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The caker came on Sunday, when Robby Mook, Clinton's campaign manager, appeared on ABC's "This Week" and (covering all bases) CNN's "State of the Union" to assert that the D.N.C.'s mail was hacked "by the Russians for the purpose of helping Donald Trump." He knows this knows it in a matter of 24 hours because "experts" experts he will never name have told him so. "
What's disturbing to us is that experts are telling us that Russian state actors broke into the DNC, stole these emails, and other experts are now saying that Russians are releasing these emails for the purpose of helping Donald Trump.
Is that what disturbs you, Robby? Interesting. Unsubstantiated hocus-pocus, not the implications of these events for the integrity of Democratic nominations and the American political process? The latter is the more pressing topic, Robby. You are far too long on anonymous experts for my taste, Robby. And what kind of expert, now that I think of it, is able to report to you as to the intentions of Russian hackers assuming for a sec that this concocted narrative has substance?
Making lemonade out of a lemon, the Clinton campaign now goes for a twofer. Watch as it advances the Russians-did-it thesis on the basis of nothing, then shoots the messenger, then associates Trump with its own mess and, finally, gets to ignore the nature of its transgression (which any paying-attention person must consider grave).
Preposterous, readers. Join me, please, in having absolutely none of it. There is no "Russian actor" at the bottom of this swamp, to put my position bluntly. You will never, ever be offered persuasive evidence otherwise.
Now comes the law. The FBI just announced that it will investigate no, not the DNC's fraudulent practices (which surely breach statutes), but "those who pose a threat in cyberspace." The House Intelligence Committee simultaneously promised to do (and leave undone) the same. This was announced, please note, by the ranking Democrat on the Republican-controlled committee.
Bearing many memories of the Cold War's psychological warp and if you are too young to remember, count your blessings it is the invocation of the Russians that sends me over the edge. My bones grow weary at the thought of living through a 21st century variant. Halifax, anyone?
Here we come to a weird reversal of roles.
We must take the last few days' events as a signal of what Clinton's policy toward Russia will look like should she prevail in November. I warned in this space after the NATO summit in Warsaw earlier this month that Cold War II had just begun. Turning her party's latest disgrace into an occasion for another round of Russophobia is mere preface, but in it you can read her commitment to the new crusade.
Trump, to make this work, must be blamed for his willingness to negotiate with Moscow. This is now among his sins. Got that? Anyone who says he will talk to the Russians has transgressed the American code. Does this not make Trump the Helen Gahagan Douglas of the piece? Does this not make Hillary Clinton more than a touch Nixonian?
I am developing nitrogen bends from watching the American political spectacle. One can hardly tell up from down. Which way for a breath of air?
Patrick Lawrence is Salon's foreign affairs columnist. A longtime correspondent abroad, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune and The New Yorker, he is an essayist, critic, editor and contributing writer at The Nation. His most recent book is "Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century". Follow him on Twitter. Support him at Patreon.com. His web site is patricklawrence.us.
*** A year later, on August 9, 2017, Lawrence interviewed several VIPS and composed "A New Report Raises Big Questions About Last Year's DNC Hack.
Lawrence wrote, "Former NSA experts, now members of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), say it wasn't a hack at all, but a leak -- an inside job by someone with access to the DNC's system."
And so it was. Again, Lawrence got it right. But, sadly, that cut across the grain of acceptable Russia-gate narrative at The Nation at the time. He was let go.
Hat tip to VIPS' Todd Pierce for happening upon Patrick Lawrence's July 25, 2016 on the Web.
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