Pentagon officials say a hacker's claim that he has official military emails proving U.S. intelligence agencies were involved in framing President Bashar Assad's regime for the Syrian chemical attacks is "totally false."
And now the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, known as the CID, is investigating the incident.
This image provided by by Shaam News Network on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, purports to show several bodies being buried in a suburb of Damascus, Syria during a funeral on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. (AP)
The digital thief claims to base his assumptions on revelations made in emails he said he hacked into belonging to U.S. military and Pentagon officials.
Those emails, along with the hackers' story, were originally posted in the Daily Opinion blog on the British Telegraph on Sept. 1, from the hacker's post on pastebin. He also claims to have hacked the emails of 18 other Pentagon officials.
"Army is aware of the situation and the hacking incident, and it has been referred to the Army CID for investigation," Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Damien Pickart told TheBlaze.
"There is no truth to those emails," he added. "No truth whatsoever. It is totally false."
Pickart, who speaks on behalf of the Pentagon's cyber affairs issues, said the email addresses used by the hacker were accurate but the content of the emails was falsified.
The hacker's unconfirmed story, however, is now spreading: It has been posted on a number of websites questioning whether the Syrian government was really behind the Aug. 21 attack that killed 1,429 people and whether it was instead terrorist rebel factions who instigated the bombings at the behest of the U.S. government.
The cyber crook claims to have hacked and published email correspondence between U.S. Army Col. Anthony J. MacDonald, who works in intelligence at the Pentagon, and Eugene Furst, a civilian worker in the Pentagon.
A copy of one of the allegedly hacked emails. (Source: Pastebin)
In the alleged Aug. 22, email, Furst congratulates MacDonald, saying "by the way, saw your latest success, my congratulations," and provides a link to the original Washington Post story regarding the chemical attack in Syria.
Neither McDonald nor Furst responded to email inquiries from TheBlaze.
The hacker, in his post on pastebin, claimed to have used the colonel's LinkedIn social media page to pull off the mission (content warning for language):
I've hacked colonel Anthony Jamie MacDonald mail he is intelligence US Army Staff boss. First I hacked his Link3dIn account and got access to his mail through it then.Among mail Mayhem like Amazon mails I've found his correspondence with his colleague Eugene Furst. He congratulates Col. with success and gives a link to the Washington Post publication about chemical attack in Syria on August 21. Furst also mentions it was “well staged”. Holy shit. I was shocked my eyes refused to believe it. Bloody bastards they “staged” a chemical attack.Then a friend of Anthony MacDonald's wife Jennifer writes she was shocked seeing on TV the children died after chemical attack in Syria. Jennifer answers she saw the story but Tony calm her down saying children were alive and the scene was staged.
Pickart said the hacker "looked for an individual that would fit the profile of the disinformation or stories they wanted out."
McDonald's LinkedIn profile was the perfect target because it states he had a position where her would, "direct and manage Army G-2 intelligence operations, plans and policies, and the integration of emerging intelligence capabilities in support of Army current and future operations and force structure."
It also shows that he transitioned out of that command, after two and half years, in July.
The page has since been removed, but a cached version reveals the information:
While the colonel's LinkedIn page has since been taken down, a cached version exists. (Image source: LinkedIn)
A copy of the cached version of the colonel's LinkedIn page. (Image source: LinkedIn)
Open source information is used by the enemies and foreign intelligence "so you don't want to give the enemy too much information about yourself," Pickart added. "We need to be careful."