The Intercept Leaks

by Henry on June 6, 2017

Five reactions to the leak and charges against Reality Winner, based on the doubtless incomplete information that is publicly available right now, and hence open to revision and pushback as more emerges.

#1. It looks as if Winner (who has reportedly confessed) would have gotten caught no matter what – she doesn’t appear to have had much idea of the basic tradecraft needed to avoid attention and culpability. Nonetheless, the Intercept’s apparent sharing of the original leaked document and revealing of the address that the material was posted from, is a colossal fuck-up. “We completely screwed up but she would have been caught anyway” is not a good look for an investigative website that wants people to send it risky material. We’ll likely hear some of the story as to how that happened eventually, although the Intercept should presumably keep clear of public statements that might hurt Winner’s legal prospects.

#2. The story gives the lie to people (nutters like Louise Mensch, but also other people whom one might have expected better of) who claim that the Intercept is a cutout for Russia, Trump, or both. The leaking of the material is quite damaging for Trump and for Russia. It casts further doubt on Trump’s election – while there is no positive evidence that voting machines were hacked so as to throw the election (and I doubt very much that they were), it provides reasonably compelling evidence Russian hackers were at least very seriously considering that option. The leak also makes it much harder for the Trump administration to withdraw sanctions, and more likely that Democrats (perhaps with some support from Republicans in the Senate) will push for more extensive sanctions.

#3. Extending #2, the leak is politically awkward for many people who were viscerally hostile to the Snowden revelations. It has the same form as the Snowden leaks, albeit at a much smaller scale – the leaking of highly sensitive intelligence information to a left-leaning anti-establishment crowd that is closely associated with Glenn Greenwald. However, the substance is very similar to the ‘official’ leaks that have been happening incessantly over the last several weeks, where people who are presumably senior intelligence officials with high security clearances have been giving damaging information about Trump to friendly journalists. Anti-Trumpers associated with the intelligence and security establishment, who have been enjoying and making use of the flood of juicy revelations, should be defending Winner on the substance, and re-evaluating their priors accordingly. We’ll see if this happens.

#4. Extending #3 in turn, there is a good prima facie case that Winner served the public interest in leaking the document. People do actually deserve to know whether their voting system was under serious threat of compromise (and if it was compromised, they deserve to know that too). It’s hard to see a democratically principled case for hiding the fact that the most fundamental practices of democracy may have been subverted. However, as I understand the law, Winner is not going to be able to raise that defense in court, any more than Snowden could, were he to surrender. The US needs legal change (and agitation for legal change) to provide a public interest defense, or, at the least, mitigation, for leakers, immediately.

#5. This will be an important case. On the face of it, I think that Winner deserves a lot of support (when there is a defense fund, I will be contributing to it). This is not only because of what she did (which is plausibly, and perhaps compellingly in the public interest), but because its outcome will set an important precedent for the Trump administration and beyond. It may also help cement a tacit tactical alliance between anti-establishment and establishment people who are united in their desire to limit the damage that a Trump presidency can do to civil liberties, and see this case as a way to do that. If that alliance is possible, it would be extremely worthwhile in my opinion for the people on both sides who can be assholes to each other (and casual empiricism suggests no shortage of such assholes) to restrain their tendencies as best as they can. The stakes are very real (most obviously for Winner herself).

{ 45 comments }

1

Asteele 06.06.17 at 7:24 pm

As to point 2 you just need to get yourself to Twitter where you will learn the intercept burned Winner because she leaked information about Russia. As the very interested in Russia crowd use this to go after their real enemies, media outlets that attacked Hillary from the left.

2

MPAVictoria 06.06.17 at 8:24 pm

Brave woman. I hope she doesn’t end up spend the next decade in jail while murderous ghouls like Kissinger roam free.

3

Layman 06.06.17 at 8:46 pm

#4 is interesting to me. What prevents Winner from offering this defense? Surely a legal defense can speak to motive for a defendant’s actions, even if for no other reason than to offer mitigating circumstances for that action. I get that the law doesn’t permit this motive to negate a crime, and I get that a judge will instruct the jury to that effect, but I’d still want the jury to hear it, and I don’t understand how you could prevent them from hearing it.

