Jeff ID:Their Side – Bloggers knew FOIA emails were coming

Posted: December 23, 2011 by Rog Tallbloke in climate, media, Politics

Reposted from Jeff ID’s blog, which was one of the recipients of the comment from ‘foia’  linking the FOIA2011.zip containing the Climategate 2 files. Leslie Kaufman emailed me the day after the raid on my home. I replied with the statement written by my solicitors Wilde & Company, and nothing more.

Posted by Jeff Id on December 22, 2011

I just had a phone conversation with Leslie Kaufman of the NYT on the ‘hacker’. She was careful to call the FOIA people by that PC name. Rule 1 – Don’t offend the witness unless you want them upset. I didn’t really want to do the interview because these things don’t usually go well for me and it took me several days to make time. Unfortunately my Achilles heel is that I tend to say what I think. — I know you are all surprised.

She asked several questions about the hacker and said that her job was to investigate that aspect and not the climategate emails – which she believed had been covered. Of course I took a little time to explain the science of the issue and even brought up the conversations between the Dept of Energy and Phil Jones. In general, she seemed to repeat the opinions of the climategate committees despite the blindingly obvious problems in meshing any of their conclusions with reality. She said it was well covered that the researchers hadn’t been ‘open enough’. If that is the limit of the curiosity of your audience, it didn’t seem worth getting into.

One thing I did make clear and have made clear before, I don’t want to know who the FOIA gourp/person is because I’m not going to be willing (or technically able) to protect them – so if FOIA.org reads this, don’t tell me. My life is fine the way it is and the last thing I need is a leftist Justice department with an overstock of rubber gloves visiting my home. Leslie was very interested in whether I knew who the ‘hacker’ is. I had to tell her several ways and times that I really don’t know. I even told her that I used to think it was a student, to which she later questioned why I don’t think it is a student any longer. (Implying that I knew something). Hopefully, you can understand the direction of the interview from this. She said it was her mandate to follow this portion of the story.

For the readers here, it isn’t that I don’t believe it was a student, it is that I don’t know either way. Some friends with more knowledge than I on computers have pointed out some fairly technically sophisticated behavior in the releases which make me reconsider. I brought up the RC hack to Leslie, pointing out that no adult with sensitive information would release it that way. It’s a prank-like behavior. Of course, there is a certain narcissism which comes with a hacker mentality that sometimes delays the adult thought process. When I was in college, a stunt like that would sound like fun. Now — NO effing way.

I once met a 25 year old guy who had been caught hacking, and later hired by a security company. Despite having been “caught”, he was so cock-sure that he was flat nauseating. Either too dumb to know he wasn’t as smart as he thought or too young to have the social skill to refrain from flaunting his smarts. It is a culture of some computer programmers (sorry guys), which the ‘adult’ of my story believed he had risen to the top of. — Look what I can do! I often wonder if the hacker culture recognizes the vastly superior work built into the technology of the things which they program on.

This is not to say that FOIA.org released the emails out of narcissism or proof of superiority. Readers here understand that. Instead, it was done of understanding with a slight hint of that hacker mentality. They/he/she hold a recognition that the math and science are being perverted, data was absolutely covered up where necessary and the known results were without a doubt exaggerated to promote the cause. In my conversation with Leslie, I took the time to explain that I was not a denier and that any scientifically minded person knows full well that the basic effect of CO2 warming is incontrovertibly true. She suggested to describe me as a Lukewarmer, to which my reply was that I don’t even like that name because I don’t know how much warming there will be but due to current political mechanisms, there is a systematic exaggeration of the science.

Anyway, the most interesting point of the conversation came out when she said in very rough paraphrase ‘Their side is that the email releases were known to you ahead of time.’

The ‘their side’ was fairly interesting as we know the “Climate Scientists™” are in good contact with the NYT as are the government agencies. It could have been nothing but often when you hear inflection of how something is said, you can get the meaning. I took it as though she had been talked too by someone of the opinion that the three blogs mentioned in the DOJ letter were intimately involved.

