Jim Himes, a Congressional leader in the oversight of the National Security Agency and US cybersecurity, has just torpedoed Obama's case against Russia.
Obama has revealed his intentions to attack Russia in retaliation for alleged hacking of Democratic Party and Clinton campaign emails. He's offered no substantiation for his accusations. The evidence he and others have cited does not check out. What's more, the allegations have never been addressed by the UN or any other competent international-security agency.
But the lack of substantiation is actually beside the point. The primary issue is that countries covertly gathering information from other countries is nothing new, and is certainly not unique to Russia.
The US, for example, was caught hacking telephone conversations of the German chancellor and the president of Brazil.
Himes' torpedo of Obama's case against Putin came this morning when he was interviewed on MSNBC about the Russian hacking. Himes clearly asserted, "We're better than them in hacking into networks." Bingo. There's the admission. Let me repeat what he said, "We're better than them in hacking into networks."
Obama himself admitted at today's press conference that "there is hacking going on every single day," and went on to explain that the United States has offensive capabilities, not simply defensive ones.
We should be thankful that Himes blew the whistle and pulled the rug out from under Obama's planned aggression toward Russia.
Himes should know what he's talking about. He is the ranking member in Congress for handling NSA and cybersecurity matters for the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. That committee has oversight for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence; Central Intelligence Agency; Defense Intelligence Agency; Department of Defense; Department of Energy; Department of Homeland Security; Department of Justice; Department of State; Department of Treasury; Drug Enforcement Administration; Federal Bureau of Investigation; National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency; National Reconnaissance Office; National Security Agency; Office of Naval Intelligence; Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency; United States Army Intelligence and Security Command; United States Coast Guard Intelligence; and Marine Corps Intelligence Activity.
This all leaves open the question of why Obama is doing this. He's already said he personally talked to Putin about the alleged hacking and told him to "cut it out." Obama added that there have been no further incidents. But yet Obama persists in saying he intends to even the score with Russia.
Obama's news conference today was billed as the final one of his presidency. Why would he reasonably want to depart the presidency with rhetoric tempting a totally unwarranted and manufactured crisis?
It's hard to understand how this won't become a major blemish on his legacy. A buffoonish donnybrook in his final days seems like something that his own self interest would lead him to avoid.