Whether Sen. John McCain and Democrats on the Senate Armed Services Committee intended for Thursday’s Russian hack hearings to be used to undermine the U.S. presidential election, one thing is for sure: The hearings WILL be used to undermine the election — precisely as the Russians wanted.
This, according to top U.S. intelligence officials who say they are certain Russians hacked into the Democratic National Committee emails on orders from the highest levels and did so in hopes of undermining our elections.
But they won’t tell us how they know. Just trust them.
OK, if true, all of this certainly should enrage every American. Russia and anybody else committing cyberwar on the United States should be punished with massive retaliatory force.
But it is worth noting two things.
First, whoever hacked into the DNC is not responsible for all the lies, corruption, political rigging and mendacity exposed by the hacked emails. Only Hillary Clinton and her cabal of apparatchiks in the Democratic Party can be blamed for those things.
Second, it is abundantly clear that the United States has been under cyberattack by not only Russia but also China, Iran and many other enemies for years. Whatever efforts President Obama and his national security team have taken to thwart these damaging intrusions are obviously not working.
This should be a stunning black mark on Mr. Obama’s presidency.
Also, some blame for the hack must be laid at the feet of the DNC and Democratic officials such as Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta for their wanton disregard for securing their own email system.
NOTE TO MR. PODESTA: Using “P@ssw0rd” for your password is not really a password. It is more like a “welcome” sign.
Yet, somehow, it was President-elect Donald Trump who seemed to be on trial during Thursday’s Senate hearings.
Desperate to get back into the national political spotlight, failed vice-presidential candidate Sen. Tim Kaine took a stab at being funny (also failed).
“You know, I had a little role in this election,” he joshed. Nobody laughed. A few people averted their eyes and awkwardly inspected their fingernails.
Then Mr. Kaine went on to bitterly complain about “fake news” and trash Mr. Trump and his new security team.
However bad Mr. Trump’s security team may be in Mr. Kaine’s eyes, they cannot be nearly as demonstrably bad as Mr. Obama’s security officials seated before the committee during the hearing.
These are the same people who have been protecting America’s cyber interests for the past eight years.
And remember when they convinced Mr. Obama that the Islamic State was just a bunch of “JV” malcontents? Tell that to the people of Berlin and Nice and Turkey and Orlando and San Bernardino and countless other places.
Chief among the intel honchos is bald and bespectacled Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. This most highly trusted top spook can be trusted to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth — except when he is lying.
Most famously, The Clapper was asked during a 2013 hearing by Sen. Ron Wyden: “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions, or hundreds of millions of Americans?”
“No, sir,” The Clapper responded, only to be exposed as a complete liar within months.
During the hearing, he tried to differentiate between the espionage of hacking into American email systems and the efforts to use that information to supposedly tilt an election — a political question that The Clapper has precisely zero expertise in and even less business opining about.
He defended the Obama intelligence team’s failure to punish our enemies for their cyber espionage against us.
“I was a bit reticent,” The Clapper babbled. “You know, people that live in glass houses shouldn’t publicly throw too many rocks.”
It was a strange comment that seemed to sail over the heads of the committee. But it is a startling glimpse inside the real Obama Doctrine.
This “Glass House Doctrine” holds that America is just another country in a hot, seething world of struggling countries. There is nothing unique here. We have nothing special to offer.
The United States of America is, as Mr. Obama said early in his presidency, exceptional — but only in the same sense that every other country in the world is exceptional. Meaning, there is nothing exceptional whatsoever about the United States.
Jan. 20 cannot come soon enough.
• Charles Hurt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter via @charleshurt.