DNC Email Leak and National Security

20 Aug 2016 9:46 AM | Anonymous

Written By: CENSA Editorial Board


Notorious for leaking classified documents and revealing U.S. wire-tapping activities, the controversial not-for-profit media organization known as Wikileaks claims to be a champion of free speech and posts the following statement on its website: “Our goal is to bring important news and information to the public. One of our most important activities is to publish original source material alongside our news stories so readers and historians alike can see evidence of the truth”[1]. Wikileaks further claims that its actions are in accordance with a fundamental precept of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—that everyone has the right to freedom of expression and opinion. Despite such high-minded allusions, Wikileaks’ actions might not be as noble or as innocent as they appear at first glance. And most important, they may be only a reaction to the designs and actions of yet another – more sinister – behind-the-scenes player.

Wikileaks founder and CEO Julian Assange claimed on July 12th that his organization had acquired information damaging to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and cited specific correspondence proving that the DNC had favored Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders from the earliest stages of the presidential primaries. Consequently (and admittedly consistent with its self-defined freedom of information doctrine), Wikileaks noted a desire to expose corruption within the Democratic Party, and, according to one online report, to shed light on “…[the] thuggish infighting, a push by a top DNC official to use Bernie Sanders’ religious convictions against him in the [American] South, and attempts to strong arm media outlets”[2]. But rather than debate the email leak as an example of free speech, perhaps more attention should be paid to how Wikileaks obtained such information in the first place. The evidence appears to be overwhelming: Russian-sponsored cyber-hackers fed the correspondence to Wikileaks.

According to at least one report, Crowdstrike (a cybersecurity team hired by the DNC) has identified two Russian cyber-operatives known as Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear as being behind the hacks—“in one case leaving behind a Russian name in Cyrillic as a signature—and Kremlin attribution has been confirmed by independent analysis by a second cybersecurity firm.”[3] If true, then we should wonder why? Or perhaps we should consider a more important question: why might Russian authorities seek to interfere with the U.S. presidential election in a way to undermine the eventual Democratic nominee? It should come as no surprise to any American that Russia (read: President Putin) might want to defame Secretary Clinton as much as possible – and to great effect. Clinton and Putin do not have a warm relationship – a frostiness that can be traced to her days as Secretary of State but perhaps stems from her ties to her husband’s administration and his efforts to expand NATO membership eastward. In contrast, President Putin and Mr. Trump appear to share more affinity for one another (despite having never met), and such affinity might explain why the Republican National Committee and the Republican National Convention, respectively, were each spared a similar intrusion and interruption.

And yet, the interference in DNC business might be the result of an even more acute and deliberate calculation by a Kremlin suspecting that a Trump presidency would be more favorable to Russian interests.  While Clinton has increased her “tough talk” on Russia since leaving office, Trump, conversely, has been “chummy,” calling for closer US-Russia cooperation against the Islamic State for example. And in June Trump campaign adviser Carter Page not only praised Putin but also referred to him as a stronger and more reliable leader than President Obama.[4]

“When a foreign policy issue becomes a political issue, it becomes…much harder to do foreign policy,” states Russian expert Sam Charap.[5] And this statement appears to be self-evident. But foreign interference in America’s electoral process is also cause to question the basic foundations of American self-government, as such interference must be seen as a design to advance foreign vice American interests.

In the end, who might be the patsy in this dynamic situation? Is it Wikileaks? Is it Trump? Is it the DNC or the Democratic Party writ large? Or might it be the American citizenry? And most important, in this digital era, at what point do online efforts in the name of “free speech” actually undermine the voice of the people?

[1] Wikileaks. (2011, May 7). About, What is Wikileaks? Retrieved from https://wikileaks.org/About.html

[2] Defenseone. (2016, July 24). How Putin Weaponized Wikileaks to Influence the Election of an American President. [Online News] Retrieved from http://www.defenseone.com/technology/2016/07/how-putin-weaponized-wikileaks-influence-election-american-president/130163/

[3] Observer. (2016, July 25). Wikileaks Dismantling of DNC Is Clear Attack by Putin on Clinton. [Online News] Retrieved from http://observer.com/2016/07/wikileaks-dismantling-of-dnc-is-clear-attack-by-putin-on-clinton/

[4] http://www.stltoday.com/news/national/govt-and-politics/trump-s-embrace-of-russia-is-very-unusual--/article_8cd0d185-76dd-5241-980c-69f24b582f05.html

[5] Ibid.

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