Weeks before the Democratic convention was upended by 20,000 leaked e-mails released through WikiLeaks, another little-known website began posting the secrets of a top NATO general, billionaire George Soros’ philanthropy and a Chicago-based Clinton campaign volunteer. Security experts now say that site, DCLeaks.com, with its spiffy capitol-dome logo, shows the marks of the same Russian intelligence outfit that targeted the Democratic political organizations.
The e-mails and documents posted to the DCLeaks site in early June suggest that the hackers may have a broader agenda than influencing the U.S. presidential election, one that ranges from the Obama administration’s policy toward Russia to disclosures about the hidden levers of political power in Washington. It also means the hackers may have much left in their grab bag to distribute at will. The subjects of the DCLeaks site include a former ranking intelligence official who now works for a major defense contractor and a retired Army officer whose wife serves on the USS Nimitz, the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. Some of the e-mails go back years. Open Society Foundations, the Soros group, reported the breach to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in June, said spokeswoman Laura Silber, who added that an investigation by a security firm found the intrusion was limited to an intranet system used by board members, staff and foundation partners.
The biggest revelation on DCLeaks involves U.S. Gen. Philip Breedlove, who retired in May and was formerly the top military commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. E-mails from Breedlove’s personal account show him complaining that the Obama administration wasn’t paying enough attention to European security. (“I do not see this WH really ’engaged’,” he writes at one point, later wondering “how to work this personally with the POTUS.”) The Intercept subsequently wrote a story about the e-mails, picked up by some cable news channels, inflaming tensions between the U.S. and its European allies.
Breedlove told CNN in July that the e-mails were stolen as part of a state-sponsored intelligence operation and didn’t respond to a request for comment this week.
The leaks highlight the effectiveness of some of the hackers’ tricks, including the targeting of private e-mail accounts to gather sensitive military and political intelligence. DCLeaks also offers some insight for investigators on what appears to be the hackers’ early missteps and ad hoc approach.