"Quotable: L. Gordon Crovitz on 'Putin’s Infowar on America'," publicdiplomacycouncil.org
Friday, August 12th 2016
L. Gordon Crovitz of The Wall Street Journal opened his July 31, 2016 op-ed, “Putin’s Infowar on America,” by noting “Security experts believe Russia hacked all 63,000 of Mrs. Clinton’s emails as secretary of state, including the 33,000 emails she destroyed, and that Russia supplemented this information by later hacking the Clinton Foundation and the State Department.” Here’s where he ran with that:
- Moscow has an ambitious strategy for information war that goes beyond affecting a presidential election.
- Israeli analyst Dima Adamsky wrote last year that the Russian “information struggle” entails “technological and psychological components designed to manipulate the adversary’s picture of reality, misinform it, and eventually interfere with the decision-making process of individuals, organizations, governments, and societies.”
- According to Mr. Adamsky, Russia’s goal is to cause “disillusionment and discontent with the government and disorganization of the state and military command and control and management functions.” It’s hard to imagine anything more disillusioning to Americans than the release by Russia of incriminating emails Mrs. Clinton had refused to disclose even under U.S. court order.
- In recent years Mr. Putin, a KGB veteran, extended infowar to include “information manipulation,” which includes “using authentic information in a way that gives rise to false implications,” disinformation, fabricating information and blackmail.
- A German investigator last year concluded there was no evidence behind the WikiLeaks claim that the National Security Agency eavesdropped on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone. It was likely disinformation to drive a wedge between the U.S. and Germany.
- Russia’s information manipulation is intended both to embarrass people and to inhibit honest communications by demonstrating that governments can’t protect confidential communications.
- Liberals who long treated Edward Snowden and Julian Assange as heroes are now offended that WikiLeaks distributed the Russian hacks of the DNC. Journalist Franklin Foer complained in Slate last week that the “breathtaking transgression of privacy” of Democratic Party officials will have a “chilling effect” undermining the ability “to communicate honestly.” That was the exact purpose of the hacks of hundreds of thousands of U.S. diplomatic cables distributed by WikiLeaks in 2011 through the New York Times and London’s Guardian.
- . . . Moscow can drip the emails out on its schedule with its spin—or hold them back as blackmail against Mrs. Clinton should she reach the White House. American voters should know what Mr. Putin knows.
- The Obama administration has been passive in response to Russia’s infowar—even reluctant to admit its existence officially. Washington’s best deterrence would be to reply in kind. The U.S. could hack and release Mr. Putin’s bank accounts detailing how rich he has become in office. U.S. prosecutors could use hacked information to indict Putin business cronies and deny visas to their associates and relatives.