Captain Renault: “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!” … From the classic scene in Casablanca, made in 1942
This classic “shocked, shocked” line is from the memorable 1942-43 film cast in the shadow of the ongoing Second World War, made in Rick’s Cafe Americain, and addressed to Humphrey Bogart as Rick. (Click here.)
It aptly describes for me the astonishing notoriety being given what began last week as an alleged charge that, “17 Intelligence Agencies” concluded that Russians hacked into and made public Democratic National Committee and others’ emails to embarrass Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton during the campaign and help Donald Trump win.
Click here for last Friday’s Washington Post article reporting that an “unnamed senior U.S. official” briefed on an intelligence presentation made to U.S. senators claimed that “It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected . . . That’s the consensus view.”
By Sunday, on the front page of the Washington Post, this alleged consensus throughout the 17 agencies of the Intelligence Community was demonstrably shown to be untrue by side-by-side above-the-fold front page articles entitled “Trump, CIA on collision course over Russia’s role in U.S. election” and “FBI and CIA give differing accounts to lawmakers on Russia’s motives in 2016 hacks.” (Click here and here, respectively.)
Again according to an “unnamed official” reporting on “classified meetings” on Capitol Hill, the Washington Post reported that “The FBI official’s remarks to the lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee were, in comparison, ‘fuzzy’ and ‘ambiguous,’ suggesting to those in the room that the bureau and the agency weren’t on the same page.”
Wonder what the other 15 alleged independent agencies think? That is, if there are additional “unnamed officials” willing to discuss the issues for those alleged independent agencies and whatever divergent views they may have.
The Sunday Cable News shows mostly hung-up on the first description, focusing on the alleged CIA conclusions as being all that matters, with a bare mention of the second view—not to mention the possible varying views of the other 15 agencies of the intelligence community.
I’ve read no notable mention about the evidence brought to light by the WikiLeaks publication of information that would have been used to cause even greater grief to lesser prestigious elites than Hillary Clinton, including the possibility of prosecution.
And of course, the water is further muddied by President Obama’s call for a major review of these issues and a report back to him before he leaves office on January 20, 2017. Much is made of the fact that Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) announced their support of this review, along with senior Democrat Senators.
No comment — except that I hope they provide some adult supervision to this pending wild goose chase, although their announced concerns suggests a bit of naiveté I would not have expected of them, given their background and experience. And they have been followed by the Republican leaders of the Senate and House.
To be sure, Russia (and China and others — including individuals) have the capability to perform such deliberate hacking, and to masquerade the source’s identity. And we are justifiably concerned about the threat of cyberattacks from Russia (and China and North Korea and Iran and ISIS and . . . ) including, much more importantly I would argue, attacks on our electric power grid to produce an existential threat to all Americans, as we have repeatedly written.
Click here for an important discussion last summer that took its cue from Ted Koppel’s Important book on this Cyber threat, Lights Out, to emphasize that our Federal systems intended to deal all threats to the grid — especially the regulatory regime — are severely broken.
Therefore, that entire system which is supposed to protect the American people needs a major house cleaning, and furthermore local and state initiatives are needed to counter all the threats to the grid, rather than waiting on Washington to get its act together.
So the cyber threat, among others, is real and should be addressed, urgently! It is far more important than who hacked and provided WikiLeaks the information on matters that were at least embarrassing to the Clinton campaigners—and some with potential legal consequences.
I wish Senators McCain and Graham would pay more attention to this existential threat — which is under their jurisdiction on the Senate Armed Services Committee rather than chasing after whether and by whom the emails of either party of the recent campaign were hacked by Russia or someone else.
Notably, Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, observed in early November that Russia was not the source of the email leaks revealing unflattering aspects of the Clinton campaign. Click here, here and here for early November reports. Whatever . . .
Did Russia have a preference in the outcome? No doubt.
Our Democrat friends should ask themselves how they would explain a preference for Donald Trump, when his opponent, so early in her tour as Secretary of State, famously championed a “reset” of U.S.-Russia relations — not to mention the accommodating foreign policy throughout the Obama administration that has left Russia holding high cards in the Middle East and done little or nothing but talk in response to Russia’s expansionist activities such as in Ukraine/Crimea and the Baltics.
Seems she would be more to Russian President Putin’s liking than Donald Trump. You think?
Of course, Putin may have more confidence in dealing with President Elect Trump — he may not have liked dealing with President Obama, as perhaps suggested by the photo below.
In any case, should we expect Russia to seek to influence our elections? Again, no doubt. And it is not without precedent.
I vividly remember the 1984 election, during which Russia’s predecessor Soviet Union sought to influence not only the re-election of Ronald Reagan — but also the re-election of key NATO allies. The Soviets walked out of all arms control negotiations in response to our joint deployment of the Pershing II Ballistic Missiles and Ground Launched Cruise Missiles (GLCM) in five NATO nations to counter the Soviet SS-20 threat being deployed to threaten our NATO allies.
The Soviets campaigned hard to defeat the leaders in all these governments. And all our allies won and the INF deployments continued in what I consider to be NATO’s high point — and Reagan won by an overwhelming majority, all but one state as I recall.
Perhaps also forgotten is the fact that the liberal press and the Democrat party almost en masse opposed Reagan’s key policies using much the same line of argument as did the Soviets — e.g., opposing the deployment of the Euro-missiles, Reagan’s strategic arms control positions and especially his Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI).
This disagreeable perspective, especially with respect to SDI, continued throughout much of the next several years into the George H.W. Bush administration, when the Democrats were often more obstinate than the Russians.
For example, Russian President Boris Yeltsin gave a major speech to the United Nations General Assembly in January 1992 proposing that SDI take advantage of Russian technology and that together the United States and Russia build a joint global defense to protect the world community from ballistic missile attack, basically accepting President Reagan’s position that I had advocated for five years as his Negotiator in Geneva.
Afterward, Democrats in Congress undercut our SDI efforts to complete that deal — and shortly after he was sworn in on January 20, 1993, President Clinton had his first meeting with Russian President Boris Yeltsin in Vancouver, British Columbia. There, I was told that the Russians wanted to continue those negotiations and Clinton’s team did not even know about the previous talks that had been making serious progress.
Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Les Aspin almost immediately “took the stars out of Star Wars” and scuttled the best of the technology developed during the SDI era — from 1984-1993. Thus ended that possible cooperative U.S.-Russian program to build a joint global defense.
Click here to reread my November 30, 2016 message, recommending a way ahead for the Trump administration. Maybe there is even a complementary way to revive the Bush-Yeltsin cooperative efforts on ballistic missile defenses. If we have leadership like that provided by Ronald Reagan.
In any case, maybe there now is a positive future for reviving Reagan’s SDI vision. Stay tuned.
Meanwhile, this chase of the WikiLeaks source is a diversion — perhaps satisfying to those who can’t get over the fact that Trump won. But, in my opinion, much sound and fury signifying nothing.
What can you do?
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