As organizations such as WikiLeaks and DCLeaks continue to release emails that appear to originate from individuals close to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her campaign, a group of former top national security officials and outside experts are warning “members of the media to stay engaged and to think critically about the facts they consume and disseminate.” The group notes that “what is taking place” in terms of the leaking of private emails “follows a well-known Russian playbook,” and “it is imperative that we focus on the broad disinformation campaign that is already underway.”
In multiple email dumps, WikiLeaks published a trove of what appear to be hacked emails from Clinton campaign manager John Podesta. Politico reported that “there have been no bombshells,” adding that Podesta and the Clinton campaign have “neither verified nor denied the authenticity of the emails.”
National security and cybersecurity experts have been saying for months that Russian intelligence services were most likely involved in the hacks -- and the U.S. government has now formally accused them of attempting to “interfere with the U.S. election process.” Yet right-wing media, including one of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s closest allies, Roger Stone, have cheered for Russian espionage and the hacking of private emails of American citizens. Fox News has even credulously reported on the illegally obtained documents. Donald Trump himself has said he is not convinced Russia is behind the leaks, which an unnamed intelligence briefer for Trump called a “willful misrepresentation” of reality, given the information Trump received in his intelligence briefings.
A group of 16 former top national security officials and outside experts have penned a letter saying they are “concerned that an ongoing Russian influence operation is targeting the 2016 U.S. election.” The signatories of the letter note that American “debates on critical national security issues will be targeted” by Russian intelligence “in an effort to sway public opinion away from our national interests.” The experts conclude, “There is no amount of short-term partisan gain or perceived media scoop that could justify that outcome,” imploring “members of the media to stay engaged and to think critically about the facts they consume and disseminate.” From the October 6 letter: