The mainstream media, Democratic Party, neoconservatives and Obama administration are all uniformly peddling a story about Russia playing a villainous role in the 2016 presidential election by hacking the DNC, as well as other government and private institutions, in an illicit attempt to elect Donald Trump president.
This elaborate theory stems from the very highest levels of the U.S. intelligence apparatus.
On October 7, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released a joint statement, which disclosed that the U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) was “confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations.”
The statement continues by outlining how the release of “alleged hacked e-mails on sites like DCLeaks.com and WikiLeaks and by the Guccifer 2.0 online persona” are similar to the “methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts.”
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has repeatedly denied that the Russian government was the source of his “Podesta emails” leak. The cause of the hack was reportedly due to a typo from Clinton campaign IT staff that opened the door to a phishing scam.
The Daily Caller also reported that shortly after DCLeaks released private information on billionaire donor George Soros, its website was taken offline and its Twitter account was suspended.
“Gufficer 2.0,” the self-ascribed moniker for the hacker who uploaded the stolen DNC emails, reportedly left behind data fingerprints implicating a Russian-speaking person. However, even overwhelming evidence that Guccifer 2.0 is Russian wouldn’t prove that they are an agent of the Russian government.
In September, the Washington Post wrote that “U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies are investigating what they see as a broad covert Russian operation in the United States to sow public distrust in the upcoming presidential election and in U.S. political institutions.”
But their source – who is described as an “intelligence official” – later says that “the intelligence community is not saying it has ‘definitive proof’ of such tampering, or any Russian plans to do so.”
It is evident that between the months of September and October, the public consensus among high-ranking U.S. government officials was that the “alleged” hacking was similar to “methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts,” however, the U.S. intelligence community did not have “definitive proof of such tampering, or any Russians plans to do so.”
At what point then did it become established fact that the Russian government was behind the hack on the DNC?
Earlier in July, President Obama sat down with NBC News’ Savannah Guthrie and discussed whether he believed the Russians were behind the DNC hack.
In the interview, Obama acknowledges that the FBI is “still investigating what happened,” but goes on to say that “experts have attributed [the hack] to the Russians,” and “what we do know is that the Russians hack our systems.” While both statements are meticulously crafted to compliment each other, they are actually addressing two very different things.
Who exactly are these “experts” that President Obama is referring to?
One may be Ellen Nakashima, national security reporter for the Washington Post.
In June, Nakashima broke the story that “Russian government hackers” had penetrated and gained access into computer systems and emails that belonged to the Democratic National Committee. Nakashima’s source? The Democratic Party and “security experts.”
Another of President Obama’s “experts” could be David Sanger, chief Washington correspondent for the New York Times.
Sanger co-authored an article in July, which alleges U.S. intelligence agencies had informed the White House that they had “high confidence” that the Russian government was directly responsible for the hack against the DNC. He lists his source as “federal officials who have been briefed on the evidence.”
Sanger is also careful to point out that intelligence officials “cautioned” jumping to conclusions about whether the hack was simply a routine espionage attempt – something the U.S. government also conducts around the world – or a deliberate attempt to influence the outcome of the presidential election.
On December 13, Sanger spoke with Stephanie Ruhle of NBC News and outlined the full timeline of when the U.S. government discovered the Russians were behind the hack. Interestingly, Sanger says the evidence was first seen by someone within the U.S. government, but that “nobody exactly will tell us who saw it.”
However, these reports did not stop Hillary Clinton from placing the blame directly at the feet of the Russian government, and their president Vladimir Putin, during the final presidential debate.
Clinton’s accusation at Trump encouraging Russian espionage is baseless. She is likely referring to the instance where Trump challenged Russia to release the 30,000 non-work related emails that Clinton never turned over to the FBI. Fox News’ Charles Krauthammer pointed out that it was a “clever trap” laid by Trump that the Clinton campaign fell right into. It appears that President Obama also fell for the trap.
Assuming that Clinton was referencing the ODNI report, which revealed that the U.S. intelligence community was “confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails,” she still had no evidence to claim that Putin was directly doing so to benefit Trump.
This seems to be a common theme that has been adopted by all those opposed to Trump. They have pre-concluded that if Russia would hack the Democratic Party, then they must be doing so in an attempt to throw the election to Donald Trump. There is simply no evidence to support this conspiracy theory.
The Intercept, an online news publication, lays out all of the facts about the hacking that we now know and still came to the conclusion that it simply is not enough. For this theory being raised by Clinton, the White House and other #NeverTrump supporters to ever become hard fact, evidence must be presented to validate their charge.
While it is very possible that a Russian agent hacked into the DNC, it is still inconclusive that the agent was directed by the Russian government, or did so in an attempt to tilt the election to Donald Trump.
And also note that while everyone focuses on who committed the hacking, we become distracted from what we learned from the hacking – which may, in fact, be the end goal.