg, Yaron Shmuel, Oded Ellner and Omer Marmari.”

        link to abcnews.go.com

      • Carowhat
        June 13, 2012, 12:30 am

        Robert: One of the white vans that were apprehended by the NYPD had a mural of a plane diving into the twin towers, and in Hebrew the mural said, “Discover the pleasure of flying model airplanes.”

        Robert, do you have a reference for this? I never heard of an murals on the vans before.

      • MRW
        June 13, 2012, 3:26 am

        Carowhat,

        Try this. It’s the NYPD dispatch from 9/11 discussing it.

  2. lysias
    June 12, 2012, 12:13 pm

    RT is reporting that Flame and Stuxnet contain some identical code, which would appear to prove that they share authorship. Flame and Stuxnet: Two cyber weapons unleashed by same master:

    Those who commissioned the malware Flame also created the deadly Stuxnet, say Kaspersky Labs, who have discovered an identical piece of code in both worms. What appeared to be two unrelated programs are probably part of the same cyberwar campaign.

    “The new findings that reveal how the teams shared the source code of at least one module in the early stages of development prove that the groups co-operated at least once,” wrote Aleksandr Gostev, chief security expert for Russian security company Kaspersky Labs.

    Flame, which was discovered only last month, despite operating for several years, is a cyber-espionage program. After infiltrating computer systems through hundreds of possible vulnerabilities, it records all of the user’s information, from printed documents to voices recorded on the microphone.

    In contrast, Stuxnet is a weapon. In 2010 it was used to damage uranium enrichment centrifuges in Iran.

  3. Kathleen
    June 12, 2012, 12:24 pm

    I think it will be interesting to see if they not only find the leaker..s and if they were also in the Clinton administration?

    The Jake Tapper/Sanger interview

    link to news.yahoo.com

    Sanger ” I have no idea who that person was. It wasn’t a person it was a technological error” How quickly can an individual contradict themselves?

    • AllenBee
      June 12, 2012, 12:56 pm

      I’d sure like to know about any conversations Sanger had with Dennis Ross while Ross was in White House, and after Ross left White House when, iirc, Ross retained his security clearances.

      It’s also distressing that the media — including that Colin Powell of media outlets, C Span — is framing this story as All About Leaks, rather than all about the fact that the Obama administration is engaged in warfare with a weapon whose limits are unknown and whose destructive potential is unknown (can you say Fukushima? Israel was running the security systems at Fukushima when it melted down; U.S. west coast states are gathering radiated debris from their littoral shelf), against a sovereign state against whom the U.S. has no casus belli.

      In other words, leak or no leak, Obama’s cyber attacks on Iran are illegal acts of war.
      The leaks are NOT the story.
      Illegal aggressive war on a state that has not harmed U.S, that was not approved by the People of the United States and not within Constitutional parameters — THAT is the story.

    • seafoid
      June 12, 2012, 3:18 pm

      I thought the Dems wanted Americans to know they were tough on Muslims so the Republicans couldn’t use a perception of their weakness on this as an attack point in November. Obama does the drones and Stuxnet and he killed Bin Laden and he is dripping with testosterone. So he must have sanctioned the leak.

      • lysias
        June 12, 2012, 3:40 pm

        Obama gets quite angry at unauthorized leaks. The White House reaction to all the leaks you name was quite tame.

  4. Kathleen
    June 12, 2012, 12:26 pm

    Leveretts
    link to raceforiran.com
    In his Op Ed, Ambassador Hua states his bottom line up front, with commendable clarity: “It is unrealistic for the US to expect China to act in a way that is harmful to its interests and against its diplomatic principles.” After succinctly reviewing why, contrary to Western stereotypes, “Iran is neither rogue nor fundamentalist,” he gets to the core of Sino-American disagreements over dealing with the Islamic Republic:

    “The US is not willing to let its dominance in the Middle East be challenged by a regional power like Iran; so the hostility and antagonism between the two countries has grown. In contrast, Sino-Iranian relations are one of the oldest bilateral relations in the world and valued by both sides…The foundations for their friendship are that China has never intervened in Iran’s domestic affairs and their economies are complementary, offering huge potential for cooperation.

    The US hopes to enlist China’s help in dealing with Iran. But that’s impossible because China will never join the zero-sum game between the US and Iran…The disagreement between the US and China has become especially serious with the US imposing sanctions to restrict Iran’s oil exports as China is a big importer of Iranian oil. But maintaining relations with Iran is a matter concerning China’s vital interests and China’s fundamental diplomatic principles. The US should respect China’s friendly relations with Iran, as well as its interests.”