4

Whomever 06.06.17 at 9:26 pm

#6. I’ve seen a certain subset on the Left complain that the entire Russian thing is fake news and that saying bad things about Russia and/or Putin is just propaganda (see, e.g., the recent hatchet piece against Mother Jones by Naked Capitalism for daring to do reporting on Russian interference). Hopefully these people will end up with at least some egg on their face. By the way, don’t forget Jill Stein was ALSO at that famous Putin dinner…

5

Heliopause 06.06.17 at 9:29 pm

#1: See, this is a question I’ve been asking for two days and not really getting an answer to. Since the premise is that it’s almost certain that Winner would have been caught anyway the question then becomes, given what they knew of the document, was it reasonable for The Intercept to pursue confirmation of it at all? The logical implication is not that they should be tut-tutted for pursuing the confirmation incorrectly, it’s that they should have simply sat on the document entirely. Yet I’m not really seeing anybody contend this.

#2-4: Must be pointed out that the alleged source has an alleged partisan political agenda and that only a single document was leaked. In other words, we have no way of knowing how many NSA documents may exist that analyze the raw intelligence in a very different way than this one. The Intercept authors put one of these caveats (not strongly enough, in my opinion) into the article but, needless to say, the hoopla this whole affair has generated drowned that out.

#5: Even though it appears Winner’s motivation may have been a partisan political one I certainly don’t wish the draconian and authoritarian power of the U.S. state to drop on her head. I just hope any sympathy and mercy she generates gets distributed fairly to others who have been in a similar position.

6

anonymousse 06.07.17 at 12:19 am

“It casts further doubt on Trump’s election – …
while there is no positive evidence that voting machines were hacked so as to throw the election (and I doubt very much that they were)”

explain the obvious contradiction. In fact, doesn’t the phrase (YOUR phrase, of YOUR opinion) ‘I doubt very much that they were’ (hacked to throw the election)- essentially invalidate your entire post?

7

marku52 06.07.17 at 12:28 am

Just another case of “crime is for the little people”. Nothing whatsoever will happen to the leaker that told the WaPo that the US can read all of the Russian diplomatic traffic. That is a massive blow to intelligence, because the Russians will change all their communications strategies and intel starts from scratch.

A massive and dangerous give away, compared to this small one.

8

Dr. Hilarius 06.07.17 at 1:43 am

Layman at 4: Motive is not an element for most criminal offenses (as distinguished from mens rea such as intent) and would be excluded as irrelevant at trial. Motive could be brought up at sentencing as a mitigating factor.

In theory, a defense attorney might try to bring up Winner’s motivation as part of a necessity defense, that she leaked the information in order prevent a greater harm, but that defense has been largely curtailed by case law and is rarely allowed.

9

Murc 06.07.17 at 2:35 am

Am I the only one who spent the better part of the day thinking “Reality Winner” was an alias or code name or something? Like Deep Throat?

Because it sounds like what Charlie Sheen would name his boat.

10

Chet Murthy 06.07.17 at 2:52 am

marku52: “A massive and dangerous give away, compared to this small one”

Oh, indeed. At the time, I read it and thought: “wow, the IC is getting pissed-off enough at the Rs and their fecklessness that they’re willing to start burning sources&methods to force the Rs to do their g*dd*m jobs”.

Now, if you think that Lord Putinfluffer is legitimate and should remain Preznit, I’m wrong. If, OTOH, you think Poop Midas is a manifest danger to the human race and our Republic, then given the Rs’ manifest unwillingness to do their jobs, at some point the IC -will- have to start burning sources&methods to either force action, or convince the American people (assume “we” can be convinced) that Dampnut needs to go.

I realize I’m claiming a necessity defense. The *only* difference between Winner and the (probably) high-ranking IC officials who are leaking, is that those IC officials had/have far more information about the danger, and hence the necessity of action. Let’s remember that day-by-day, Lord Smallgloves (yes, I’m gonna use -all- the epithets) perverts more and more of the apparatus of *our* government to Vladi’s and the neo-Nazis’ ends.

Again, maybe you don’t believe in the necessity defense I outline above. If you don’t I’m going to guess you’re an R, or an R-in-leftist-clothing, or a furriner who doesn’t care about democracy. B/c the IC, (some of) the press, and (some of) the American people, are all that’s left to protect our democracy. The government has failed to do so, and manifestly.

I agree with Henry, that a necessity defense should obtain for Winner. B/c the American people deserve to know what was done to *our* Republic.

11

Chet Murthy 06.07.17 at 2:55 am

marku52: “Nothing whatsoever will happen to the leaker that told the WaPo that the US can read all of the Russian diplomatic traffic”

Oh, another thing about the above. If you believe that Putin has agents of influence in the Shitlord administration, then the above becomes less important, doesn’t it? B/c sure, now he know the IC was reading his diplomatic traffic. But hell, that doesn’t change that he owns our government. [And let me note again: the Rs in Congress are doing *nothing*, and the R party is actively promoting “Russia is our friend”.] Vladi owns one of our major parties, and that party controls our government.

