DOES THE “HUNTER BIDEN LAPTOP” EVEN EXIST? On March 30, 2022, the once-hallowed Washington Post newspaper ran an article titled “Here’s how The Post analyzed Hunter Biden’s laptop.” The article carries a rather puzzling/troubling sub-title: “Two experts confirm the veracity of thousands of emails, but say a thorough examination was stymied by missing data.”
Puzzling because, well, how could there be missing data? Wouldn’t that suggest that the computer was either damaged or, ahem, trifled with? And, if either, wouldn’t that do a bit more than “stymy” an investigation? Wouldn’t it make any real “analysis” of the computer a bit of a joke?
The Washington Post’s experts never even saw the alleged Hunter Biden laptop let alone “analyzed” it.
Written by a trio of Post regulars—Craig Timberg, Matt Viser, and Tom Hamburger—the original Post article is almost 3,000 words in length. I eliminated most of them and have posted a truncated version below that clocks in at just over 400 words. That’s 400 words quoted from The Post article that should make any reader ponder just what the heck was the point of publishing a piece filled with statements that effectively contradict The Post article’s title!
Extraneous information was edited out by me. If you choose to follow my selected quotes below with the actual article, then you will see that what I omitted was not needed to advance my “story” here. If you want to pull the Post article up in another window so that you can compare my slightly edited text below with the original text, click here.
Like many white men who grew up wanting to grow up to be Sonny Crockett, Hunter Biden regularly chooses to appear in public in desperate need of a shave. Photos such as this one are easy to use to convince anyone on the right side of the political chasm that Biden is a “bad guy.”
The elusive hunter biden laptop
I assume the reader knows some of the story behind the elusive “Hunter Biden laptop.” I refer to the laptop as elusive because no one other than Isaacs, members of the Rep*blican Party, and, supposedly, members of the FBI have seen the thing! That is, apparently, the actual computer has not been investigated by a qualified third party. Nonetheless, here is a nutshell encapsulation of that story:
Then Vice President Joe Biden’s often-wayward son Hunter dropped a personal laptop computer off at a small repair shop that just happened to be owned by a rather rabid rightwinger and when Biden failed to pick it up, the shop owner accessed the data on the computer which is supposed to have incriminating information about both Bidens and turned it over to Rudy Giuliani.
Here are the players in the text below (in chronological order):
• John Paul Mac Isaac: owner of The Mac Shop in Wilmington, Delaware.
• Jack Maxey: former co-host of Steve Bannon’s War Room podcast.
• Matt Green: security researcher who specializes in cryptography with Johns Hopkins University.
• Jake Williams: forensics expert and former National Security Agency (NSA) operative.
The statements between the two cartoons below are in the order they appeared in the article, so the “narrative” should be easy to follow. I added all of the italicizations to call attention to the more, ahem, problematic aspects of the article.
“On Dec. 9, 2019, FBI agents served a subpoena on Mac Isaac for the laptop, the hard drive, and all related paperwork. But before turning over the computer, [Isaac] made a copy of its hard drive in case he was ever thrown under the bus as a result of what he knew.”
Lacking a clean chain of custody
“Thousands of emails purportedly from the laptop computer of Hunter Biden are authentic communications that can be verified through cryptographic signatures. The verifiable emails are a small fraction of data provided to The Post on a portable hard drive by Republican activist Jack Maxey. He said the contents of the portable drive originated from Hunter Biden’s MacBook Pro.
The vast majority of the data could not be verified by either of the two security experts.
Among the reasons for the inconclusive findings was sloppy handling of the data, which damaged some records. The experts found the data had been repeatedly accessed and copied by people other than Hunter Biden over nearly three years.
Most of the data obtained by The Post lacks cryptographic features that would help experts make a reliable determination of authenticity, especially in a case where the original computer and its hard drive are not available for forensic examination.
The security experts struggled to reach definitive conclusions about the contents as a whole, including whether all of it originated from a single computer or could have been assembled from files from multiple computers and put on the portable drive.
The data on the copy of the hard-drive had been repeatedly accessed by people other than Hunter Biden.
Green and Williams found evidence that people other than Hunter Biden had accessed the drive and written files to it long after the laptop itself had been turned over to the FBI.
The lack of what experts call a ‘clean chain of custody’ undermined Green’s and Williams’s ability to determine the authenticity of most of the drive’s contents.
Analysis was made significantly more difficult because the data had been handled repeatedly in a manner that deleted logs and other files that forensic experts use to establish a file’s authenticity.
The cryptographic verification techniques worked only on incoming emails, not ones that were sent from Hunter Biden’s accounts.
Some other emails on the drive that have been the foundation for previous news reports could not be verified because the messages lacked verifiable cryptographic signatures. One such email was widely described as referring to Joe Biden as ‘the big guy’ and suggesting the elder Biden would receive a cut of a business deal.
Months after the laptop itself had been taken into FBI custody, three new folders were created on the drive dated September 1-2, 2020.
Williams also found records on the drive that indicated someone may have accessed the drive from a West Coast location in October 2020, little more than a week after the first New York Post stories on Hunter Biden’s laptop appeared.”
“Isaac repeatedly attempted to contact Hunter Biden, who had signed a repair authorization, to advise him the laptop was ready to be picked up, but Hunter never responded. Isaac finally came to regard the MacBook as abandoned property.”
A photoshopped picture of a crime scene
There were 3,700 comments at the time and I only looked at the first few to judge the tenor of the reception of most readers. Most readers thought the article was a piece of junk. Here is my favorite comment:
“Stop calling it a ‘forensic’ examination. Forensics is picking up evidence at a crime scene, maintaining a chain of custody, and studying the evidence. This is studying a photoshopped picture of a crime scene that has been copied several times by unknown people.”
Or, as The Post’s two experts agreed:
“The drive is a mess,” Green said.
“From a forensics standpoint,” Williams said, “it’s a disaster!”The Washington Post’s experts never even saw the alleged Hunter Biden laptop let alone ‘analyzed’ it. Click To Tweet
FEATURED IMAGE: This is the front of The Mac Shop in Wilmington, Delaware. Does anyone want to guess which side of the political chasm owner John Paul Mac Isaac stands on? Would it be cynical of me to suggest had Isaac been anyone other than the type of person who would hang that sign on the front door of his business then the whole “hunter Biden laptop” business might not have occurred?