Move over WikiLeaks. There is a new player in the game of hacking emails and leaking sensitive or embarrassing documents, and a major news organization is questioning if Russian hackers are involved.
While Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks organization has captured worldwide media attention for leaking a sundry of US military and intelligence documents, and has been accused of operating in the interests of Russia, a new player with a similar background is emerging: DCLeaks.com.
What is the motivation behind DCLeaks.com?
One week before the Democratic National Convention, DCLeaks.com released a trove of documents from a top NATO general, billionaire George Soros’ Open Society Foundation, emails from both Republican and Democratic parties, including those of a Chicago-based Clinton staffer among others morsels.
The organization claims on its website to be backed by American “hacktivists” and targets the “lobbying interests of Wall Street fat cats, industrial barons and multinational corporations’ representatives who swallow up all resources and subjugate all markets.”
Vast majority of @DCLeaks_ promotional tweets focus on Russia
Scrolling down the @DCLeaks_ Twitter feed which promotes the most significant of the leaks, a common theme emerges: promotion of interest with a Russian angle. The top five tweets as of Friday morning included topics such as “Check George Soros’s OSF plans to counter Russian policy and traditional values,” and “’Gen. plotted against Obama on Russia.’” Of the small number of tweets, over 40% pertain to Russia.
Numerous international media organizations have picked up stories from the leaked emails. The UK Daily Mail reported on email conversations where supreme NATO Commander US General Phillip Breedlove asked former Secretary of State Colin Powell to encourage President Barack Obama to become more engaged in the conflict with Russia over Ukraine. German media outlet Spiegel also ran similar stories.
The DCLeaks.com web site prominently displays emails from Sarah Hamilton, a Chicago-based public relations executive who was former deputy director of communications for the Clinton Foundation and worked in top public relations roles as press secretary for Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The emails generally show the mundane workings and perfunctory discussions behind the scenes of major political operations, but don’t reveal much in the way of a smoking gun.
The web site includes a trove of strategy documents from the Open Society Foundation, including work plans and strategies from the Soros-backed organization. The emails reveal a general concern to advance democratic interests and combat dictatorial influences in Russia, as one strategy document begins:
Russia today faces a regrettable backsliding into authoritarian practice. Confronted with serious domestic challenges, the regime has become more insular and isolationist, seeking to solidify its base. The progressively draconian laws promulgated since Putin’s return to the presidency have placed all foreign funded organizations under threat of isolation and disrepute. Despite these decidedly challenging conditions, it is essential that we continue to engage Russia, both to preserve its extant democratic spaces, and to ensure that Russian voices do not go dark on the broader global stage.
The site also includes various communications from Bill and Hillary Clinton, some of which is currently available in the public domain, as well as various former military officials.