T Nation

Hacking the Election


#1

I don’t know to what extent this was discussed in another thread, but I wanted to create a thread dedicated to it since it looks like there isn’t one.

As I see it, the Russian so-called hacking consists of up to three things.

  1. Using the internet to influence public opinion through news stories, fake news stories, and comments. Bascially, this is just propoganda through electronic means and I don’t really consider this “hacking,” but its still important to mention.

  2. Hacking organizations such as the DNC and revealing their private communications. We also don’t have strong public evidence that this was an actual hack and not a leak, but the CIA and FBI seem to think this was a hack, for what its worth.

  3. Actually hacking the election infrastructure to mess with votes or vote totals. So far, I haven’t seen any credible claims that this actually happened.

I think we have a fair bit of public apathy about hacking because although the idea of foreign powers messing with our election is disturbing in the abstract, only option 3 above really feels especially malicious and unacceptable. It’s inevitable that people will try to influence elections by spreading information and in some cases misinformation.

So, questions for discussion (just to get it started, although feel free to go in your own direction):

–Which of the above should we be worried about?
–What’s the proper response to Russia, or someone else, doing the above?
–Do you think the US should be engaged in some of the above in other foreign elections?


#2

Doesn’t matter. According to the President-Elect, we’re going to conduct government business by courier, so hacking will no longer be an issue. (I assume the DoD is investing heavily in an expansion of its homing-pigeon capabilities.)


#3

We routinely kill people and install new leaders as part of our foreign policy in an effort to spread freedom.

But when we do it it’s different, because we’re the good guys.


#4

To be fair, if we assume that the electronic systems are compromised, hard copy becomes the wiser choice.


#5

Comparatively speaking, you are. Chinese or Russian hegemony would be a shite shade worse.


#6

My point is, the activities of an enterprise the size, scope and complexity of the Federal govt cannot possibly be conducted via ‘hard copy.’


#7

You mean the way it was (mostly) done 30 years ago?


#8

Touche. But you’d have to go back a lot farther than 30 years to get to the ‘hard-copy days.’

Anyway, it would be tough to get homing pigeons back and forth to our spy satellites–their little space-helmets would keep falling off.


#9

True, and it is easier to handle the workload of such a large complex government now. But if I continue to talk about the size and scope of our government I will thrust myself into another libertarian style rant and send my blood pressure through the roof. So for now I will abstain.


#10

From the broad view, it looks impossible, but when you zoom in and look at it county by county, not so imposing.

I don’t know the entire range of systems from hard copy to computerized, but a whole lot of what was being shown during the recount was actually counting ballots. So, it’s not like we’re switching from some light speed system to clunking rocks together. The hard copy system is still effective and in use.

And if they start sending birds into space I’m gonna boycott everything.


#11

Yeah and when the dems did recount it was found out that Trump had more votes then they thought, the democratic party is letting to many people in country with no background checks.
I used to be a Democrat than (the traitor) just played ball to work in his agenda, now their are African Muslims everywhere.
I doubt Russia hacked election .


#12

We shouldn’t be worried we just need better intrusion protection.

We should and probably are hacking them back.

We have always been trying to influence foreign elections in our favor.

This game has been going on for decades. The methods may change, but the game is the same.
We also knew, almost from the start, that Russia did it and it didn’t matter. If Hillary had won, nobody would be even talking about this.


#13

https://www.yahoo.com/news/dni-russias-election-interference-went-far-beyond-hacks-173246915.html


#14

No, smh said that Obama was winning “cheap political points” – cheap political points being just about the only prize on offer in modern presidential debates – by turning the exchange into a precooked one-liner. The salient point being that a line played for laughs in a debate is not a policy, and – more to the present state of affairs – that sarcastic regurgitation of such a line is not a substitute for a basic command of the facts. Your fantasy in which Putin turns on a presidential debate, hears the “cold war” joke, and sets in train a series of geopolitical calculations because “oh, so [Obama’s] a little bitch then”…is just that: a fantasy, and a stunningly dumb one at that. It isn’t how world affairs work (it’s how people who know jack shit believe world affairs work, and, as this past election shows, idiots’ beliefs can be as consequential as the beliefs of the informed…but that’s a conversation for a different day). It’s also the product of an embarrassing Right-wing myth about both Putin’s character and his attitude toward Obama, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

