Yesterday the head of U.S. intelligence James Clapper told a U.S. Senate Committee that Russia has stepped up its cyber-attacks on the U.S. which included interfering in U.S. elections though he was quick to point out it didn’t change the result. The declassified report is coming Monday. Tuesday night Julian Assange of WikiLeaks was telling reporters that his source wasn’t a state party. Wednesday President-elect Trump was continuing to mock his country’s own intelligence agencies and telling people (via Twitter – again) that Assange was right that American media were “dishonest.” Add to this Sarah Palin who was come out of the woodwork and stated that because of Assange’s leaks and recent comments, she apologizes for once condemning Assange as an anti-American operative. What the hell is going on here?
For starters Trump continues to view every mention of this incident as a personal attack against him. In a previous post I mentioned how my fear is that as Trump is prone to a revenge mentality and fearful of anything that could be seen as a personal attack, he’d do his best to stack the intelligence community with puppets personally loyal to him. He would be the kind of leader to actually do this. Assange’s motivations for all this are unclear. Is he wanting revenge against the U.S. for what he perceives as the U.S. being out to get him? One thing is certain, Assange has been utterly careless and callous with his leaks and on this I agree with Snowden and Greenwald. You cannot release material without regard for what it might do or who it might hurt. Supporters of WikiLeaks could say “hey, WikiLeaks is releasing stuff for all to see, stuff even media won’t report on.” Fair enough, I can see some merit in that argument as I see information as being increasingly harder, not easier, to get. But Assange is also not dumb enough to think of himself as some noble, and objective third party in this. He knew he was only getting information on Clinton’s campaign, he knew it would likely be coming from a source intending to sway the campaign toward Trump’s side or at the very least he’d have known that would have been the result. I also refuse to believe he wouldn’t have known whomever gave WikiLeaks the material was sympathetic to the Russians, and the U.S. has now just made it clear they know who those individuals are. Which brings me back to Assange’s motivations. Was it revenge? Or does he have a deeper connection to Russia than he is letting on? The question merits being asked, after all, he did arrange for Snowden to get out of Hong Kong and to arrive in…Russia. Was it a stop over? Or a deliberate final stop? Not implicating Snowden in this, just questioning if there is a deeper connection Assange isn’t mentioning.
The reality is that the Kremlin is going to find it increasingly hard to deny the allegations. Even one of their government officials was on CNN telling Christiane Amanpour after the Trump win that either the U.S. thinks Russia is a backward nation or that it was capable of the hacks and should be treated as an equal on the world stage. But surely the Kremlin has to be thinking that at this point, this is pushing the envelope a bit too far if it wasn’t already. Certainly, if Canadian intelligence wanted to make a case for new intelligence powers as they have recently been doing, being able to defend Canada against Russian aggression would be a valid reason for them. Trump’s continued feud over this is ultimately damaging to the U.S. government and intelligence on a deeper level. The Senate and Clapper were bang on today, intelligence officers put their lives at risk, they lose their identities and trade them away as well as making huge sacrifices with family and friends. We have a right in the West to question our government and its agencies, to demand transparency and openness of them, but what Trump is doing is different. He’s masquerading insults and disparaging comments as criticism. His narcissism is leading him to take security breaches against the country as personal attacks. His seemingly slavish support of Russia and Putin has gone beyond legitimate aims at repairing relations between countries. The dangers in Trump’s continual attacks on the community are many. Oh, almost forgot, then there’s Sarah Palin. Well, it’s Sarah Palin.