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Friday, June 03, 2011

And still the smears continue... (Important update on Dan Wolfe)

This is an open letter to Luke Broadwater of the Baltimore Sun, who published a deceptive, ignorant and rather smarmy piece entitled "The evidence is clear: Weiner sent the Tweet."

* * *

Mr. Broadwater, one of your commenters has asked: Who debunked this story? Lots of people have done so, including myself.

When my blog revealed the gaping security hole in Yfrog (that's the service which allows one to tweet pictures), the company shut down service for a day in order to patch the problem.

Yfrog's security problem allowed any outsider to upload an image to someone else's twiiterstream. The result would look as though the account holder had uploaded the picture himself. The outsider need not know the password to do this -- therefore, this was not really a hack. It was, however, VERY sloppy security.

Imagine what could happen if anyone who knew your email address could post a story to the Baltimore Sun under your byline. That, believe it or not, is more or less the way Yfrog worked.

There was one small "tell," however. The formatting of a Yfrog page is slightly different if someone other than the account holder uploads a picture. There is an oddity in the header.

That oddity is present in the screen capture of the Yfrog page taken on the night of the 27th.

The anomaly may be subtle, but it proves the congressman's innocence. My blog post explicating this issue (with copious illustrations) is here:

An independent expert in hacking double-checks my work here:

Many, many people replicated the experiment to prove that the security flaw existed. The fact that Yfrog changed their application proves that I was right.

It was always absurd to presume that Weiner uploaded that picture. Gennette Cordova, the college student who allegedly was supposed to receive the picture (she never got it) says that the congressman had previously sent her only brief, appropriate messages. Unless you are calling her a liar -- and even Weiner's enemies are now unwilling to do that -- then we must presume that she was largely unknown to Weiner.

How could he have known how old she was or what she looked like?

The idea that any man, let alone a married congressman, would send a crotch shot out of the blue to a woman he did not know at all and whose reaction he could not gauge -- well, that notion is, on its face, ridiculous.

If you are saying that Weiner DID know Gennette, then you are calling her a liar. That accusation bears a legal and ethical responsibility.

Gennette had been cyber-stalked by a pathologically obsessed Weiner foe named Dan Wolfe, who has also been bothering other people following the congressman. She describes his despicable behavior in her statement. When she learned of the photo, Gennette immediately presumed that Dan was responsible.

By "happenstance," Dan Wolfe was the first (and nearly the only) person to note the presence of the picture, almost immediately after it was uploaded. He then tried to draw as much attention to the picture as possible. His own tweets that night read like someone crudely drawing attention to his own handiwork.

Previously, he had "predicted" the scandal in absurd detail. Those alleged "prophecies" give the lie to his claim that he came across the photo by happenstance.

After the scandal broke, Dan produced a larger version of the photo allegedly found on his browser cache. The EXIF metadata on this photo indicates a creation date of May 30 -- three days after the incident. There is no innocent explanation for this date.

Andrew Brietbart, the person who published Dan's "find," now suspects that Dan uploaded the photo. Brietbart has stated as much in his own tweets.

Your other points are easily refuted. Why doesn't Weiner ask for an investigation? The answer is obvious. First, since the account was (in a strictly technical sense) not hacked, it is an open question whether any laws were broken. Second, and more importantly: If Weiner were to sue Dan or to ask for an investigation, he would open himself up for Discovery and Deposition.

That's the key point which people like you never tell your readers.

In a deposition, Weiner would be asked questions, on the record, not just about the events of the 27th but also about his entire life history. In other words, the frame-up conducted on the 27th would set the stage for a Ken Starr-style fishing expedition.

Any lawyer worth his salt would counsel Weiner to steer clear of that nightmare situation.

Frankly, I think that a fishing expedition is precisely what you want.

You say Weiner has engaged in some sort of cover-up. No, he hasn't. Refusal to provide his enemies with their much longed-for fishing expedition hardly constitutes a cover-up.

Is the photo of Anthony Weiner? I don't know. What if it is? It might well have been a joke photo, a shot taken during a night of drinking at a frat house, or detritus from an online dalliance conducted years ago. Or it might be someone else. We do not know. Moreover, we have no business making the inquiry.

As noted above, and as all agree, Dan Wolfe is obsessed. I can easily see him contacting Weiner's old girlfriends, one of whom may bear both a grudge and a few embarrassing old photos.

Dan hinted as much when he told Breitbart (in recently released emails) that "There is more." Those three words indicate that what occurred on the 27th was not happenstance but the first stage of an ongoing defamation campaign.

Can you honestly say that this attempt to frame the congressman should give rise to a situation where investigators ask him "Have you ever in your life taken a photo of your crotch"? No one has any right to ask such a question.

Have you ever seen a movie called The Contender? Same situation. You're playing the Gary Oldman role. That whole movie was about Joan Allen's principled refusal to answer questions about her sexual history.

Under the pretext of trying to clear up a specific situation, you want to ask deeply personal and intrusive questions about a man's entire history.

Anyone who wants to ask Weiner, as Wolf Blitzer tried to ask, "Have you ever pointed a camera lens at your groin?" is simply fishing for scandal. That is the most odious form of journalism imaginable.

Incidentally, in 1988, when a CNN reporter asked George H.W. Bush whether he had an affair (as some evidence suggested), he refused to answer. That, in my opinion, was the correct response.

The only question you or any other reporter may properly ask Weiner concerns the night of the 27th. Weiner has been consistent in his denials that he uploaded the shot. And that is that is that.

