DNC Hacks: Headlines Trump Doesn't Need

What does Putin’s Russia want? As news comes of yet more online attacks against Democrats - in this case the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Hillary’s own campaign organization - suspicions of Russian involvement are growing. Is this rumor fed by speculations by cybersecurity firms or do they have a point that the appearance of Russian methods are evident in the hacks?

While Director of National Intelligence James Clapper made headlines with his remarks about how all the hyperventilating had surprised him, he meant something specific: cyberattacks are a constant in today's world and should come as no surprise to anyone. Cyber-warfare is a constant and is here for the long run - a new online cold war if you will.

His reluctance to come to any conclusion about attribution, or who dunnit, could just be the grumpy territorial maneuverings of an older man who was forged in the Cold War. When spy games were mostly kept secret - giving those very secrets and the secrets' guardians greater power. But he does have a point. Electronic and online espionage is a basic tool of almost any state in the 21st century. Why should this attack worry us any more than any other one?

Here's why.

By leaking the contents of their attack, the hacker or hackers explicitly inserted themselves into the political process of America during a vital moment and in what is a contentious electoral year. Damage was immediately done to the Democratic party. In other words, it's the leaks not the attacks themselves that are the most troubling.

But the damage may easily run both ways. Donald Trump's comments - which he later walked back - inviting them to release more of Hillary's deleted emails, if they have them, made constant headlines all week. Ones that linked Putin to Trump. Could that have been what drove Obama to compare Trump to Hitler, Stalin and Osama Bin Laden?

Perhaps, but it's more likely that Obama had to launch such a radical attack on Trump to deflect the criticisms Trump has leveled at Obama's America. And ones which many voters do indeed share.

What is the result of this chess move of 3 closely timed hacks? Further division and conflict (on a rhetorical level) just as the general election campaign finally gets underway. Putin's Russia has seemed blunt and clumsy in it's aggressions in the Ukraine and Georgia, and now Syria. But a long term goal of re-establishing a zone of influence, through almost any means necessary, has been clearly emerging for some time now. Erdogan's Turkey, post-coup, appears to be quickly repairing relations with Russia, for example.

Is Putin a master chess player moving pieces even in places like Philadelphia? Or are Russian cyberattacks merely probes intending to provoke and disturb while Moscow decides how to gain some tactical advantage? Most likely the latter. In a world in which the post-Cold War order is clearly as frayed as it has ever been, it is hardly surprising that Russia would try to gain as much benefit as possible from any such fraying.

Does that somehow make Trump Putin's ally and puppet? Of course not. But Trump has handled the hacks bluntly and clumsily. It may hurt him more than he realizes. Even as it keeps him in the headlines. And keeps the contents of any further mails - or stories about the Clinton Foundation's donors - further from the headlines.

Posted by Keeley at July 31, 2016 12:23 PM
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All that’s being done is to make it look like Assange is working for the Russians, which he probably isn’t.

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