Thankfully, over the past 48 hours many mainstream news outlets have reported on the findings of internet security firm Norse that claims to have found "little evidence" North Korea was behind the now infamous Sony hack - instead pinning the blame on what is probably a disgruntled former employer. Everyone from Fox News, to The New York Post, to The LA Times have reported on the findings providing at least a bit of counter narrative to last week's "official's say" North Korea-did-it narrative:
US cybersecurity experts say they have solid evidence that a former employee helped hack Sony Pictures Entertainment’s computer system — and that it was not masterminded by North Korean cyberterrorists. One leading cybersecurity firm, Norse Corp., said Monday it has narrowed its list of suspects to a group of six people — including at least one Sony veteran with the necessary technical background to carry out the attack, according to reports.
According to The Economist:
Security researchers have pointed to more reasons why the North Korean regime may be innocent (of the hack, though not of jailing children for having suspected dissidents for parents).
In their initial e-mail to Sony, the hackers asked for money but did not mention “The Interview”. They only latched on to the film after journalists wondered out loud about a possible link between the hack and the satire. Marc Rogers of CloudFlare, a web-security firm, writes that the attackers had a deep knowledge of Sony’s systems and their e-mails seemed to be written by an English-speaker deliberately pretending to be bad at writing the language. He thinks a disgruntled current or former Sony employee could be behind the attack.
But in the dozen or so media accounts citing the report, the fact that the US military has likely already launched a "counterattack" against the tiny Asian country is either not mentioned or thrown in mid-article as if barely of note:
One outlet, The LA Times, that did bother to point this fact out:
President Obama this month said North Korea was behind the Sony attack and pledged a "proportional" response. North Korea's Internet suffered outages in the days following the announcement. The U.S. hasn't taken responsibility for the outages, but North Korea has blamed Obama.
That the U.S. is responsible for destroying North Korea's entire internet connectivity for several days is largely taken for granted by most people paying attention. From Vox:
Internet connectivity between North Korea and the outside world, though never robust to begin with, is currently suffering one of its worst outages in recent memory, suggesting that the country may be enduring a mass cyber attack a few days after President Obama warned the US would launch a "proportional response" to North Korea's hack against Sony.
According to White House's own logic, such a "cyber-attack" would constitute an act of war: (via Fair.org's Steve Randall)
Needless to say, the FBI - having been central to the launching of said "act of war" - is sticking to its guns. In a counter-spin piece rushed to the presses by Politico, the FBI dismisses the Norse report out of hand:
Asked about the meeting and criticism on Monday, the FBI declined to comment beyond a prepared statement that they are confident the North Koreans are behind the crippling Thanksgiving attack and there is “no credible information” to suggest otherwise.
No where mentioned in Politico's article is that the U.S. government has all the incentive in the world to dismiss the reports since the "proportionate response" was already launched, paid-for, and finished without an ounce of evidence or public discussion. Also unmentioned and more problematically, the last Sony hack in 2011 was pinned on a hacking group, LulzSec, that was possibly headed up at the time by a paid FBI informant:
From June of 2011:
Sony said Thursday that it is investigating reports that its SonyPictures.com database was hacked. The group [LulzSec] that claimed responsibility for the hack, meanwhile, appears to be setting its sites on the FBI.
From March 2012:
Hector Xavier Monsegur, an unemployed 28-year-old Puerto Rican living in New York, was unmasked as "Sabu", the leader of the LulzSec hacking group that has been behind a wave of cyber raids against American corporations including Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, the intelligence consultancy Stratfor, British and American law enforcement bodies, and the Irish political party Fine Gael.
Never mind the pesky historical note: once again the government asserts it, the media accepts it, and the U.S. military, on cue, acts as the unilateral judge, jury, and executioner. This is a process that has gotten so routine that emerging evidence now that the country in question may be innocent doesn't merit an ounce of outrage or follow-up or calls for Congressional oversight: simply a shrug and a process story on the FBI's "on-going investigation". An "investigation" that, like the Queen of Hearts in Alice and Wonderland, provided "the sentence first" and the "verdict afterwards".