Jan. 7th, 2017

How brittle can a man be? Whether Russia helped him or not, Donald Trump won the election. But he flat out refuses to acknowledge that the US spying community might be correct. Why?

Look: People try to shift this aside, "look what they did with WMDs in Iraq!" The problem here is that while the intelligence agencies did feel that Iraq had WMDs, that is their job: to overestimate risks that may play a crucial role in protecting the nation. And it wasn't the intelligence agencies that said that the aluminum tubes (used to reverse engineer rockets) had to be centrifuge components; and the intelligence agencies tried to stop Bush from claiming there was an active attempt to procure uranium from Niger. They also were free with the admission that they didn't have any hard evidence - the UN inspections had ceased so they couldn't confirm their suspicions.

Ah, but here they have hard evidence; hacking leaves traces. Now they only have to figure out who. With that, signals intelligence can correlate various conversations on the matter, and figure out the likely suspects; then human intelligence can be gathered and allow corroboration.

While I'm not privy to the evidence, this is something that's far more easy to track than whether there are active weapons programs in Iraq; and the Obama administration is not looking for a war with Russia, in the way the Bush team sought war with Iraq; Obama is looking only to protect the nation. This information can't change the results of the election, which, as one might notice, is over and done.

Ah, but Russian hacking - that would look like Donald J. Trump didn't win the election all by his lonesome. And he is thin-skinned that way, he doesn't like anyone casting any shadow on his accomplishments. Still... is that enough? Does that explain his reluctance to investigate?

Let's be honest: if his talk about Russia hacking his opponents was all a big joke, he'd feel stung by how bad that looked, how the Russians turned his innocent joke into something terrible. He'd probably feel vengeful - the Russians did him wrong, now he wants to do them wrong. So we can't rule out that he knew what was happening, and believed what was happening, and was probably still joking (would he really invite cyber-attack on the US?) but now, he has to fear that his foreknowledge will look bad. He might want a cover-up, just to avoid embarrassment. That might be reason enough - there aren't enough rage-tweets in the world to cover up that bit of embarrassment!

But it could be worse than that. We know that he wants better relations with Russia; his Secretary of State pick, the person who is supposed to look out for America's international interests, is someone who loves getting him some Russian oil. And that's not an inherently bad thing; friendly relations and trade are far better than a cold war! Nevertheless, this opens up a serious problem.

Donald Trump is either the world's biggest, stupidest liar - and he might take "biggest" but I don't think he's that stupid! - or he thinks he's an incredible negotiator. And he could think that he's helping smooth the way for better Russian relations, and being clever enough to ensure that if anyone gets played, it will be Russia, not him, and overlooking just "a tiny bit of hacking that didn't do any real harm".

But we have no idea if it was "just a tiny bit of hacking". We need to know everything we can about what happened. We need to know what has been compromised, and where our weaknesses are. We need a President who will put the protection of our nation's security, both physical and cyberspace, far ahead of his own interests. We need to know that, when a threat arises, he'll chase it down, in spite of possible embarrassment, and in spite of whether it will ruin his plans for Russia.

And in under two weeks, we can't be sure we'll have that; heaven help us.
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