Monday, May 30, 2011

Was Congressman Weiner smeared? Yes. Here's the evidence of fraud...

As noted in the post below, Congressman Anthony Weiner stands accused of using Twitter to post a lewd photo to a young woman who attends college in Seattle. The story was broken by smear-merchant Andrew Breitbart, the power behind the fake "pimp-goes-to-Acorn" story which recently landed James O'Keefe in court.

Weiner, who has retained an attorney, is claiming that his account was hacked -- at least, that claim was attributed to him in this sloppily written New York Times account. (The preceding post details the errors in that story.) Hacking is very possible, of course. But I have found evidence of another solution: There was no hacker at all. The "evidence" against Weiner was faked -- created in Photoshop.

The young lady in question, Gennette Nicole Cordova, avers that she not only has never met Weiner, she never received the Tweet or the picture. Here are her exact words:
There have never been any inappropriate exchanges between Anthony Weiner and myself, including the tweet/picture in question, which had apparently been deleted before it reached me.
Does it make sense for a sitting congressman to place such a photo where everyone could see it, but not to send it directly to the lady herself?

Apparently, the photo was available only to those who had accessed the Yfrog account. Yfrog is a service offered by Imageshack in order to facilitate sending pictures via Twitter.

At this point, I have no choice but to show the actual screen capture, as published on Breitbart's site. The screencap of the (alleged) original Twitter feed is at the top of this post.

Breitbart says that the all of the congressman's Yfrog photos were deleted at 11 p.m. eastern. It is undisputed that Weiner spent most of that evening tweeting about a hockey game and the Clarence Thomas controversy.

He also tweeted:
Tivo shot. FB hacked. Is my blender gonna attack me next?
The "FB hacked" remark was not (as many presume) an immediate reaction to the photo. Obviously, Facebook (FB) is not Twitter. However, Weiner has said that someone did hack into his Facebook account.
He has said that his Facebook was hacked and if his Twitter had the same password, that too could be vulnerable.
(I suspect that everything in the Yfrog account was indeed deleted, probably by an aide, certainly as a precaution, and arguably as an over-reaction.)

To me the big "tell" is this: If Weiner really did send the pic, it was up for only a brief time. Gennette did not see it. None of his followers have come forward to say that they saw the message to Gennette in the Twitter timeline. Nobody else seems to have looked up the photo on Yfrog -- except for Breitbart's unnamed source.

Breitbart's source allegedly saw the pic, and took a screen capture, 27 minutes after the picture was posted. To repeat: We know of no-one else who saw it during that time -- just the unnamed associate of Andrew Breitbart.

(Update: This Kos diary claims that "liberals and conservatives" both saw the Yfrog page. I would like names here. Also see the first comment to this post, and my reply.)

That scenario may seem likely to you. It does not seem at all likely to me.

The obvious question arises: Is the image above an actual screen cap, or is it Photoshop? (You make a screen capture by hitting the "Print Screen" button on your keyboard.)

In order to determine the reality of the image, we need to compare it to an actual screencap of a Yfrog page carrying an uploaded image.

That's why, earlier this evening, I did something I once swore never to do -- I created a Twitter account under a fake name. This gave me access to Yfrog.

Once there, I uploaded an image -- in this case, the Burne-Jones Annunciation, one of my favorite Pre-Raphaelite works. Here is a screen cap of the resultant Yfrog web page.

(It's cropped to save on screen real estate. Click on the image for a larger version, if want to study Burne-Jones' brushwork. Better still, see the original. I think it's in the Tate.)

At this point, we must play that old game from Sesame Street: "One of these things is not like the other..." No, I'm not talking about the obvious fact that a crotch shot is not like a picture of the Virgin Mary. Gaze higher. I want you to take a close look at the formatting of the page. I believe that Yfrog image pages always have the same format regardless of platform and browser.

If you look at the headers in both screen caps, you'll see a very obvious point of divergence. On my page -- and, it would seem, on every real Yfrog image upload -- the header includes the URL address of the image itself. The format of this URL is invariable: http://yfrog.com/ -- followed by a strange combination of letters and numbers that only a computer could love.

The URL does not appear in the "Weiner" screen cap. If Breitbart's source had provided that URL, it would probably be an easy matter for the folks behind Yfrog to determine whether a picture had, in fact, been uploaded to that site.

The absence of that URL is clear evidence of forgery.

There's another big difference between the headers: The words "Tweet" and "Favorite," placed next to "Reply." Even positing fakery, I cannot easily explain why these factors are missing.

Am I 100% certain of forgery? No, not quite. Twitter and Yfrog are, to be frank, new worlds for me. (I do use Imageshack to host some of the images appearing on this blog). Conceivably, there may be some aspect of Twitter or Yfrog which I do not yet understand. If so, a reader will, no doubt, kindly explain the situation me.

At the moment, though, the evidence against Breitbart looks damning.

I believe that the screen capture published on Breitbart's site is a fake. It was always pretty suspicious for Breitbart's source not to list the URL -- which, needless to say, would also have appeared in the address field of the browser. That address field would have appeared in an uncropped version of the screen cap. The URL for the image would have provided further evidence. So why didn't Breitbart provide it?

