Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D – NV) has asked the FBI to formally investigate the possibility that Russia is trying to manipulate America’s November election. He claimed that the Russian threat “is more extensive than is widely known and may include the intent to falsify official election results.”
This follows reports that a pair of states, Arizona and Illinois, had foreign hackers attempt to infiltrate their voter registration systems and, in one case, actually successfully copied the registration data from the system. Yet the drive to make this an overarching Russian plot started well before that.
During July’s Democratic National Convention, WikiLeaks released a trove of emails obtained from a hacker called Guccifer 2.0. This includes some particularly embarrassing email exchanges, in particular showing that the Democratic National Committee was strongly biased against candidate Bernie Sanders, and in favor of eventual nominee Hillary Clinton.
As a means of avoiding making the content of the emails a story, the DNC quickly shifted the narrative to claims that this was a Russian government hack, and assorted conspiratorial speculation that Russia was secretly in league with the Republican nominee.
The “evidence” of Russia’s involvement in the DNC hack was virtually non-existent, centering on a few IP addresses in the middle of a complex hack that spanned the globe. Yet the story itself gained traction, as one official would misquote reports in the media as “proof” of Russia being behind the plot, and the media could report this quote as the proof itself. Bouncing around in this echo chamber, it quickly became a general consensus.
So when Guccifer 2.0 turned around and hacked the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee bit later, it was already “known” that they were Russia, even though there was no real evidence to that effect. The Democratic Party was getting such traction out of the narrative that they went so far as to preemptively blame Russia for any future links that proved embarrassing, claiming Russia might conceivably make some things up.
The narrative that Russia is doing materially all the hacks in the US right now, or at least the ones that make headlines, is just the latest in an ongoing series of such dubious attributions. Over the past few years, China, North Korea, and Iran have all had their turn as the scapegoat for major hacks, generally with no evidence than there is this time.
So when the FBI says two states voter registrations were hacked, or at least attempted to be hacked, and that foreign hackers might be involved, that’s all anyone, particularly anyone with the D after their name, needs to implicate Russia, and start crying voter fraud.
Sen. Reid claims to need an investigation of all this “evidence” of Russia tampering with the election, but in practice this boils down to everyone simply believing Russia was behind the hacks, and wanting to flesh out that storyline, and the potential electoral benefits it might confer, actual evidence be damned.