A group of intelligence, military, and diplomatic veterans known as Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, or VIPS, have signed a letter calling on President Barack Obama to release evidence regarding alleged Russian interference in the election. Otherwise, the letter asserts, the outgoing president must admit proof is lacking.
VIPS was formed in 2003. The group of former officers of the U.S. intelligence community is known for protesting government officials’ use of faulty intelligence — which was perpetuated by the media — as justification for the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
Before the 2003 Iraq invasion, the group wrote a letter to George W. Bush claiming policy makers were ignoring intelligence analysts.
In their latest attempt at ensuring the U.S. government is listening to the issues raised by concerned members of the intelligence community, the group writes that “[u]nconfirmed accusations continue to swirl alleging that Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized ‘Russian hacking’ that helped put [President-elect Donald] Trump in the White House.”
Pressing Obama, who is “[p]resident for a few more days,” for more proof, the group adds that he has “the power to demand concrete evidence of a link between the Russians and WikiLeaks, which published the bulk of the information in question.” If Obama and his administration do not have such evidence, the group adds, “the American people should be told that there is no fire under the smoke and mirrors of recent weeks.”
In an exclusive interview with the Russian TV channel RT, American computer programmer, businessman, and former presidential candidate John McAfee called the alleged evidence of Russian involvement in the hacks into the Democratic National Committee (DNC) servers “the most deceptive propaganda … perpetrated on the American public.”
Rather than proving the Russian government was, indeed, behind what he called a sloppy hack, the evidence the U.S. government has presented simply shows the opposite.
According to the U.S. narrative, McAfee explained, hackers left traces of “Russian language [which] was found in the malware, … a Cyrillic keyboard, … [and] the compiler, the piece of software that compiles the code so that it can execute … [dating] time stamps … in a time zone for the business hours of Moscow and St. Petersburg and other places in Russia and … the IP address pointed to a Russian address.”
He explained the situation as if it had happened to America:
“Seriously, if Russia declared war on us because we hacked Russia and the head of the CIA and the intelligence committee came to the Congress and they ask him ‘What happened?’ — ‘Oh, well you know we didn’t have time to remove English language, we didn’t have time to move the date stamp, the guy could not use a Chinese keyboard, so we gave him our regular keyboard. And also there was my wife’s birthday so I could not remove the IP address.’”
McAfee added that the person in question would “be scheduled for a suicide.”
Instead of “the Russians,” the cybersecurity legend added, the hacking and the narrative that ensued is either “propaganda intended to incite the American people, to anger toward Russia for some reason, or our intelligence community is so ignorant and naïve that they should all be replaced.”
When asked who he thought was behind the hack, he added:
“This was done by an independent one person kid that downloaded the software. Please, this is not an organized hack and certainly not a nation-state that did this.”
Though some experts have not ruled out Russia as the perpetrator, there is some consensus among cybersecurity professionals that the intelligence establishment’s evidence is insufficient.
In VIPS’ latest letter to the U.S. government demanding answers, the former members of the intelligence community add that “everyone hacks,” questioning why is the outgoing president invested in targeting Russia.
Reminding Obama of his own words concerning the “mounting evidence” pointing to Russia, VIPS argues he must first pressure the National Security Agency (NSA) to “come clean,” but won’t discard the possibility that current Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who lied under oath, is not more trustworthy than “the Russians.”
With Obama leaving office this week, he might not act on VIPS’ concerns in time.