The obvious explanation is that he didn't provide a URL because a URL never existed.

Some of you may be wondering: If the image was Photoshopped, then why would Weiner say that his account was hacked? The answer is obvious: Because that was his honest presumption. It appears that someone really did try to fiddle with his Facebook account. The alternative possibility -- that there was no hacker, that the image on Breitbart's site was a concoction -- simply did not occur to him.

(Of course, the "Photoshopped" theory does not necessarily exclude the idea of hacking. Even if we posit that an unauthorized person gained access to Weiner's Twitter password and then uploaded the image, that person would still have had to cover up the URL in the screen cap. Why? Because if the URL information for that image were made available to the public, it would be possible for the Yfrog folks to trace the IP address of the person who uploaded the picture. Unless, of course, the hacker used a proxy. But proxies are kind of a pain in the butt. Besides, the use of a proxy would itself be obvious, and would exonerate Weiner.)

Weiner has never claimed to have seen or deleted that specific image on the Yfrog site. That claim has been made by others, but they have cited no proof.

Please publicize these findings -- and by all means, repeat the experiment conducted above. If your findings match mine, and if no-one comes up for a reasonable explanation for the URL anomaly, then we have conclusive proof of Weiner's innocence.

Side notes: Some of you may be wondering about my choice of pseudonym. G. Dowson was an obscure illustrator whose work I like. The number 153 has a complex mathematical relationship to the vesica piscis, which is the symbol used on the Chalice Well in Glastonbury. For longtime readers, no further explanation should be necessary.

I will not use that Twitter account again. If there is any activity, then we really do have a hacker problem.

Perhaps I should mention that something happened yesterday which set off alarm bells.

Someone tried to "set up" this blog by posting a comment which insulted Breitbart in crudely anti-Semitic terms. The comment was cliched and obviously insincere. It didn't sound like the work of an actual bigot; it seemed more like the concoction of someone posing as a bigot. I can't recall the exact wording, but it was something along the lines of "All Jews are devils!" I would never publish such trash, of course.

This was the first time anyone has ever sent me a message of that sort. I smelled trouble right off, and that unwelcome scent still lingers.

Additional update: Again, I remind readers to look at the first comment, which does point to a Yfrog pic without that URL. I have not yet been able to replicate that result. Still, we do seem to have a very likely candidate for the forger/hacker:
. . . The most likely suspect in the whole thing is a conservative activist named Dan Wolfe, who goes by Twitter handle @patriotusa76. Wolfe appears obsessed with Weiner: He has tweeted at him 287 times since April. On May 12, he began tweeting that a Democrat would soon have a scandal like former Rep. Chris Lee, who resigned after posting shirtless photos on Craigslist. Wolfe appears to be the only person to have seen Weiner’s tweet before he claims Weiner must have deleted it. . .
Comments:
While I'm fairly certain of Weiner's innocence, the evidence here isn't so clear-cut. For example http://yfrog.com/h4e66ajj - not my account but one that works here - doesn't include the URL or the Tweet/Favorite options for me, whereas they show up normally on the gdowson image you posted. Perhaps it's merely to do with sharing options or something similar?
 
If sharing options create that anomaly, then the Weiner photo was meant to be private. If it was private, then its appearance on Breitbart's site provides proof of a hacker's involvement.

In all honesty, though, I confess that I am troubled by the example you give. I don't know how it was done! I can't replicate it. Can you?
 
Doesn't "my account was hacked" sort of make it unlikely that the screencap was a fake?
 
Brilliant! Hacker hacks into Weiners Twitter, Facebook and yfrog accounts and sends crotch pic to all of Twitterland to embarrass @RepWeiner. Hacker then logs out and Photoshops a pic to look like it came from Weiner Man's y.frog account. Wow!

Wait... Why Photoshop a pic to show that it came from Weiner's account when you have already hacked into the account? Oh, and @RepWeiner has already admitted the photo came from his account.

Don't hurt yourself chasing this clue Sherlock.
 
pat: I addressed that.

dual: "Oh, and @RepWeiner has already admitted the photo came from his account." Citation?
 
By the way, dual -- that's a misrepresentation of what I said. Learn to read.
 
Twitter does have its problems, but this looks like a job done by Breitbart and Weiner being the only person to challenge legislation benefitting the rich was a ripe target.

I frequently get someone placing my id with a link. It looks as if I sent it, and shows up on my mentions. The photo is the same, I don't even open them up anymore, just tag them as spam. The photo is of a woman in a sex act w/ a man from the rear. The message they want to convey to me, is that, that is what I need--then I will shut up. I mentioned one person's ID with my very very upset reply, that I would continue to work on women's issues and Human Rights issues and then realized it was a futile effort. They create egg accounts all the time.

Yup, some people are just 'Evil' as Cannon has said below.

Woman Voter

p.s. When are you going to do a political detective novel? You are good at breaking it down ala Perry Mason (loved that show).
 