First, that 2012 debate exchange. The matter is of little more than academic concern at this point, but you, being now an apparently full-fledged unthinking partisan monkey and willing dupe, appear to care about it as a way to distract and deflect from Trump’s unprecedented and despicable disloyalty to the country he’s about to ostensibly lead (more, too, on that in a bit). So let’s get into it. “Enemy” and its synonyms (e.g., “foe”) are, in the context of international relations, more like terms of art than mundane descriptors. Presidents are and have for decades been generally expected to refrain from using such terms lightly and/or outside of contexts in which they are explicitly, technically correct. Thus you will find that, per the exigencies of a complicated geopolitical status quo in which even competitive great powers are infinitely more interconnected and interdependent than they were in e.g. the '80s, George W. Bush publicly said the exact words “Russia is not our enemy” on more than one occasion. “Foe” and “enemy” being precise synonyms, Bush’s claim of friendship is logically incompatible with Romney’s “Russia is our number one geopolitical foe” – they cannot be our “number one foe” if they are not our foe at all. Here we pause to note that Russian-backed separatists (plus for good measure some of the Russian paramilitary sorts with which Ukraine would later become acquainted) began shelling Georgian towns mere months after one of Bush’s public proclamations of Russo-American nonenmity. If you fatuously believe that Putin’s Crimean and Syrian machinations have anything whatsoever to do with Obama’s denial during a presidential debate that Russia is our number one geopolitical foe, then you presumably also believe that Bush’s public proclamation of exactly as much must have incited Russian agitation in Ossetia. Of course, not only do you not believe this, but it’s highly unlikely you were remotely familiar with the fact of Bush’s being in public agreement with Obama vis-a-vis Russia-as-foe – an unlikelihood that raises questions about your competence to judge even the simplest international developments in a useful (i.e., a not-partisan-shitmonkeyish) way. For the record, nobody believes Bush’s statement had anything to do with the Georgian War, because that would be ludicrously dumb, and it would laughably misunderstand the very most basic things about geopolitical reality. (Note, however, that Bush, not Obama, was, until Trump’s repugnant and humiliating appearance on the scene, responsible for the most inappropriately warm public statement about Putin in presidential history. One wonders what kind of mouth-frothing paroxysms would shake PWI every time Putin showed up in the news if it had been Obama who’d made his own administration wince by claiming to have “looked the man in the eye…[finding] him to be very straightforward and trustworthy…[getting] a sense of his soul.” Luckily for whoever cleans up bodily fluids around here, we won’t ever know.)

So, it was flatly imbecilic and unpresidential for Romney to describe Russia as a foe, and Obama was right to mock him for it. This is particularly so in the context of the time – before the Magnitsky Act’s passage and the retaliation for it, before Maidan, at the tail end of Medvedev’s partial interregnum, with none of Putin’s absolutely terrible future choices implied as necessary by the conditions then obtaining. Mere months before the debate at which Romney and Obama sparred on (what you have deluded yourself into believing is) the vital subject of geopolitical listicles, Moscow had chosen to grant NATO a “transit hub” at Ulyanovsk. This was the first arrangement of its kind in history: NATO inside Russian territory, not merely passing through but rather operating what was essentially a logistical staging ground. The Russian government took considerable domestic heat for what was described by hard-liners as a NATO base in Russia. There were protests and high-level accusations of Moscow’s having invited “humiliation.” But Ulyanovsk remained a NATO hub for years, and its importance grew as the Karachi transit route to Afghanistan became increasingly subject to ambush and attack. Now I know you have the luxury of thinking in juvenile memes rather than in the complex, specific terms of foreign policy as it actually operates – e.g., I know that you’ve never in your life stopped to even consider the idea of the transit routes that made force projection in Afghanistan possible – but perhaps this, one variable out of a thousand of which you’ve never even heard tell, can illustrate to you the poverty of the raw material with which your IR-analysis faculties are working. I could go on here about how Putin views Obama not as unwittingly soft but, to the precise contrary, as an aggressor whose State Department tried to undermine his very legitimacy during the so-called Snow Revolution. I could tell you about the Nuland voicemail and how it did not exactly help dissuade Putin of his suspicion that the now-outgoing administration had plans that ran right up into what he believes to be his sphere of influence. We could talk about how Putin underestimated Obama’s ability to convince the EU to absorb the hundreds of billions in losses consequent of the rounds of meaningful coordinated sanctions imposed after the Kremlin’s annexation of Crimea. We could talk about what effect is had on the Russian economy when its oil sector is frozen out of financial markets and then forbidden from buying and maintaining equipment it needs to keep production, particularly offshore production, steady at a reasonable cost (bonus all-strands-converge-and-become-one aside: many of these pieces of equipment are products of the technological advances in industrial mechanization that depressed employment across the rustbelt and coal country, economically and morally collapsing entire regions of the United States and paving the way for the kind of embittered, appallingly stupid, utterly delusional political winds that just drove a Kremlin stooge and his floating circus to Pennsylvania Avenue). We could talk about the effect these sanctions had on an RU GDP left by low oil prices with no room for disimprovement; we could talk about the collapse of the ruble, the consecutive years of recession (as I’ve said before, contrary to the myth of Putin the tiger-wrestling shirtless chessmaster [but in perfect harmony with W. Bush’s complaint that the tyrannical, wormish little murderer/kleptocrat is like an “eighth-grader with his facts wrong”], if you fancy yourself a resurgent superpower and are struggling to be GDP-competitive with individual US states, your economy had better not spend years in the red as a direct and explicit result of your policies; this past year is dispositive proof of how desperate Putin is to rid himself of the sanctions regime dragging his economy through the mud…luckily for him, geographically-advantageous swaths of the staggeringly stupid American electorate were happy to swallow the pablum he spooned past their slack, dribble-flecked jaws). But we’ll leave all that aside for now, because that I really want to address is this little gem right here:

