How not to tamp down a conspiracy theory

The case for Russia as the perpetrator of the DNC hack seems to be growing, albeit with a pretty big caveat:

American intelligence agencies have told the White House they now have “high confidence” that the Russian government was behind the theft of emails and documents from the Democratic National Committee, according to federal officials who have been briefed on the evidence.

But intelligence officials have cautioned that they are uncertain whether the electronic break-in at the committee’s computer systems was intended as fairly routine cyberespionage — of the kind the United States also conducts around the world — or as part of an effort to manipulate the 2016 presidential election.

Oh, well, two big caveats, then. That second paragraph is one, but the caveat I meant was the fact that these are the same intelligence agencies that claimed that the case for the existence of an active Iraqi WMD program was a “slam dunk” back in 2002 or thereabouts. When they say “high confidence,” it’s probably time to get a second opinion. In this case, though, the intel agencies are the second opinion–investigations by private security firms have already come to this same conclusion, and while I wouldn’t consider those 100% conclusive either, they strike me as more conclusive than the government’s “high confidence.”

Whether or not there’s real meat to this story, it’s clear that Donald Trump, the leak’s (witting or not) beneficiary, either doesn’t care or can’t stop himself from inflaming things:

Trump, meanwhile, speaking at a press conference in Florida, raised the stakes again, as he appeared to incite Russia to hack into and release Hillary Clinton’s emails from the personal server she used whilst she was secretary of state.

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing,” he said.

“I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press. Let’s see if that happens. That will be next.”

The Republican nominee added: “They probably have her 33,000 e-mails that she lost and deleted … I hope they do … because you’d see some beauties there.”

Even the Russian’s can’t hack whatever’s on top of his head

He’s now calling on Russia to hack an American target and saying that he hopes they’ve already done it. This is not exactly the route I’d take if I wanted people to stop trying to tie me to Vladimir Putin–which means, again, that either Trump doesn’t care about the implication or he’s just talking without thinking. I guess either is possible.

In addition to maybe not calling on Russian hackers to commit cybercrimes against Americans, Trump could also tamp down this “Putin’s Man” chatter by releasing his tax returns and showing that he’s not financially connected to Russian oligarchs. But he’s not going to do that: Continue reading “How not to tamp down a conspiracy theory”