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May 16, 2017

Was a Murdered DNC Official Sending Emails to Wikileaks?

I usually wouldn't give a post such a lurid headline, so full of Intriguingly Dangled Questions, but that's what the media has taught me to do.

There's a little confusion on who the private investigator making these claims is working for. He's frequently represented as the family's private investigator, but they have kinda shot that down (sort of) by clarifying he's being paid by an unnamed third party.

I don't know the truth. Trying to speculate here to see if both stories can have some truth in them: Let me guess he's being paid by a politically-interested third party, and has had some cooperation from the murdered DNC official's family, so he can be said, broadly, to be working "on behalf" of the family, but his actual client is someone else.

The family is distancing themselves from his claims and in fact contradicting them, per Buzzfeed:

The family of murdered Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich on Tuesday strongly rejected reports claiming he had been in contact with WikiLeaks.

"As we've seen through the past year of unsubstantiated claims, we see no facts, we have seen no evidence, we have been approached with no emails and only learned about this when contacted by the press," spokesperson Brad Bauman told BuzzFeed News in an emailed statement.


[R]ich's family said in its statement that the private investigator was "paid for by a third party" and under his contract had been "barred from speaking to press" without explicit authorization from the family.

So the family does have a contract with him of some kind, even if he's being paid by someone else. And apparently the PI wasn't supposed to go to the press, by the terms of this contract.

But then, his actual client seems to be someone other than the family.

Rich, 27, was shot and killed early one morning in Washington in July of last year. He had been working on a DNC project trying to make it easier for people to find where to vote on Election Day.

WikiLeaks published thousands of hacked DNC emails soon after Rich's death, and conspiracy theories began to swirl after the organization offered a $20,000 reward for help solving his case. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange then raised further eyebrows when he spoke of Rich's death, saying, "Our whistleblowers go to significant efforts to get us material."

WikiLeaks backed off the claim, saying his statement "should not be taken to imply that Seth Rich was a source for WikiLeaks," nor that his death was connected to the leaked emails.

Police said in response that they believe there is no connection between his death and "his employment at the DNC." Since that time, Rich's family have also said publicly that they believe his death wasn't connected.


Rich family spokesman Brad Bauman, a Democratic political consultant by trade...

A little convenient. But kudos to Buzzfeed for actually reporting that, which most "Real News Outlets" would have supressed.

...told BuzzFeed News that the Wikileaks story just doesn't add up. Rich's job at the DNC had nothing to do with IT or internal cybersecurity...

Bauman said that evidence tying Rich to Wikileaks has been "nothing but hearsay or the insane rantings of conspiracy theorists."

Well, maybe. But the family seems to be a Democratic one, and maybe they don't like the idea that Seth Rich maybe, possibly could have been a turncoat against the Party.

With the denials out of the way, let's get to the claims. Which have been, as I've noted, largely denied by the family and their Democrat consultant spokesman.

From a local Fox affiliate news station:

t has been almost a year since Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was murdered in the nation's capital. There have been no solid answers about why he was killed until now.

Rich was shot and killed last July in Northwest D.C and police have suggested the killing in the District's Bloomingdale neighborhood was a botched robbery. However, online conspiracy theories have tied the murder to Rich's work at the DNC.

Just two months shy of the one-year anniversary of Rich's death, FOX 5 has learned there is new information that could prove these theorists right.

Rod Wheeler, a private investigator hired by the Rich family, suggests there is tangible evidence on Rich's laptop that confirms he was communicating with WikiLeaks prior to his death.

Now, questions have been raised on why D.C. police, the lead agency on this murder investigation for the past ten months, have insisted this was a robbery gone bad when there appears to be no evidence to suggest that.

Wheeler, a former D.C. police homicide detective, is running a parallel investigation into Rich’s murder. He said he believes there is a cover-up and the police department has been told to back down from the investigation.

"The police department nor the FBI have been forthcoming,” said Wheeler. “They haven't been cooperating at all. I believe that the answer to solving his death lies on that computer, which I believe is either at the police department or either at the FBI. I have been told both.”

When we asked Wheeler if his sources have told him there is information that links Rich to Wikileaks, he said, “Absolutely. Yeah. That's confirmed."

Now here's the thing: Wheeler is not claiming he saw these communications with Wikileaks with his own eyes. He's saying he's got a source in the police department who says he saw such evidence on his computer.

So this relies on anonymous sources we can't talk to, alleged evidence we can't see, and innuendo that as of yet no one can prove, but merely suggest.

Sounds a lot like the Trump-Russia conspiracy theory the press is pushing with all its might.

A few stray thoughts:

1. I don't understand the motive for the murder, if we're talking about revenge-for-the-leaks as the motive. The leaks were already leaked. Further, this guy had committed a crime, so he could himself be arrested. Seems to me that if you wanted to punish the guy for his suggested betrayal, you could do so quite lawfully, and without all the dangers of an assassination.

2. On the other hand, I don't understand why a "botched robbery" results in a homicide, and yet the robber leaves behind the guy's wallet. That's real botch, isn't it?

3. And yet I also don't understand that if the instrument of this betrayal -- this guy's computer -- had juicy tidbits on it and such (which I'm sure people are hypothesizing), why would the successful assassin not take the computer or bleach-bit it?

Why was it allowed to fall into police hands, with the alleged communications between Rich and Wikileaks still on it?

4. It is strange and suggestive that Wikileaks head Julian Assange said of Rich's death, "Our whistleblowers go to significant efforts to get us material."

Maybe he was lying, and maybe he's trying to cover up the Russian connection.

5. If a botched robbery is hard to believe, so is a botched assassination -- Seth Rich was apparently still alive when he reached the hospital. I don't think he regained consciousness and could not provide any clues in his own death, but an assassin really wouldn't have left that up to chance, would he have? If you've come to kill someone, you kill him -- you don't injure him badly and then leave it up to God and emergency medicine whether he survives or not.

6. I find the Democrat spokesman's claim that Seth Rich did not work in cybersecurity, and had "no access to these domains," to be one of the silliest things I've ever heard. If the movies have taught me anything -- and I think on this point they're accurate -- you don't need to have, yourself, access to the "domains" you want to be a key operative in a hack. You just need to have physical access to the system to be hacked. You can then install some malware or deliberately click on a Trojan image that you've been told is in fact a Trojan image. That provides you the cover of just saying "I had no idea that was a Trojan" if anything is traced to you.

Anyway, the fact that this guy wasn't on the security end of things and did not have "access" to these restricted domains means nothing -- hackers themselves aren't working for DNC cybersecurity, and they don't have authorized access to sensitive domains either.

And yet -- there they are. Hacking away. Sometimes all it takes is a thumbdrive stuck into the right port.

I don't know what to think. All sounds a bit conspiracy theoryish to me, but apparently that's what "Real News" now consists of, so there you have it.

Pulitzer me.



Update: Citing a "federal investigator" (unnamed), Fox says it can corroborate Wheeler's claim:

Rod Wheeler, a retired Washington homicide detective and Fox News contributor investigating the case on behalf of the Rich family, made the WikiLeaks claim, which was corroborated by a federal investigator who spoke to Fox News.

Well we're going to have to get to the bottom of that, then, with Congressional subpoenas and all the rest of it -- and I expect Adam Schiff and Jake Tapper to be fulsomely on board with that.

The Democrats are committed to getting to the bottom of this Hacking of the Election, right?

digg this
posted by Ace at 04:41 PM

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