Once I was in a tough place in life where I was working in a position that was limited to two years. At the end of that time you could be given another two year tour or let go. I’m not a fan of financial insecurity so I applied for another job that was the same grade, though with a promotion guaranteed if I completed a year without a felony committed at work, and which was permanent staff and was accepted. I approached my boss and told her that I was giving notice. She said, “Let me talk to my boss, we really want to keep you and just give us a couple of days to make a counteroffer.” I was fine with that because I liked what I was doing and (mostly) liked my colleagues. The counteroffer arrived. They were willing to give me a fresh two year contract starting at that time rather than waiting for another six months until my existing contract expired. I was furious. In return for giving up a promotion and a permanent position, they actually offered me the opportunity to immediately begin another job search because with a two year contract searching for a new job is something you have to do every day. I went home and told my wife the story and ended it by saying, “how stupid do they think I am.” Just as I said that, I had an epiphany. They really thought I was stupid. Very stupid.
That’s the thought I had today when I read a New York Times story headlined Russians Hacked Ukrainian Gas Company at Center of Impeachment.
It is not yet clear what the hackers found, or precisely what they were searching for. But the experts say the timing and scale of the attacks suggest that the Russians could be searching for potentially embarrassing material on the Bidens — the same kind of information that Mr. Trump wanted from Ukraine when he pressed for an investigation of the Bidens and Burisma, setting off a chain of events that led to his impeachment.
The Russian tactics are strikingly similar to what American intelligence agencies say was Russia’s hacking of emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman and the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 presidential campaign. In that case, once they had the emails, the Russians used trolls to spread and spin the material, and built an echo chamber to widen its effect.
While this article focuses on the negligible-to-nonexistent impact of the DNC emails that were allegedly hacked by some Russian entity to claim this is 2016 all over again, there is actually a much more pertinent link. This is an exact replay of the DNC strategy in 2016. There is literally no evidence presented of a hacking. The only person saying there is a hacking is a private security firm (shades of Crowdstrike) called Area 1. We aren’t offered any information on Area 1’s business arrangement with Burisma–in fact, the article studiously avoids defining that relationship and from the description one could forgiven for thinking that it sounds like Area 1 has, itself, penetrated Burisma and is monitoring it–but we have quite a bit on its affiliation with the Biden campaign.
One of the founders, and the company spokesman, Oren Falkowitz, has donated to several Democrat candidates this election cycle. Area 1 has also received a special dispensation to supply security services to political candidates for free or for below costs which would a) ordinarily be illegal and b) calls into question how this makes any real business sense (‘we lose a little bit on each transaction but we make up for it in volume’).
Falkowitz is the CEO and co-founder of Area 1 Security, a cybersecurity firm that protects dozens of businesses, nonprofits and political campaigns from phishing attempts. Four years after Russian operatives hacked thousands of emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee, cybersecurity is a bigger issue than ever for White House hopefuls — and Area 1’s headquarters, in an incongruously historic Queen Anne house in Redwood City, is on the front lines.
This summer, the company persuaded the Federal Election Commission to allow it to provide low-cost services to political campaigns, which would typically be a violation of rules designed to prevent businesses from currying political favor.
About half of the major 2020 presidential candidates are now using Area 1’s services, according to Falkowitz. He says the company has already blocked attempts by foreign governments to break into campaigns’ networks — although he won’t divulge many details.
Obviously, we don’t know if Biden is one of those candidates but there has to be some reason why Area 1 is interested in Burisma without any obvious business ties to them and Biden would be an obvious guess. The article dates the Russian hack attempts from New Years Eve. This sounds pretty peculiar. In fact, it sounds much more like a contract with the Biden campaign began then that the Russians ringing in the New Year by hacking Burisma.
What is more interesting is that Burisma has now gone from being a conspiracy theory to a central part of the Trump impeachment. I think it takes a huge amount of pretzel logic to arrive at that conclusion considering there were zero witnesses called by either Adam Schiff or Fat Jerry to testify about anything to do with Burisma.
This is part of a media strategy that is designed to inoculate Joe Biden from all the blowback effects of the endemic corruption that follows him like a loyal Corgie. It gives partisan editors an excuse to not cover the story (not that they have, anyway), like this paragon of journalistic integrity:
I hope my fellow editors will think hard — really hard, a lot harder than they did in 2016 — before publishing any material hacked by the Russians. https://t.co/k9JEKnCgli
— Noah Shachtman (@NoahShachtman) January 14, 2020
The second part of the approach will be smearing anyone who reports on Biden and Burisma as “spreading Russian propaganda.”
It is difficult to believe that Burisma has not been thoroughly penetrated by the Russians. Every other entity in Ukraine has been, why would a shady enterprise like Burisma be exempt? But why should we even care? If Biden has done nothing wrong, the smart play would be for him to demand full transparency from Burisma to shortstop this vile leak that is sure to take place by the dastardly Russians. This story exists for exactly one reason, to help Joe Biden by reinforcing the narrative unveiled by Bloomberg yesterday that Russia is afraid of Biden and supporting Trump.
If you ask yourself “how stupid do they think we are?” you have your answer.