"Fuck the cheating motherfucking Russians."
A hacker will stalk the asset they seek to infiltrate, looking for human weakness. They'll test the fence's charge and prod armor for softness, that's true, but they'll keep out a special eye for the dozing guard. There's no sense in squaring your chest to the quant hoard of defensive coders at Herjavec Group or Raytheon if your operator can open a backdoor to the state election voting system by way of a gullible e-mailer.
In 2016, the intelligence apparatus belonging to Vladimir Putin prowled the election systems of at least 21 American states. They deployed a fleet of bots against the United States, numbering in the millions, animated by code to be peddlers and promoters of hearsay and nonsense. Here in the unclassified world, we're still not totally clear what their scans of our systems earned them or if they were only scans.
We do know that they lit grass fires of disinformation in the dry wind of a complex nation; if not to elect a menace to democracy, they were satisfied to pollute the commons until a decent and credible vote could no longer be assured. No doubt they've since cherished the squabbles and blunders of our elected class.
On Friday, in the disclosure of maybe the most over-hyped four pages of memo ever written in Washington, the reading public learned, in its essence, that Republicans don't like the way opposition research happened in 2016.
We also learned of an exchange of texts between a top spy-hunter at the FBI and an FBI attorney, both of whom had been recruited to the Robert Mueller team charged with tracing the work of foreign actors in the 2016 elections.
The text chain is said to be opinionated and high-test and, ultimately, sad. It appears to document the transformation of a working relationship into a romantic extra-marital one, the path it took through organizational politics, national upheaval, and its own dissolution. Both writers express serious reservations about Donald Trump as President - the opinion of more than half the country at the time - and they do it in the famously polished language of cops. That proved material enough to bring allegations of impropriety from Congressional Republicans.
What's strangest to me about the whole thing is not that now it seems obvious that the build-up to the memo's declassification was inflated by hyperactive congressmen. And it's certainly not that these human beings at the FBI - on their own time and to other individuals of equal clearance level in the same organization - express personal political views; to say they can't do that is patently absurd in America, no matter their job.
No, most striking is how well the headlines reporting these texts so accurately reflect national indifference to Russian interference in the American election, and how that indifference allows us to wallow in (usually Congressional) minutia.
Quoting the FBI counter-intelligence agent, several outlets have carried a quote for shock, "Fuck the cheating motherfucking Russians." Gotchya?
A senior spy-hunter at the American FBI harbors a vulgar disdain for Russian intelligence, not just any old time, but as the FSB is targeting the American election and we are to be, what, shocked at the agent's partiality? Information leads the FBI to believe that an American politician or his surrogates may have, at most innocent, played dumb to the Russian ploy, and we scurry to the politician's defense?
It strikes me that the old republican guard would swell with pride in reading these texts 20 years ago, that their spy-hunters were fired-up and clear-eyed about their mandate of defense of country.
Containment was not only about cutting back Soviet communism as it tried to innervate the world, but also rebuffing the utter contempt for democratic and peace-seeking institutions that men like Putin embody. That Putin and Trump wear a narcissism of the same cloth, and a willingness to simply wave away truth - and drop bodies, in Putin's case - when it refuses their bridle, is enough to have made me suspicious of the proximity of these men to one another as, we now know, the Kremlin whispered in our social media ears and tried to hack our vote.
So, yeah. "Fuck the cheating motherfucking Russians." And whoever's in bed with them.
Notes and Citations
1. States notified of election hacking; http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-states-election-hacking-russia-20170922-story.html
2. Text messages between FBI CI Agent and FBI Lawyer; https://www.wsj.com/articles/inside-the-fbi-life-of-peter-strzok-and-lisa-page-as-told-in-their-text-messages-1517589380
3. Election hacking by Russians; https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2018/01/26/dutch-media-reveal-country-to-be-secret-u-s-ally-in-war-against-russian-hackers/