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Add former Secretary of State Colin Powell to the list of high-ranking Washington insiders whose leaked e-mails are rankling their peers with just weeks to go before the US presidential election.
DC Leaks, a site that researchers at security firm ThreatConnect have linked to the Russian government, has published 26 months of Powell’s e-mails, spanning from June 2014 to last month, news organizations reported Wednesday.
The trove, which contains highly candid comments lambasting presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, are part of a new batch that’s separate from Powell e-mails leaked a few years ago. Powell aides reportedly confirmed the new compromise, telling The New York Times that the leaked messages “are his e-mails.”
In the e-mails, Powell describes Trump as a “national disgrace” and portrays the candidate as someone who is unfit to be president.
As reported by Politico, Powell wrote in a June 23 e-mail to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that “if Donald were to somehow win, by the end of the first week in office he’d be saying ‘What the hell did I get myself into?'”
The e-mails also castigate Clinton aides for linking Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server during her tenure as secretary of state to Powell’s use of a private e-mail address while he held the same post.
The Clinton campaign’s “email ploy this week didn’t work and she once again looks shifty if not a liar,” Powell wrote on August 20 to someone he worked with at the White House. “Trump folks having fun with her.”
There are many more highly critical remarks on a range of people and highly charged issues.
It remains unclear how the 26 months of e-mail, which all appear to have been sent to or received from Powell’s Gmail account, were compromised. Many of the similar leaks attributed to Russian hackers, including one from Tuesday involving the World Anti-Doping Agency, have stemmed from spear phishing attacks, which use personalized e-mails to trick a target into inadvertently revealing login credentials to the attacker.
Another possibility is that Powell used the same password to protect both his Gmail account and a separate account from a server that was compromised in the past.
Indeed, Powell’s e-mail address and password hash are contained in the list of 68 million Dropbox accounts compromised in 2012 that was made public two weeks ago, an independent security researcher said.
The leak comes a few months after a person or group with the name Guccifer 2.0 published e-mails taken from one or more hacks of the Democratic National Committee.
Some of the contents that appeared to show Democratic officials denigrating former Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders before he was defeated in the primaries led to the resignation of DNC Chair Debra Wasserman Schultz. Powell’s e-mails were published on a password-protected portion of DC Leaks that was available only to select news outlets.
So far, there have been no definitive reports on precisely how the messages were obtained by DC Leaks.
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