We might want to be wary about purported new info from Hunter’s hard drive

On April 7, I wrote a post about the fact that Jack Maxey, a man who once worked with Steve Bannon at the latter’s War Room, was contending that he had successfully recovered 450 gigabytes of deleted documents and photos from Hunter Biden’s infamous hard drive. Maxey promised that he would soon be making this information available to the public. However, Yaacov Apelbaum, a writer whose work a highly reputable friend of mine recommends, suggests that Maxey’s assertions should be taken with a very large grain of salt.

In a post entitled “My Name is Jack Maxey, and I’m a Fabricator,” Apelbaum describes a “fabricator” as “an intelligence agent or officer that generates disinformation, falsehoods, or bogus information often without access to authentic sources.” In addition to being used to create and promote out-and-out falsehoods, fabricators are also used to discredit legitimate information by muddying the waters with falsehoods:

A fabricator is often cited as a reliable source behind black propaganda or atrocity propaganda involving disinformation or information that has not been properly vetted but suits the agenda of the disseminating organization. Multiple fabricators are usually used to justify a Big Lie. The process of vetting to weed out fabricators and double agents is also referred to as source vetting or validation.

Apelbaum argues that Maxey’s history suggests he’s simply not a reliable source because his work in politics was with the old, mainline GOP. After graduating from Yale and serving in the Navy, Maxey ended up working for Phil Graham, both during Graham’s time as a Democrat House member and then as a Republican Senator. Maxey was also a senior advisor to McCain’s presidential campaign.

When Maxey retired from working for politicians, he went to Wall Street, where he worked with hedge funds and private equity. After retiring, he became a conservative journalist, eventually landing at Bannon’s War Room in 2018.

Image: Jack Maxey (edited). YouTube screen grab.

Most recently, as noted above, Maxey reported to the Daily Mail the news that he’s recovered 80,000 images and videos from Hunter’s hard drive, along with 120,000 archived emails, all totaling 450 GBs of data. Abelbaum believes this isn’t true and that it is, instead a way to discredit the actual data on Hunter’s hard drive by “lac[ing] it with disinformation....”

Aside from Abelbaum’s distrust of Maxey, he offers some technical details that make it hard to believe Maxey’s claims:

Due to the condition and stability of HB’s liquid damaged MacBook Pro, John Paul MacIsaac was unable to preform a block recovery or a true clone of the drive. Instead, he performed a manual data copy from the intermittently powering off laptop. He was successful in recovering the contents of the user’s home folder, a total of around 220GB of data off the 256GB non-removable SSD.  Due to the differences between the original, more efficient APFS filesystem and the HFS+ filesystem used on the target 500GB SSD sent to Rudy Giuliani’s office, the size of the home folder ballooned to nearly 300GB.  The 500GB SSD reported 200GB free and 300GB used, even though there was only around 220GB of accessible data on it.  Because these were new SSDs and no other data was recovered besides the home folder, it would be impossible to recover ‘additional’ deleted files from Hunter Biden’s laptop.

On August 28 2020, John Paul MacIsaac overnighted a 500 GB external SSD drive with a copy of the HB laptop image to Rudy Giuliani’s office. At the time of shipment, Giuliani’s drive was about 60% full (300 GB/500 GB).

Maxey’s claim that he recovered an additional 450 GB from the copy of the laptop drive is false because a copy based on a drive that originated from John Paul MacIsaac’s image didn’t have this amount of storage capacity in the first place.

It is technically impossible to recover 450 GB of erased data from a 256 GB drive source.

When it comes to computers, most people know that, when you delete something, it doesn’t vanish. Instead, it remains on the hard drive. However, what fewer people know is that, because a hard drive has limited space, if you create new data, the computer may create room for it by overwriting the deleted material—and that overwrite does, in fact, truly delete what’s overwritten.

That’s just one of the factual and technical reasons causing Apelbaum to believe Maxey is not to be trusted. You can read the rest of his analysis here.

Apelbaum’s analysis doesn’t mean Maxey’s claims about the hard drive are untrue. There may be perfectly reasonable explanations for how Maxey got the information he claims he’s about to release. Therefore, I'm agnostic about Maxey's probity. However, what Apelbaum’s analysis means is that you should approach with skepticism any new information purportedly found on Hunter's hard drive. 

Indeed, nowadays you should approach everything with skepticism. Trusted sources no longer exist. We increasingly live in a world of smoke and mirrors. Reagan’s dictum to “trust but verify” no longer works. Instead, we must distrust everything until we have a highly reasonable assurance that the thing (any thing) actually is what it purports to be.

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