Hillary Clinton tells us
that all seventeen intelligence agencies agree that the Wikileaks hack comes
from the Kremlin. Those agencies proclaim this with a rock-solid conviction
that I have not heard since Vice President DIck Cheney told us all that
"there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.
There is no doubt that he is amassing them to use against our friends,
against our allies, and against us." Add to that, the rock-solid evidence of
Saddam's treachery that Colin Powell presented to the UN Security Council.
The mainstream corporate media bought it whole.
However, as all know today, these were lies. Saddam had
no WMDs, and there were no Iraqi chemical weapons "Winebagos of Death"
vividly described by Colin Powell.
Now we are told, "with high confidence," that Vladimir
Putin's Kremlin has launched a cyber attack to disrupt our presidential
election. Never mind that, as MIT expert Theodore Postol has written that
there is, "no technical way that the US intelligence community could know
who did the hacking if it was done by sophisticated nation-state actors."
The lies that launched the disastrous Iraq war have had
lasting consequences to the credibility of the United States Government. The
last time that government cried "wolf," there was no wolf. Why should we
believe it now?
So no, I am not convinced. There is good reason not to
believe the "Kremlin hack" story.
A crucial distinction is in order: First, there is the
actual content of the hacked emails. Second, there are the
consequences of the general media assumption and public belief that the emails were a
Kremlin plot to disrupt the presidential election.
As for the content, it was trivial and still
worse, not credible. There is nothing remarkable in the disclosed content of
the hacked emails. They might, if believed, cause John Podesta some
embarrassment. In addition, they might reveal that the Democratic National
Committee is controlled by a political elite. But we already know that.
But why should we believe any of that content? If, as
claimed, the leaks came from the Kremlin, there is not, and cannot be, any
authentication of the hacked emails unless the original sources (e.g, John
Podesta) produce the originals. And why would they? Accordingly, the leakers
(whoever they might be) are free to concoct forgeries at will. And of
course, it follows that we, the intended audience, are advised to ignore all
Furthermore, , why would Putin want to use these emails
to "rig" our election? To tilt the election toward Trump? If that is his
motive, it has backfired spectacularly. That alleged "disclosure" of the
hacking has benefited Clinton far more than Trump. It is one of her favorite
talking points, as we discovered in the final debate.
So we are left with two alternate conclusions: The
Russian government likely had no part in the leaking. Or if they did, the
leaks will have little or no effect on the election, except to provide
Hillary Clinton with a talking point and to embarrass John Podesta.
In short, the Wikileaks hacks, whatever the source, appear
to be a just a prank: A trifle, blown hugely out of proportion by a
However, even though the content of the hacked
emails may be trivial and not credible, the consequences of the
accusation of Kremlin connivance could be catastrophic.
First of all, as we are finding out, the neo-cons and the
media are using the hacks to intensify the demonization of Putin and to heat
up the renewed Cold War.
Still worse, as
Joe Biden stated recently on Meet the Press, the accusation that
Putin is behind the hacks and their release might provoke a cyber
retaliation from the United States.
A Kremlin spokesman has called Biden's threat a
"virtual American declaration of war on Russia."
If, as Biden warns, the United States retaliates, then the Russian
response might, unlike the present alleged leaks, be devastating to the US
Be assured that a "cyber-war" entails infinitely more
than leaked emails. It might include the shutdown of the internet and
emails. Also, the disruption of business and financial communications and
utility grids. The world today runs on silicon and microprocessors. Imagine
returning home to no electric power, phone service or access to the
internet. Add to that, no restocking of the local supermarket or gas
stations. And no capability of the government to make prompt repairs. The
result: Total economic shutdown.
We can do this to Russia, and be assured that Russia can
do this to us.
The reality of cyber attacks is no mere speculation, we
have seen them at work. The Iranian nuclear weapons program was severely
damaged and set back by a CIA implanted computer virus. And this past month,
large regions of the United States temporarily lost internet service. The
cause remains unknown.
Has Joe Biden thought through the implications of his
threat? Is this the horror that Biden wants to unleash on us and the world
in response to an essentially harmless prank? To what purpose? Some kind of
capitulation by the Russians? No chance of that.
A far more likely result would be an escalation from
cyber to military combat. And then what?
Where are the cool-headed grownups, now that we need