Friday, August 03, 2018

Thomas Rid: "What Mueller Knows About The DNC Hack--And Trump Doesn't"

This is interesting...but it contains the same straw man so many of these pieces do:
American spies could even watch the Russian spies trying, in vain, to cover their tracks, likely in real time. Indeed, the Russian officers made so many mistakes that it is almost surprising the GRU even tried to be stealthy. The U.S. intelligence community has stunning visibility into GRU hacking operations—not just against the DNC, but against the Hillary Clinton campaign, the DCCC and state election infrastructure. The notion that all this high-resolution visibility hinges on physical access to “the DNC server” defies logic or even a basic understanding of what is actually happening.
I've never read anyone suggesting that "all this high-resolution visibility hinges on physical access to 'the DNC server.'" Nobody thinks that everything depends on having the servers, nor that nothing hinges on the images and so forth. But laypeople have no reason to believe that there is nothing to be learned from the physical servers. And if the FBI asked for them, and the DNC turned them down...that's grounds for suspicion. Of course the images are important. I have no trouble whatsoever believing that they're more important than the machines. That would, in fact, have been my guess. I'm also willing to believe that the FBI requested more than it really needed. But the bone of contention between people like me and the Trump-is-laughably-wrong-about-everything crowd is this: 
If the FBI asked for something and the DNC turned them down, should a layperson think that this is unquestionably of no significance whatsoever? Or that it might be of some significance.
   You can't both believe that (a) this is a catastrophic blow against American democracy and (b) it's NBD that the DNC refused to give the FBI everything it asked for. If (a), then it is more than merely plausible to think that the DNC should have coughed up whatever the FBI asked for. And the more reason there is for (a), the harder it is for me to believe that the FBI was making gratuitous requests for hardware.
   Again, and to be clear: I'm happy to believe that Trump is wrong about everything. What I don't buy is this: it's completely irrational for him to be suspicious about the DNC refusing to give the FBI everything it asked for--whatever it may have asked for.


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