  5. Annie Robbins
    June 12, 2012, 12:42 pm

    here’s a list of Aspen Strategy Group members:
    link to ftp.sourcewatch.org

    and here are some members from their Aspen Institute / Middle East Strategy Group
    link to ftp.sourcewatch.org

    Jane Harman
    Gary Heiman
    Martin S. Indyk
    Walter Isaacson
    Alan P. Larson
    Loutfy Mansour
    Walid Najjab
    Nassar Ali Nassar
    Jacob Ner-David
    Her Majesty Queen Noor
    Yifat Gurian Ofer
    Peter Reiling
    William D. Rogers
    Dennis Ross
    Mara Rudman
    George R. Salem
    Samir Shawa
    Joel Tauber
    Ephraim Sneh
    Edward S. Walker, Jr.
    Peter S. Watson
    Mortimer B. Zuckerman

    • Kathleen
      June 12, 2012, 12:47 pm

      The Aspen institute conferences are generally well worth attending. Have attended several over the last three decades. But the institute has definitely started leaning towards the war hawks over the years.

      • AllenBee
        June 12, 2012, 1:26 pm

        Is Aspen Strategy same as Aspen Institute?

        Given all the Israeli hawks in the group that Annie listed, and given Israeli propensity for setting up organizations that mimic other, established and mainstream groups, one has to ask: Is Aspen STRATEGY Group a faked out version of Aspen Institute, like the betting parlor in The Sting.

      • Annie Robbins
        June 12, 2012, 1:36 pm

        hi allen, if you open the first sourcewatch link in my comment it is titled
        “Aspen Institute / Aspen Strategy Group”

        the second link is embedded under: “Aspen Institute / Middle East Strategy Group”

      • Kathleen
        June 13, 2012, 8:23 am

        I have friends in Aspen to stay with. But if you want to attend the Aspen Institute conferences there are lots of great campgrounds in the area. You can make it an inexpensive stay. Beautiful hikes, food, people. When I lived in Aspen during the 70’s I would get out of town just to see some not so pretty people. That was the era of EST/Forum/ Alive Tribe…..oy vey. Would argue endlessly with my extremely well off friends about their belief systems that all people choose their lives, their circumstances etc. Lots of blaming the victim mentality in Colorado during those days Also the era of summers at Windstar listening to Bucky Fuller, Ram Dass lecturing about how many of us are committed to social, political, humanitarian causes not because we will necessarily see results but because your conscience is guiding you..if you will only take the time to listen and follow

  6. Kathleen
    June 12, 2012, 12:45 pm

    When the topic of Iran, Plame outing, who was allegedly selling weapons to …Sibel Edmonds story comes up for me. She has written about Feith, Wolfowitz, Grossman allegedly being involved with selling weapons etc
    link to boilingfrogspost.com

    • lysias
      June 12, 2012, 12:49 pm

      Edmonds’s new book Classified Woman is a great — and shocking — read.

  7. dalybean
    June 12, 2012, 2:05 pm

    I have always thought that Scooter Libby’s note to Judy Miller about the “aspens turning” referred to the Aspen Institute/Aspen Strategy Group rather than to aspen trees. The last time I looked at the list I saw Susan Rice and David Sanger on it but I don’t remember what year it was.

  8. Cheryl
    June 12, 2012, 2:56 pm

    Judith Miller presented at the 2003 Aspen Institute along with among others, Dennis Ross. Susan Rice was in attendance. The topic was the Middle East.

    Note that Judith Miller was romantically linked with Les Aspin, Clinton’s first Sec. of Defense, following Dick Cheney. Aspin chaired the House Armed Services Committee and as such spoke at JINSA….. He was shortlived as Clinton’s Sec. of Defense. According to web articles, Miller would quote him even as she was linked with him.
    Also, on the day of his death, the British investigator of WMDs, David Kelly, responded to an email from Judith Miller, in which he mentioned “dark” players.
    His death was ruled a suicide but the investigation remains controversial. At the time, Blair’s chief communications aide called Kelly a Walter Mitty type person……google Fisk to read about his take on this.
    Apparently Judith Miller, widely known to use anonymous sources, unnamed sources etc., quoted Kelly by name in her book on bioterrorism.

    • Kathleen
      June 13, 2012, 8:14 am

      Yep the neocons have basically taken over the Aspen Institute over the last several decades

  9. Charles Barwin
    June 12, 2012, 3:32 pm

    ““Judy has never been shy about crawling over the heads of editors,” says one retired Times colleague. And Raines had crafted Judy’s assignment so that it became extremely easy for her to circumvent the desks. ”

    “When Miller joined the Times in the late seventies, she arrived in the Washington bureau at about the same time as Arthur Sulzberger Jr.—a recent college graduate getting hands-on experience in the shop floor of the family business. The D.C. office had only about half a dozen reporters under the age of 35, including Sulzberger, Miller, Steve Rattner, and Phil Taubman. They clung to one another. After work, they would retire to Duke Zeibert’s for a drink. The crowd became even more sociable. When Miller dated Rattner, they shared a weekend house on the Eastern Shore of Maryland with Sulzberger and his wife, Gail.”

    link to nymag.com

  10. CloakAndDagger
    June 12, 2012, 6:43 pm

    Anyone care to make any bets on the P5+1 talks coming up?