12

Pavel A 06.07.17 at 4:49 am

In related news, Russian hackers allegedly planted false news reports in Qatar, caused a diplomatic incident with Saudi Arabia and Trump (of course) fell for it: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/07/qatar-fbi-says-russian-hackers-planted-fake-news-story-that-led-to-crisis-report

Cyber warfare (for lack of a better term) is the new CIA coup. Unlike actual CIA coups of the 50’s and 60’s (PB SUCCESS, TP AJAX, etc) it is actually relatively quick, cheap and has a high level of plausible deniability. In fact, the political climate seems almost perfect for this form of warfare. America’s hard left is busy practically quoting Sputnik/RT while America’s hard right denies any possible connections between Putin and Trump (while 40% of them openly admire Putin). This sort of climate of short-sighted ideology is a perfect space for Putin’s brand of chaos-inducing tactics. The end goal is confusion and internal strife as fact blend into fiction blend into satire and finally into apathy. But don’t worry, I’m sure the current occupants of the White House are up to the challenge.

13

Warren Terra 06.07.17 at 5:02 am

@#7 ” the leaker that told the WaPo that the US can read all of the Russian diplomatic traffic”

I haven’t seen this report. I’m highly skeptical. The US can certainly see all of Russia’s diplomatic traffic with the US; that we tap all lines of communications with foreign diplomats, especially of less-than-friendly powers, hasn’t been a secret for at least a hundred years. But: can we read it? Can we break their encryption, when they bother to encrypt? I have only a layman’s knowledge of encryption, and a fairly disinterested one at that, but I thought there were encryption tools available for free to the general public that were unbreakable, or at least required sufficient effort to break so as to make doing so nearly never worthwhile. And I assume Russia would, when it cares to, use tools at least that good.

14

Joseph Brenner 06.07.17 at 5:26 am

“… while there is no positive evidence that voting machines were hacked so as to throw the election (and I doubt very much that they were),”

Could you explain why you doubt this so much?

I ask, because I find that people seem to place the burden of proof in an odd way when you get near this subject. Our voting systems are always taken to be innocent until proven guilty, and it always seems to me like it should be the other way around.

“it provides reasonably compelling evidence Russian hackers were at least very seriously considering that option. “

Right, and I could swear I heard about this back in November, though I can’t remember where at this point.

15

bad Jim 06.07.17 at 6:52 am

It does seem odd that we know so much about what Ambassador Kislyak is reporting back to the Kremlin. Perhaps the leakers are revealing decryption capabilities of which the Russians were previously unaware, which would not be a good thing. Perhaps Kislyak is just as irremediably careless as Trump. Or perhaps his apparent oversight was intentional, and his purpose was to undermine Michael Flynn and Jared Kushner.

16

Brian Weatherson 06.07.17 at 7:59 am

Joseph Brenner @14

There are two pretty strong pieces of evidence against the theory that the voting machines were hacked.

One is that the vote distribution across precincts looked, more or less, normal. If you knew (a) how a precinct voted last time, (b) the demographics of the precinct (race and education would do), and (c) the state level swing, you could predict with great accuracy the vote share for each party in any one precinct. That wouldn’t happen unless either no precincts were hacked, or they all were.

The other is that while there should have been more recounts, there were at least some recounts. And if all the precincts were hacked (which is improbable anyway given the decentralised voting system) we would have seen it straight away.

So while I’d like to believe that people didn’t actually vote for such a horrible candidate as Trump, it seems clear that they did.

17

Brian Weatherson 06.07.17 at 8:03 am

anonymousse @ 7

If the voting rolls were hacked, and people either were turned away on election day, or left the queue to vote because the confusion had meant there were hours long queues, then the hacking would in a moral sense invalidate the election, even if the voting machines weren’t hacked.

Michigan was really really close, and there were surprisingly long queues in parts of the state. Could 1 Clinton voter in 400 have been turned away by a dodgy voting roll or an hours long queue? Maybe. If so, hacking the voting roll would have swung the results of the election in Michigan.

So it’s not just the voting machines that matter.

18

SusanC 06.07.17 at 8:23 am

This is disastrous, even if it is in fact the case that the voting machines weren’t hacked. The problem is that US citizens, and US military personnel, have reason to believe the election might have been hacked, casting doubt on the government’s legitimacy (in practise, if not de jure). This is a very, very bad situation to be in.

