A Torrent of Hack-Related Tweets and Headlines

Definitively, we can say that possible massive hacking by Russia to influence the U.S. presidential election falls into the category of serious matters of state. If it didn’t, the flurry of activity around the issue could easily be seen as farce. As in many matters concerning Donald Trump, each day leading up to a briefing tomorrow, Jan. 6, by the leaders of America’s major intelligence agencies — with Trump in (where else?) Trump Tower in New York — has been filled with a flurry of tweets, followed by front-page stories.

Wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall at the briefing? Don’t you anticipate the results with a mixture of intense curiosity and budding dread?

This ongoing battle has quite a cast of characters: the still-sitting U.S. President Barack Obama, President-elect Donald Trump, Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin, prominent Republican leaders, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (still under Ecuador’s protection in London), the heads of various U.S. intelligence agencies, the media — right, left, Republican, Democrat and Trumpian — and, of course, we the audience and the people.

While the issue of alleged attempts by Russia and its president to affect the election by massive hacking has been around through much of the year, it reached a kind of fever pitch recently when President Obama — acting on information he said he received from Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., as well as leaders from U.S. Cyber Command, the National Security Agency, the CIA and the FBI — issued sanctions against Russia and expelled a number of Russian diplomats.

President-elect Trump, faced with an awkward situation (he and Putin have a sort of mutual admiration society), did what he usually does on such occasions. His Twitter finger began to twitch. He voiced skepticism about blaming Russia and said he knew things that others didn’t, which he was to reveal by yesterday, which hasn’t happened yet. (Neither, for that matter, has a big report on his financial holdings, and their status once he became president, appeared. Neither, while we’re at it, has he shared information about his tax returns.)

Or perhaps the big reveal was an interview by Sean Hannity of Fox News with Assange, who said that “our source is not the Russian government, and it is not a state party.” Trump promptly tweeted the next day: “Assange said ‘a 14-year-old boy could have hacked Podesta’ — why was DNC so careless? Also said Russians did not give him the info!”

Trump called American media coverage “very dishonest,” adding: “more dishonest than anyone knows.”

By this morning, Trump, tweeting again, said that he was not in agreement with Asssange. The “dishonest media likes saying that I am in Agreement with Julian Assange — wrong.” Further: “I simply state what he states, it is for the people to make up their own minds as to the truth.”

He also wrote that he is “a big fan” of American intelligence services. “The media lies to make it look like I am against ‘intelligence’ when in fact I am a big fan!”

Some folks in the Republican landscape are actually fans of Assange, including former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who at one point compared Assange to an editor of an Al-Qaeda magazine but has praised him for “releasing information that finally opened people’s eyes to democrat candidates and operatives.”

But Republican senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John McCain of Arizona persisted in calling for an investigation of the alleged hacks, with McCain holding a hearing today, Jan. 5, on foreign cyber threats.

Given the current torrent of tweets, Trump’s briefing promises to be some sort of climax to a play that’s turned from drama to farce. As yet, neither outright comedy nor dreaded tragedy have broken out. Although, it is perhaps no accident that Trump announced possible changes coming to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Here, courtesy of Google, are the latest headlines: “Donald Trump Plans Revamp of Top US Spy Agency,” “Donald Trump calls Chuck Schumer ‘clown’ in typo-filled tweets,” “China Tells Trump to lay off Twitter,” “Donald Trump’s fight with America’s Spies.” And so on.

Most of us are familiar with the hugely popular song “Send in the Clowns,” written by Broadway composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim for his musical “A Little Night Music.” Some of it goes like this: “Don’t you love farce? … But where are the clowns?/There ought to be clowns/Quick, send in the clowns … Don’t bother/They’re here.”

Everybody now … sing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *