The CIA on Friday leaked a memo to the Washington Post “concluding” that Russia meddled in the U.S. election to help President-elect Donald Trump win—but any evidence supporting that finding remains secret.
Anonymous sources told the Post that “the CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system.” They said intelligence agencies “identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and others, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman.”
Yet with the “secret assessment” still hidden, the seeming confirmation boils down to little more than claims by unnamed officials.
In fact, the Post writes further down in its report that “there were minor disagreements among intelligence officials about the agency’s assessment, in part because some questions remain unanswered…intelligence agencies do not have specific intelligence showing officials in the Kremlin ‘directing’ the identified individuals to pass the Democratic emails to WikiLeaks.”
A second leak to the New York Times claimed that Russia hacked the Republican National Committee’s (RNC) computer systems in addition to its breach of Democratic organizations, “but did not release whatever information they gleaned from the Republican networks.” However, the Times notes that “it is also far from clear that Russia’s original intent was to support Mr. Trump.”
Those caveats are important, The Intercept‘s Glenn Greenwald wrote on Saturday, because while both newspapers acknowledge the uncertainties of the memos, “the purpose of both anonymous leaks is to finger the Russian government for these hacks, acting with the motive to defeat Hillary Clinton.”
And for Democrats, the whole affair is another easy out.
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