If a Russian nuclear attack had just killed the president, the vice president, and everyone all the way down the chain of command, except for Reality Winner and a bunch of similar ranking folks in a nuclear bunker somewhere, the rules are at least relatively clear.

But if a Russian cyber attack has managed to install one of their agents as president, who also replaces the high ranking officers, what the hell to do? (i’m not a lawyer, but im gusessing there is a presumption of validity in elections – but the practical decision is another matter).

e-voting considered harmful, because the government is in a world of trouble when their own military think the commander in chief has been replaced with an enemy agent.

19

Mario 06.07.17 at 9:46 am

One thing that IMO doesn’t get much attention is the trivial budget needed to get this kind of ‘secret-service’-like activities funded. Every billionaire can hire the people and pay for the hardware needed to pull off all of these rather trivial hacks (the hardest part is to know *who* to hack and *what* to do, but the rest is a piece of cake). Every committed billionaire can have his own hacking squad.

Then again, maybe Reality Winner is a vector for misinformation, too, and the CIA / NSA are playing a seven-dimensional chess match with public opinion, where discrediting “the intercept” is welcome collateral damage. Or, alternatively, maybe the Russians are pulling off amateurish hack attacks to be discovered and create more fear, uncertainty, and doubt, and drive the mighty US of A completely insane. Such behavior against a nuclear superpower like the US would be irresponsible. Putin should be ashamed (ah! See what I did there?)

(I have additional theories but they involve area 51 and I’m not going to present them here…)

I want to remark, though, that we are this close to a state of affairs where nobody will be able to believe anyone anymore.

20

Pavel A 06.07.17 at 12:54 pm

@Mario
“I want to remark, though, that we are this close to a state of affairs where nobody will be able to believe anyone anymore.”

This is probably the dystopia that we’re heading for. The absence of public trust in reality is an incredibly convenient set of affairs for the ruling class, regardless of whether they’re oligarchs, tin-pot dictators or populists.

21

Donald Johnson 06.07.17 at 1:05 pm

This piece at Pat Lang’s site makes several interesting points.

http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2017/06/a-few-thoughts-on-the-leaks-ttg.html

You should read it rather than thc rest of my comment if there is a choice to be made, but on her culpability, TTG says the Russians would have known we could break their codes when Obama warned them last fall about election meddling. Pat Lang himself was much more upset by the leaking.

My opinion– paper ballots counted in public solves much of this. As for casting doubt on our system, well, people should doubt it, Russians or not.

22

herme 06.07.17 at 3:59 pm

@10:

I’m having trouble making sense of your argument, and all that I can really get out of it is that if it doesn’t make sense that means I must be an awful republican. I think it’s an awfully silly thing to say, but you are entitled to say what you think.

I also don’t follow how this extra-democratic “soft coup” (as its been described elsewhere) to oust an “illegitimate” president is “saving democracy”. Because Trump did, in fact, become president through what passes as a legitimate democratic process in our country.

So in order to “save democracy” you seem to be insisting it must be broken. And your apparent glee over the prospect seems more apt to legitimize this extra-democratic process, and more likely to do the opposite of “saving” democracy.

No, it seems to me American liberals have become quite literally unglued over Trump’s election, and this destructive rampage against the Trump administration is going to do far more damage than liberals seem capable of imagining. It’s kind-of like the Libyan intervention. The pro-interventionist liberals were so sure of the righteousness of their cause that nothing could go wrong. In the end it proved to be utterly mindless.

23

anonymousse 06.07.17 at 4:19 pm

“If the voting rolls were hacked, and people either were turned away on election day, or left the queue to vote because the confusion had meant there were hours long queues, then the hacking would in a moral sense invalidate the election, even if the voting machines weren’t hacked.”

This makes no sense. If the voting machines were hacked (your first phrase), then they were hacked. Thus the second part of your statement (“…even if the voting machines weren’t hacked.”) is invalidated by the first part.

“Michigan was really really close, and there were surprisingly long queues in parts of the state. Could 1 Clinton voter in 400 have been turned away by a dodgy voting roll or an hours long queue? Maybe. If so, hacking the voting roll would have swung the results of the election in Michigan.”