No laws were broken or brushed. The woman insists that the congressman did nothing inappropriate. Having dealt with Dan Wolfe before, she immediately presumed that Dan uploaded the photo. I, for one, respect her judgment. Dan's own publisher now suspects or believes that Dan did it.

The tech involved clearly indicates that Weiner was innocent. The evidence is clear: Weiner did NOT send the tweet.

You want to go fishing? Find a lake.
So Rep. Weiner would be treated differently then when Gov. Palin had her email hacked?

For the trial of the hacker, they did not go into her whole life story in "discovery".

She chose a public trial and David C. Kernell was convicted of felony destruction of records to hamper a federal investigation and misdemeanor unlawfully obtaining information from a protected computer.

Obviously, Weiner would be treated differently. No-one doubted that Palin was the victim. No one had tried to frame her.

But let's say Dan Wolfe stopped hiding, and let's say Weiner sued him. Wolfe's lawyers would try to do whatever they could to make it seem that Weiner has really uploaded a dirty photo on the 27th.

So you can imagine how the deposition (under oath) would go:

"Mr. Weiner, have you ever taken a photograph of your genetalia?"

"Have you ever traded photographs over the internet with someone you consider a potential sexual partner?"

And so on.

Those questions would probably be considered allowable. And any answer could potentially get Weiner into trouble.

This is the sort of fishing expedition that got Clinton into trouble. Questioned in the Paula Jones case, he was asked questions about other women. Those questions had no relevance to the matter at hand, and the judge should have disallowed that line of inquiry. But she (the judge was a she, wasn't it? This was a long tie ago, and memory fades...) allowed it.

Weiner's lawyers would be insane to tell their client to get anywhere near a circus like that.

The only reason the Republicans are pushing for an investigation (despite the lack of any kind of crime) is to place Weiner into a position where he can be deposed.

There were a few episodes of "The West Wing" where we saw this trick in action.

So...back to Palin. Under what pretext could the lawyers for the accused have taken the opportunity to ask her humiliating questions? There was no way to do it. The nature of the crime was very different.
Nice job, Joe - you're obviously right. Here are one broad question and one observation.

Question: why are Weiner's opponents after him, in particular, now?

I just skimmed his Wikipedia page. As well as saying the NYT is biased against Israel (talk about being more Catholic than the Pope!), he spoke against selling weapons to Saudi...

So he's a potential runner against Bloomberg as NY mayor in 2013? Makes you wonder whether Strauss-Kahn may also have been smeared, or maybe set up.

Observation: there seem to be a few big stories about 'security' on Twitter at the moment. Who's doing what to whom?
Joe, it says in the blog post that the "hacking" done by (allegedly) Dan Wolfe wasn't illegal. Therefore it cannot be prosecuted in a criminal court the way Palin's e-mail hacking was. It would have to be a civil lawsuit filed by Weiner (libel, defamation of character, whatever) and the onus would be on him to prove the facts of the case. Basically, he would have to prove that wasn't his photo and that he didn't post it. For that there would have to be discovery and deposition.

I accidentally deleted a comment (which I'll repost if it comes back) which referenced a Washington Post story in which Gennette Cordova offered the speculation that the crotch pic was sent to someone else.

Not possible. For one thing, we know that the crotch pic was uploaded by an outsider. If Weiner had done it, the formatting of the Yfrog page would have been different.

Second, the accompanying tweet had Gennete's name. It has to be typed out.

This is clearly a Republican dirty trick -- an attempt to replicate Whitewater. Throughout much of the 1990s, "everyone who was anyone" was positive that Whitewater was a real scandal, that Susan McDougal was covering up for Clinton and all the rest of it. If you said "This is pure bullshit -- a frame job, a dirty trick" people laughed at you for being naive or partisan.

But Whitewater WAS a dirty trick -- a bullshit charge cobbled together to give an excuse for a fishing expedition.

And what we are seeing here is OBVIOUSLY the same vile trick.

Give it up. Dan Wolfe is obviously guilty. If he wants an investigation, why isn't he suing me?

Fortunately, the message is getting through...
""THE"" evidence is clear".

If "evidence" is what matters, why then do we use science anymore?
google: ->
Richard Vatz
Joe Navarro

How does it come, this, methodically, reminds us of
medi(a)evil INQUISITION ?

This is much bigger ...
"The EXIF metadata on this photo indicates a creation date of May 30 -- three days after the incident. There is no innocent explanation for this date."

Once again your nonexistent technical knowledge puts you in the ditch.

The created date that shows up on the image properties is the date the image was generated in the web browser. All the EXIF data is gone in the only version of the pic that has been released, due to it coming from the browser cache.

Thus, there is no "taken date", which comes from EXIF data from the camera. You have thus confused "created date" and "taken date" because you don't know the difference.

Just check any image on the web. Load the page, download the image to your desktop, right click it, check the details/properties, and it will always show "created date" as the date you loaded the image in the browser.

It's about time you stop talking about things of which you haven't got the slightest clue, Mr. Cannon.
Georgie, you're so cute. The date on which he downloaded the picture was the 27th. Everyone admits that the date mystery is, in fact, a mystery -- except you.

And you're not accounting for the "RIM" reference, indicating a Blackberry. When the EXIF data gets replaced, it ALL goes.

Don't think you can take me to school on Photoshop, me boyo. Deke McClellan sure could, but you ain't him.
OOPs looks like you are the ignorant fool!!!
I think you owe Mr. Broadwater and a host of others an apology for your and others incorrect analysis.
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