    I am predicting a complete collapse with everyone retreating to their respective corners.

    Israel has won this battle. But the jury is still out on the war.

    • Kathleen
      June 13, 2012, 8:16 am

      I don’t think so.
      link to raceforiran.com

      President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to Beijing for a Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit and looming implementation of the latest round of U.S. secondary sanctions against countries that continue buying oil from and doing other business with the Islamic Republic have once again focused the spotlight on Sino-Iranian relations. On that front, Americans, in particular, should read an Op Ed, “Sino-Iranian Ties Important,” published today in China Daily by Hua Liming, see here.

      Hua is described in the bio line to his Op Ed as “a former ambassador to China and now a researcher at the China Institute of International Studies.” We had the good fortune to meet Ambassador Hua last year in Beijing, and found him to be one of the most experienced, most richly informed, and wisest people on Iranian affairs one could hope to know.

      In his Op Ed, Ambassador Hua states his bottom line up front, with commendable clarity: “It is unrealistic for the US to expect China to act in a way that is harmful to its interests and against its diplomatic principles.” After succinctly reviewing why, contrary to Western stereotypes, “Iran is neither rogue nor fundamentalist,” he gets to the core of Sino-American disagreements over dealing with the Islamic Republic:

      “The US is not willing to let its dominance in the Middle East be challenged by a regional power like Iran; so the hostility and antagonism between the two countries has grown. In contrast, Sino-Iranian relations are one of the oldest bilateral relations in the world and valued by both sides…The foundations for their friendship are that China has never intervened in Iran’s domestic affairs and their economies are complementary, offering huge potential for cooperation.

      The US hopes to enlist China’s help in dealing with Iran. But that’s impossible because China will never join the zero-sum game between the US and Iran…The disagreement between the US and China has become especially serious with the US imposing sanctions to restrict Iran’s oil exports as China is a big importer of Iranian oil. But maintaining relations with Iran is a matter concerning China’s vital interests and China’s fundamental diplomatic principles. The US should respect China’s friendly relations with Iran, as well as its interests.”

    • Citizen
      June 13, 2012, 8:30 am

      Yep, just will kick can down the road. Iranians wonder why the West expects diamonds for peanuts. Especially since P5+1 is taking place while Iran undergoes “crippling sanctions.” link to cpreview.org

  11. Cheryl
    June 13, 2012, 10:15 am

    Scooter Libby’s famous email line about turning in clusters and being connected at the roots I assumed was reference to the connected ones now moving on from Iraq and ramping up their Iran move. And, that Judith should come back to life because she would be needed.
    That Feinstein mentioned working with Sanger at the Aspen institute tweaked my memory as well as others here on Mondo of the intelligence leak that brought down the Plame circle of covert agents. Plames’s husband attempted to stop the push to war with Iraq by debunking the Bush administration twisted intelligence.

  12. Cheryl
    June 13, 2012, 11:52 am

    Peter Bergen in a 2003 Washington Monthly article entitled “Armchair Provacateur” does an expose of Laurie Mylorie as being the Iraq expert, Judith Miller coauthor, Perle, Feith, Wolfowitz fellow traveler who was a gobetween of Saddam Hussein and Israel who turned vehemently against Hussein when she felt betrayed. She and Judith are both linked to Pipe’s Mideast Forum. She is quoted by Bergan as saying that she takes satisfaction that we went to war with Iraq and got rid of Saddam and that “the rest is details”
    One of the details we now know is that Scooter and Judy would out a CIA agent and in the process a whole group of agents who were collecting intelligence on Iraq and Iran. But these were the agents who could find no link between 9-11 and WMDs and Iraq. In addition, Mylorie and Miller had ramped up the fear of anthrax, bioterrorism etc. that supported Rice’s “mushroom cloud” description.
    Today, we read that an investigation into the “leakers” is beginning that people are writing could bring down the Obama administration. The major leak is of course that Israel and the U.S. have jointly developed the cyberwar virus.
    Prior to becoming Clinton’s Secretary of Defense, Judy Millers boyfriend, Les Aspin was Chair of the House Armed Services Committee. Dick Cheney was then Secretary of Defense. In a speech to JINSA, Aspin spoke of strong support for Israel
    and the need to develop a lighter more agile military that could carry on several wars at once. He was a supporter of the Iran Contra activity.

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