So now the theory is that the Russians broke into Michigan’s precinct level voting machines, predetermined the future Clinton voters, somehow messed up their records knowing that this would cause them delays in voting (but successfully avoided future Trump voters’ names, sparing them the delays), somehow knew in advance that 0.25% of them would get frustrated with this complication and leave without voting, and knew in advance that this rate of frustration (0.25% of the Hillary voters) would be enough to swing the election in Michigan. But this wouldn’t swing the election overall (Trump would have won the election without Michigan). Nevertheless, Trump’s election is invalid and Hillary should be installed as the legitimate President by, presumably, the Supreme Court?

I’d suggest my original question stands. Why does the whole incident ‘cast further doubt on Trump’s election’, given that there’s no ‘positive evidence that voting machines were hacked’, given that Henry, in spite of it, ‘doubts very much that they were,’ and at best ‘it provides reasonably compelling evidence Russian hackers were at least very seriously considering that option.’

blink

24

bruce wilder 06.07.17 at 4:44 pm

Still and all, why did the Russians target the absentee ballot system of American Samoa?

25

Suzanne 06.07.17 at 6:27 pm

@21: What is written in that post could of course be accurate, but we may want to also consider the source. Lang and his cohorts are unbothered by the Russian meddling, and like the Republican Congress, prefer to emphasize the leaks and the alleged damage done. This particular post is interesting, because it looks like the site’s “Nothing to See Here” stance vis-a-vis the Russians is starting to look shaky.

(They also freaked out over Susan Rice and the “unmasking.” During the election Lang posted a Photoshopped picture of Hillary Clinton with a hole in her tongue one assumes he found on the darker corners of the internet, and he allowed his commenters to speculate that Bill had given her syphilis.)

26

nnyhav 06.07.17 at 7:31 pm

Yes Mario, I don’t normally truck in conspiracy theories, but hey this is the NSA we’re talking about … large swathes of intel community detest Trump; this keeps Russia in the newscycle while in Congress, Comey testimony & Sect 702 hearings. Bonus: feed the leak meatgrinder while compromising media receiver [at vulnerability, journalist who’s already burned one source], at all appearances at arm’s length (one [newbie] contractor leaks [and too readily admits], another reveals breach) so minimizes agency exposure. Wouldn’t need to go far up the NSA chain of command to make or let happen.

27

tahfromslc 06.07.17 at 7:42 pm

Even if they did not hack into voting machines, could they have changed voter registration info to aid in vote suppression? I.e., a slight variation in spelling or middle initial? Not trying to promote conspiracy theory, but why else would they do this?

28

Joseph Brenner 06.07.17 at 8:42 pm

Brian Weatherson@16:

” … you could predict with great accuracy the vote share for each party in any one precinct.”

And yet, no one did predict it.

“That wouldn’t happen unless either no precincts were hacked, or they all were.”

One of the troubles with electronic voting is you can frequently come up with hypothetical scenariors where all machines of a particular type are hacked.

“.. there were at least some recounts. And if all the precincts were hacked … we would have seen it straight away.”

Okay, now this is all very reassuring and authoritative sounding, but off hand I can’t see how you can feel so certain about this. There’s bound to be some slop in the system, whatever the system is, which can make it hard to detect a light finger on the scale.

And on the matter of recounts: there are *still* places using machines where no recounts are possible– as I remember it there were some correlations found between upsets and the presence of those machines, but we were of course told this was just an illusion, because the machines had been moved to particular demographics, and that was that actual source of the correlation.

You understand, my point is not that I think there’s evidence the vote was hacked, but rather that I can’t see why anyone would feel reassured that it wasn’t: I think this is a subject where people engage in ritual pronouncements in order to sound Very Serious and keep from being called a conspiracy theorist.

And yes, as someone else mentioned: we need paper ballots, and ideally paper ballots *counted by hand in public*.

“So while I’d like to believe that people didn’t actually vote for such a horrible candidate as Trump, it seems clear that they did.”

In either case, far too many people willingly voted for Trump: The character of the American public isn’t really what we’re talking about here.

29

Joseph Brenner 06.07.17 at 8:45 pm

Brian Weatherson@16:

” … you could predict with great accuracy the vote share for each party in any one precinct.”

And yet, no one did predict it.

“That wouldn’t happen unless either no precincts were hacked, or they all were.”

One of the troubles with electronic voting is you can frequently come up with hypothetical scenariors where all machines of a particular type are hacked.

“.. there were at least some recounts. And if all the precincts were hacked … we would have seen it straight away.”

Okay, now this is all very reassuring and authoritative sounding, but off hand I can’t see how you can feel so certain about this. There’s bound to be some slop in the system, whatever the system is, which can make it hard to detect a light finger on the scale.

