Everything in this country is so goddamn wild right now, it’s easy to miss things. Which is why it’s worth noting that the head of the National Security Agency just openly described Wikileaks as a tool of a “nation-state” (that’d be Russia), which deliberately used targeted leaks to get Donald Trump elected.
Admiral Michael S. Rogers is the head of the National Security Agency and the Commander of the U.S. Cyber Command. Here he is onstage at a Wall Street Journal conference held on Tuesday, giving a pretty good indicator of how the intelligence community of the United States feels about Wikileaks:
“There shouldn’t be any doubt in anybody’s mind,” he says, “This was not something that was done casually. This was not something that was done by chance. This was not a target that was selected purely arbitrarily. This was a conscious effort by a nation state to achieve a specific effect.”
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As our colleagues at Gizmodo have extensively covered, Julian Assange has sworn up and down that he wasn’t trying to influence the U.S. election, and the United States already formally accused Russia in October of stealing emails from the Democratic National Committee and elsewhere.
But while President Obama might have some form of retaliation in mind, he has less than 70 days before his burnt sienna successor takes office. Putin and Trump already had a friendly phone call two days ago pledging to fix relations between their two countries, after which Russia promptly launched air strikes in Syria. (It’s unclear if Trump and Putin managed to get around to talking about Syria, or if Donald Trump has been briefed on what Syria even is.) John McCain, of all people, has warned that a change in U.S. policy towards Russia would amount to “complicity in Putin and Assad’s butchery of the Syrian people.”
It is also worth noting, of course, that Rogers just publicly criticized the process by which his next boss came to power:
Boiling the election results down to Russian interference alone is ridiculous, of course; we’re dumb and racist enough to have shot ourselves in the dick all on our own. And Clinton has blamed the loss, in part, on the the FBI reopening an investigation into her emails.
But all this also calls to mind the Washington Post’s report on how Breitbart chair Steve Bannon subtly manipulated Donald Trump in a series of radio interviews earlier this year. It’s almost as though Donald Trump is getting played in ways he can’t possibly understand, by people with much bigger goals than merely being his friend.