Hacker Guccifer’s extradition could spell big trouble for Hillary’s email problems
World famous Romanian hacker Guccifer, aka Marcel Lehel Lazar, has been extradited to the United States at a time that indicates maximum hazard for Hillary Clinton. Catherine Herridge and Pamela K. Browne reported yesterday for Fox News that:
The extradition of Romanian hacker “Guccifer” to the U.S. at a critical point in the FBI’s criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email use is “not a coincidence,” according to an intelligence source close to the case.
One of the notches on Guccifer’s cyber-crime belt was allegedly accessing the email account of Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal, one of Clinton’s most prolific advice-givers when she was secretary of state. It was through that hack that Clinton's use of a personal account -- clintonemail.com -- first came to light. (snip)
Romanian media have reported the [extradition] request came on or about Dec. 29, 2015. That would have been shortly after the intelligence community’s identification of emails beyond “top secret” on Clinton’s personal server, which became public in mid-January.
This means that he:
could – now that he’s in the U.S. – help the FBI make the case that Clinton’s email server was compromised by a third party, one that did not have the formal backing and resources of a foreign intelligence service such as that of Russia, China or Iran.
Roger Simon of PJM notes how unsophisticated Guccifer’s skills were, especially compared to the resources available to foreign intelligence agencies:
This man is no genius computer scientist of the type we might find at MIT or the Technion, but rather something of an idiot savant with a touch of paranoia.
A compelling 2013 prison interview with Lehel by fellow Romanian Matei Rosca, a writer now apparently living in London, shows how the hacker -- who has no education beyond high school -- used no more than educated guess work to break into the email accounts of major American political leaders. It also shows those leaders to be, bluntly, nitwits in their use of cybersecurity.
What Guccifer did was simply figure out their passwords by doing a little simple detective work. In the case of Colin Powell, he surmised the former secretary of state's password based on Powell's grandmother's name and was able to download most of Powell's emails, attachments and metadata.
While this information could help establish the “gross negligence” the law requires for a conviction.
Even more interesting: according to Rosca, as Herridge and Browne report:
Lazar also claimed to have stashed “unpublished hacked material in the cloud, some of it relating to the Middle East. … He said he was expecting to collaborate with U.S. security services when the time is right. Presumably that would be now.”
He could well have material to use for a plea bargain, although with federal prosecutions, the FBI cannot grant any such terms. Ultimately, it would be up to the judge, but helping the United States Government deal with a national security exposure is the sort of assistance that might mitigate a lengthy sentence for hacking.
I have to wonder what sort of emails Guccifer left unpublished? Was he sophisticated enough to realize he needed some bargaining chips if he got caught?