The formal accusation has officially been launched.
Following days of feverish allegations that Russia was behind escalating hacks of Democratic servers, first that of the DNC, then the DCCC and finally that of the Hillary campaign itself, Hillary Clinton accused Russian intelligence services of hacking into Democratic National Committee computers, while at the same time bashing Donald Trump for showing support for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"We know that Russian intelligence services hacked into the DNC and we know that they arranged for a lot of those emails to be released and we know that Donald Trump has shown a very troubling willingness to back up Putin, to support Putin," Clinton said in an interview with "Fox News Sunday."
Wait, we "know" that? Just yesterday we reported that the NSA has launched a campaign to determine if, indeed, as many have claims Russia is behind the hacking.
In fact, none other than Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the audience at the Aspen Security Forum Thursday that the U.S. intelligence community was "not quite ready to make a call on attribution," though he said there were "just a few usual suspects out there." The next day CIA Director John Brennan said that attribution is "to be determined" and a lot of people were "jumping to conclusions."
The NSA's Joyce said that in general it's very difficult to properly frame someone for a complex attack, since too many details have to be exactly right, requiring a tremendous amount of expertise and precision. But Joyce said that before the U.S. government pins blame on anyone for a cyber attack publicly, the evidence has to pass an "extremely high bar." So when they do come forward, he said, perhaps based on the results of attribution techniques that have not been publicly described, "You should bank on it."
For Hillary, however, what "evidence" was available was sufficient, and while the US has not publicly accused Russia of being behind the hack, Clinton did just what Brennan warned against, namely "jumping to a conclusion" that will lead to another sharp deterioration in relations with Russia. That said, she did stop just shy of accusing Putin of interfering in the election.
Asked if she believed Putin wanted Trump to win the White House, Clinton said she was not going to jump to that conclusion.
"But I think laying out the facts raises serious issues about Russian interference in our elections, in our democracy," Clinton told Fox in the interview, taped Saturday. The United States would not tolerate that from any other country, especially one considered an adversary, she said.
"For Trump to both encourage that and to praise Putin despite what appears to be a deliberate effort to try to affect the election I think raises national security issues," she added.
To be sure, one can make a similar national security argument about having an unsecured email server for years, in defiance of State Department regulations, and which - oddly enough - has so far emerged as the only one that has not been "hacked" by Russia, at least according to the FBI's "impartial" assessment.
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Incidentally, the topic of the source behind the DNC hack (and leak) was a question brought up by Julian Assange who spoke to NBC's Meet the Press, when he declined to name the source of the DNC data.
"I do think it's an interesting question, of course, as to who our sources are," Assange said. "But as a source protection organization that many sources from across the world of many different types rely on to protect their identity, their rights, to communicate the truth to the public. And that's all we're talking about here: communicating the truth."
Assange said it was a "security matter for us as to who our sources are.", adding that WikiLeaks doesn't have any concern about who becomes president.
"We don't have any concern as to whether [Democratic presidential nominee] Hillary [Clinton] is elected or Trump is elected. We are concerned that the material we publish is always accurate, on the one hand, and that our sources are protected on the other."
However, the real punchline came from a previous interview conducted by Assange with CNN in which he said that "Hillary Clinton is trying to undermine our publication, trying to draw attention away from the fact that she conspired with Debbie Wasserman Schultz to subvert an election in the United States. Now what is the result of that? The result is that the free market of electoral candidates was ruined, instead you had a regulatory organization, the DNC, abusing its regulatory function to paint one candidate above another, including by pumping up a black media campaign. Black media campaigns trying to undermine Bernie Sanders in complicity with a lot of the media."
And that is why the Russia scapegoating "distraction" will go on for as long as it has to, and certainly until the people of the US forget precisely the real scandal among these revelations. Meanwhile, expect the deflection to the Kremlin to continue as per the following narrative presented as last week's Aspen Security Forum.