Fact Check

Person Who Leaked Hillary Clinton's Medical Records Found Dead

A fake news article played on a hoax involving Hillary Clinton's "leaked" medical records to craft a tale about the CIA finding a "dead man's switch" on the computer of a deceased doctor's father.

Published Aug. 12, 2016

The CIA found a "dead man's switch" on the computer of the deceased father of a doctor treating Hillary Clinton for dementia.

In July 2015, Hillary Clinton's personal physician, Dr. Lisa Bardack, issued a public letter affirming that the candidate is "in excellent condition and fit to serve as President of the United States." Presidential candidates typically have their doctors release such statements, but this instance was particularly noteworthy because the Democratic presidential nominee has been beset by unfounded rumors holding that she is prone to seizures and is concealing some serious neurological condition.

In August 2016, someone issued a hoax "leak" of purported medical records from Dr. Bardack supposedly documenting that, contrary to what the physician had asserted in public, Hillary Clinton was experiencing "more frequent" seizures and showed signs of "advancing" dementia.

Shortly afterwards, the notorious conspiracy-pushing outlet WhatDoesItMean.com  published a fabricated article reporting that Vincent Fleck, the "father of the doctor treating [Hillary Clinton] for dementia" and the "leaker" of those records, had died under mysterious circumstances:

The Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) is reporting today that the continuing to grow list of mysterious deaths surrounding US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has increased after the father of the doctor treating her for dementia suddenly died this past weekend — and who is believed to have been behind the leaking of her most secret medical records. [Note: Some words and/or phrases appearing in quotes are English language approximations of Russian words/phrases having no exact counterpart.]

The SVR first became “alerted/alarmed” regarding the circumstances of this latest mysterious death associated with Hillary Clinton on 17 July, this report says, when a “known/suspected” Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) “hit team” traveled about 70 kilometers (44 miles) from their New York City “base/headquarters” to a small village named Mount Kisco, both being located in New York State.

Upon arriving in Mount Kisco, this report continues, this CIA “hit team” broke into a specialized small computer security companies annex office named Right Click Solutions, located at 322 East Main Street, but were “shocked/surprised” by the unexpected arrival of an off duty employee — who immediately called the local police forces when he noticed the break in — and who were only able to obtain a single laptop computer.

An “electronic interrogation” of this company and its customers to ascertain the CIA’s interest in it, this report says, revealed an anomaly where this computer security company had installed a “Snowden-like dead man’s switch” on the personal computer of man named Vincent Fleck. [Note: The “dead man’s switch” refered to by the SVR in this report relates to a software programme that will automatically distribute information should something happen to the owner.]

It is true that news accounts reported the death of a Vincent Fleck of Mount Kisco, who passed away from drowning or a medical event suffered while competing in a triathalon in early August 2016. However, all the rest of the story about a CIA "hit team" finding a "dead man’s switch" on Vincent Fleck's computer is a fabrication, as is the claim about Dr. Daniel Fleck's treating Hillary Clinton for dementia. (It's rather unlikely a physical therapist with a regular practice specializing in sports injuries would be furtively treating a high-profile politician campaigning throughout the country for dementia.)

As reflected in the example tweets reproduced above, many readers inferred that Dr. Daniel Fleck himself had died mysteriously, but we confirmed with a beleaguered employee at his practice (beset with phone calls about the conspiracy rumors) that the physician was alive and well.

Vincent Fleck was the fourth individual "connected" to Clinton by WhatDoesItMean.com as part of a series of fabrications suggesting people who posed risks to Clinton's power were being serially murdered. Previously, the outlet falsely claimed hacker Guccifer (Marcel Lazăr Lehel) was missing and presumed dead after he purportedly hacked into Clinton's e-mail, and claimed former UN official John Ashe was murdered on the eve of scheduled testimony against Clinton. The site also used the tragic unsolved murder of Democratic National Committee (DNC) staffer Seth Rich to germinate a baseless conspiracy theory that ultimately caused the young man's family additional sorrow in an already harrowing period of grief.

Guccifer was confirmed alive and well by officials at the facility in which he was housed, and a federal prosecutor's office affirmed Ashe's legal troubles were in no way connected to Clinton. Rich's murder remains unsolved, but his family has pled with the public not to engage in painful speculation about the circumstances of his killing. All four rumors were started by a blogger known by the nom de plume "Sorcha Faal."

RationalWiki says of Faal's "sensational" and "outrageous" WhatDoesItMean.com conspiracy site that:

Sorcha Faal is the alleged author of an ongoing series of "reports" published at WhatDoesItMean.com, whose work is of such quality that even other conspiracy nutters don't think much of it.

Each report resembles a news story in its style but usually includes a sensational headline barely related to reality and quotes authoritative high-level Russian sources (such as the Russian Federal Security Service) to support its most outrageous claims. Except for the stuff attributed to unverifiable sources, the reports don't contain much original material. They are usually based on various news items from the mainstream media and/or whatever the clogosphere is currently hyperventilating about, with each item shoehorned into the conspiracy narrative the report is trying to establish.

Before the recent series of Clinton-related fabrications,Sorcha Faal claimed President Obama had ordered the military to attack the city of Charleston with nuclear weapons (which didn't happen), Rear Admiral Rick Williams was fired because he revealed Obama's purchase of a mansion in Dubai (Williams was terminated for misconduct), and Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama were engaged in a potentially conflict-starting dispute over the practices of Monsanto.

Kim LaCapria is a former writer for Snopes.