Redirecting or deflecting the audience’s attention is an old slight-of-hand magician’s ploy as well as a political ploy to refocus an audience’s attention away from reality. This tactic to redirect or deflect is called a pivot.
Readers of our weekly essays know that we did not support Donald Trump, we did not vote for Donald Trump, and that we have been very critical of his campaign and various positions he has embraced. Nonetheless, he is the President-elect of the United States. His Electoral College victory was impressive, and consistent with the method by which every president of the United States has been elected since George Washington.
Protestations that he lost the popular vote are meaningless. Neither he nor Hillary Clinton campaigned to win the popular vote. They campaigned to win the electoral vote. Otherwise Donald Trump would have campaigned in California, Oregon and Washington and the northeast, and would have certainly sliced into the Clinton vote in those states too. Donald Trump, more or less, won everywhere he campaigned. Our concerns about Trump have not changed, but we accept the outcome of the election. Many others, it seems, do not.
The Democrats are working overtime to pivot attention away from DNC emails that demonstrated pro-Hillary hijinks leading up to the election by focusing attention instead on intelligence allegations that the Russians were responsible for hacking the DNC in order to interfere in our election. While we are certainly not qualified to judge who hacked or leaked information, the real scandal, of course, is that the DNC under both Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Donna Brazile (former CNN contributor) were working sub-rosa to elect Hillary Clinton, when it was their responsibility to be neutral with respect to Democratic candidates. Donna Brazile appears to have passed along to the Clinton campaign questions that were going to be asked to Hillary by a member of the audience at a CNN town hall telecast (while she was on the CNN payroll as a commentator/contributor). That’s a huge no-no.
In a well-coordinated effort, everyone connected with the Clinton campaign has been hammering away that the sources of the disclosures of the apparent skullduggery within the DNC were Russians; then that the hackers were acting on behalf of the Kremlin, and then this past week that Vladimir Putin himself was directing the entire WikiLeaks caper.
We, of course, play second fiddle to no one in condemning the widespread computer hacking that has become so commonplace throughout the world today. We don’t think anyone or any government should, without extraordinary justification, hack into computers that don’t belong to them, and that goes for the United States as well. Yes, America hacks too. But we digress.
Much of the American intelligence community, it appears, has concluded that the Russian government was behind the hacking of the DNC. So far they have offered little evidence, other than that their conclusion represents the consensus of the intelligence community. So, that’s serious. The CIA says the DNC was hacked by the Russians. But WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says the Russians were definitely not the source of the material he published. In fact, he says the source of the DNC leaks wasn’t from any government at all. Which means, almost certainly, if one is to believe Assange, that someone within the DNC leaked to Assange emails pertaining to the DNC’s internal campaign to sandbag Bernie Sanders. Assange says WikiLeaks obtained emails from both the DNC and the RNC, but that the RNC material was of less interest because it had previously found its way into the public domain. It was, of course, no secret that leading Republicans were in full panic mode over Trump’s political ascendancy.
Given that the DNC’s mission is supposed to be non-partisan within the Democratic party, Pro-Clinton DNC skullduggery was big news. Few people, however, can recall with any specificity what, exactly, the DNC scandal was. Instead, everyone’s attention has been successfully redirected to the inner chambers of the Kremlin, where Vladimir Putin was apparently combing through DNC staff emails to see which ones he could forward on to Julian Assange. Really?
Actually, the leaked or hacked emails, while devious, were fairly benign. They really don’t seem to constitute the type of skinny that would have Putin rubbing his hands together in anticipation of tipping the American election. Over-caffeinated, left leaning commentators are already referring to the alleged Russian hacking as the political equivalent of bringing down the World Trade Center.
Former CIA and NSA agents affiliated with the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), writes that “harder evidence of a technical nature points to an inside leak, not hacking – by Russians or anyone else.”
A hack, the group explains, is when someone remotely enters a computer system and extracts data. They conclude that servers allegedly hacked “were, in fact, not hacked” and that the emails disclosed by WikiLeaks and other sites were, instead, leaked. VIPS is a non-partisan group originally formed back in 2003 to protest the Bush Administration’s decision to go to war against Iraq, stating that there was no evidence that Sadaam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
With the CIA depending on NSA for communications intelligence, “it remains something of a mystery why the media is being fed strange stories about hacking that have no basis in fact,” the veteran intelligence officials wrote. The letter was signed by retired NSA technical director and whistleblower William Binney, former Senator and counterintelligence agent Mike Gravel, former CIA intelligence officer Larry Johnson, former CIA and military intelligence analyst Ray McGovern, retired CIA intelligence officer Elizabeth Murray, and former NSA SIGINT analyst Kirk Wiebe. SIGINT analysts, according to NSA, specialize in gathering signal information involving international terrorists and foreign powers, organizations, or persons.
Whistleblower and former NSA Technical Director Binney went on to criticize statements by anonymous intelligence officials for their equivocating phrases such as “our best guess” or “our opinion” or “our estimate.” The veteran CIA personnel argued that the NSA has not produced evidence of hacking. Such evidence can be easily produced “without any danger to sources or methods,” he added.
“In sum, given what we know of NSA’s existing capabilities, it beggars belief that NSA would be unable to identify anyone – Russian or not – attempting to interfere in a US election by hacking,” the group wrote. Their conclusion is that servers allegedly hacked “were, in fact, not hacked” and that the emails disclosed by WikiLeaks and other sites were leaked from within the DNC.
Neither we nor the rest of the American public really know whether the DNC’s dirty laundry was hacked or leaked, but the effort to deflect attention from the real scandal, that is, the dirty laundry itself is well orchestrated and it is intended to wound Trump, if not to nullify his election altogether. It is, indeed, a grand pivot.