One of the biggest jokes of the presidential campaign is that the WikiLeaks disclosures prove that Vladimir Putin favors Donald J. Trump for U.S. president.
I’m not naïve about Russia. I co-authored Back from the Dead: The Return of the Evil Empire, about a resurgent Russia. I believe there are Russian links to global Islamic terrorism. They also target the U.S. for propaganda and disinformation operations.
But The Washington Post has been cheerleading for Hillary Clinton for president, on the spurious grounds that she is knowledgeable about the Russian threat and Trump is not. Have we so soon forgotten the failed Russian reset and the Russian uranium deal?
Now, in a Washington Post column, Eric Chenoweth, co-director of the Institute for Democracy in Eastern Europe, insists that the media are in bed with the Russians. “News outlets are actively abetting an authoritarian and imperialist foreign power’s attempt to manipulate a U.S. presidential election to aid its favored candidate, Trump, and sanctioning an assault on the individual and civil liberties of all American citizens,” he claims. All of these claims are laughable.
There’s no evidence that the Russians favor Trump over Clinton. The former secretary of state was duped by the Russians into orchestrating a “reset” that benefitted Russia and its ally, Iran. She played into their hands before, and they probably figured that she could be manipulated into playing into their hands again. This is especially true now that Russia and Iran have made military advances in the Middle East. Hillary Clinton continues to rely for advice on Russia from people like Brookings Institution head Strobe Talbott, a supporter of world government who had his own questionable dealings with the Russian intelligence service exposed in a book, Comrade J, by a Russian spymaster. In addition, Mrs. Clinton’s State Department approved the Russian uranium deal, while millions flowed to the Clinton Foundation.
Trump has made questionable statements about Russia, and his former campaign chairman had suspicious links to a pro-Russian Ukrainian politician. But Trump is now surrounded by realists on Russia like his vice presidential candidate, Mike Pence, and former CIA director, James Woolsey. Trump has denounced NSA defector Edward Snowden, who is living in Russia, as a traitor who deserves the death penalty. That’s tougher than anything Mrs. Clinton has said about Snowden.
Chenoweth faults the U.S. media for covering some of the internal emails obtained and released by WikiLeaks, saying that they “treat the emails as a legitimate basis for news stories despite a general lack of corroboration of their content, the illegal nature of their seizure and their clear origin from a foreign state intelligence agency with known capacity for falsifying documents.”
I think the evidence indicates that Julian Assange and WikiLeaks serve Russian interests. But what difference does it make if the Russians obtained the emails and turned them over to Assange for release to an American audience? Our media routinely steal and obtain documents through confidential “sources” and conduct undercover operations to secretly record their interview subjects. The term “illegal” sounds ominous, but the media have long defended getting stolen documents. Their “origin,” in fact, is not the Russians but the Clinton officials who failed to protect their own communications. And, as for the “general lack of corroboration,” the Clinton campaign has blamed the Russians for their release, without taking issue with the content. They suggest some portions of the documents may have been altered, but offer no hard evidence. It looks as if they are trying to divert attention from the fact that the emails are real and legitimate.
More importantly, Hillary Clinton and her associates invited this hacking by failing to protect their own emails.
Chenoweth goes on to claim that since U.S. intelligence agencies blame the Russians for the acquisition of the information, media dissemination of the emails means that this places “all of our private means of communication at risk of exposure from illegal invasion” by a foreign power and/or its intelligence agencies. So the same U.S. intelligence agencies insisting that the Russians are behind the hacking have been unable to defend the American people. That’s the obvious conclusion. Again, whose fault is that? Hillary Clinton and her associates were the security risks who made all of this possible. If the American people in general are at risk, perhaps the CIA and NSA ought to do a better job of protecting us.
In fact, it looks like the Russians are better at what they do than the American CIA and NSA. Rather than blame the Russians for embarrassing Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party, why not call for an investigation of the incompetence or corruption within the U.S. intelligence community? This should be the logical outcome of witnessing an alleged “interference” in a U.S. election. Instead, Trump is blamed for citing the corruption documented in the emails, and some in the media are blamed for treating the disclosures as news. This is not only silly, but dangerous, for those who seriously want to come to grips with the holes and moles in our intelligence community.
If Putin is behind the WikiLeaks disclosures, he has provided a wake-up call regarding our vulnerability to foreign threats. But the Post is so determined to elect Hillary Clinton that it ignores her role in the debacle that now envelopes her.
Trump didn’t set up her server and he didn’t operate John Podesta’s computer. Hillary Clinton was a security risk and her illegal computer operations put the entire nation and its secrets at risk. We still don’t know the full extent of the damage.
With a track record like that, it could be argued that Putin would prefer Hillary as president.