In the wake of the 2016 Presidential election, the CIA accused Russia of trying to elect Donald Trump. This started the flurry of claims from both sides. Some were true while others were completely unfounded. Here are the facts:
- All 17 US Intelligence agencies, a cyber security firm hired by the DNC and 2 independent cyber security firms came to the conclusion that Russian intelligence hacked the DNC emails.
- The Department of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Election Security released a joint statement which read, in part, “The recent disclosures of alleged hacked e-mails on sites like DCLeaks.com and WikiLeaks and by the Guccifer 2.0 online persona are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts… Such activity is not new to Moscow—the Russians have used similar tactics and techniques across Europe and Eurasia…”
- Neither John Podesta’s emails nor the DNC’s were hacked in the traditional sense of the word. Both operations were done using phishing operations which are those fake links you get to reset your password. The DNC phishing operation was part of a broader operation which targeted over 1,000 individuals including government employees.
- The Hillary campaign has never claimed nor offered proof that John Podesta’s emails were altered, but have floated the idea that some possibly were.
- The CIA, FBI, and NSA all came to the conclusion that the Russian email operation was done in order to sway the election in Donald Trump’s favor. The CIA and FBI have “high confidence” while the NSA has “medium confidence”.
- The Intelligence Community gained further intelligence after election day which lead to the conclusion of the NSA, CIA, and FBI.
- These hacking operations are known as “signals intelligence” or SIGINT. Both the US and Russia along with any other country with the technological capabilities does this. None of the “hacking” was in any way special. It was a standard intelligence operation. If Putin did direct this operation, the part of this that Putin did direct was the release of emails to WikiLeaks to damage Hillary and help Trump.
- WikiLeaks is, in all likelihood, a Russian intelligence front (an organization set up by its parent so the parent could act without being held responsible) although WikiLeaks likely did not start as a Russian front.
- The Intelligence Community has “high confidence” that the GRU gave the documents to Wikileaks but through a middleman.
- Hackers working on behalf of the Russian government are suspected of attempting to hack 20 state election systems BUT there is no evidence any of these attacks were successful and the Department of Homeland Security confirmed their security.
- While there is no hard evidence that any of the email scandals flipped the election, given how close the election was in the end, it remains a possibility. In the end, the magnitude of the effect of the emails had is up for speculation.
- None of Obama’s retaliatory actions (the expelling of 35 spies, sanctions and shutting down 2 FSB and GRU facilities) is anything close to an act of war or comes anywhere close to putting us on the path to war.
- As pointed out in fact 1, none of this is new for Russia. In the past, Russia was accused by the Bulgarian President of intense cyber-attacks during a national referendum and local elections. Russian hackers tried to disrupt elections in the United Kingdom. They have also engaged in extensive cyber-attacks against the German Parliament.
- The effort was more than “hacking.” It included propaganda efforts trough trolls and RT. us intelligence identified
- The phishing operation that got John Podesta targeted more than 1,800 Google accounts and the make-up of the targets is extremely revealing. To quote an analysis, “The majority of the activity appears to focus on Russia’s military involvement in eastern Ukraine; for example, the email address targeted by the most phishing attempts (nine) was linked to a spokesperson for the Ukrainian prime minister. Other targets included individuals in political, military, and diplomatic positions in former Soviet states, as well as journalists, human rights organizations, and regional advocacy groups in Russia.” Here is a breakdown of who the hackers attacked, journalists targeted and countries targeted.
The are the facts of the situation. I will let you come to your own conclusions but when coming to your own conclusions remember that you do not have to side with the extremes of either side. Assess the facts and reject the false narratives which are not in line with the facts.
Edited on 1/5/2017
Edited on 1/6/2017