The Daily Beast has published a report on President Vladimir Putin’s “latest dirty trick.” The “trick” is that the Russian government is allegedly “intercepting and leaking the private phone calls” between Western and Ukrainian officials. That is how phone calls have allegedly been surfacing on the Internet over the past seven weeks.
The only problem is that The Daily Beast has no facts to back up any of these claims. Daily Beast journalist Eli Lake, as he has perfected in his career, managed to get some anonymous US officials to talk to him. He was able to get Representative Mike Rogers to spew some vitriol that he could insert to make his report more sensational. But neither Rogers nor any of the unnamed officials who spoke to him provided specific evidence that Putin is behind the leaks.
Rogers, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said Russia is “engaged in counter-information campaigns,” and, “They are very aggressive, they are using old style thuggery, cut-your-ear-off KGB tactics and they are using this leaking of collected information to their advantage.” He believes they are “behind” the leaked calls.
According to Lake, “Other US officials who spoke to The Daily Beast said they concurred that the spate of the leaked phone calls was part of a deliberate intelligence strategy to intercept and selectively publicize the private conversations of Western and Ukrainian officials.” But none of this constitutes proof that Putin is actually doing any of this. It just shows what some officials think or believe.
Why isn’t The New York Times reporting this if it is true? Why isn’t The Washington Post reporting this if it is true? Why aren’t US officials leaking more details that actually include specifics and not merely speculation if this is true?
If this truly is a part of a state-sponsored counter-information campaign, why hasn’t there been more of a response from the US government? Could it be that officials are not actually sure of how these communications are being intercepted or hacked? Could it be possible that Russian hackers who support the government are targeting communications?
Lake tries to put the heat on Snowden for Putin’s conduct. He calls him an “NSA outlaw” and writes, “An added irony is that Russia is granting asylum to Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who disclosed American spying on foreign leaders and communications networks, as his host country engages in the very kinds of electronic monitoring Snowden has spoken out against.”
He frames this story in a such manner that one is supposed to blame Snowden for the fact that the United States cannot prevent these leaks.
“With the United States itself under fire internationally for its own surveillance of foreign leaders, the Russians have been able to anonymously collect and disclose their own snooping to date with little political price,” Lake contends. The Obama administration apparently cannot condemn Russian spying now because Snowden has revealed that the US government engages in similar spying.
It is a disturbing aspect of state-identified journalism that whistleblowers are portrayed as individuals who should be held accountable for any and all US foreign policy issues that can be connected to them. This is another piece to add to an ever-expanding list of yellow journalism that has been produced since Snowden’s disclosures first began. [cont’d.]