The claim that Russia somehow interfered with the 2016 American Presidential election (and was thereby responsible for the ascent of Donald Trump) has been parroted incessantly by both the mainstream media and leading Democrats, including of course Hillary Clinton. While many people believe this claim, Mrs Clinton doesn’t simply blame Russia for her election loss but the world and his dog, as can be seen from the above cartoon.
Though we are now in 2020, many leading Democrats and a substantial tranche of the American media are still replaying the 2016 election, and if their attention has switched to Ukraine, their pronouncements contain the same inference, namely that Trump is being assisted by foreigners, and should he triumph again in November, his Presidency will still be illegitimate. What though is the evidence for Russian interference, and how was this interference carried out?
The evidence, such as it is, is that a company/organisation called the Internet Research Agency paid for a number of advertisements on social media. This evidence is compelling, although anyone who has seen these advertisements can only wonder how they were supposed to have influenced the election to Trump’s benefit. Lee Camp has argued that the Internet Research Agency is nothing more than a troll farm that was generating memes in order to attract clients. In view of the puerile nature of some of these advertisements, it is difficult to disagree with him.
In an earlier age, both the cinema and the Western press portrayed Russian agents as sinister and deadly men and women who would kill without conscience. They travelled on professionally forged documents, used sophisticated weapons, and were totally loyal to the Kremlin. Are we now to believe James Bond’s deadliest enemy is a troll who sits behind a keyboard all day long hoping to dissuade people from voting Democrat by posting cartoons augmented by subtle propaganda? Apparently so.
There is also the little matter of the hacked e-mails, but these were not hacked from a US Government network, rather they were from John Podesta’s Gmail account, and one of Hillary Clinton’s accounts hosted by her (illegal) private server. The hack of Podesta’s account was effected by a phisher. If you use e-mail a lot you’ll quite likely receive many such fake e-mails every week, although you may not notice those that are sent directly to your spam folder. Mrs Clinton’s account was hacked by someone in China, possibly an agency of the Chinese Government, though it would be just as unfair to point the finger directly at Xi Jiping as at Vladimir Putin.
The other alleged hack was shown by William Binney to have been not a hack but a leak of information. The probable culprit was Seth Rich, who was murdered July 10, 2016 in strange circumstances. Although claims about his murder have been dismissed as a conspiracy theory, any such theory is a lot more plausible than most of the garbage that has been peddled about Trump and the Kremlin.
Is it then possible that Russia or any other outside agent could have interfered with the elections in a more direct manner, and could perhaps do so again? The only way to do this would be to tamper with the vote count electronically. It remains to be seen how this could be done, but as far as votes are tampered with at all, this appears to be a purely Democratic pastime. In June last year, under pressure from Judicial Watch, California began a purge of up to a million and a half “inactive” voters from its rolls. Why did it take a court action to compel this? Clearly because the people running this particular area – Los Angeles County – felt an unpurged roll was preferable to a purged one. Kevin McCarthy is the Republican Congressman for Los Angeles County; all the others are Democrats. Including Adam Schiff! Only two of the Districts fourteen senators are Republicans.
While Russian interference with voting sounds and is extremely improbable, the actual hacking of American Government websites and those of commercial organisations is something that is done routinely by all manner of actors, not all of them hostile but clearly all of them unwelcome (with one exception).
Here are a few examples:
In March 1995, a Russian by the name of Vladimir Levin rather than Vladimir Putin was arrested at Stansted Airport on suspicion of hacking into Citibank and stealing money, a massive financial fraud. He was eventually extradited to the United States where after a plea bargain he was sentenced to three years behind bars and ordered to pay restitution.
Scotsman Gary McKinnon hacked into no fewer than 97 US military and NASA computers over a thirteen month period in 2001–2002. He said he was looking for evidence of UFOs and other fringe subjects. His was said to have been the biggest military hack of all time.
In October 2012, the South Carolina Department Of Revenue was hacked; this affected over three and a half million accounts.
In August 2013, hackers targeted Yahoo. Although based in the US, this Internet giant has branches worldwide. According to a report by National Public Radio four years later, it was likely that every Yahoo! account in existence at the time had been hacked.
Also in 2013, the social network site Tumblr was hacked, which led to the compromise of over 65 million passwords.
In May 2014, eBay was hacked, and 145 million users had their data compromised.
Navinder Singh Sarao was said to have helped trigger a multibillion dollar Wall Street crash. The so-called Hound Of Hounslow was living with his parents at the time of his arrest in April 2015. Although not a hacker, he made (and apparently lost) millions by manipulating markets with a sophisticated computer program of his own design.
In October 2018, digitaltrends dot com reported that a hack of the Pentagon had compromised the personal information of over thirty thousand staff. Has Rachel Maddow even mentioned this?
Finally, the Pentagon is so aware of its vulnerability to hackers that in 2016 it invited people to hack into it – the one exception alluded to above. The winner of the Hack The Pentagon Bounty Program was a teenager; David Dworken received a share of $75,000 prize money.
All this tends to undermine the ludicrous claims of Rachel Maddow and her fellow cranks that Russia and Russia alone is any sort of threat to American cyber security.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.