An elusive computer hacker claims to have compromised email accounts belonging to members of the Bush family, intercepting private images and correspondence sent from two former US presidents and others.
The Smoking Gun website has published a series of personal photographs that they say were obtained after a hacker who uses the online moniker “Guccifer” breached the AOL email account of Dorothy Bush Koch — the daughter of former US President George H. W. Bush — and at least five others.
On Friday morning, the Associated Press quoted a spokesperson for the forty-second president as saying a criminal investigation into the incident has been launched. Speaking to ABC News, Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan confirms that his agency is conducting a probe as well. Representatives for Mr. Bush’s son, fellow former-Pres. George W. Bush, have been hesitant to comment on the report, though, and Houston FBI spokeswoman Shauna Dunlap tells the AP, “We do not confirm or deny the existence of any investigation.” According to what has been released by the Smoking Gun so far, however, both former presidents are directly linked to the hack.
In an email conversation between Guccifer and the Smoking Gun, the hacker says he swiped “a lot of stuff,” including “interesting mails” relating to the senior president’s recent hospitalization and his family.
“[Y]our dad’s funeral team is having an emergency meeting at 10 a.m. just to go through all the details,” reads one email the Smoking Gun says a Bush aide sent to President 42’s children. That communiqué, Bush aide Jean Baker writes in the email, “fell under the broadening category of things NOT TO TELL YOUR MOTHER.”
In another exchange, George W. Bush writes about planning a eulogy for his ailing father, who was hospitalized in his native Houston, Texas late last year after a case of bronchitis intensified. In yet another, Bush Jr.’s brother Jeb reflect on “how kind” his father has been to former-Pres. Bill Clinton and how “he helped restore his sordid reputation.”
“A very tough thing to do but with kindness, dad probably helped Bill Clinton than anything he himself has done,” Jeb Bush writes.
The photographs, published on the website with a large “Guccifer” watermark on each image, offers a candid look at the presidential family. Included in their report is a picture of Bush. Sr. posing alongside Pres. Clinton and another of the ailing one-term leader laid out on a hospital bed.
The Smoking Gun says that the emails hacked by Guccifer were sent between 2009 and 2012 and include an undetermined amount of correspondence between the former presidents, their associates and others. Additionally, the website says family friend Willard Heminway, CBS sportscaster Jim Nantz and former first lady Barbara Bush’s brother all had their online accounts compromised in the incident.
Reached for comment by the Smoking Gun before they went live with their report Thursday evening, Dorothy Bush Koch told that she had no idea that she had been hacked. Although the website does not mention how they were able to easily contact the victim, they claim that one of the hacked emails included a list of home addresses, cell phone number and email addresses for dozens of members of the Bush family.
“Why would someone do this?” the 53-year-old brother of Pres. George W. Bush asked the outlet.
Other emails provided to the Smoking Gun by Guccifer that have been published in part on the website allegedly include messages from Pres. Barack Obama and the address for Bush 44 and the security code needed to bypass his home security system.
A preliminary search for Guccifer has returned little to no information on the hacker, but he tells the Smoking Gun that he has hacked “hundreds of accounts” and has been under federal investigation since a “long time ago.”