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Curiouser and curiouser

October 7, 2016

Here’s interesting news from CNN about hacked voting systems, publishing hacked DNC documents, and the coming election.

US accuses Russia of trying to interfere with 2016 election
US officially blames Russia for political hacks

Washington (CNN)The Obama administration said Friday it was “confident” that Russia was behind recent hackings of emails about upcoming US elections in an attempt to interfere with the process.

The announcement marks the first time the US administration has officially accused Russia of hacking into US political systems. Earlier in the week, the two countries broke off formal talks about a ceasefire in Syria.

“We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities,” the Department of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence said in a joint statement.

“The recent disclosures of alleged hacked emails on sites like DCLeaks.com and WikiLeaks and by the Guccifer 2.0 online persona are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts,” the statement added. “These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process. Such activity is not new to Moscow — the Russians have used similar tactics and techniques across Europe and Eurasia, for example, to influence public opinion there.”

The announcement was referring to the breach of Democratic National Committee emails and the sites of other Democratic Party-linked organizations disclosed over the summer. […]

I’m not sure what to make of this report. Taking it at face value leaves me wondering what the Russian intent is. Do they want to discredit the Democrats (and thus Clinton) by releasing hacked documents and so sway voters to elect Trump? Would Putin prefer Trump as his counterpart? That seems the obvious conclusion – if the Russian Federation really is behind the hacking.

Or maybe the situation’s like a spy novel and there are wheels within wheels here. Is the Obama administration making this announcement with the hope that people will reach the conclusion above? Does the White House want to make sure people think that Russia favors Trump and so sway voters to Clinton? President Obama has endorsed Clinton after all.

That seems a bit of a stretch, since it’s sure to cause another kerfuffle with the Russians – at a time when relations are already a bit sour over Syria.

It all leaves me wondering who’s playing whom here. And I suppose that’s a third point: that I’m not confident I can trust this administration to play "straight baseball".

After all, it wouldn’t be the first time the President’s administration gamed the American public.


Update: Wow, this was quick. The WSJ reports this evening (~10 PM EST):

WikiLeaks Stirs Up Trouble for Hillary Clinton
Email correspondence is said to show excerpts of paid speeches before her presidential bid

The organization WikiLeaks on Friday released what it claimed to be Clinton campaign email correspondence revealing excerpts from paid speeches that Hillary Clinton gave in recent years, before her presidential bid.

A Clinton campaign spokesman declined to verify whether the documents are authentic.

The emails appear to show Mrs. Clinton taking a tone in private that is more favorable to free trade and to banks than she has often taken on the campaign trail. The emails also suggest she was aware of security concerns regarding electronic devices, which could feed into criticism that Mrs. Clinton was careless with national secrets when she was secretary of state.

The release marks the latest time WikiLeaks has inserted itself into this year’s presidential campaign, and it came the same day the U.S. intelligence community accused the Russian government of trying to interfere in the U.S. elections by purposefully leaking emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee and other entities. The intelligence agencies alleged the hacks were directed by the most senior officials in the Russian government, with WikiLeaks one of the entities whose methods are consistent with those of a Russia-directed effort.

“Earlier today the U.S. government removed any reasonable doubt that the Kremlin has weaponized WikiLeaks to meddle in our election and benefit Donald Trump’s candidacy,” said Clinton spokesman Glen Caplin in a statement. “We are not going to confirm the authenticity of stolen documents released by [WikiLeaks founder] Julian Assange who has made no secret of his desire to damage Hillary Clinton.”

Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, whose emails were WikiLeaks’s primary target, sent several tweets on the subject late Friday.

“I’m not happy about being hacked by the Russians in their quest to throw the election to Donald Trump,” he wrote. “Don’t have time to figure out which docs are real and which are faked.” […]

Obviously, the Democrats want us to think that Wikileaks is trying to get Trump elected. I think it’s a safe guess that the president agrees with that. So the question left is whether the Russians are coordinating and/or controlling what Wikileaks is doing as the administration claims.

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