Circular meetings, Obama style

The New York Times stokes the hysteria over the crisis of the republic fomented by the left over successful Russian hacking of Democratic targets. The Times story today carries the byline of three senior reporters. The Times injects echoes of Watergate with a photograph at the top of the story that illustrates a point in the text: “Like another famous American election scandal, it started with a break-in at the D.N.C. The first time, 44 years ago at the committee’s old offices in the Watergate complex, the burglars planted listening devices and jimmied a filing cabinet. This time, the burglary was conducted from afar, directed by the Kremlin, with spear-phishing emails and zeros and ones.”

And that’s not all. There is more in the story. The Times works the Watergate thing hard.

I have heard the echoes of Watergate in the administration’s use of the IRS for political purposes. Obama has succeeded in weaponizing the executive branch beyond the wildest dreams of Richard Nixon. But those aren’t the echoes the Times hears or has in mind.

The Times reporters on the story have sources in the intelligence community. The article states near the top: “An examination by The Times of the Russian operation — based on interviews with dozens of players targeted in the attack, intelligence officials who investigated it and Obama administration officials who deliberated over the best response — reveals a series of missed signals, slow responses and a continuing underestimation of the seriousness of the cyberattack.”

This is a long, long story. I haven’t finished reading it. My first impression part way through is that it makes the Democrats out to be idiots.

What about the Democrat at the top of the heap? Giving the Times story a close reading, Michael Warren excerpts a passage that highlights a characteristic moment in Obama’s inaction and nonperformance in the service of his one-sided love affair with the Islamic Republic of Iran:

Mr. Obama was briefed regularly on all this, but he made a decision that many in the White House now regret: He did not name Russians publicly, or issue sanctions. There was always a reason: fear of escalating a cyberwar, and concern that the United States needed Russia’s cooperation in negotiations over Syria.

“We’d have all these circular meetings,” one senior State Department official said, “in which everyone agreed you had to push back at the Russians and push back hard. But it didn’t happen.”

So the Russians escalated again — breaking into systems not just for espionage, but to publish or broadcast what they found, known as “doxing” in the cyberworld.

It was a brazen change in tactics, moving the Russians from espionage to influence operations. In February, 2014 they broadcast an intercepted phone call between Victoria Nuland, the assistant secretary of state who handles Russian affairs and has a contentious relationship with Mr. Putin, and Geoffrey Pyatt, the United States ambassador to Ukraine. Ms. Nuland was heard describing a little-known American effort to broker a deal in Ukraine, then in political turmoil.

When it comes to protecting the national security interest of the United States, those “circular meetings” can serve as a metaphor for the Obama administration and for the coordination of the mainstream media with the party line.

To be continued, not necessarily by me.

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