Woman Voter -- so do you know how that is done? Making the photo look like you sent it, I mean.

I'm writing that novel about the Franco-Prussian war. Should be done in a decade or two.
 
This whole scenario smells to high heaven. A tit for tat exercise by Republican loons, payback for Lee's 'exposure' and subsequent loss of NY 26.

We're drowning in frat-boy behavior and Breitbart will publish anything as long as he can score a point. Hope Weiner sues his socks off!
 
How much longer will the tittering whores at the NYT continue to publish Breitbart's lies? What exactly will it take for them to swear off the serial liar?
 
Reading the comments to the various articles is interesting. You have one group that just knows Rep. Weiner is guilty, a group that knows he is innocent and a third group that doesn't know what to think thanks to the biased/shoddy journalism practiced by the print and broadcast media.

Should the perps be prosecuted it will be proof of how corrupt the Obama administration is. Should the victims decide not to press charges it will be because they don't have a case, the photo was real. Should the media do it's job for once, it's proof they are Libs. It's a win-win for the miscreants that did this.
 
The entire basis of your argument is this:
"that claim was attributed to him in this sloppily written New York Times account."

Except that Mr. Weiner said to Dana Bash yesterday "I was hacked. It happens to people, and you move on,". So then, if you still hold to your theory, Mr. Weiner is lying to cover Breitbart.

Even if your analysis is correct (and I don't think it is)then the hacker would be the same person as the photoshopper. Find the hacker and you find the photoshopper.

But if Mr. Weiner doesn't get the FBI involved it means the identity of the alledged Breitbart operative will never be found. Again, that would mean Mr. Weiner is covering for Breitbart.

Here's the clue you are missing, Cannon. Victims call the cops perps lawyer up.
 
"Except that Mr. Weiner said to Dana Bash yesterday "I was hacked. It happens to people, and you move on,". So then, if you still hold to your theory, Mr. Weiner is lying to cover Breitbart."

Bullshit, quilly. That's NOT what I said.

There is an old quote that has been gaining a lot of traction in recent years: "It's very hard to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it." Substitute the word "ideology" for "salary" in that quote, and we have a perfect description of willful misunderstanders such as yourself.

Let me state this once again, using capital letters and crude language so that everything is crystal clear.

I ADDRESSED YOUR FUCKING POINT IN THE BODY OF MY POST. If you are not going to read my post, then why did you come here?

Here it is again, for the shitheads in the audience:

"Some of you may be wondering: If the image was Photoshopped, then why would Weiner say that his account was hacked? The answer is obvious: Because that was his honest presumption. It appears that someone really did try to fiddle with his Facebook account. The alternative possibility -- that there was no hacker, that the image on Breitbart's site was a concoction -- simply did not occur to him."

Now my English is plain. But the willful misunderstanders, such as good old quilly here, will surely find some way to misinterpret my text.

Don't disappoint me, quilly! Have at it! Be creative!

And by the way: I've seen bloggers claim that Wiener "admitted" that the photo was on his account. Where did he make that claim? Citation?

I've also seen bloggers claim that "liberals and conservatives" saw the photo in situ on the Yfrog account. Citation? Who are these witnesses?
 
I really don't care, but if the photo was never hacked into his account, then why did he delete all his photos but two?
 
Frekki, what IS It with you shitheads? Once again: I addressed that issue in my post. If you didn't come here to read my words, why did you come here?
 
The Media loves them some Breitbart.
He gets to "smear" anyone that isn't a whacked out Re-Thug-nican and the media gets to spread his odious vapors without any repercussions!

BTW..
Love how you "spank" the Trolls Joe!
 
Breitbart just went on CNN and did his final smear without even being questioned. He said that Congressman Weiner 'Follows these young girls'...he has done the ultimate smear with NO EVIDENCE.

Weiner has been one of the very vocal defenders of Medicare:
Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) Strikes The Last Word
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20GeY7sQseg

Woman Voter
 
I see a number of comments along the lines of "if his account was hacked, why didn't he..." Here's the thing: Most people don't understand the various technologies we use these days, whether it's Twitter or even e-mail. Weiner's account was probably not hacked; it's more likely a case of "spoofing," where a message (or, in this case, tweet) is made to look like it originated with some particular person. I'm sure many of the readers here get spam e-mails that appear to come from themselves; it's essentially the same thing. You just need some knowledge of the underlying structure of the thing.

As for getting law enforcement involved... really? It's a stupid prank, akin to an electronic t-p attack. I think law enforcement might have better things to do.
 
That's not my leg. Not hard to say.

That's not my underwear. Again, pretty easy to say.

That's not my dick. Once more, real easy to enunciate.

But clearly the great congressman has far more important work to do than clarify, once and for all, whether or not that's his leg, underwear, or dick...

Like finding some way to convince his new wife how somebody drugged him, took a picture of his dick, waited a few weeks, then hacked his account and sent the pic to some chick (not the porn chick, honey, not the porn chick -- the other chick) but only left it up long enough to make fool one partisan (Dan Wolfe), but not the geniuses on this blog.

LMAO! Dance, monkeys! Dance!
 
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