Congress to Obama: If you know who's behind the hacks, out with it, chief

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Published by: Dan Calabrese on Monday August 01st, 2016

Bluff called.

The reason we're not supposed to care about the nasty content found on DNC e-mail servers, according to Democrats, is that it's far more important to focus on the horror of the Russians hacking our e-mail! The same Russians the Democrats mocked Mitt Romney for naming as a geopolitical foe are now the greatest threat to all mankind because they're able to read about Hillary's yoga routines and the DNC's rigging of its primaries.

And maybe it was the Russians, but if the Obama Administration knows that for sure as it keeps implying, members of Congress from both parties are telling Obama it's time to say so publicly:

This week, a bipartisan group of lawmakers—as well as former intelligence officials, retired military officers, and security experts—urged President Obama to call out Russia for the hacking campaign. After all, these experts say, that’s what he did when North Korea was blamed for a damaging cyber attack against Sony Pictures in retaliation for a satirical film.

That hack was seen as an assault on core American values of freedom of expression. Similarly, the breach of the DNC is viewed as an affront to the U.S. electoral process that cannot go unanswered.

Officially, the White House and intelligence agencies have taken no public stance on who is behind the attack, which was first revealed in June and took on new urgency when DNC staff emails were leaked last week, showing that the organization tried to undermine the campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders. DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz was forced to resign amid the scandal. And the email leak cast a shadow over the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia this week.

But six U.S. officials and security experts have told The Daily Beast that the evidence linking Russia to the hack appears conclusive. Obama himself stepped closer to pinning the hacks on Russia when he told NBC News that “experts have attributed this to the Russians” and that it was “possible” the leak was designed to help the Trump campaign.

Three U.S. officials told The Daily Beast that it is too early to discuss possible retaliation against Russia, noting that the FBI is still investigating the breach.

But privately, the officials said, there are discussions underway about a response that is at least as public and as aggressive as the U.S. response to the Sony hack, in 2014.

“The Russians may do this to other countries, but they cannot be allowed to do it to us,” a former senior U.S. official told The Daily Beast, speaking privately because of the sensitivities surrounding ongoing discussions about when and how to publicly blame the Russian government.

Now why do you suppose Obama plays around with little implications that Russia did it, but doesn't want to come right out with a formal accusation or a presentation of the evidence? I envision two possibilities: 1. He really has no evidence and he's been bluffing the whole time in order to distract attention from the content of the e-mails, which of course looks very bad for the Democratic Party; 2. As is usually the case when Obama is dealing with Russia, he has no intention of making them pay any price for what they've done, and he doesn't want to look weak by talking and following it up with no action.

By the way, if Julian Assange can be believed, more is coming. So this isn't going to get any more comfortable for Obama to deal with. Former senior officials can say all they want that the Russians can't be allowed to do this to us, but if Obama decides it can be allowed, then it will be. The next time Obama makes Putin pay any sort of real price for his malfeasance will be the first time.

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