Tim Leonard (aka Adam Carter) --- July 5, 2019 (Updated July 30, 2020)
On July 31, 2018, ComputerWeekly published a hit-piece constructed by author Duncan Campbell.
The article falsely accused this author of running a "pro-Kremlin disinformation" operation and asserted that Forensicator (an anonymous analyst based in the US) is an imaginary or invented person. Campbell goes so far as to imply that this author may be in control of Forensicator (despite glaring differences in our work output).
The article pushed claims and frames that the author knew to be untrue, made demonstrably false claims about evidence (that remain uncorrected), misrepresented third parties, omitted critical information that would help make sense of Campbell's motives and presented it's own conspiracy theory to readers that was ludicrous and promptly dismantled.
[For those that are unfamiliar with Campbell's efforts and the ongoing disputes between different parties, the full back-story, links to the original hit-piece and links to articles debunking it are all available on this page.]
The purpose of this article is just to provide a brief recap on how Campbell's hit-piece disintegrated under scrutiny during the past year and to highlight evidence that has since emerged providing further corroboration of the findings of those Campbell had attacked and smeared.
What Has Happened Since Publication?
Let's Be Reasonable!
Let's just say, hypothetically, for sake of argument, that we were to ignore the obvious problems that exist with Campbell's theories and just accept that timestamps were tampered with and agree to throw out the July 5, 2016 date he seems to object to...
...it ultimately makes little difference.
The two most significant and controversial discoveries identified (USB device use and Eastern timezone indicator) in Forensicator's study of Guccifer 2.0's NGP-VAN archive aren't really affected by this (though Campbell does suggest that RAR v4 and 7-zip were used deliberately to plant this) and we have a lot more evidence aside from this, including:
Campbell peddled nonsense conspiracy theories and rumors, knowingly misled the public, misrepresented third parties, made demonstrably false claims about evidence and relied on a litany of propaganda devices and logical fallacies as part of his efforts to smear people and has shown absolutely no compunction or care about the accuracy of his claims since then.
If Campbell's efforts were legitimate he would have just published a paper explaining his technical theory to dispute Forensicator's study but he never attempted to do that and, instead, has focused on attacking character and inventing convoluted and absurd conspiracy theories that have fallen apart under scrutiny.
ComputerWeekly should have validated and verified Campbell's claims properly but clearly didn't.
They fell for a salacious smear campaign, refused to check with other parties cited in the article when advised to, have refused to make appropriate corrections and they don't seem to care that they fed demonstrable disinformation and dubious theories to their readers while falsely accusing others of disinformation.
(Evidence showing that Campbell had engaged in disinformation was shared with the publication's editor in chief, Bryan Glick.)
UPDATE (March 30, 2020): Source of False Allegations Propagated By NBC News
As if the above wasn't bad enough, in October 2019, Campbell was a source for an article published by Ben Collins of NBC News that claimed "fake documents" were given to Bill Binney and that there is "proof" of the documents being fake.
NBC News were promptly challenged to substantiate and asked why they made no effort to validate or verify claims. Their author and a handful of editors were contacted. They didn't respond.
Their source, Duncan Campbell, was emailed on January 1st, 2020 and asked to substantiate the claims and produce the alleged "proof" (NBC editors were also CC'd in on that communication). Campbell did not respond and neither did NBC editors.
Campbell was sent another email a few weeks later asking him to explain why he deliberately misled the public and to respond to the fact his original article made false claims about evidence and to respond to his technical theory being challenged by Forensicator. Again, he did not respond.
Campbell was called on March 9th, 10th and 11th (at different times of the day each time) and he refused to answer, so, messages were left asking him to substantiate the claims made in the NBC News article. He did not respond.
NBC News author Ben Collins was also publicly challenged to explain the claims published and produce proof.
At the time of this update he has refused to respond.
Nobody from NBC's editors and author to their source is actually willing to be accountable for these claims and they seem unable to explain what they're referring to and won't produce the alleged "proof" they claim exists.
Full details on NBC News misreporting can be found here.
A summary of the countervailing evidence relating to Guccifer 2.0 discovered over the past three years is here.
Campbell's conspiracy theories, character attacks, manufactured drama and nonsense have contributed almost nothing of value to advance public understanding of the Guccifer 2.0 operation.
Campbell's efforts have distracted from the evidence and have even misinformed people on what evidence is available.
I hope ComputerWeekly and NBC News learn to properly vet sources, verify and validate claims before publication and can, one day, bring themselves to retract the lies and disinformation they have published.