Reminder, this is the opinion of Brian Whitmore and not mine.
I post this here for you to contemplate. I do not necessarily agree or disagree with his conclusions.
I’ve admitted in the past to being convinced that Russia or someone acting on Russia’s behalf hacked the DNC, the DCCC, and Podesta’s server. I also said I was convinced this information was shuttled to Wikileaks. I am also convinced that Russian President Vladimir Putin approved all aspects of this operation.
What I am not convinced is if a hacker directly in the Russian employ performed these hacks under the direction of the FSB. This report and Russian reporting of the arrests of two officers in the FSB imply but are not direct evidence that the FSB might have done the hacks and these two specific officers told the US that the FSB was responsible – or who actually was responsible. That distinction is important, but we as mere mortals are not privy to the human intelligence. Not knowing the reliability of those reports will also not help. We may never know what conclusions the US Intelligence Community made.
Even more important than knowing the details of the hacking is to know and understand the intent behind these hacks. Were the hacks intended to acquire information to be used to influence the US election? Hacking and stealing information, of and by itself, accomplishes nothing. What is done or what they intend to do with that information is the key information that intelligence agencies and reporters should attempt to discern. Intent.
- Did Putin intend to influence the US election?
- Did Putin intend to undermine US democracy?
- Did Putin intend to cause chaos and confusion in the United States?
- Did Putin intend to destroy the reputation of Hillary Clinton?
- Did Putin approve a much larger campaign intended to do all the above, using a myriad of tools, methods, and techniques?
Even without detailed and sensitive intelligence, I must conclude the answers are a resounding yes.
What I would pay to be a fly on the wall…
Did Russia just implicitly admit that it hacked the United States?
Reports last week that three cybersecurity experts, including two officers from the Federal Security Service (FSB), were arrested last month seem to suggest so.
According to Russian media reports, Sergei Mikhailov, the deputy head of the FSB’s Center for Information Security, is being charged with espionage for allegedly providing information to U.S. intelligence about a server that experts believe was the nexus for hacking attacks against the United States.
If U.S. intelligence did indeed have a highly placed source like Mikhailov, it would explain why it was able to conclude with such a high degree of confidence that Russia was behind the cyberattacks during the election campaign.
The timing of the arrests and the timing of the decision by former U.S. President Barack Obama to declassify and make public parts of the U.S. intelligence report on the alleged Russian hacking also makes sense.
Mikhailov was arrested in December.And the U.S. released the intelligence report a month later, in January.
If Mikhailov was indeed a source, then Washington would have been reluctant to declassify its intelligence for fear of compromising him.
After he was arrested, this would no longer be an issue.
But the question that is really on my mind is why the Kremlin decided to leak this information now, knowing full well the conclusions the West would draw from it.
And the only conclusion I can come to is that Vladimir Putin’s regime is feeling pretty confident.
And it is not afraid to send a signal that it is powerful enough to interfere in Western countries, and it is not afraid to use it.