And on the matter of recounts: there are *still* places using machines where no recounts are possible– as I remember it there were some correlations found between upsets and the presence of those machines, but we were of course told this was just an illusion, because the machines had been moved to particular demographics, and that was that actual source of the correlation.

You understand, my point is not that I think there’s evidence the vote was hacked, but rather that I can’t see why anyone would feel reassured that it wasn’t: I think this is a subject where people engage in ritual pronouncements in order to sound Very Serious.

And yes, as someone else mentioned: we need paper ballots, and ideally paper ballots *counted by hand in public*.

“So while I’d like to believe that people didn’t actually vote for such a horrible candidate as Trump, it seems clear that they did.”

In either case, far too many people willingly voted for Trump: The character of the American public isn’t really what we’re talking about here.

30

F. Foundling 06.08.17 at 1:06 am

I don’t know, all of this may be true, but it certainly sounds like another in a series of leaks ‘accidentally’ informing us that the US intel community really, really doesn’t like Trump, although it’s too polite to say so directly.

@13

If you seriously believe the Saudis and half a dozen other Arab states would do all of this just because of one fake news story… Wow.

@18
>the commander in chief has been replaced with an enemy agent
@10
>Putin … owns our government.

AFAICS, Trump is conducting the proxy war against Russia in Syria, if anything, more intensively than Obama did. He seems to be dutifully continuing the imperial chess game from where the previous player left off; besides arming and encouraging the Saudi Sunni theocratic alliance, he has directly attacked Syrian government forces twice within a rather short period, in the second case for purely strategic reasons (explained by Robert Fisk). It’s not implausible that HRC would have been even more hawkish on Russia, but if Trump is a Putin puppet, he is acting rather strangely for one, to say the least.

@OP
>Extending #2, the leak is politically awkward for many people who were viscerally hostile to the Snowden revelations. It has the same form as the Snowden leaks … However, the substance is very similar to the ‘official’ leaks… Anti-Trumpers … should be defending Winner on the substance, and re-evaluating their priors accordingly.

Or the other way round, the leak is politically awkward for many people who welcomed the Snowden revelations. Since it has the same form as the Snowden leaks, while the substance is very similar to the ‘official’ leaks, anti-establishment lefties are stimulated to defend Winner on the form, and to re-evaluate their priors about the substance accordingly.

>It may also help cement a tacit tactical alliance between anti-establishment and establishment people who are united in their desire to limit the damage that a Trump presidency can do to civil liberties, and see this case as a way to do that.

@Chet Murthy

> the IC … are all that’s left to protect our democracy.

The CIA, NSA and the US intelligence community in general are deeply committed to democracy and civil liberties, and *that* is the reason for their desire to remove Trump? How … interesting. This presupposes a very different version of reality from the one I’m familiar with.

31

Layman 06.08.17 at 1:07 am

“This makes no sense. If the voting machines were hacked (your first phrase), then they were hacked. Thus the second part of your statement (“…even if the voting machines weren’t hacked.”) is invalidated by the first part.”

This strikes me as, well, deliberately obtuse. Voter rolls are not voting machines. The Russians apparently targeted systems that manage the database of voters (voter rolls), not systems that actually capture or count votes (voting machines). Then they targeted account credentials of people who manage voter rolls. The reasons for doing so are fairly obvious.

32

Donald Johnson 06.08.17 at 1:37 am

Suzanne– I tend to consider the source in all cases. But at Lang’s site, there is a distinction between Lang and TTG. Lang was enraged by the leaking and not much interested in the content. TTG was somewhat bothered by the leaking, but allowed for the fact that she might have seen it as her duty to the Constitution to leak it. TTG doesn’t think she should have done it, but he seems to respect her motives. TTG thinks election hacking is part of the games nations play–given the crap the US pulls I think he is right. He also thinks that if the
Russians tried to influence our election they should be made to pay a price, but in his view it was not an act of war. I thought his views were reasonable. People tend to polarize on Russiagate. TTG is somewhere in the middle, which is a location not very heavily populated.

I read a few conservative sites these days to see how the world looks to people with other biases. In some cases I find myself much closer to the views of self-described conservatives like Andrew Bacevich or Daniel Larison than to Clintonite liberals when it comes to foreign policy.

