Americans have heard an awful lot about Russian hackers over the past few weeks. The Obama Administration has worked tirelessly to pin the blame for last year's leaked emails — from the DNC to Clinton Campaign Chair John Podesta to Hillary Clinton herself — on Russia.
Julian Assange, the man behind the WikiLeaks curtain, has been saying since the beginning that Russia was not the source. He told Australian broadcaster John Pilger as much in a televised interview less than a week before the election:
“The Clinton camp has been able to project a neo-McCarthyist hysteria that Russia is responsible for everything. Hillary Clinton has stated multiple times, falsely, that 17 US intelligence agencies had assessed that Russia was the source of our publications. That’s false – we can say that the Russian government is not the source."
Despite Assange's claims, the narrative persisted. The Washington Post published an article last Friday suggesting a link between Russian hackers and a breach of the power grid in Vermont. But as Forbes noted, they left out some relevant information in the original article:
On Friday the Washington Post sparked a wave of fear when it ran the breathless headline “Russian hackers penetrated U.S. electricity grid through a utility in Vermont, U.S. officials say.”
The lead sentence offered “A code associated with the Russian hacking operation dubbed Grizzly Steppe by the Obama administration has been detected within the system of a Vermont utility, according to U.S. officials” and continued “While the Russians did not actively use the code to disrupt operations of the utility, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss a security matter, the penetration of the nation’s electrical grid is significant because it represents a potentially serious vulnerability.”
A day later — and after being called out by several other outlets — Forbes reported that the Washington Post had finally offered an update:
The following morning, nearly 11 hours after changing the headline and rewriting the article to indicate that the grid itself was never breached and the “hack” was only an isolated laptop with malware, the Post still had not appended any kind of editorial note to indicate that it had significantly changed the focus of the article.
Based on stories like that one — and the continued insistence that Russia was behind the email hacks of the DNC, Podesta, and Clinton — President Obama spent the last week imposing sanctions on Russia.
The president unceremoniously evicted some 35 Russian diplomats and their families, all but accusing them of spying: “This could only have been directed by the highest levels of the Russian government.” He gave them 72 hours to leave the United States.
But Assange still insists that Russia had nothing to do with the leaked emails, and his latest interview on the subject — with Fox News's Sean Hannity — will air on Tuesday. The Daily Mail reports:
He told Hannity 'with a thousand per cent' confidence that the Russian government was not responsible for emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta, Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman.
"We can say, we have said, repeatedly that over the last two months that our source is not the Russian government and it is not a state party.
Our publications had wide uptake by the American people, they're all true. But that's not the allegation that's being presented by the Obama White House. "
According to Assange, there is only one reason for the Obama administration to be pushing that particular narrative so hard: “They're trying to delegitimize the Trump administration as it goes into the White House. They are trying to say that President-elect Trump is not a legitimate President.”