During a recent interview, Russian President Vladimir Putin defended the July hack of the Democratic National Committee, hailing it as a public service. But he also defended himself and his office against allegations regarding Russia’s involvement.
“Listen, does it even matter who hacked this data?’’ Putin said, adding that “[t]he important thing is the content that was given to the public.’’
The attack on DNC servers was never officially tied to the Russian government, but U.S. officials and Democratic leadership blamed Russia, accusing them of committing the hack to help Donald Trump. But even Trump insinuated Russia was involved with the leak, which was published by Wikileaks.
When the hack was made public, Glenn Greenwald, whose past encounters with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange seem far from friendly, told WNYC that Russia could have hacked the DNC. After all, “[g]overnments do spy on each other and do try to influence events in other countries. … Certainly the U.S. government has a very long and successful history of doing exactly that.”
But to Assange, whose organization disclosed the information leaked from the DNC, there’s “no proof of [Russia’s involvement] whatsoever.” He added that WikiLeaks has “not disclosed our source, and of course, this is a diversion that’s being pushed by the Hillary Clinton campaign.”
Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor and whistleblower who now lives in exile in Russia, offered his two centson the entire ordeal. “If Russia hacked the #DNC, they should be condemned for it. But during the #Sony hack, the FBI presented evidence,” he observed.
At the time of the leak, Snowden told his Twitter followers the difference between the DNC and the Sony hacks is that when the FBI investigated the Sony hack, officials produced evidence when linking the incident to North Korea. In the DNC hack case, officials failed to do the same.
Snowden also added that the NSA has the tools to identify the hackers and reveal their origin. But up until now, the U.S. intelligence agency hasn’t been able to produce evidence, at least publicly.
During his Bloomberg interview, Putin encouraged Americans to look at the hack as a tool. “There’s no need to distract the public’s attention from the essence of the problem by raising some minor issues connected with the search for who did it,” he added. “But I want to tell you again, I don’t know anything about it, and on a state level Russia has never done this.”
To the Russian statesman, “American society” should pay attention to the fact that “the campaign headquarters worked in the interest of one of the candidates, in this case Mrs. Clinton, rather than equally for all of the Democratic party candidates.”
According to the former KGB spy and current president, Russian officials lack enough understanding of American politics to initiate any program hoping to undermine the process.
Echoing Snowden, Putin told the reporter that nowadays, hackers “act so delicately and precisely that they can leave their mark — or even the mark of others — at the necessary time and place, camouflaging their activities as that of other hackers from other territories or countries. It’s an extremely difficult thing to check, if it’s even possible to check. At any rate, we definitely don’t do this at a state level.”
Following a recent cyber attack against spies usually associated with the NSA, Snowden said the “hack of an NSA malware staging server is not unprecedented, but the publication of the take is.” He added that someone working with the intent of keeping U.S. officials from retaliating against Russia over the DNC hacks could be behind the most recent incident.
It looks like Putin and Snowden agree when they insinuate the DNC hack shouldn’t be pinned on Russia. But if Putin is right, anyone could have hacked the DNC, leaving traces behind that led U.S. officials to the Kremlin. But Snowden’s most recent point about the NSA is also important; if they do, indeed have evidence, why is the intelligence community keeping it from the public?