Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Primary reason we should believe Russians hacked DNC servers is because US intelligence services say so, not because of evidence

Slate, May 9, 2017, here:

[T]he primary rationale readers are given for why they should believe that the Russian government meddled in the U.S. election is because the FBI, CIA, and NSA believe that to be the case. We are given very little actual detail about what happened or how the incidents were traced to Russia specifically, while we are treated to numerous statements along the lines of: “We assess with high confidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election” or “We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgments.”

Of course, there are many reasons the Intelligence Community might have decided not to reveal any actual evidence for these claims. But in the absence of that evidence, whether or not you believe their conclusions rests entirely on your confidence in the judgment and investigative abilities of the FBI, CIA, and NSA. And if the evidence that they’ve used to level major accusations at a foreign government comes not from agencies of the U.S. government or direct law enforcement investigations, but rather from private sector firms like CrowdStrike, then the “high confidence” of the government counts for very little. ...

So if the FBI didn’t ask for access the DNC’s servers out of laziness or negligence, it certainly should have. And if the DNC denied them that access for fear of being embarrassed by what they might find, or because they had more faith in CrowdStrike than the FBI, then it served only to undermine confidence in the ultimate results of the investigation and give the impression of having something shameful to hide. Neither the DNC nor the FBI should have been satisfied with an investigation that did not involve the FBI conducting a first-hand look at the compromised systems. And all of us should be concerned about the seeming acceptance of both parties to let a private company singlehandedly carry out an investigation with such significant political consequences.

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