Note: There’s an update at the end stolen from someone who nicked it from someone on the book of faces

President Trump met President Putin in Helsinki and they had a press conference. Then, as Baldilocks put it so accurately on Twitter:

I think that a Weapon of Mass Hysteria was detonated today.

I’m not going to say that I think President Trump covered himself in glory at the press conference, far from it, but I don’t think his comments deserved the amazing meltdown seen as a result. In fact I’d say he did an amazing job of causing the unhinged left (which apparently includes most of the MSM and Democrat politicians as well as hordes of twats twits and feces facebookers) to completely ignore their previous “people will die” issue, whatever it was. Was it children at the borders? was it the SCOTUS nomination? was it something he said to NATO? PM Theresa May? I’ve lost track. Anyway, whatever that life-threatening issue was, it was utterly unimportant compared to Trump showing less than 100% confidence in his Intelligence services and in the DNC’s infosec practices.

Meh.

And, again, the shrieking outrage threatens to drown out a serious underlying issue. Said issue is not “treason” or even “collusion”, but the success of the Russian Intelligence Services in destablilizing the USA.

Let us start with the facts

    1. The Russians (and possibly others) hacked the DNC’s internal network and leaked the contents to WikiLeaks via Guccifer2 – a Russian agent. This appears to have been because it had limited security
    2. The Russians also “hacked” John ‘password’ Podesta’s gmail account and leaked that too. Again this does not appear to have been technically challenging.
    3. The Russians set up various fake news ids, FB profiles, twitter accounts etc. and bought some ads to push a wide variety of divisive political opinions.
    4. Some people, probably the Russians some of the time, appear to have scanned for US voting machines online to see how vulnerable they were (answer very)
    5. Other Russians set up meetings with the Trump campaign claiming to have data from 1&2 but actually discussing something completely different
      1. The Trump campaign had one or two meetings, decided there was nothing else there, and ignored further contact attempts
    6. The FBI via various confidential informers appear to have tried to get the Trump campaign to be interested in leaks of Hillary Clinton’s emails
      1. The Trump campaign, as a whole, showed zero interest in following up on this
      2. However other FBI informants relayed drunken brags from Trump staffers back to the FBI which then allowed it to convince a FISA judge to sign off on various warrants so the FBI could “tap the Trump campaign’s phones”

Meanwhile the Clinton campaign paid an English spook to create a dodgy dossier of salacious and unverified information which was then used to try and gin up outrage against trump

    1. It was shopped around to various media outlets, Harry Reid and then ended up at the FBI
    2. Where it was also used by the FBI as additional justification for those FISA warrants
    3. It remains utterly unverified and indeed certain claims appear to have documentary proof that they did not occur when the dossier claims (if at all)
  1. Based on the discovery that the FBI was tapping his phones and all the other stuff that has come out over the last ~20 months President Trump, understandably, has not got a lot of confidence in the neutrality of the FBI and other intelligence agencies.

Now lets get with the narratives.

The lefty narrative is that Trump colluded with the Russians to get elected and has done so ever since, hence he is guilty of TREASON and should be impeached etc. Also he’s the second incarnation of Adolf Hitler, is Racist, Sexist, Homophobic, Islamophobic and everything else ending it -phobic or -ist except communist. According to that narrative what he said in the Helsinki press conference was evidence of the above. In particular TREASON!!!!1111!!!!. For more detail just scan your favorite social media

The MAGA narrative is that Trump is heroically fighting the Deep State and MSM and heroically trolling them. Also he’s deliberately buttering up Putin in much the same was as he did Kim so as to do a deal with him that achieves the ends of MAGA. I’d say this post is more or less representaive.

The non MAGA righty narrative is pretty much this Victory Girls blog post and this Powerline one. Basically Trump should STFU sometimes and not deny that the Russians almost certainly were involved in electoral-related tricks.

The key thing to note is that the facts permit multiple things to be true. It seems to me quite likely that the Russians either wanted a Trump victory or a damaged Clinton and didn’t really care which because in their judgment either was likely to go easy on additional sanctions etc. However, they didn’t have to collude with the Trump campaign to help him. In fact their likely end goal was pretty much what we see today – a US electorate that is split down the middle and unwilling to talk to each other and a Presidency that is embattled.

Update. This person on FB says it very well, regarding the Left and the never Trumpers:

So let’s have a little thought exercise here, for the fun of it.

Assume [all the facts above regarding the Russians, add in additional ones as desired]

Go ahead and assume that the Russians did everything they possibly could, up to BUT NOT including actually hacking the voting hardware and software employed by the American people to cast their ballots.

With that all assumed…

Who cares?

No, seriously, who cares?

1. There is no “redo” button for elections articulated anywhere in the Constitution. If you morons couldn’t prove illegal activities before the election happened, you don’t get to impeach him now for those actions, even if they were illegal. Impeachment only applies to “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors” committed while in office.

2. What do you want to do? Go to war with Russia over it? I mean, fucking seriously, what do you morons want, aside from “to get rid of Trumpster Fire, Pence, and the rest of his cabinet in some magical, non-existent fashion”?

So Russia hacked the DNC. That’s illegal in the US, yes. I have no idea how that would work on the international scale. But the DNC is a private organization, so “act of war” this is not, and what exactly do you think should be the punishment we mete out on Russia itself?

What can we do that Russia won’t simply laugh at?

Seriously.

3. Basically any law that would arguably-but-not-really prevent Russia from flooding social media with whatever they want would be a gross overreach of governmental power and unquestionably unconstitutional. Now, if private corporations want to monitor and limit what appears on their sites… well, none of the big contenders are doing particularly well at being impartial about that, so best of luck.

So, seriously, what do you people want?

Russia didn’t hack the election itself. Even if they did, you can’t do the election over. Getting rid of Trumpster Fire will just give you President Pence, and do you really want that? Killary will never be President. Sorry.

So what do you people want?

Because if it’s “war with Russia”, excuse me while I nope the fuck out of that, my dislike for Trumpster Fire notwithstanding.

It is worth noting there is almost certainly a similar but reverse argument to be made for the MAGA faithful who appear to be in denial that Russia did anything in the election and believe that President Trump is fact perfect in all his utterances and policies. What will it take for you to admit that your man is not perfect? or that he may have benefited from illicit actions that were done by third parties (e.g. Russians) to weaken his opponents?

Finally everyone need to think about the questions of when do Cyber Espionage and “dirty tricks” slip over into Cyber War and what the response should be when they do.

My opinion about the former is that war is when actual physical hardships or financial losses occur (e.g. powerplants being hacked, credit systems being DDoSed). But the question about what to do when we decide we have had a real Cyber War attack remains.

Cyber retaliation may not be the best answer, although an interesting thought experiment for the technically minded would be to think through a case where the US mandates that no US computer network or network owned by a US corporation (e.g. Microsoft in Ireland, also Amazon, Google, Akamai all over the world) be directly accessible from Russia (or vice versa). I’m not quite sure what that would break and who would be harmed most but it probably would hurt a lot of Russians and Russian businesses a great deal. What it probably wouldn’t do – on its own – is stop Russian hackers from attacking the US because they’d just continue to use proxies in other countries as staging points.