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The rush to blame Russia for the DNC email hack is premature

By       Message Trevor Timm       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink

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Reprinted from The Guardian

There is some circumstantial evidence that the hack may have originated in Russia, but there are many questions that haven't been resolved

Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin
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Since WikiLeaks published the DNC's hacked emails on Sunday, there has been a flurry of accusations -- including from the Hillary Clinton campaign -- that Russian president Vladimir Putin orchestrated both the hack and the leak, in an attempt to help Donald Trump win the presidency.

First, it would certainly be disturbing if Russia is trying to affect our democratic process, but maybe we should wait until we see actual evidence before deciding, as some have, that Putin ordered hackers to help swing the US election on the eve of the Democratic convention?

It's amazing how quickly the media are willing to forgo any skepticism and jump to conspiracy-tinged conclusions where Putin is involved. He has been linked to everything from Brexit, Jeremy Corbyn, Greece and Spain. People treat him like an omnipotent mastermind who secretly and effortlessly controls world events. Here's an idea: maybe we should stop giving him so much credit?

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Yes, there is some circumstantial evidence that the hack may have originated in Russia, but there are also many questions that haven't been resolved. As Adam Johnson detailed, when you look closely, the evidence is shoddy and often contradictory. Even in the New York Times article that spent dozens of paragraphs speculating about Russian involvement concluded at the bottom: "It may take months, or years, to figure out the motives of those who stole the emails, and more important, whether they were being commanded by Russian authorities, and specifically by Putin."

The bulk of the "evidence" has come from the statements of cybersecurity firms FireEye and Crowdstrike, both of which have lucrative contracts with the US government. As FireEye's CEO once made clear, his company has a financial stake in nation-state hacking tensions.

If the allegations involving Russia are true, there are plenty more logical motivations besides evil genius-level electioneering, and the media should probably stop feigning shock that a country would stoop to this level. As Edward Snowden pointed out on Twitter with an accompanying NSA document, "Our government specifically authorized the hacking of political parties." The US has also considered hacking and then releasing sensitive and embarrassing information in China in retaliation for cybersecurity attacks, as the New York Times reported last year.

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Trevor Timm is a co-founder and the executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation. He is a writer, activist, and lawyer who specializes in free speech and government transparency issues. He has contributed to  The (more...)
 

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