I know we’ve already hit this story here, but there’s one portion of it that’s been bothering me since yesterday. Basically, this is the headline that Democrats in general and Clinton dead enders who want the Electoral College to overturn the election in particularly were dreaming of. The CIA and FBI now suddenly agree about not only Russia’s involvement in the hack, but Putin’s motives: specifically that he either wanted to help Donald Trump win or damage Hillary Clinton because he “had a beef” with her. Pick whichever version you like because they all work out to the same end.
FBI Director James B. Comey and Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. are in agreement with a CIA assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election in part to help Donald Trump win the White House, officials disclosed Friday, as President Obama issued a public warning to Moscow that it could face retaliation.
New revelations about Comey’s position could put to rest suggestions by some lawmakers that the CIA and the FBI weren’t on the same page on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intentions.
Russia has denied being behind the cyber-intrusions, which targeted the Democratic National Committee and the private emails of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta. Trump, in turn, has repeatedly said he doubts the veracity of U.S. intelligence blaming Moscow for the hacks.
So there’s the story that the media has been dying to pitch. After disputes between the intelligence agencies had apparently been the normal order of business all this time, now… days before the Electoral College vote… they’re suddenly all singing the same tune. Putin was responsible and he did it to help Trump. Except you’ll note that no new details on the intelligence which leads to this conclusion are provided. And the wording in most of these stories seems to dance around the last part. “Intervened in the election in part to help Donald Trump.”
“In part?” Which part? If anything has become obvious from all of this it’s not that there is any sort of universal consensus among the agencies or that they have some smoking gun they’re not showing us. It’s that there are still internal divisions and far too much politicking going on. If they want to publish an exhaustive report later on showing everyone precisely what they have (up to the point where it doesn’t endanger further operations) then fine. For now, remain skeptical.
But let’s say that major portions of the information leaking out are true. There are two pieces to this puzzle which prompt very different reactions. First of all there is the primary question we should have been asking all along: was the DNC (along with various other people and outfits) hacked? The answer seems to be pretty obviously yes. It’s true that Wikileaks is still claiming that they got all the DNC dirt from a Democratic whistleblower and not the Russians, but they might either be lying or it’s possible that both happened. Either way, security needs to be tightened up and I think most everyone can agree on that in a nonpartisan fashion.
But the motive question is entirely different. Stop and think about it for a minute. From a real world security perspective (if that’s all we were concerned with) it really doesn’t amount to a hill of beans why Putin wanted to hack the systems. Only that he could and he shouldn’t be able to. But from a political perspective it serves the narrative of undermining Trump’s legitimacy and possibly fueling more speculation about the electors having justifiable cause to flip the election. So if you’re going to make an extraordinary claim like that you’d better be prepared to provide some extraordinary evidence.
The real irony here is that the same people telling us to stop politicizing the leaks and taking advantage of them are now completely politicizing the investigation and the results. We need to get this entire mess in our rear view mirror, start protecting our data significantly better and start redrawing some lines as to where politics should end and national security interests begin.