A criminal investigation is under way after a hacker broke into email accounts belonging to members of the Bush family and their close friends, publishing phone numbers, home security codes and a picture of George H.W. Bush during his recent hospital stay, when he was reported to be close to death.
According to The Smoking Gun website, which broke news of the hacking attack, the emails were sent between 2009 and 2012, the most recent of them at the end of December when the 41st President’s five children were exchanging messages about the arrangement for a possible funeral. The most sensitive account breached appears to have been that of Dorothy Bush Koch, daughter of George H. W. Bush and sister of George W. Bush, the 43rd President.
The elder Bush, the oldest living former US president, turns 89 on 12 June. In mid-January he was discharged from Houston’s Methodist Hospital, where he had spent seven weeks – including a spell in intensive care – under treatment for bronchitis, a bacterial infection and a stubborn cough. He is now reported to be recovering well, and earlier this week was spotted dining in a Houston restaurant.
At the end of last year, things were not so well, however. The hacked e-mails indicate that in late December the condition of “41” was so grave that preparations for Mr Bush’s funeral were under way.
The hacked material contains a series of photographs of paintings by the former president, including one of Mr Bush naked in the shower. A second work shows a running bath tap, some legs and feet. The emails were apparently sent by Mr Bush to his sister Dorothy, and also contained a shot of Mr Bush painting at his easel.
Mystery surrounds the exact identity of the hacker, who identifies himself as “Guccifer”, a title printed in a watermark across the hacked photos. The hacker told The Smoking Gun in an email exchange that “the feds” [presumably the FBI or the Secret Service] began investigating him a “long time ago”, and that he has hacked “hundreds of accounts”.
In correspondence with the website, the mysterious figure reveals that he had taken “a lot of stuff” from the email accounts. One of the individuals targeted was CBS sports presenter Jim Nantz, an old friend of the family. In discussions between Mr Bush’s diary secretary and Mr Nantz, the address of Mr Bush’s home is revealed. Another contains the four-digit code Nantz would need to open Mr Bush’s security gate at his home in Kennebunkport, Maine, while the correspondence also included details of a planned dinner date between the two men after a weekend golf game.
Whoever Guccifer is, he told the Smoking Gun that he had no fears of the consequences of his actions.
“I have an old game with the f***ing bastards inside, this is just another chapter in the game,” he wrote.