Is The DNC Hacking A New Cold War… Or Just The Continuation Of What Every Intelligence Agency Does?

from the even-the-US dept

Various degrees of hand-wringing (and hasty resignations) have greeted the news that our old Cold War foe — the Russkies — were behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s computers. (And the eventual embarrassment of those caught on unofficial record jumping on the Hillary Clinton bandwagon well before it became clear Bernie Sanders wasn’t going to land the nomination.)

Certainly, Vladimir Putin gives absolutely no indication that he cares at all what the rest of the world thinks of him, much less the United States. And if the US government feels the Russian government can’t be trusted, a) it’s probably right and b) Putin will remain unperturbed. There are indications this was done to assist Trump in his presidential run, but I imagine it makes little difference to those handing down hacking orders — just as long as it embarrassed US government officials and political leaders.

But if there’s a high road to be had, the US government can’t really claim it. As James Bamford explains in his commentary piece for Reuters, US spy agencies haven’t exactly stayed out of world affairs, including local elections.

The United States is, by far, the world’s most aggressive nation when it comes to cyberspying and cyberwarfare. The National Security Agency has been eavesdropping on foreign cities, politicians, elections and entire countries since it first turned on its receivers in 1952.

If this sounds like the sort of things the NSA should actually be doing, then there’s not really a problem. If it sounds like overreach — aided and abetted by technological advances — then there might be few issues, going beyond the hypocrisy of acting shocked when foreign intelligence agencies engage in the same tactics we do… like attempting to influence elections.

NSA operations have, for example, recently delved into elections in Mexico, targeting its last presidential campaign. According to a top-secret PowerPoint presentation leaked by former NSA contract employee Edward Snowden, the operation involved a “surge effort against one of Mexico’s leading presidential candidates, Enrique Peña Nieto, and nine of his close associates.” Peña won that election and is now Mexico’s president.

This is in addition to other US actions, including weaponizing centrifuge components in Iran and (inadvertently) taking Syria’s leading internet provider offline. Every agency under the Defense Department’s control plays a part in the government’s undeclared Cyber War. Leaked documents show the NSA aspires to deploy millions of malicious implants in millions of computers, to better assist with the wide scale harvesting of data and communications it grabs from internet backbones located outside of the US.

However, the twist in the Russian attack is what was done with the information obtained.

What is new is a country leaking the intercepts back to the public of the target nation through a middleperson.

As Bamford points out, the US public is supposed to be outraged by the Russian-led hacking while ignoring similar efforts made by our own government. The DNC wants to enjoy its outrage, even if it was the DNC’s own election-influencing efforts that got it into hot water — the same sort of activity US government officials claim is so evil when the Russians do it. Russia may be a convenient villain but its actions are not so far afield from our own. The twist is the dumping of purloined documents in the laps of the US public, where they’d do far more damage than they would in the sole possession of the Russian government. Who needs misinformation when you can uncover damaging statements made by political leaders in assumed confidence?

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Comments on “Is The DNC Hacking A New Cold War… Or Just The Continuation Of What Every Intelligence Agency Does?”

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Paul Renault (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“… all that was known was that the hack originated from Russia..”

We don’t really even know that much. Other security experts and veterans of trying to chase down who hacked a computer or network say it’s damn near impossible to know for sure. Though the NSA probably has a pretty good idea and they’re not talking.

In any case, more important we shouldn’t let something we can’t prove distract us from something we CAN prove. To quote FAIR’s Adam Johnson: “The ‘outrage’ over Russia’s ‘hidden hand’ is being used to outweigh the damning substance of the leak itself.”

Anonymous Coward says:

There are a number of alternative explinations

for the DNC hack.

People are pissed. Many who support Trump do so because he appears angry. HRC needed something she could vector bile at so they picked Russian hackers. And now she gets to say: “I’m pissed off too, SEE I’m just like YOU!”.

IF it happened, it wasn’t the first time, and by now it probably wasn’t the last or even the panaltimate. And calling it an act sponsored by the Russian state, even IF it was sponsored by them, such a response is short sighted. When you detect a compromise, you don’t disclose it, you study it and use it to reverse the attack.

So either it is a gambit intended to deceive the electorate, or a poor response to a threat posed by a state actor. In either case it doesn’t produce confidence.

But what is even worse, is that this feeds some well vested bigotry in the United States. Hollywood has invested in manufacturing memes to describe computer technicians as “scary” for a decades now. And do I need to mention the military industrial complex that Ike warned us about?

Putin may be a villian. But we spend more than 10 times his defense budget. And no matter what he does NOBODY in the United States OR the EU is going to permit a military adventure east of the Volga. The Vietnam protests would look like the Rosebowl parade compared to the response that D.C. would experience if it so much as winked in that direction.

So it is safe to make Villians out of Russia because she knows it will never escalate. But the bigger problem is that they are also making villians out of Americans. And that I will not tolerate, from either Blue or Red.

Would have voted Bernie. Now I’m voting Johnson/Weld. I don’t care if Demopublicans show up running DNA clones on a JFK/Jesus Christ ticket, I will NEVER vote for either again.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

The book Spyworld tells the true story of how Canada’s Communications Security Establishment (CSE) was enlisted by the NSA to do “embassy collection” – spying on local radio signals from its embassy in Moscow. The Canadians sent down to the NSA were trained on new radio equipment and antennas, and techniques for disguising antennas on the roofs of embassies.

Naturally when they got home to Ottawa, they spotted all the same equipment on the roof of the American embassy.

Ruby says:


The emails show that people within the had personal opinions that they didn’t like Sanders, a literal DINO openly using the DNC for funding who frequently attacked them publicly, and one dude once floated an idea to say mean things about his religion that no one went with.

NOTHING shows a goddam active conspiracy to make him lose.

I don’t care how much the Bernie Bros don’t like it, but Sanders lost to a girl fair and square and they need to accept it and move the fuck on.

Anonymous Coward says:

Red herring..

Look, the Russians did it. There is enough evidence to trace TTPs and little cookie trails to know who it was, almost down to the specific actor. Let us not forget what we did in Chile 1973, indonesia CIA inspired coup, Bay of pigs.

The whole jab is to get people talking about the USSR and not the content of the emails. So while everyone is all spun up about some Red Dawn crap, there is some serious sliding going on. If it isn’t clear by now, Hillary is going to win. People are lying, cheating, and damn near stealing to make sure she is in office. There is no amount of protest you stupid peasants can do to stop it. So do yourself a favor; shut up and work harder to pay taxes. This hen is coming to the White House to roost.

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