In the new issue of the Weekly Standard that is out this morning, Lee Smith takes a look at the hacked email accounts of the powers-that-be in Syria. Smith begins with the background and then quickly gets into the hoard:
In the fall of 2007 Israel reportedly hacked into Syria’s air defense systems and disabled them, as a prelude to bombing a nuclear facility in the Syrian desert. This vaunted cyber exploit, it turns out, might not merit its spectacular reputation. Last week, the shadowy online activist group known as Anonymous penetrated 78 email accounts from Syria’s ministry of presidential affairs and posted their contents online. The hackers found that many of the accounts, including that of the allegedly computer-savvy Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, used one of the world’s weakest passwords: 12345. So much for Syrian cybersecurity.
The hacked emails are a downscale version of the WikiLeaks cables. There is little diplomatic sophistication. In the fashion of third-world Arab nationalist bureaucracies, everyone addresses everyone else as Your Excellency. One Excellency kept a stash of porn in his email account, another Excellency seems to have sexually harassed an attractive Her Excellency. Not surprisingly, many of the Excellencies are fixated on Israel, and any story or—more often—image that reinforces their negative feelings is cc’d to a long list of similarly obsessed Excellencies….
But wait! That’s not all. There’s this: “[W]hat is most interesting about these emails is the picture they paint of a sick and grasping Western elite, the top echelon of an open society, that came on bended knee to curry favor with a dictatorship. Journalists from the three major U.S. networks vied for exclusive interviews with Bashar, even as the slaughter of unarmed Syrian civilians was under way….” It’s an old story (thanks, Steve) with a new twist or two.