In 2016, the Russian government hacked
the computer systems of the Democratic National Committee in
an attempt to gather information that could be used to damage
Hillary Clinton's campaign.
Recently, however, a conspiracy theory
has emerged that the server that was hacked was hidden away in
a foreign country so that it couldn't be examined. The
implication is that there is something fishy about the whole
hacking story. This isn't true, of course. The location of the
server has never been secret.
However, in response a number of
Democrats have been circulating the picture above saying that
this is a picture from the DNC, in the DNC basement, where
it's been for a while. Not only is it not secret, but there is
literally a picture of it hanging out in a basement.
The server isn't in Ukraine. It's here, in this photo, right next to the Watergate cabinet in the DNC's basement.
Is this true? Let's start with what we
always do, and think for a minute about why this picture might
be important if real. In this case, if the server that people
are claiming has been secretly hidden is sitting in the DNC
basement in plain sight it shows how silly the conspiracy
theory is. There are no unanswered questions about the
So is the picture really of the server? Let's search Google for this image through right-clicking it. Google image search is not the best image search but it's often good enough.
We get an interesting result right away. The auto-suggested text seems to think the file cabinet pictured is the Watergate file cabinet (which, maybe?) But the second result -- from Ars Technica -- indicates we're on the correct track.
I keep scrolling and see an NYT article that has the server picture in it. I'd like to look at that, but it's behind a paywall. Above it is a tweet from someone with the handle @ericliptonnyt. I think this 'nyt' might indicate he is a reporter for the NYT, and if so maybe his tweet can verify this for me.
In this case it's looking pretty good. It's a verified checkmarked account, which shows the picture and describes it as the Watergate filing cabinet sitting next to the DNC server, and the reporter seems to be the original source of the photograph
Just to make sure, we hover over Eric Lipton's name and see that he is indeed an NYT investigative reporter. And this photo is from late 2016 -- there has never really been a question of where this particular server was.
There's some more complex backstory
you can read -- the fact is that because of the nature of
modern systems, many computers were involved in the hack, and
all were imaged and examined. But yes, that's the supposedly
missing server, sitting in the DNC basement in a photo
published by the New York Times years ago. No secret