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Does The Internet Research Agency Work for the FBI?

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – November 10, 2018

On November 5th, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, DNI Dan Coats, and FBI Director Christopher Wray released the following joint statement.

“The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)—in coordination with federal, state, local, and private sector partners nationwide — are continuing efforts to protect our elections,” the statement starts.

“Our agencies have been working in unprecedented ways to combat influence efforts and to support state and local officials in securing our elections, including efforts to harden election infrastructure against interference. Our goal is clear: ensure every vote is counted and counted correctly. At this time we have no indication of compromise of our nation’s election infrastructure that would prevent voting, change vote counts, or disrupt the ability to tally votes.

But Americans should be aware that foreign actors — and Russia in particular — continue to try to influence public sentiment and voter perceptions through actions intended to sow discord. They can do this by spreading false information about political processes and candidates, lying about their own interference activities, disseminating propaganda on social media, and through other tactics. The American public can mitigate these efforts by remaining informed, reporting suspicious activity, and being vigilant consumers of information, as discussed below.

The United States will not tolerate foreign interference in our elections from Russia, China, Iran, or other nations. As noted in a joint statement on October 19, 2018, such actions are a threat to our democracy, and identifying and preventing this interference is one of our highest priorities. On September 12th, President Trump signed an executive order that makes clear the U.S. government will not hesitate to defend our electoral processes or punish those who attempt to undermine them,” the statement ends.

True, “the American public can mitigate these efforts by remaining informed,” but not about the fact-free, xenophobic “Russian collusion” conspiracy theory which has been implanted into people’s memories. People need to be informed, instead, about the reality being created by U.S. operatives.

As USA Really has written, the shameful result of Mueller’s 17-month probe, which has already cost taxpayers over $17 million, clearly shows that his legal brain-trust brought forth a mouse. More than two years of thrashing about, and convicting people with perjury traps and procedural garbage to come up with what we always knew was there...absolutely nothing. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Justice, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are demanding from Special Counsel to bring to the table something more than internet scammer Richard Pinedo, and a chief accountant of USA Really’s news agency Elena Khusyaynova.

On October 15th, during hearings in U.S. District Court in Washington D.C. Mr. Mueller was blasted for veering away from Justice Department standards to find a way to bring charges against Russian defendants.

“That’s why in this case this special counsel made up a crime to fit the facts that they have,” defense attorney Eric Dubelier said in court. “And that’s the fundamental danger with the entire special counsel concept, that they operate outside the parameters of the Department of Justice in a way that is absolutely inconsistent with the consistent behavior of the Department of Justice in these cases for the past 30 years.”

U.S. District Judge Friedrich acknowledged that Mr. Mueller’s team “got a heavy burden at trial to prove that knowledge.” She was referring to awareness that the Russian defendant knowingly defrauded the Federal Election Commission, the Justice Department and the State Department.

“…at trial, if this case survives, they’re going to have to show that Concord and others conspired and had the specific intent to defraud,” Judge Friedrich said.

Dabney L. Friedrich has also expressed doubts about Mr. Mueller’s unique prosecutorial adventure, though she has not said she will dismiss the charges, as Mr. Dubelier has requested. Instead, Judge Friedrich has sided with Mr. Mueller on restricting the sharing of prosecution evidence with Russian defendants.

Now they are shifting the tactics. If you don’t have the needed evidence – just prepare them. Creating a “make-believe crime” and falsifying the evidence is not something new for US operatives.

In September, researchers from the advocacy group the Campaign for Accountability published their report “How to Sow Discord Using Google and $100.” Campaign for Accountability, posed themselves as “Kremlin-linked trolls” and successfully purchased divisive online ads using Google’s ad platform and targeted them toward Americans. In an attempt to trigger Google’s safeguards against such efforts, the researchers purchased the advertisements using the name and address of the mysterious Internet Research Agency which has been the subject of numerous congressional hearings regarding accusations of “election meddling”.

What is even more (un)surprising in the story, is that the CfA created two more campaigns that linked “Kremlin troll sites” with similar success. The first AdWords buy directed users to … USA Really.com. The campaign brought nearly 4,000 impressions, appearing on sites including AnnCoulter.com, the Young Turks, Thom Hartmann, and Dailykos. It also appeared on media sites including The Daily Beast and Britain’s Daily Mail.

This is not the only example of falsification and memory implantation aiming people believe that they remember an event that actually never happened.

One of the latest cyber operations took place just four days prior to midterm election. On November 2nd, via the Russian domain registrar Reg.ru the domain name “usaira.ru” was registered. The owner of the domain according to Whois service was claimed as Azimut LLC.

