First, Vladimir Putin has told the President that the Russian government did not interfere in the American elections. Putin is lying—plain and simple. There are no circumstances under which an arm of the Russian military would undertake an information operation of this sort without approval from the highest levels. American intelligence agencies had earlier made this point in a conclusory way—now it appears to be true. President Trump has previously seemed to accept Putin’s disclaimer of a role—how he will react to these latest revelations in the run-up to Monday’s summit with Putin is anyone’s guess.
Second, none of these Russian officers is ever going to stand trial. The chances that Russia will extradite them to the United States are precisely zero. Though the chance that they might be lured out of Russia is possibly a tiny fraction higher it is also, for all intents and purposes zero. The special counsel’s team must know this. Thus, the main purpose of this indictment is informational—it is, in effect, a report to the American people on what they have found. For those few Americans who remain persuadable by evidence, the details set forth in the indictment should be determinative.
Third, these forensic details are stunning, and the import of their publication is far broader that the verisimilitude they lend to the allegations. At a minimum, the level of detail here makes it difficult to deny the truth of what they assert. Take but one example—the question of the identity of Guccifer 2.0. Guccifer 2.0 was an on-line persona who claimed to be behind the hack of the Democrat emails. He also claimed he was not a Russian but rather an independent Romanian hacker. The evidence of the indictment, linking web searches by the Russian conspirators to posts by Guccifer 2.0 is damning indeed.
But perhaps more saliently, the level of detail suggests that the veil of anonymity that has long protected hackers is slowly being torn apart. The forensic information here (doubtless sourced from the intelligence community) makes it clear that, with enough time and effort, the chances of penetrating a secret operation are much higher than they have been in the past. That’s a good thing for American counter-terrorism and counter-intelligence operations, but it is not necessarily a good thing for social or political dissent—especially not that in authoritarian Russia.
Fourth, Wikileaks is revealed to be, at best, a pawn of Russian intelligence and at worst part of a coordinated Russian operation. Wikileaks affirmatively solicited DNC material from Guccifer 2.0, and scheduled its release immediately before the Democratic National Convention, in an effort to harm the Clinton campaign. If they knew that Guccifer 2.0 was a Russian operative, they were willing participants; if they did not then they were dupes. Either way, anyone who continues to take Wikileaks seriously as a journalism outlet strains credulity. Their anti-America and anti-Clinton bias is demonstrable.