The fact that I have done nothing wrong does not relieve me one tiny bit regarding the police. This is especially true when a billion dollar industry is involved. Those who haven’t dealt with law won’t get that. What gives me comfort is that this blog and its global friends have a wide readership means that ANY direct police action will have a wide public audience – not that it will stop the crazy stuff anyway. That is the limit of my protection.

As I have written before, I think Leslie has it right. Some powerful idiot(perhaps a congressman), who doesn’t understand blogs, internets (love the plural) or techie things in general with more than one button, thinks that the bloggers were in direct communication with FOIA. This is the single reason that I can make sense of for the confiscation of Tallbloke’s computers. Any other potential communications can be taken in pristine form right from the blog logs at WordPress.

Anyway, the conversation came across as some verification of my theory on why Tallboke had his computers confiscated. As always, I reserve the right to revise and extend my remarks.

Comments
  1. Aussie says:

    I think that Jeff is right, that someone has been doing some leaning. It could be the person who is known for playing hockey, because he has made noises, but he is a minion. Could it be from Department of Energy?

  2. J Bowers says:

    There’s actually a very straightforward alternative explanation concerning the police being interested in TB’s kit. If FOIA took an interest in TB and wanted to check him out before getting him involved, they may have simply hacked into TB’s laptop to do so and there’s a **remote** chance that they left a clue which would be worth investigating.

    [Reply] Lol. My web connection is pretty secure. See http://tallbloke.net

  3. E.M.Smith says:

    @J. Bowers:

    Interesting idea, but not exactly straightforward…. They also took the boundary router….

    So WHY take a relatively stupid device that typically has a couple of ‘store config’ functions and maybe some contact information for logging in to accounts? And why only two laptops?

    My take is simpler (once you get past a technical ‘why’ moment). They didn’t take the other computers because what they wanted was clearly not on them. 2 possibles there: 1) They believed Tallbloke that the other computers were not ‘interesting’. 2) They KNEW those computers did not match what they wanted.

    Now, if they were looking for evidence of the emails prior to release, or evidence of a ‘hack’ from prior years, neither of those two things would be true. As Police are not in the habit of trusting folks who’s homes they raid, #1 will not be true. What does that leave?

    They could verify that the ‘other computers’ were old and of specific hardware types. That means they knew they didn’t want them. Hmmm…. What could they have that would tell them that? What network fingerprint changes over time?

    How about MAC addresses. Assigned by manufacturer blocks, incrementing over time.

    IFF they had a router log with a MAC address number that said “newer hardware”, they would know the old boxes were not interesting.

    No need to trust the target of the raid. No need to leave behind old systems that ‘might be it’.

    The reasonable conclusion is that they had captured an IP address and MAC address and wanted to find evidence of them on Tallbloke’s computer / router.

    That any reasonably smart hacker would have multiple NIC adapters and not use the built in for anything like this probably escaped them, however. ( I’d use an old junker laptop that hasn’t been used anywhere for a few years. Put one of 4 PCMCIA wireless cards that I have into it. Hit a coffee house not in my home town, and boot from a Knoppix CD. End of session, CD comes \out leaving nothing on laptop, NIC has a ‘near spark-plug wire experience’ then goes swimming in salt water on the drive home. NOTHING left for evidence. Connecting from the parking lot eliminates in store video and clerk memory too. Nothing left, just nothing.)

    Oh, and per the actual uploaded files: Put them onto a flash drive. After posting the data, wipe the drive or toss it. Don’t need it any more…

    As a guy who defended sites from hackers for a decade or two I had to deal with a lot of this from the other side. You learn what works…

    You also learn what other folks do. What the cops did says, to me, “Have MAC address and IP, fishing for a match based on profiling”. (Computer savvy guy not too far away with early release notice so maybe ‘connected’ and with anti-AGW attitudes). And maybe a bit of “hope something is on the hard drive to show complicity and / or private email communications too”. They key bit, to me, was the boundary router. Only thing of interest there is a MAC address and maybe config / connection logs (if smart enough router).

