Indeed, there are good reasons to be skeptical of the theory that the laptop is a foreign plot. If a competent Russian intelligence agency went to the length of procuring hacked material, blending it with forgeries, perhaps researching a suitable surfacing locale and setup in Wilmington and surfacing the package in a human intelligence operation that required careful planning — then it’s highly likely that agency would have found, or more likely forged, files that would have actual political impact, instead of the unremarkable material revealed in the Post so far.
Nevertheless, in the likely continued absence of certainty either way, the Biden leaks deserve the full potential-disinformation treatment. This means three concrete things.
First, every individual little fact — every email, every text, every photo — must be independently verified when data is surfaced in such a suspicious way, not just one piece of information. Genuine photos, for example, could be there simply to add credibility to forged emails surfaced along with the photos — shielding a few forgeries with genuine content would be a time-tested active measures tactic.
Second, the absence of a denial by the Biden campaign or Hunter himself should not be treated as a tacit admission of authenticity. Mixing facts with forgeries has another time-tested effect: It sets a trap for the victim. If Hunter or the Biden campaign started selectively denying pieces of the reporting ostensibly from the laptop, they would give oxygen to the operation, extend its life-cycle and get entangled in a losing battle about discussing what’s fact and what’s not. Verifying large amounts of leaked files, the Democrats learned in 2016, is also hard and labor-intensive.