33

SusanC 06.08.17 at 7:48 am

@23: in terms of the effect on the result, voter supression (preventing eligible voters from being able to vote) is a serious as stuffing ballot boxes with forged papers, and I’m inclined to think that they are just as concerning morally, too. It’s one of the reasons I’m in favour of mandatory voting (if people think none of the candidates are fit to hold office and tick none of the above, then fine, but if a large number of people are unable to get to the polls, some kind of investigation as to why is in order)

34

SusanC 06.08.17 at 7:57 am

There’s an argument that its rational to tolerate a small amount of error in the polling (even if it changes which candidate won in a close race), because its worse than the chaos that results from invalidating the election.

Viz. if Vladimir Putin wins the US presidency in a surprise write-in ballot, totally unpredicted by the opinion polls, then that’s a large error and you’re going to demand a re-run, this time without computers in the loop. On the other hand, if opinion polls showed the winning candidate had genuine support from at least just under half the electorate, you’re going to acceot their win (even if there was a bit of error) because, hey, nearly half the voters are getting what they actually asked for, and invalidating the election at this point is going to be procedurally very unpleasant.

35

Randy F McDonald 06.08.17 at 9:31 am

“The story gives the lie to people (nutters like Louise Mensch, but also other people whom one might have expected better of) who claim that the Intercept is a cutout for Russia, Trump, or both.”

The Intercept’s decision to reveal the identity of a woman who provided evidence of Russian malfeasance isn’t evidence of some Russophilia?

36

kidneystones 06.08.17 at 9:41 am

A number of universities are under near-constant attack from hackers working for private corporations and foreign governments. We’re forced to change our passwords quite frequently. Those who choose to view the present as the end times will irrespective of evidence.

It seems to me that the Russian attack would have at least three likely purposes: a/to test the security of the servers b/ to determine whether vote tallies can be tampered with c/ to create anxiety in the minds of voters. It isn’t clear that actually tampering with the vote tallies would be preferable to outcome ‘c’: creating fear and anxiety. Modifying the attack to produce the precise numbers to tip the scale seems extremely difficult. For this and several other reasons, I doubt Russia would modify tallies except to test if they could. That does not preclude, of course, the likely possibility that other undetected hacks did and will occur.

As for Winner, I fear she may be punished severely to little end. Senior Democrats have access to all these reports (yes?), so it isn’t clear they, at least, are learning anything new. That the Russians tried to hack a seemingly secure US system should come as no surprise to anyone.

37

Donald Johnson 06.08.17 at 11:12 am

This is beyond my pay grade, but Scott Ritter is not impressed by the NSA analysis.

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/leaked_nsa_report_short_on_facts_proves_little_in_russiagate_case_20170607

38

Chet Murthy 06.08.17 at 2:11 pm

F.Foundling:

> the IC … are all that’s left to protect our democracy.

The CIA, NSA and the US intelligence community in general are deeply committed to democracy and civil liberties, and *that* is the reason for their desire to remove Trump?

Oh, please. I wasn’t born yesterday. These are incredibly conservative institutions. They’re resisting Putinfluffer for the same reason that the stationary bandit (king) resists the roving bandit (invader). Which doesn’t at *all* mean that they’re somehow guardians of civil liberties. What they -are- is guardians of the institutional power and prerogatives of they people they work for. Who aren’t at all the American people, but some vanishingly small subset thereof. Same as it ever was.

39

Suzanne 06.08.17 at 4:12 pm

@32: I just thought it should be clear that more nonsense than is healthy is posted on that site and rather nasty nonsense at times. Lately they’ve been issuing warnings about a coming “civil war” and various other hints at violence to come should Trump’s presidency be threatened. I’m sure it’s just talk, but. I don’t see anything like that from Daniel Larison.

“If Trump and/or those around him colluded with the Russians in the execution of this info op, I want them and the Russians spanked hard.”

Funny language. What would this “spanking” entail? The President of the United States is not a disorderly toddler, even if he behaves like one. If this is the “middle”….oh, dear.

40

F. Foundling 06.08.17 at 8:29 pm

Both Snowden and Assange have issued calls for Reality Winner to be supported, because in Assange’s words, regardless of the accuracy of the leaked report, she is a ‘non-elite source’ of a leak; needless to say, not unlike Trump, both are acting as if they weren’t Russian agents in order to fool the vigilant. That said, it *is* an interesting and tricky question where the boundary between an elite and a non-elite source lies. According to CNN: ‘on Twitter, she followed Edward Snowden, WikiLeaks, [and] several accounts with links to the hacking collective, Anonymous. … Though she didn’t post explicitly about hacking or leaking, she liked and retweeted posts on the topic, including a tweet from Anonymous hinting at hacking Trump’s computer and one about White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s reportedly lax approach to securing his personal data.’ And somehow, in a post-Snowden world, a person like this happened to be given access to top secret reports. A non-elite source can still be the (very possibly unwitting and idealistic) instrument of an elite source illegally abusing its power by selective leaks.

