Russia, Wikileaks and the Campaign
You can’t invent someone like Julian Assange, Wikileak’s founder/member. No editor would believe your twists and turns of his life plot. But behind this nomadic son of divorced Australian hippies, is a more pragmatic question: is Putin’s security apparatus now controlling Assange and Wikileaks? The evidence seems to clearly suggest so. The toxic triad of Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, and Julian Assange all revolve around key issues of intelligence and national security. And American intelligence and diplomatic assets have been the frequent targets of Wikileak’s disclosures over the past several years.
And Putin and his allies in Latin America and the radical intellectual left, have been Assange's defenders and protectors. So is Assange a spy and traitor (a tricky question given his Australian nationality), or an award winning journalist? Or an anarchist hacker? Or a paid agitator, in Putin's pocket?
And more than Assange, who's stuck in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, is Wikileaks being driven by Putin's agenda? Because if it is, then any leaked email - say from the fairly recent DCC and DNC hacks - has to be treated with caution. It could be misinformation, slipped into the thousands of authentic emails. But the media has been reluctant or unwilling to be skeptical about explosive revelations in the midst of the most abnormal and unpredictable presidential campaign in decades, if not generations.
Assuming he now pulls the strings at Wikileaks, when did Putin decide to apply classic KGB Active Measures (as the term is known) against the American electoral process? One could argue that American confidence in institutions has been eroding since at least Watergate, and a campaign of carefully timed hacks adds to the crumbling erosion in the confidence that citizens have in their democratic institutions. Do people still believe that they are still very much worth it? Even in the face of angry partisan divisions? The hacks potentially wear down that last stand of principled belief and replace them with a conspiratorial world of rumor and myth. Where anything is possible.
How should the media respond to Wikileaks if indeed they are a Russian agitprop group for all intents and purposes?
How about treating Wikileaks like any other media outlet; with all the collegial, smirking skepticism the media heaps on each other. A glib comment about Assange's Russian TV show. A raised eyebrow about the targets of the data hacks being mostly, but not exclusively, Democrat. Come on guys! Yes, some of that is starting to happen, but there seems to be a certain media paralysis regarding Wikileaks, given that is a shadowy and anonymous group. How about asking who pays their bills? Start there please.
It's fascinating that John Schindler, a former NSA analyst, has been publishing a series of disturbing articles on Russian intelligence and American politics in Observer Media. Which is owned by Jared Kushner. Yes, Trump's son-in-law. Ivanka's hubby. One of Trump's apparently close advisors. Schindler states that Russian intelligence has burrowed deep into the Trump campaign. Presumably through people like Paul Manafort. That's a very harsh indictment, written by someone who is being paid by one's son-in-law. Does that mean that either Schindler gets fired from the Observer? Or Manafort from the campaign? In Trump's world, anything seems possible.Posted by Keeley at August 16, 2016 7:13 PM