Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Sir David King: "Climategate" Hacking Was Probably Carried out by a Foreign Intelligence Agency

"[A]n eminent figure in the climate field, the former Government Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir David King, has declared that the leaking of the now notorious emails was too sophisticated to have been the work of a simple hacker, and he has even suggested it may have been the work of a national intelligence service. Sir David is not claiming that he possesses hard evidence to support this assertion. Nevertheless, the lightest word of a man who held a position such as he did is heavy.
Right now, we can only speculate what countries or interests might have thought they had a stake in the release of news that was bound to help scupper the Copenhagen conference."---"We should know who leaked the emails on climate change" (Independent, 2-1-10)
In my first post on the hacking of the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit (CRU), dubbed "Climategate," I noted that the Russian intelligence service (FSB) has a history of encouraging Russian "hacker patriots" to attack targets that get under the Kremlin's skin. When I read that data and e-mail stolen from the server the CRU uses was briefly posted on a server in Tomsk, Russia, I became suspicious: I had read an article by Russia expert Paul Goble, who observed that Tomsk hackers had been praised as patriots by the FSB for attacking the Kremlin's opponents.
On Monday, February 1, 2010, the eminent British chemist Sir David King suggested a similar scenario. Sir David King also says the hacking might have been carried out by anti-climate change lobbyists in the U.S.
These days, Russian lobbyists may also influence American audiences. For example, the Russian Andrei Illarionov, formerly associated with the Russian natural gas monopoly Gazprom, lobbies against proponents of climate change from his Institute for Economic Analysis (IEA) in Russia and from the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington.
A highly sophisticated hacking operation that led to the leaking of hundreds of emails from the Climatic Research Unit in East Anglia was probably carried out by a foreign intelligence agency, according to the [British] Government's former chief scientist. Sir David King, who was Tony Blair's chief scientific adviser for seven years until 2007, said that the hacking and selective leaking of the unit's emails, going back 13 years, bore all the hallmarks of a co-ordinated intelligence operation – especially given their release just before the Copenhagen climate conference in December....
In an interview with The Independent, Sir David suggested the email leaks were deliberately designed to destabilise Copenhagen and he dismissed the idea that it was a run-of-the-mill hacking. It was carried out by a team of skilled professionals, either on behalf of a foreign government or at the behest of anti-climate change lobbyists in the United States, he said.
"A very clever nerd can cause a great deal of disruption and obviously make intelligence services very nervous, but a sophisticated intelligence operation is capable of yielding the sort of results we've seen here," Sir David said.
"Quite simply, it's the sophistication of the operation. I know there's a possibility that they had a very good hacker working for these people, but it was an extraordinarily sophisticated operation. There are are several bodies of people who could do this sort of work. These are national intelligence agencies and it seems to me that it was the work of such a group of people," he said...
"I've no inside knowledge except for the fact that I did work with our [intelligence] agencies, and the American agencies, that I have some experience," he added...
Norfolk Constabulary is conducting an investigation into the hacking but said yesterday it would not comment on speculation that a foreign intelligence agency was involved. The University of East Anglia also said that it could not comment. [See full text of this long article.]


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