@38:
>These are incredibly conservative institutions. They’re resisting Putinfluffer for the same reason that the stationary bandit (king) resists the roving bandit (invader).

Or perhaps they are just very unhappy with Trump because he isn’t really following the course towards direct confrontation with Russia that they wanted to see under Clinton. Given how traditionally imperial and de facto anti-Russian Trump’s present FP already is, I don’t even want to imagine what it was that *they* had been planning instead.

41

Doug K 06.08.17 at 8:56 pm

“there is no positive evidence that voting machines were hacked so as to throw the election”

There can’t be any positive evidence, when the machines can be hacked indetectably.
This has been demonstrated multiple times, and in every year since the machines were introduced. Recounts don’t help when there is no paper trail and the software does not allow for audits.

The CEO of the voting machine manufacturer Diebold, Wally O’Dell, promised to deliver Ohio for the Republican Party in 2004. He did this, and has been delivering ever since.

The only possible evidence is discrepancies between the exit polls and the vote. There are statistically improbable discrepancies like this throughout the battleground states.
See link from my name, above.

Bill James reports on the exit poll discrepancies:
“The CNN exit polls — which were done by Edison Research — covered 28 states that accounted for 411 of the Electoral votes. Their exit polls correctly predicted the winner in the recorded vote in 24 of the 28 states. All four misses were swing states, and in all four cases the exit polls had indicated that [D] had won, but then the official vote count went to [R]. The four states were Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Wisconsin, a group that accounts for 74 Electoral votes. While the official vote count gave [R] a whopping 90 Electoral votes in the swing states, if the exit polls were translated into Electoral votes, that would have completely turned that result around with 93 Electoral votes of the swing states going to [D].

While 60% of the states (30 of 50) have some sort of audit procedure that checks the paper trails upwards from the voting machines, among the twenty other states, most of them could not do a sufficient paper trail audit even if they wanted to. Why? Because in their fleet of voting machines there are too many outdated, poorly designed voting machines that do not produce a paper trail of any kind! By my count we had 223 electoral votes in play in 2016 that were a fixer’s dream. If you managed to rig the vote at certain places up the tabulation path, it would be nearly impossible to detect or track it backwards. “

42

Raven 06.09.17 at 11:00 am

Reality Winner (what a perfect name!) is being charged with espionage, not for releasing that report on Russian hacking to where the Russians could read it — they did the hacking, and knew all about it already — but to where the American public could read it… the group of people from whom that information had been concealed. Apparently the American public is the “enemy nation” being aided by this “espionage”.

That the hacking reached not only into voter registration files, but also into actual voting machine software preparation, appears to be among the revelations. The latter is the sort of thing that made Diebold’s service on behalf of its Senatorial-candidate owner/CEO and other Republicans so very suspicious.

43

Joseph Brenner 06.10.17 at 5:31 pm

Raven@42: Yeah, good point I would say. There’s a standard counter-argument you can look forward to hearing: this leak reveals to the bad guys that we know about their nefarious operations, and it *compromises our source* and *puts them at risk* and more Putin assasinations will follow shortly.

Can they prove to us that someone is compromised? If they’re so compromised can’t they give us the name? Well, of course not. And so, we will be expected to take this tale of terrible consequences on faith.

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Raven 06.11.17 at 4:31 am

Joseph Brenner @ 43: “If they’re so compromised can’t they give us the name? Well, of course not.” — And such an argument would continue: because to reveal the source name(s) would risk his/her/their life(s).

But wait… isn’t the argument that the source(s) had already been exposed to the enemy by that “compromise” in the first place, essentially sacrificing them?

So who got killed? If they’re already dead, what harm can it do them now to tell us who they were?

45

Raven 06.11.17 at 4:43 am

More to Joseph Brenner: It’s the same sort of helpless self-contradiction that Trump and his new attorney Kasowitz fell into after claiming that “Comey leaked”… not at first realizing this effectively admitted the truth of the information Comey released. (It is precisely telling a truth which must not be told that is the offense of “leaking”.)

Compounding that tactical error, they then switched footing to claiming “Comey lied”… but without retracting the earlier claim. So now they’re in the self-contradictory position of claiming he leaked…lies.

How exactly could one even do that? If you or I were to make up fake statements or even entire fake documents about purported classified matters, those would indeed be lies, but they could not possibly be leaks.

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