CIA Director John Brennan threw a polecat in the room a couple of weeks ago with the allegation, unsupported by any released evidence or any evidence that will ever be released, that the Russians intervened in the US elections with the purpose of electing Donald Trump. While there is ample evidence that the Russians mucked about in the electoral system (and more than ample evidence that Obama knew and did nothing) it is difficult to imagine just what evidence Brennan had to definitively state Russia’s motives, or why those motives only became clear a month after the election.
But, assuming that Brennan isn’t an idiot or a partisan hack, if the allegations are true then Russia’s actions are little short of a declaration of war. They are an overt attempt to put their own candidate in the White House. One would think we would want to retaliate in some fashion that would let Russia know that what they did was outside the bounds of acceptable behavior and to make the level of pain sufficiently great that they wouldn’t try it again. This is important not only to set limits for a nation that is the geopolitical equivalent of the drunk guy at the party who tries to grope all the women, but to show our allies we can’t be ****ed with.
Now Brennan has spoken on the subject:
CIA director John Brennan said the U.S. should be cautious in responding to Russia’s attempts to meddle with the presidential election through cyberattacks and not retaliate using the same tactics.
“I don’t think we should resort to some of the tactics and techniques that our adversaries employ against us,” Brennan told NPR in an interview posted late Thursday. “I think we need to remember what we’re fighting for. We’re fighting for our country, our democracy, our way of life, and to engage. And the skullduggery that some of our opponents and adversaries engage in, I think is beneath this country’s greatness.”
“They do some things that are beyond the pale,” Brennan said.
We are fighting for “our country, our democracy, our way of life” but we won’t stoop to “skullduggery.” I have to admit I am left at a loss to understand what Brennan wants? Does he want a declaration of war? Or… nothing?
I suspect the answer is nothing.
I also suspect that this is part of a walk back from the allegations made by Brennan. Because if there was actual evidence of the sort that rises above rank speculation, America would demand harsh retaliation against Russia and Trump would be under immense political pressure to hit hard because otherwise it would be seen as validating the allegation. And right now the safe bet is that there is zero empirical evidence and damned little inferential evidence that indicates Russia was doing anything more than simply trolling us. Brennan counseling against any action is simply a sign that he knows he overstepped and he wants this to all go away.