The following is the 16th in a series of excerpts from my New York Times bestseller “Stonewalled,” which recounts the government intrusions of my computers. More excerpts to follow. Links to previous excerpts are below.
To me, the pieces are starting to fit together. My case and that of AP and FOX are enough to suggest that the government had a coordi- nated effort at least by 2012, and probably beginning earlier, to target the leakers and reporters who were perceived as making the adminis- tration’s life difficult. Snowden’s revelations tie it all together.
If CBS is blind to the connection, it’s nonetheless occurred to some members of Congress and their staff. A number of them in the House and Senate approach me and ask if they can help me in the effort to hold the perpetrators in my case accountable. For the moment, I’m looking for answers in a way that keeps the conversation out of the spotlight.
CBS finally agrees to provide me a copy of Patel’s draft report. I’ve had further conversations that lead me to conclude my company may try to spin my computer intrusions as something dubious and indefinite. I’m given additional pause for thought when I learn that some CBS managers are quietly implying to selected colleagues, who are happy to spread it around, that the computer intrusions might be a figment of my “paranoid” imagination. I can’t figure out why they would say such a thing when their own analyst had long ago confirmed the intrusions verbally and in writing, in no uncertain terms. Why would some in my own company now attempt to discredit the computer issue and their own forensic expert? Weren’t they as alarmed as I was to learn that unauthorized parties were in the CBS system?
As if enough weren’t going on, this all was happening against the backdrop of my trying to separate myself from CBS contractually for reasons discussed elsewhere in this book—an effort that would end with my agreeing to remain on staff for about another year. But the discussions caused a great deal of stress and tension between me and some of my bosses.
Even more disturbing, word came to me that a CBS manager had convened a private meeting with a colleague asking him to turn over the name(s) of the inside confidential source(s) who had first helped me identify the computer intrusions back in January. The colleague didn’t have that information.
Although I’ve pretty much been frozen out of the investigation into my own computer intrusions at this point, I don’t give up until I finally reach Patel personally on the phone and ask him what’s going on. He says he’s preparing his final report. I tell him that I’m getting the feel- ing that some at CBS might try to bury the computer intrusion.
“That’s impossible,” he tells me. “They can’t deny it happened. The facts are clear.” And he tells me that he’s wrapping up his inves- tigation.
While preparing his final report for CBS on June 10, 2013, Patel makes an additional breakthrough and sends a direct message that will make it impossible for anyone to legitimately soft-pedal my computer intrusions. He writes an email to CBS managers marked “URGENT” and states that his analysis using a special investigative tool has revealed definitive evidence of one or more invaders attempting to remotely run commands on my computer. Additionally, he explicitly makes clear there’s proof that the entity deliberately removed evidence of its handi- work. Tried to cover up its tracks during that mid-December time frame in which I had noticed that the frenetic nights of computer activity had slipped into quiet slumber. The infiltrator ran commands that nobody should have run. It collected my passwords and contacts with a special program. It securely erased entries and histories of certain commands. Other clues left behind: the cyber-spies changed the internal clock of my work laptop not once, not twice, but 1,358 times, possibly in an attempt to disrupt any temporal analysis we might try to do. If this had been a legal tap, they wouldn’t have needed to tamper with the evidence.
To be continued...
[hr]Read excerpt #1 here: The Computer Intrusions: Up at Night
#12: Obama’s War on Leaks