This is the kind of thing that, if you said it to anybody at all in the intelligence community or natsec industry (you know, people who actually follow this stuff), they’d laugh in your fucking face.

First, you’re terribly confused.The Hannity-Greenwald “WikiLeaks has never been wrong” meme spreading via credulous dupes across the world refers to the claim that they haven’t published forged documents, not that they haven’t lied about their publications post hoc. (Of course, nobody is fucking accusing them of publishing forgeries in the present case – the whole problem is that their dumps were authentic private correspondence…stolen by Russian spies.) In fact, WikiLeaks in general and Assange in particular are known, proven liars. Here’s a nice recent example of Assange lying right through his shit-eating teeth:

One of the only threads consistent across the entire former-hacktivist-tells-of-time-at-WikiLeaks cottage industry is that Assange is a congenital liar. Not that it matters here, but he’s also almost certainly a scumbag pedophile – as a prominent media lawyer told me way back in 2011 (i.e., before all this), there can only be so many different, credibly-sourced stories about a guy propositioning colleagues’ tween children before it becomes a moral certainty around town.

More importantly, you should take a step back and realize that you have a Pizzagate thread in which you do the “I’ll use the term ‘tinfoil hat’ as a hedge but uh srsly this stuff sure makes ya wonder eh fellers?” dance while at the same time casting outsize doubt on the US intelligence community’s explicit attribution of the election-related hacking to Russia on the numbingly-addled grounds that “Wiki…hasn’t been proven a liar once.” This is the most damning testimony to the quality and, indeed, morality of your present politics that I can imagine. I think I can tell what went wrong – you bought whole hog into the stupid Right-PC where you pretend that when the other side mocks or derides your co-ideologues, this is somehow less fair or justified than when you Snowflakes do it to them. (Thought experiment: imagine a rustbelt Trump supporter: perhaps he’s a Special Snowflake who belongs to that sacred, protected subset of Super-Special Snowflakes who Work With Their Hands. He reads Breitbart in his spare time and really just loves him that Donald Trump. Now imagine what this guy thinks of me and I of him…we each think the other’s politics is stupid, contemptible, and indeed flatly immoral…which is to say – yes, it is to say exactly this – that, just like everybody else around this board and beyond, we each think the other inferior in various essential ways. Less studied on the facts, less able to judge reality, less capable of forming useful opinions, less equipped for accurate moral intuition. Confused, wrong, perhaps even dangerous inasmuch as concrete choices on matters of national identity and security supervene on the ideological states of the choosers. Do you know what the difference is between him and me? Only one of us gives a shit. Only one of us spends his time whining about it. ELITE CONTEMPTZ!!! THEY THINK THEY IZ TEH BETTER THAN US! THEY IZ TEH CONDESCENDING, THEY DON’T SPECT ME!!! Recent events have sometimes suggested to me that the operative distinction lies in the presence or absence of the nagging suspicion that other guy’s right. But that’s a story for another day.)

