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Saturday, January 7, 2017

Hacking DNC emails didn't impact US election, releasing them did

When I'm not on vacation, I decided to take a couple weeks before Trump takes over, I work as an IT professional, so you don't have to tell me that there is a lot of hacking going on. I have to deal with it every week. Much of it comes from China and Russia, most of it is for commercial advantage, some of it serves other purposes, including military advantage. The "take" is generally not for publication. Although the results of these hacks do change our world, they rarely do so by being made public.

Lately there has been a lot of discussion over who hacked Democratic Party files and whether it affected the US election. While waiting for the balls to drop, the controversy over charges that Russia was behind the hacks has become one of the top news stories. I don't understand this and I am hoping my readers can clue me in because, it seems to me that it wasn't the hacking of the emails that helped beat Hillary Clinton, it was their release to the media that did the damage.
Donald Trump thinks the hacks may have been done by a 14 year old teen sitting on a 400lb. bed. Others see a massive effort more characteristic of a state actor and many think that state actor was Russia. The hacking (or leaking) of the DNC emails was a criminal act no matter who did it, but it wouldn't have amounted to a hill of beans had they not been made public, and we know who made them public.
It was the publication of the stolen emails, not the stealing of them, that affected the US election, and both the DNC emails and the Podesta emails were released by Wikileaks. There is no controversy about that.

In defense of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange argues that WikiLeaks long ago established itself as a place whistleblowers could send material for anonymous distribution to the media and that they were simply instruments carrying out their mission. He would probably also argue that if the one-sided exposures had a one-sided effect on the election that was not his fault, because had that 14 year old also hacked the RNC emails, Wikileaks would have published them to. Donald Trump has his own explanation of why the releases were so one-sided:

I scream bupkes. We may never know who really did the hacks but we already know who controlled the timing of their publication. That was Wikileaks and it is controlled by one man - Julian Assange. More than any other factor, it is the timing of the releases that reveals the nefarious purpose, which was to help elect Donald Trump.
An examination of the original DNC hack indicates it was done before the primaries in California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota and South Dakota, yet it was held by Wikileaks until 48 hrs before that start of the Democratic Convention. I wrote about this at the time in Timing is everything - Why were WikiLeaks DNC emails released now?, 31 July 2016. Had the emails been released soon after the hack, Wikileaks would have truly been serving democracy and the release would have helped Bernie Sanders. Instead he timed the release to be too late to help Bernie. He timed the release so that it could only help Trump, after the Dems had already settled on Hillary.
The same critique should be made about the way Wikileaks released the Podesta Emails. Democracy and the public interests would have best been served by all being released as soon as possible so that the lot of them could be evaluated as a whole. That is the way WikiLeaks has handled other releases. Instead this time we were subjected to a daily drip-drip-drip of revelations throughout the election cycle (but not since) designed to help Trump win. Julian Assange argues "We publish as fast as our resources will allow and as fast as the public can absorb it." Since personal information, including email addresses and credit card information of third parties was not redacted from these emails, a complaint widely expressed by privacy advocates, we are more interested in Julian Assange's claim that he releases the information "as fast as the public can absorb it." What's up with that? How does he make that determination? Why did the drip-drip-drip of Podesta Emails suddenly dry up after the election? This was the last of 36 releases, the day after the election. None since. Coincidence?
Wikileaks followers have waited in vain for #PodestaEmails37 ever since:
If Wikileaks was not publishing this material for partisan political purposes but simply because it believes in "the public’s right to be informed" and found the material to be "of political, diplomatic, historical or ethical importance," why did their publication end with the election? I believe Julian Assange when he said "WikiLeaks publications are not an attempt to get Jill Stein elected." I think even he knows there are limits to his power, however I do think they were an effort to defeat Hillary Clinton, and in that they succeeded.  As to motives, I won't speculate, but one Russian hacker thinks maybe the Deal Artist made one with Julian:

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