Does The Internet Research Agency Work for the FBI?

This is one of the companies named in Robert Mueller’s federal Indictment against “Internet Research Agency,” which were accused of a “Conspiracy to Defraud the United States”.

Two days later the USAIRA website went online.

It has only one page, proudly welcoming visitors to the “Internet Research Agency American Department”.

The page has an image slider, showing President Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The pictures were taken from the free image stock website kisspng.com

Below the pictures of Trump, Obama and Clinton, there’s a text section, saying:

“Official statement of the Internet Research Agency.

Citizens of the United States of America! Your intelligence agencies are powerless.

Despite all their efforts, we have thousands of accounts registered on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit spreading political propaganda. These accounts work 24 hours a day, seven days a week to discredit anti-Russian candidates and support politicians more useful for us than for you.

Hundreds of your fellow citizens are our unintentional agents unaware of the fact that they actually act for the good of the Russian ‘troll farm’. We have allies and spoilers intervening the political campaigns of the candidates for both parties. The victory of the Democratic Party is our top priority in these midterm elections.

When the democrats talk about Trump-Russia collusion or Russian-Republican collusion that’s because we want them to say this nonsense. It is a part of our plan.”

The website also claimed it knew the results of the midterm elections.

“Soon after November 6th, you will realize that your vote means nothing. We decide who you vote for and what candidates will win or lose.

Whether you vote or not, there is no difference as we control the voting and counting systems. Remember, your vote has zero value. We are choosing for you.”

Website’s code is quite primitive, has only 165 lines and works. The second code line is <html lang="ru">. This attribute is used to declare the language of a Web page. Hence we see that web-designer intentionally wanted to show that the origin of the page is Russian.

Moreover, Russian Yandex.Metrika counter was incorporated to the website’s code and the PhotoSwipe code also was slightly modified, e.g. button title “Zoom in/out” was replaced with Russian text “Увеличение/уменьшение масштаба” and multiple other similar modifications were made just to show the solid “proof” that the web-site is made in Russia and by Russians.

Nevertheless, this website appears to be optimized for viewing on a mobile phone or a tablet, and was served with encoding which reduces the loading time of a web page.

On November 5th, Facebook distributed a statement saying it blocked the accounts out of concern that the “Internet Research Agency” was involved, but did not confirm whether that was actually the case.

“Once we know more — including whether these accounts are linked to the Russia-based Internet Research Agency or other foreign entities — we will update this post,” Facebook said.

However, 4 days later, there were no updates from Facebook. As of Friday morning, the company had not identified any foreign entities connected to the blocked accounts.

Additionally, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, Nathaniel Gleicher said, "a website claiming to be associated with the IRA published a list of Instagram accounts they claim to have created. We had already blocked most of these accounts yesterday and have now blocked the rest."

Shortly before voting polls began to close on Tuesday, “USAIRA” revealed that 85 Instagram accounts (duplicating some of them, though), saying that “Facebook and intelligence agencies tried to stop us but they only managed to uncover 1/25 of the whole picture.”

Does The Internet Research Agency Work for the FBI?

According to CNN, some of the accounts were designed to appeal to activists on the left; some looked like they were run by supporters of Donald Trump. Others weren't political at all: There were fan accounts for Rihanna, Kid Rock, Kendrick Lamar and a porn actress, for instance.

On website’s last update on Tuesday, November 6th, “USAIRA” published the results of the midterm election to the Congress, claiming that “We’ve already made the choice for you.”

Does The Internet Research Agency Work for the FBI?

However their list had obvious errors such as predicting a win by Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who did not run for re-election. And of course, on the screenshot of an excel table Russian text was intentionally added, saying “keeping the partisan presence” and “change in partisan presence”.

American mainstream media outlets were happy to swallow the rotten bait. CNN, NBCNews, The Daily Beast, Slate and dozens more outlets have quickly spread all this nonsense across the internet, implanting new fakes about “Russian Troll farms”. They did their job well – now more than 280 pages on 50 domains are linking to “USAIRA” website.

This website fits perfectly into the fear mongering scenario of “make-believe crime” which is becoming more and more aggressive. Direct cyberattacks and threats to Russian media, fake advertising campaigns using the names of fictitious Russian personas, fake “Russian Trolls” websites like USAIRA – everything is being done by US operatives in order to position Russia as the “free world’s worst enemy” once again and to acquire even more power and money for their cyber operations.

Author: USA Really