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New York Times coverage of Russian hacking deserves another Pulitzer -- for fiction!

Vladimir V. Putin

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I can't tell you with "high confidence" the Russians didn't hack into the Democratic National Committee's email servers, but one doesn't have to be an information technology expert to conclude with a reasonable degree of certainty the supposedly ironclad evidence tying the Russians to spying on Hillary D. R. Clinton's Democratic Party is far from persuasive.

Indeed, from the preposterous tidbits of "evidence" kindly provided by the mightily authoritative New York Times, the folks who brought Iraq's still-missing Weapons of Mass Destruction to our attention back in 2003, one might almost think we weren't intended to read below the headlines.

Among the clues uncovered by the American organs of state security -- who, as the Times reports breathlessly, "now have 'high confidence' that the Russian government was behind the theft of emails and documents" -- and the IT experts consulted by the Times:

  • The hacking was apparently done during business hours in Moscow
  • A computer involved was registered to someone named Felix Edmundovich -- "a clear reference to Felix E. Dzerzhinsky, the founder of the Soviet secret police"
  • And someone dubbed the hacker or hackers "Fancy Bear" and "Cozy Bear," you know, as in Russian bear.

Oh, and if that doesn't clinch the case for you, one of the unidentified hacker groups that may or may not have been involved uses methods "consistent with nation state level capabilities" -- which, if you bother to read the Times stories kindly stitched together by the Globe and Mail, turns out to mean they faked DNC staffers into giving them their passcodes, which is what that nice young lawyer from Nigeria tries to get me to do almost every week.

Plus, the information the hackers sought "closely mirrors the strategic interests of the Russian government." You know, like knowing your potential American "partner," as Russian President Vladimir V. Putin diplomatically puts it, is an untrustworthy cheat.

With evidence like this, you can really see why the North Atlantic Treaty Organization -- when it's not complaining about how Russia went and put its borders so close to NATO's bases -- would conclude that a cyber attack is a reasonable casus belli for a nuclear war. (Sorry, but I'm not making that up.)

This gave rise to the bizarre story emanating from the Clinton Democrats that Republican candidate Donald J. Trump is working with the Russians. I hate -- just hate -- to agree with Trump, but that really is, as he Tweeted, plain crazy. I imagine the Russians are just as concerned about Trump as they are about Clinton. Personally, I may not quite have nation-state level capabilities, but I certainly worry about both of them. I can't recall a worse presidential choice for our American cousins than the one they face in 2016.

The Times -- ever anxious to find something to attack the Russians for doing, no matter how outlandish, and if possible to blame on Putin personally -- nevertheless admitted that what the Russians are accused of getting up to with uncharacteristic transparency is exactly what American security agencies do all the time, and not just to their enemies, but to friends like Germany too.

However, the Times portentously reminds us, "publishing the documents -- what some have called 'weaponizing' them -- is a different issue."

Publishing documents is weaponizing them! Who knew? I thought this was called "journalism,” or, now and then, "history."

Speaking of which, American conservative and Nixon Administration speechwriter Patrick J. Buchanan observed recently that just as the New York Times was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for journalism in 1971 for publishing the Pentagon Papers -- the secret U.S. Defense Department history of the Vietnam War that showed how the U.S. covertly expanded the war -- maybe President Putin should get a Pulitzer if it turns out the Russians actually were behind the leak of the secret DNC emails to Wikileaks.

I respectfully disagree. The Pulitzer should go to the Times again -- only, this time, for fiction.

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca.

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