And so we come to the worm whose unprecedented disloyalty you’re aping. The evidence in support of the USIC’s assessment of the DNC and Podesta hacks is overwhelming. We have had specific public evidence from the beginning – samples proving that the C2 server controlling the DNC-breach malware also controlled that used in the APT 28 Bundestag hack, which the BfV publicly attributed to the GRU; RU-language settings evident in the metadata (Феликс Эдмундович); Guccifer 2.0’s inability to speak the fluent Romanian “his” cover identity demanded; hacker’s inactivity on Russian federal holidays and outside of GMT+3 workday hours; the assessments of three separate incident responder firms. Then in early October it became clear that there was strong IC consensus, and the DNI issued a joint attribution statement with DHS, and the Obama administration explicitly commented on both the hacking and a potential response to it. And what did Trump do? He lied about it. Again and again and again he lied. I’ll pluck one of the dozens of examples: On December 15, Trump tweeted about Russian hacking: “Why did [the White House] only complain after Hillary lost?” Of course in fact the executive-branch ODNI came forward with its public, formal attribution more than a month before the election, and the Obama administration publicly described forthcoming retaliatory hacks over the course of the election’s last month. Which is to say that Trump is lying, outright, in public. Just yesterday, he tweeted that Assange says “Russians did not give him the info!” We’ve already been over that masterpiece of confusion and mendacity in the context of your misguided effort to pit the word of a pathological liar and anti-American scumbag criminal who has gleefully endangered US soldiers and informants against the strong consensus of the USIC. Here is where you are reminded that though reasonable skepticism is essential (don’t try: you and Trump have backed ass-first a few million miles beyond reasonable skepticism), the CIA, for example, consists not merely of a bunch of egghead analysts writing up the WIRe at the DA. Every bit of HUMINT that goes into, say, attribution of a cyberattack was collected by a DO officer who lives a difficult, dangerous life. Every so often one of them steps out of an elevator somewhere in the kind of place that’s more dangerous than anywhere you’ll ever go and gets hit in the back of the head with a suitcase full of rocks, only to show up gibbering incoherently on a posthumously-released snuff tape which, after the year of torture the wretch had to endure, depicts the best and most merciful thing that’s happened to him in ages. In light of the fact that these people – men and women both – forget in a day more than you will ever know about what it actually takes to keep safe the dull-eyed, dimwitted American masses who followed credulously along with Hannity’s horseshit-buffet in London the other night, you ought to come up with something less disgustingly dumb and undignified than julian Assange’s word if you’re going to wallow in unconsidered, unreasoned, partisan-driven doubt about the products of their work.

Anyway, as I established above, Donald Trump is lying. He is lying to the American people’s fucking faces about an unprecedented, direct subversion of American political sovereignty by the military intelligence agency of a revanchist nuclear power. The scope and intent of this lie represents disloyalty to the American people without equal in the history of the office to which he has been elected. This isn’t a diplomatic initiative’s funding that found its way to a partisan initiative. This isn’t a superpower mistreating a minor player on the world stage. This is one nuclear power’s direct intervention in the election of another, for the purpose of installing as the executive of the latter the most ludicrously pro-Russian candidate in American history – a maundering, illiterate buffoon and NATO skeptic surrounded by ranting nuts like Mike Flynn and open to legitimizing the very Putinite revanchism threatening to lead our entire world to ruin. Anybody who tells you that this is routine – I see Pat trying to peddle this shit above – is either an idiot or a liar. Ask anybody who tells you that we do this sort of thing too to name the last goddamn time we ran an illegal influence op – direct action – in order to tip the balance of an election inside a country in command of thousands upon thousands of nuclear weapons. No, this is new and insidious and graver, apparently, than many of our fellow citizens can even begin to comprehend. Who knew that among all the things 2016 would bring, one of them would be a surprisingly forceful argument against our present manner of popular self-government on the grounds that among us there are too many weak-minded cowards glad of the lies shoveled into the echoing cathedrals of their skulls?

So, the time has come for some royal yous. Fuck you if you’re OK with this. Fuck you if you support it. Fuck you if you shrug your shoulders at it. Fuck you if you run interference for it. Fuck you if you’re suddenly disinterested in the American-made world order – and security, and morality – because it’s easier to dim your eyes and slacken your jaw and spend your time thinking about TEH SWEET PAYBAKC FOR TEH SUPERIOR SOCIAL CAPITALZ OF TEH LIBERALZ.


Qs for Trump Supporters
#15

WHOOT!!! Ok, I haven’t read that crazy long post YET but it’s good to see you back!!


#16

Whole lot of words from an elitist liberal fuckwit with a strong penchant for granny fanny!

seriously though-
Good to see you again.


#17

Didn’t read but liked anyway… was reading through Kerry’s comments on Syria today and was wondering when you would give in and come back. There’s too much geopolitical chaos right now to not have your colorful commentary around here.


#18


#19

;7)


#21

You’re right. The CIA hacking member of congress’s personnel files to dig up some dirt is more insidious, and more grave than many of our fellow citizens can even begin to comprehend.

But not nearly as bad as cannibalizing its own resources.

It’s understandable that you want to hold these agencies in high regard, but we, as citizens do have the right to question them, and a good healthy dose of skepticism should be exercised before we jump headlong into making accusations or taking actions against another country, especially a country in command of thousands upon thousands of nuclear weapons,

so that we don’t repeat mistakes of the past.

These agencies and the people that they are composed of are not infallible.