One of the most pivotal moments of this entire 2016 election cycle was the first Wikileaks email dump.
This treasure trove of the opposition’s communications had GOP strategists dancing like they just had 10 RedBull vodkas and their song came on. And the leaks kept coming with ample time between each release for the media and the public to digest the contents and come to some form of conclusion.
Seemed kind of intentional… What initially seemed like a data dump to increase transparency, started to seem abnormal to others.
So Where Did the Emails Come From?
On October 7, 2016, the Director of National Intelligence released the following statement:
“The U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations. 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. These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process. Such activity is not new to Moscow—the Russians have used similar tactics and techniques across Europe and Eurasia, for example, to influence public opinion there. We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.”
This statement leaves little room for interpretation, it was Russia who hacked the emails in order to influence the US election. So they say with good reason. However, it was highly unlikely this was done specifically to help Donald Trump, due to the hack happening a full year prior to the leak, when Trump wasn’t even considered a serious candidate. (Insert conspiracy theories here.)
Why Did They Do This?
This was designed to attack the foundations of our country, and point out the flaws that exist in it, thereby decreasing our perceived global position. It also displays to the citizens of Russia a picture of corruption and chaos in our political institutions. They showed how much corruption was just below the surface, and strategically released it for maximum exposure. They also used our free and open press as their bullhorn, a critique of our government’s approach to freedom of the press. The contrast they can now point to will keep the citizens of Russia happy under Vladimir Putin when faced with the chaotic alternative. In short, it makes us look bad and makes Russia look good to their own in comparison.
Ok… So WikiLeaks Got the Emails From Russia. Aren’t They Still Real?
Yes, and therein lies the moral and intellectual dilemma. How much weight should you put on true information that was designed by a foreign entity to disrupt your country and your way of life? You can’t ignore the information, those people are in power and making decisions about the direction of our country. Corruption deserves an appropriate consequence, and the Democratic National Committee is living with those consequences right now. Though it still feels wrong. It feels wrong to know that a foreign government displaying contempt for us at every opportunity, illegally hacked our government officials and used their actions to pivot the direction of our country.
What is the Right Answer Here?
Honestly, I am not sure.
Hillary Clinton made these decisions herself. Debbie Wasserman Schultz made the decisions herself. Donna Brazile made the decisions herself. And all these actions have to be met with condemnation and a public rebuke. (Note… I know you may not know what they specifically did. We will fill you in on that more in the future.)
It may seem clear cut given Hillary Clinton’s track record that transparency is always a good thing, but consider the possibility of future hacks. Hacks designed to benefit an individual party by only exposing one candidate and suppressing the other. Hacks that are openly malicious in nature and designed to shape our country in a way you disagree with, but are powerless to stop.
I don’t know how to approach this without feeling like I am betraying both my intellect and civic duty. And I don’t see the world getting any easier to navigate.
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