    But not to disparage your thesis. It could be that, just not as likely IMHO.

    Either that, or they were just incompetent. But Tallbloke said they had one guy who was the computer guy, so he ought not be that incompetent…

    At any rate, that’s the way I see it. Best o luck to Tallbloke, BTW ;-)

  4. J Bowers says:

    “Lol. My web connection is pretty secure.”

    Ah, famous last words. Just what Amazon probably said… ;)

  5. Tony Mach says:

    The police are grasping at straws – they have no leads, that’s what it is…

  6. The juxtoposition of SOPA’s current status in Congress (of the USA) and the police raids should not be underestimated. That and the relentless curiosity of the bloggers and the leakers but the non-curiosity as to the science and its manipulation should indicate the real interest of the compliant media.

    As the old joke goes, 2+2 equals whatever you need it to equal.

  7. Aussie says:

    I see that Justme/JBowers is still up to his tricks with his innuendo.

    I think what EM Smith says makes a lot of sense. The other scenario is something that sounds implausible.

    Thinking back to some of the hack jobs that went down this year the hackers used remote computers to do their actual hacking. That young bloke that was picked up in the U.K. who is a part of the Lulz group could tell you all about how it is done. However, I do not believe that this is how it was done by the leaker in the CRU case.

    Also, if you read what Manning had stated about how he had managed to get away with hacking into and downloading those diplomatic cables, he had cover as he copied stuff on to a CD. Think about that!!

  8. J Martin says:

    I don’t understand how anyone can hack into anything. When I mistype or can’t remember the password to login to the office, it gives me a couple of goes then makes me wait a while before I can try again. So unless the password is “password” or “admin” or something very simple I would have thought the only way to get in is if you have inside knowledge.

    So I would have thought that the emails must have been taken from the inside. The climategate emails have shown us that there are quite a few people mentioned in them that might have had some motive to take a copy, also the whole of the IT department would be under suspicion. Perhaps also a plethora of students. So the police must have a surfeit of suspects and presumably little hope of being able to work out which of them did the deed.

    Presumably whoever took a copy of the emails then had to find someone to give them to who would make use of them. So they may have already had links to outfits with concerns about poverty. Kind of points to a student, as they tend to be more left wing and green and Oxfamish than people who have to work for a living.

    The university were quick to get a “Sir” someone in to conduct a review. Suspiciously quick. This may suggest the university think it was an inside job, and wouldn’t want the embarrassment of an internal leak. So a quick review by a “Sir” someone would help deflect the police into looking for a hacker. The first job the police should have done was employ professional hackers (some sort of IT security company) to test the theory that it was a hacker by seeing if they could hack into the university.

    As the police took away the UEA server that perhaps suggests the police think it was an inside job. But since they must have a rather long list of internal whodunnits, then I guess they have chosen to refocus on tracking down the person or group that is FOIA. That they chose to do this by helping themselves to the laptops at Tallbloke Towers based on the far fetched hope that FOIA was in communication with Tallbloke seems to be rather grasping at straws.

    My guess is that they would have more luck if they were to acquire the laptops etc, of all potential internal suspects. This would no doubt require resources that a local police force cannot muster. They managed to get a warrant to raid Tallbloke Towers, so they should be able to get the ten or twenty or more warrants to take the laptops of the internal UEA suspects. Though one problem would be that some of the unhappy scientists in those emails are based in other countries.

    If we ever find out who dunnit, then I hope it wasn’t a student or anyone in the university’s IT department. I hope it turns out to be a professor. Or perhaps Phil Jones accidentally released the emails whilst struggling to get to grips with Excel. If we get any more installments to this saga then I maybe I should try out that American thing of reading blogs while munching popcorn.

    There is one problem with the idea that one of the “team” released the emails, as I think that whoever dunnit should be knighted or given the nobel prize. So hopefully it wasn’t Phil Jones who dunnit.